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NAACP Image Awards Hold Luncheon for Nominees

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Recently on Saturday, I found myself driving down Sunset Blvd in Hollywood on a beautiful California day. The sky was a clear cornstalk blue and it felt like the beginning of summer in February.  My destination was Beverly Hills to its legendary hotel, which a day before, Brittany Spears had stopped to have a meal and dodge the photographers who followed her.

Today was no different. There were many photographers at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but for another reason.

Jurnee Smolett
They were there for the 39th NAACP Image Award Nominee Luncheon, for the 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards, scheduled to air live on Fox, from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, on February 14, 2008.  The opening remarks made by Clayola Brown, Image Award Committee Chair were, "They said we would not last, but here we are in our 39th year, even better than before. I am so happy to see everyone."

Denzel Whitaker & his dad Dale Whitaker.
This year the luncheon was hosted by best friends Tisha Campbell-Martin (My Wife & Kids) and Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris). These two have known each other since the age of 12. They have been through thick and thin together in Hollywood, from raising kids, boyfriends, marriages, and career challenges. Putting them together on stage as co-hosts was brilliant. The pair cut up and kept the audience in laughter. Each one seemed to feed off of the other and as comedians they spontaneously let their hair down and kept everyone holding their stomach, bending over in pain.  They are crazy together and it was like watching and old version of the hit series, "Martin".

Nate Parker (middle) with NAACP President and CEO Bruce Gordon and Clayola Brown, NAACP Chairman.
The nominees of this year's Image Awards turned out in large numbers.  Each year, it always amazes me the buzz that is created from the up-to-date star power that dominates the movie of that year.  This year, the oohs and uhs were sent to the young cast members of "The Great Debaters".  Denzel Whitaker, Nate Parker, and Jurnee Smolett were present at the luncheon and they created some magic.  Denzel and Nate are nominated for the category of best supporting actor in a movie, and Jurnee is nominated for best actress in a movie.

There are 44 categories to which five nominees are selected.  The winners, selected by NAACP members will be announced during the live airing of the telecast.  

Chandra Wilson, nominee for Grey's Anatomy with daughter
The NAACP Image Awards honors projects and individuals that promote diversity in the arts in television, recording, literature and motion picture. The theme of this year's celebration is "Stand Up and Be Counted."  Also, this year, the Image Awards is going "green".  In recognition of today's environmental crisis, the organization is incorporating eco-friendly initiatives to reduce the Image Awards carbon footprint and reduce the ceremonies impact on the world's climate.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Make sure to mark your calendars to watch this year's annual celebration.

It promises to be an exciting night.

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