Box office superpower


Taking into consideration the fact that Black people comprise about 13 percent of the nation’s population, it is very impressive to note that among the Top 10 grossing actors of all time, four are African American.

They are Samuel L. Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Morgan Freeman and Will Smith. This places them in the company of Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Orlando Bloom, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis and Robin Williams.

Unfortunately, Black actresses do not fare nearly as well, yet another indicator that Hollywood continues to come up short when it comes to hiring these talented ladies for key film roles.

ONE THING I have grown tired of is the gossip and speculation about the full nature of the relationship between best friends Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King.

It’s a sad state of affairs when people can’t be close friends without a lot of people assuming that something sexual is going on. Johnny Gill and Eddie Murphy had to deal with the same type of foolishness, on a lesser scale, once word got out that they were best buddies.

And in the event that there is some truth to the relentless King/ Winfrey rumors, what possible business could that be but theirs?

The whole sordid thing is rooted in people — and Black people are generally worse  — still not accepting the fact that sexual orientation is not a choice, and that it is neither bad nor good. It just is.

As Coretta Scott King put it, “Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others. Homophobia is like racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their dignity.”

One day maybe it will be fully acknowledged that there is God and there is mankind, and that we spend way too much time on divisive, mean-spirited nonsense.
Again to quote Mrs. King: “Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

THIS YEAR is of significance for Rozonda (“Chilli”) Thomas and Tionne (“T-Boz”) Watkins, the surviving members of TLC. It is the 20th anniversary of the trio famous for songs like “Creep,” “Baby-Baby-Baby,” “Unpretty” and “Waterfalls.” (Lisa Lopes, known as “Left Eye,” died in 2002.)

“We want to do something special for our fans,” said Thomas.

Reader James Ross Jr. wonders why Donna Summer and Chic are not in the Rock and Roll of Fame (which includes R&B).  The same could be asked regarding Barry White, the Marvelettes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Gap Band, Natalie Cole, Bon Jovi, Kool & the Gang, KISS, Luther Vandross, Mitch Ryder, Mary Wells and Chubby Checker.

Chris Brown says he is planning to make a duet recording with teen sensation and Usher protégé Justin Bieber.

TEENA MARIE’S huge following included many fellow female artists, among them Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys.

Blige said, “She inspired me as a child. I sang her songs in the mirror with a hairbrush as a microphone. I’m so hurt. She will live forever in my heart.” To which Keys added, “She was a ‘sangin’ lady!”

Not everyone knows that in addition to having a lot of hits with Motown in the early part of her career, Teena ended up suing the company and winning. The court ruled that it was legally unacceptable to keep an artist under contract and not release their records.

“I just wanted to get away from Motown and have a good life,” Teena said bluntly.

TRACEE ELLIS ROSS, the comedic actress best known as “Joan” on the long-running TV series “Girlfriends” and the daughter of megastar Diana Ross, says people do not know the whole story when they say the children of celebrities get special breaks in show business.

Yes, some doors are open, she said, but then because of who your parent is, or parents are, more is expected of you than from others, and the constant comparisons can be stifling hurtful.

Interestingly, superstar Joan Rivers originally had aspirations to become an actress, and she made that decision after her mother took her to the theater.  The great Paul Robeson was starring in “Othello.” (She, of course, ended up in comedy.)

You might remember Detroit radio personality Claude Young, nicknamed “the Big Soul Rocker.” He was on WJLB and WQBH. He now lives in Birmingham, Alabama.
After a lengthy hiatus, Lauryn Hill, is touring, making a point of performing in smaller, more intimate venues.

Patti LaBelle says that when she first recorded and began performing the No. 1 hit “Lady Marmalade” in the mid-1970s, she didn’t know the song was about a hooker or that “Voulez-vous couche avec moi, ce soir?” was French for “Do you want to sleep with me tonight?”

Seems she would have looked into that matter right away, especially since the woman in the song was “struttin’ her stuff on the street” and said to a man, “Hey Joe, you wanna give it a go?”

MEMORIES: “More Love’” (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles), “Stayin’ Alive” (the Bee Gees), ““I Feel a Song (In My Heart)” (Gladys Knight & the Pips), “Oh Sheila” (Ready for the World), “Two Hearts” (Phil Collins), “Knock on Wood” (Eddie Floyd), “Want Ads” (the Honey Cone), “Lovin’ You” (Minnie Riperton),  “Love is Here and Now You’re Gone” (the Supremes).

BLESSINGS to Willy Wilson, LaDonne Young, Claudia Willemsberg, Walter Godfrey, Ivan Louis Cotman, Robert Bateman, Andrew Strong, Carol Prince, Kelvyn Ventour, William Andrews Jr., Frankie Darcell, Keena Green and Joe Harris.

WORDS OF THE WEEK, from a song recorded and cowritten by LaToya London: “When you feel like giving up, just think of all the times you made it, all the obstacles you overcame.”

Let the music play!

(Steve Holsey can be reached at and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.)

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