Tag Archives: Angela Bassett

Whitney Biopic Directed by Angela Bassett on Lifetime Tonight



Angela Bassett has taken a brief pause in her acting career steps behind the camera to direct biopic ‘Whitney’ a movie that airs Saturday (Jan. 17) at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.

Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother publicly spoke out the film was being made against the family’s objections. “No one connected with this movie knew Whitney or anything about her relationship with Bobby,” she said. “We are exhausted by the continuing misinformation and comments offered by people who did not know her. Please please let her rest.”

whitney-houston-bobby-brown-at-vh1-divas-duets-post-concert-party-in-2003“We all know how it ends,” Bassett says. “And we all make mistakes. Most of us get to make them in private. Whitney and Bobby had to make them in public.”

“We’re looking at a five-year moment in time,” Bassett says — the late ’80s and early ’90s, before things spun way out of control.

Houston and Brown finally divorced in 2006 and Houston died Feb. 11, 2012, at the age of 48.

Even as Houston was achieving professional success no one can imagine, even when the country saw her as America’s Sweetheart, a golden voice inside a calm, beautiful, poised and elegant woman, there was trouble in paradise.

There were drugs. Lots of drugs, Houston later admitted. In the film, she’s having fun with cocaine back when Bobby was still saying no.

Their relationship eventually slid into mistrust and physical abuse, on both sides. Houston’s short run on Bobby’s reality TV show at times portrayed her as snappish and impatient, with a mouth like a sailor.

It was those small personal moments — some surprising and many charming — with which Bassett says she tried to fill out the picture.

Whiteney“Whitney” isn’t based on any one source, and it wasn’t made with the cooperation of any key people in Houston’s life. Nor does it use Houston’s own voice, though it features four of her songs: “The Greatest Love of All,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “I’m Every Woman” and “I Will Always Love You.”

While Houston is played by Yaya DaCosta, the songs are sung by Deborah Cox. Cox also sings bits of a few other songs, mostly gospel.

Bassett says her goal with the movie was to “play it down the middle, just try to tell the story as factually as we could.”

Bassett says she also drew extensively on the autobiography of Clive Davis, the music mogul who signed Houston and set much of her musical direction.

Bassett is well known herself for playing Tina Turner, another internationally famous singer who had serious issues in her marriage.

“What you need to remember about Whitney is that no one had the success she did. We make that point right at the beginning. In four years she had seven straight No. 1 hits and sold 30 million albums. That’s more than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. In four years. And she was 23 years old. How do you deal with that? How does anyone deal with that?

“I hope we’ve shown that we need to have compassion for the journey she and Bobby were on — and the choices they made.”

Holiday Movie “Black Nativity” Due on Nov. 27


How Do You Keep Having Faith?

The movie “Black Nativity,” a feel-good musical about a family’s Christmas miracle opens on November 27, a night before Thanksgiving.

The movie directed by Kasi Lemmons (1997 Eve’s Bayou fame) is loosely based on Langston Hughes’s 1961 play of the same name, a seasonal tradition that recasts the classic Nativity tale with black performers who sing spirituals and hymns like “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” The movie adds original songs, like Ms. Jennifer Hudson’s big number, “Test of Faith.”

God Son, Nas Plays The Street Prophet

“Black Nativity” is set in the modern day and stars Forest Whitaker as the Rev. Cornell Cobbs; Angela Bassett as his wife, Aretha; Ms. Hudson as their daughter, Naima; and Tyrese Gibson as Loot, a streetwise hustler. Look for Nasir Jones, better known as the rapper Nas, as the street prophet Isaiah and Mary J. Blige as a ghetto-fabulous angel.

Nas explained his involvement in the project, “Kasi Lemmons called me up, and the fact that the movie was based on poet Langston Hughes’s work sold me on joining up.”

