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The 42nd NAACP Image Awards: 'Affirming America's Promise'

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By Lea Michelle Cash –

This promise was embedded in the hearts of freed slaves as they endeavored for opportunities to provide America to live up to its promise. We all have our heroes and sheroes. As a people of color, our remembrance of them can take different forms and celebrations.

Just as in 1965 when Bill Cosby broke the color barrier in television and became the first Black in a non-traditional role when he costarred in the network television series “I Spy” to 1968 when Diahann Carroll became the first Black woman to have her own television series in a non-stereotypical role in the weekly NBC series “Julia,” we have honored early achievements and cried at their remarkable success. In doing so, we have honored our ancestors and their challenge to hold America to its promise. As their children, we will never forget.

That is why on the extraordinary evening that the NAACP holds its annual event celebrating the outstanding achievement and performance of people of color in the arts, as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice in Film, Television, Music and Literature, Black Hollywood sparkles with radiance and glory as keepers of America’s Promise.

This year’s theme spoke volumes as the hosts Holly Robinson Peete and Wayne Brady greeted performers, presenters and honorees from LL Cool J to Phylicia Rashad to Halle Berry and Prince. The United States 18th Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, a Black woman who provides the best scientific information available on how to improve the health of our nation, and oversees the operational command of 6,500 uniformed health officers around the world to promote, protect and advance the health of the American people received the “NAACP Chairman Award”. Dr. Benjamin has a BS in chemistry; a MD degree; a MBA and eleven honorary doctorates. She is a keeper of America’s promise.

However, the night belonged to another keeper of America’s promise—General Colin L. Powell who received the NAACP highest honor the “President’s Award”. Along with General Powell’s countless awards and honors, he is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the America’s Promise Alliance, dedicated to forging a strong and effective partnership alliance committed to seeing that children have the fundamental resource they need to succeed.

In between the main honors, paraded the colorful, wide variety of nominees for literature, television, movies and music. Their extraordinary achievement was played out boldly in a live telecast shown to millions around the world. Nominees that were fortunate to win the golden statute were humbled, emotional and graceful. A choked up Halle Berry backstage told the press, “I am a Black woman, and I now know that for the rest of my life, I will be looking for ways to celebrate and promote other Black women through producing.”

Tatyana Ali got emotional on stage and back stage. “It’s all too much” she said. “When I looked out in that audience and saw my mother, my sister, and Phylicia Rashad from my really early days on the Cosby show, I had a moment.” Tatyana won an Image Award for the best Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series—“The Young and the Restless.”

Other winners were Tyler Perry, Kimberly Elise, Willow, Samuel L. Jackson, Regina King, S. Epatha Merkerson, Denzel Washington, Vanessa Williams, Jill Scott and Terrance Howard to name a few. Best Outstanding News/Information went to TV’s “Unsung” and Best Outstanding Talk Series went to ABC’s “The View”.

Celebrities To Light Up NAACP Image Awards

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Wayne Brady, Holly Robinson Peete to Host, Surgeon General and General Colin Powell to Receive NAACP Honors

By Ben Wrobel & Christopher Fleming –

On Friday, March 4, a diverse group of celebrities including Halle Berry, LL Cool J and Vanessa Williams will light up Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium for the 42nd NAACP Image Awards, the pre-eminent multicultural awards show. Talk show host, actress and author Holly Robinson Peete and actor and comedian Wayne Brady will host the show, which will feature performances by Mary Mary and Michael Franti & Spearhead.

This year, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and General Colin Powell will join the ranks of Aretha Franklin, Bono and Muhammad Ali as recipients of the Chairman and President’s awards.

The ceremony will be broadcast live (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.

“This year more than ever we need to celebrate the achievements of people of color in the arts,” said NAACP Hollywood Bureau Executive Director Vicangelo Bulluck, who serves as executive producer of the awards telecast. “Inclusive and multicultural, the NAACP Image Awards AWARDS is truly a diverse American awards show. It showcases the hottest names in television, film and music, and you couldn’t ask for better hosts than Wayne and Holly to lead us in this celebration.”

NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock will present Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin with the 2011 Chairman’s Award. This award recognizes special achievement and distinguished service in the public sphere. Past honorees include Tyler Perry, Former Vice President Al Gore and Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai, Aretha Franklin, Bono, President Barack Obama, The Dave Matthews Band, Danny Glover, Aaron McGruder and Janet Jackson.

“Dr. Benjamin’s community- oriented values, as displayed in her commitment to making health care accessible for minorities and rural patients, embody the Association’s belief in equal health care rights for all citizens. As ‘America’s Doctor,’ Benjamin provides information on improving individual health and the health of our nation. By way of her phenomenal community service and dedication, her efforts epitomize significant strides for women, racial minorities and the poor.”

General Colin L. Powell will join Condoleeza Rice and the ranks of President Bill Clinton, Ella Fitzgerald, Van Jones, Muhammad Ali, Ryan White, Bryant Gumbel, Venus and Serena Williams, Tavis Smiley, and Tom Joyner when he is presented the prestigious President’s Award.

"General Colin Powell has led an extraordinary life of public service" stated Jealous.

