Tribute: James Avery of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 9:12 pm

We mourn the loss of actor James Avery, who starred with Will Smith as Uncle Phil in Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  Avery was a Vietnam veteran who became a writer, actor, and voice talent. He was a great foil for Will Smith on “Fresh Prince,” with a commanding presence that suited his role as a lawyer and later a judge.  While he was often the straight man, his comic timing was subtle and if you watch closely you can see how much Smith learned from him over the years.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL8VJTCnzgo

Avery also provided voices for animated characters as wide-ranging as The Shredder in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and War Machine in “Iron Man.”  He hosted “Going Places,” a popular travel and adventure series on PBS.  He memorably played disabled characters, a legally-blind witness to a murder on CSI and a wheelchair-bound medical examiner on “The Closer.”

He died at age 68 from complications following open heart surgery.  His last film, aptly named “Valediction,” has been a festival favorite and I hope it will be available streaming or in theaters later this year.  May his memory be a blessing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsAw4mDOvOE
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Actors Television Tribute

Tribute: Juanita Moore

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 8:32 pm

juanita mooreWe mourn the loss of actress Juanita Moore, who died today at age 99. She was one of the first African-Americans to be nominated for an Oscar, and is still best remembered for that role, in “Imitation of Life.” The movie is the story of two single mothers who join forces, one becoming an actress, the other, played by Moore, taking care of the home and the two daughters. Her character’s daughter grows up resentful of the white girl and decides to pass as white. Moore’s performance is one of great humanity and dignity. Her anguish when her daughter rejects her is grounded in a deep empathy and resilience. There’s a reason that the funeral scene for her character is one of the most unforgettable ever put on film.

Moore began as a chorus girl in the Cotton Club, then took small parts in movies. The bigotry of her era kept her mostly confined to stereotypical roles through the 1960’s, but later she appeared in films like “The Kid” and on television. She also starred in a London production of “A Raisin in the Sun,” which she said was her favorite performance. Her grandson, actor Kirk Kelly-Kahn, says she was running lines with him until just before her death. May her memory be a blessing.

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Actors Tribute

Angela Lansbury Becomes a Dame — The Queen’s Honours List 2014

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm

The magnificent Angela Lansbury will become a Dame (female equivalent of a knighthood), announced today as a part of Queen Elizabeth II’s annual honours (British spelling) list.  From her earliest appearances as the insolent maid in “Gaslight” and Elizabeth Taylor’s older sister in “National Velvet” to her performance as the icy villain in “The Manchurian Candidate” and in the Broadway musicals “Mame” and “Sweeney Todd,” she has been a fascinating presence with brilliant work in every genre, even the cozy mysteries of “Murder She Wrote.”  Cheers to the new Dame Angela!

 

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Actors Awards

Welcome to 2014! Movies to Look Forward To This Year

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 8:00 am

Sequels and reboots!  Here are some of the most anticipated releases of 2014.

Superheroes:  “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”  “X-Men: Days of Future Past” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

Sequels: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” “300: Rise of an Empire,” “22 Jump Street,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” “Fast and Furious 7” “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” “Transformers: Age of Extinction” “Taken 3” “Bond 24” “Horrible Bosses 2”

Remakes and reboots: “Robocop,” “Dracula Untold,” “Maleficent” and “Godzilla” “The Legend of Hercules” “Jack Ryan” “Annie” “Tarzan” “Veronica Mars” “Sherlock Holmes”

Biblical epics: “Noah” “Exodus” “Son of God”

Big budgets!  Big stars!  Special effects!  “Edge of Tomorrow” “Interstellar” “Tomorrowland” “The Zero Theorem”

Prestige drama: “The Monuments Men” “The Railway Man” “A Birder’s Guide to Everything”

Big Musicals: “Into the Woods” “Jersey Boys”

Big Books: “Divergent” “Gone Girl” “Unbroken” “The Fault in Our Stars”

Comedy: “A Fantastic Fear of Everything” “Neighbors”

Romance: “Think Like a Man 2”  “Endless Love”

Nature: “Bears” “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar”

Kids: “The Nut Job”  “The Lego Movie” “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” “Muppets: Most Wanted”  “Rio 2” “How to Train Your Dragon 2” “Dolphin Tale 2” “Boxtrolls” “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day” “Home” “Paddington” “Night at the Museum 3”

 

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