The story unfolds from the perspective of Langston, played by 17-year-old Jacob Latimore in his first big film role. Langston is the wary son of Naima, an embittered single mother, long estranged from her prominent parents. Faced with eviction, she puts him on a bus from Baltimore to Harlem to spend time with the grandparents he has never met, setting into motion accidental meetings, revelations of old secrets and a fantastical dream sequence of a blessed birth uptown.


Shot in Harlem

The famed Apollo Theater in Harlem appears on screen several times and the church choir scene was filmed at St.Luke’s Episcopal Church in Harlem. It was shot on a tight budget (about $17.5 million) in less than 40 days.

“Black Nativity” Soundtrack Album – RCA

A new film adaptation of Langston Hughes’ stage drama “Black Nativity” comes complete with a soundtrack album that features performances by an all-star cast of vocalists, including Mary J. Blige, Nas and Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, whose song “Test of Faith”, along with the previously released track “Be Grateful.” The album was executive produced by Grammy winning super producer, Raphael Saadiq.

Track List

1.    Be Grateful – Forest Whitaker & Jennifer Hudson

2.    Coldest Town* – Jacob Latimore

3.    Test Of Faith* – Jennifer Hudson

4.    Motherless Child – Jacob Latimore feat. Nas

5.    Hush Child (Get You Through This Silent Night) – Jennifer Hudson, Luke James, Grace Gibson & Jacob Latimore

6.    He Loves Me Still* – Angela Bassett & Jennifer Hudson

7.    Can’t Stop Praising His Name – Forest Whitaker

8.    Sweet Little Jesus Boy – Tyrese

9.    Rise Up Shepherd and Follow – Mary J. Blige & Nas

10.   Fix Me Jesus  – Jennifer Hudson

11.   Jesus On the Mainline – Forest Whitaker

12.   As – Cast

*New original song.

August Wilson American Century Cycle kicks off Monday, August 26

August Wilson – Our Black Shakespeare

Read in Japanese

August Wilson

August Wilson

August Wilson is the most influential and successful African American playwright writing today. He is the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Fences, The Piano Lesson, King Hedley II, Ma Rainy’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running, Jitney and Radio Golf. His plays have been produced all over the world.

August Wilson – American Century Cycle

August Wilson’s celebrated 10-play cycle captures 100 years of African American life during each decade of the 20th century. Let’s experience an historic series in The Greene Space as an extraordinary cast of actors and directors — many who worked directly with Wilson — gather to make the first-ever recording of all ten plays.

The series kicks off Monday, August 26, bringing together many longtime Wilson collaborators and interpreters, including the project’s Artistic Director and Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson; Associate Director and Tony Award-nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson; Directors include Tony Award-nominee Kenny Leon; Tony Award-winner Phylicia RashadMichele Shay; and Marion McClinton. The readings will feature many actors reprising the roles they performed on stage, including Tony Award-winner Leslie Uggams; Drama Desk and Obie Award-winner Anthony Chisholm; Obie Award-winner Brandon DirdenRussell Hornsby; Tony Award-winner Roger Robinson; Emmy Award-winner Keith David; Ebony Jo-Ann; John Earl Jelks; Roslyn Ruff; S. Epatha Merkerson; Wendell Pierce; Jesse L. MartinHarry Lennix and Taraji P. Henson in her Wilson debut.

The readings will be scored with original music by Grammy-nominated composer Bill Sims, Jr. and other composers who worked with Wilson. The plays will be presented in the order in which they premiered, with the recordings shared with institutions around the U.S.

About the plays
Wilson’s 10-play cycle chronicles the African American experience in the 20th century with each play set in a different decade. The cycle begins in the early 1900s, when wounds from slavery and the Civil War were still fresh, and closes in the 1990s, when even a large and increasingly influential black middle class would not escape persistent racial tensions. Two of the plays, Fences and The Piano Lesson, were recognized with Pulitzer Prizes.