"As the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and later the first to serve as Secretary of State, General Powell holds a unique place in American history. He is a man of conscience and conviction, who uses his vast influence to promote education and self esteem to our country's youth.

Although his position on the Iraq War was controversial, he was often the voice of reason in the prosecution of that war.

He rose from humble roots as the son of Jamaican immigrants to become a distinguished military leader, a statesman, a humanitarian and a philanthropist. He is an inspiration to us all."

This year marked the forceful entrance of the talented Smith family on the entertainment scene with nominations for Willow (“Whip My Hair”), Jaden (The Karate Kid”) and Jada Pinkett Smith (“HawthoRNe”).

2011 Chairman’s Award recipient, filmmaker and television producer Tyler Perry’s was honored across multiple categories this year, receiving 19 nominations. His films “For Colored Girls” and “Why Did I Get Married Too?” swept the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture category – Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad and Whoopi Goldberg were nominated for their work in “For Colored Girls” and Jill Scott was nominated for “Why Did I get Married Too?”

Notable nominations in the literature category include Alice Walker’s collection of poetry, “Hard Times Require Furious Dancing”; Jay-Z’s autobiography “Decoded”; and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s memoir “Extraordinary, Ordinary People”. Michelle Alexander’s acclaimed “The New Jim Crow”, which examines the state of the criminal justice system is one of the nominees for Outstanding Literary Work of Nonfiction.

The NAACP Image Awards celebrate the accomplishments of people of color working in the fields of literature, music, television and film. The ceremony also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.

The San Bernardino NAACP will be hosting a bus trip to the NAACP Image Awards. For information call Linda Hart at (909) 246-2078.

Macy's, Ebony, & Fashion Fair Cosmetics Honor Eunice W. Johnson

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This Black History Month, Macy’s Department Stores and Johnson Publishing Company celebrated the life and works of Eunice Walker Johnson, visionary and the creator of Ebony Fashion Fair—the World’s Largest Traveling Fashion Show.

Macy’s Beverly Center welcomed Johnson Publishing Company Chairwoman, Linda Johnson Rice and Chief Executive Officer, Desiree Rogers, as well as Ebony magazine, Editor-in- Chief, Amy Barnett as they unveiled the fashion retrospective and provided insight about Mrs. Johnson’s extraordinary life and her significant contributions to the beauty and fashion industries.

The exhibit showcased haute couture designs from Mrs. Johnson’s personal vault that were featured in the famed Ebony Fashion Fair runway shows.

Riverside: The New Hollywood

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Depth Perception recently began principal photography in Riverside this week under the direction of sophmore director Hisonni Johnson. It was announced by Caslin Rose, co-owner of Premiere Pre and Post, the production company responsible for the film. Milwaukee natives and University School Of Milwaukee Alums Michael Sarnoski and Johnson are both credited as writers of the action packed, physiological thriller.

The film stars Darren Thomas (The Storm, The Otherside, 200 MPH) as Tyler, a young man who has such an extreme case of obsessivecompulsive disorder that very closely borders superhuman ability to predict people’s actions moments before they do them.

The film’s co-stars include Caslin Rose (1000 ways to die), Manuel Ramirez (The Other Side), Hisonni Johnson (Glee, ATOS, Heist) and Milwaukee native Rhonda Jackson Sykes.

Founded in 2010 Premiere Pre and Post (P3) has produced four films since its inception.

Depth Perception will be Hisonni Johnson’s second feature film and P3’s third film in 2011.

Also, in April, filming will begin for My Three and Half Girls also under the watchful eye of Johnson. The film stars Manuel Eduardo Ramirez (The Other Side) as Frank, a single father raising two teenaged daughters, his rambunctious alcoholic mother and his flamboyantly fabulous gay brother Joe while trying not to lose his dream job as a high powered sports agent.

The film’s co-stars include Caslin Rose (1000 ways to die), Darren Thomas (The Storm, The Other Side, 200 MPH), Hisonni Johnson (Glee, ATOS, Heist), Gualberto Del Toro (The Other Side) and Rhonda Jackson Sykes (Valley of Acorns).

Chris Brown allowed near Rihanna, 2 years after attack

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(Reuters) - A court order was lifted on Tuesday that had prevented R&B singer Chris Brown from coming into close contact with his ex-girlfriend Rihanna since a violent altercation two years ago.

Los Angeles Superior Court judge Patricia Schnegg downgraded the stay-away order that said Brown, 21, must stay 50 yards away from Rihanna, or 10 yards at entertainment industry events.

Schnegg replaced it with a less stringent order that bars Brown from harassing or annoying Rihanna, but allows him to speak to her.

Rihanna was not in court but her lawyer said that the "Rude Boy" and "Umbrella" singer had no objection to the change.

Brown, 21, who did attend Tuesday's brief hearing, pleaded guilty in 2009 to assaulting Rihanna on the eve of the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. He was sentenced to five years probation and community service and recently completed a year-long domestic violence course.

Brown last week skipped the music industry's Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, despite being nominated for three honors. Rihanna performed on the show but failed to win any of the four awards for which she was nominated.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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