Show Schedule

8/26 7pm Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
8/28 7pm Fences
9/4 7pm Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
9/9 7pm The Piano Lesson
9/11 7pm Two Trains Running
9/13 7pm Seven Guitars
9/16 7pm Jitney
9/21 7pm King Hedley II
9/24 7pm Gem of the Ocean
9/28 7pm Radio Golf

The Location

The Greene Space

44 Charlton Street (corner of Varick Street)

New York, NY




8/26 – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Whoopie Goldberg as Ma Rainey

Whoopie Goldberg as Ma Rainey

The play is set in Chicago in the 1920s (the only play in the group not set in Pittsburgh), and deals with issues of race, art, religion and the historic exploitation of black recording artists by white producers.

In a Chicago-based recording studio, Ma Rainey’s band players, Cutler, Toledo, Slow Drag, and Levee turn up to record a new album of her songs. As they wait for her to arrive they banter, tell stories, joke, philosophise and argue. As the play unfolds it becomes clear that the tension is between the young hot-headed trumpeter Levee, who has dreams of having his own band, and veteran players Cutler and Toledo. The play’s title refers to a song of the same title by Ma Rainey referring to the Black Bottom dance.


Ma Rainey

Cutler, trombonist

Irvin, Ma’s manager

Levee, trumpeter

Sturdyvant, studio owner

Toledo, pianist

Slow Drag, bassist

8/28 – Fences

Denzel Washington as Troy

Denzel Washington as Troy

Set in the 1950s and tells the story of Troy, a restless trash-collector and former baseball athlete who, at 53, is struggling to provide for his family. Troy was a great baseball player in his younger years, having spent time practicing in prison for an accidental murder he’d committed during a robbery. Because the color barrier had not yet been broken in Major League Baseball, Troy was unable to make good money or to save for the future.

The first Broadway revival of the play opened at the Cort Theatre on April 26, 2010 with a limited 13-week engagement. Directed by Kenny Leon, the production starred Denzel Washington (Troy Maxson) and Viola Davis (Rose) as the married couple struggling with changing U.S. race relations. The revival was nominated for ten Tony Awards, winning three for Best Revival of a Play, Best Actor in a Play (Denzel Washington), and Best Actress in a Play (Viola Davis) The play also won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Directed by Kenny Leon and featuring actors Eugene Lee,Jesse L. Martin, Regina Taylor, Ray Anthony Thomas and Jonathan Majors.

Laurence Fishburne & Angela Bassett in Fences

Laurence Fishburne & Angela Bassett in Fences


Troy Maxson

Rose Maxson

Cory Maxson

Jim Bono

Gabriel Maxson

9/4 – Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

Set in Pittsburgh in the 1910’s. The play chronicles the lives of a few freed former enslaved African Americans and deals with themes of identity, migration and the conflicts of racism and discrimination. Joe Turner is more of a representational character in this play than a literal character. By illegally kidnapping freed and run away slaves, Turner represents the evil of the Southern, racist white man. He is based on the person of Joe Turney, brother of Tennessee governor Peter Turney, who would press Negroes in peonage.

Phylicia Rashad

Phylicia Rashad

Directed by Phylicia Rashad and featuring Keith David,Taraji P. Henson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Roger Robinson,Raynor Scheine, Jason Dirden, John Douglas Thompson,January LaVoy, Nile Bullock and Alexis Holt.


Seth Holly

Bertha Holly

Bynum Walker

Rutherford Selig

Jeremy Furlow

Herald Loomis

9/9 – The Piano Lesson

Set in 1936 Pittsburgh during the aftermath of the Great Depression. The play deals with themes of family legacy, and tells the story of the Charles family and a brother and sister who have different ideas on what to do with the piano they own – keep or sell it. The play won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The brother, Boy Willie, is a sharecropper who wants to sell the piano to buy the land (Sutter’s land) that his ancestors had toiled on as slaves while the sister, Berniece, remains emphatic about keeping it. The piano shows the carved faces of their great-grandfather’s wife and son during the days of their enslavement.

Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and featuring Brandon J. Dirden, Roslyn Ruff, James A. Williams, Jason Dirden, Alexis Holt, Eric Lenox Abrams, Chuck Cooper and Mandi Masden.


Doaker Charles


Boy Willie



Wining Boy

9/11 – The Two Trains Running

Set in 1969 in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. It tells the story of a local diner owner who fights to stay open as a municipal project encroaches on his establishment. His regulars must deal with racial inequality and the turbulent, changing times.

The restaurant in the play is at 1621 Wylie Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Hill District was one of the most prosperous, culturally active black neighborhoods in the United States. In 1960s, however, the neighborhood had suffered a sharp economic decline.

In the play, Memphis recounts how his restaurant, which now sees few patrons, used to be packed with customers. He discusses how many once-bustling small businesses have since closed down.

Directed by Michele Shay and featuring actors Ron Cephas Jones, James A. Williams, Owiso Odera, Leon Addison Brown and Harvy Blanks.









9/13 – Seven Guitars

Set in 1948. A Blues singer Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton just released from prison is asked to sign a record deal after a song he recorded months before becomes an unexpected hit. He is ready to right the past year’s wrongs and return to Chicago with a new understanding of what’s important in his life. Unfortunately his means of righting wrongs are inherently flawed.

The play begins and ends after the funeral of one of the main characters, showing events leading to the funeral in flashbacks.

Directed by Stephen McKinley Henderson, and featuring actors Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Brenda Pressley, Wendell Pierce, Lou Ferguson, Harry Lennix and Cassandra Freeman.


Floyd Barton



Red Carter




9/16 – Jitney

Set in a worn-down gypsy cab station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in early autumn 1977.

Regular cabs will not travel to the Pittsburgh Hill District of the 1970s, and so the residents turn to each other. Jitney dramatizes the lives of men hustling to make a living as jitneys—unofficial, unlicensed taxi cab drivers. When the boss Becker’s son returns from prison, violence threatens to erupt.

Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson and featuring actors Anthony Chisholm, Amari Cheatom, Stephen M. Henderson, Barry Shabaka Henley, Harvy Blanks andJoaquina Kalukango.








Young Blood/Darnell



9/21 – King Hedley II

King Hedley II has been described as one of Wilson’s darkest plays. Set in the 1980s, it tells the story of an ex-convict in Pittsburgh trying to rebuild his life by selling stolen refrigerators so that he can save enough money to buy a video store.

Directed by Michele Shay and featuring actors Russell Hornsby, Leslie Uggams, Kevin Carroll, Stephen M. Henderson, Marsha Stephanie Blake and Arthur French.






Stool Pigeon


9/24 – Gem of the Ocean

Set in 1904 in the Pittsburgh home of Aunt Ester, a 285-year-old former slave and renowned cleanser of souls. A young man from Alabama visits her for help in absolving the guilt and shame he carries from a crime he’s committed, and she takes him on a journey of self-discovery.

Directed by Kenny Leon and featuring Eugene LeeStephen Tyrone WilliamsPhylicia RashadDanai GuriraRaynor ScheineAnthony Chisolm and Keith Randolph Smith.


Aunt Ester Tyler

Citizen Barlow

Solly Two kings

Black Mary Wilkes

Caesar Wilkes


Rutherford Selig

9/28 – Radio Golf

Radio Golf is set in 1997 in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. It tells the story of a charming, powerful African-American politician who is running for the highest office of his career with the support of his savvy wife. As he steps into political prominence, his plans collide with his past.

Harmond Wilkes, an Ivy League-educated man who has inherited a real estate agency from his father, his ambitious wife Mame, and his friend Roosevelt Hicks want to redevelop the Hill District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The project, called the Bedford Hills Redevelopment Project, includes two high-rise apartment buildings and high-end chain stores like StarbucksWhole Foods, and Barnes & Noble. Harmond is also about to declare his candidacy to be Pittsburgh’s first black mayor.

Directed by Marion McClinton and featuring Rocky Carroll, John Earl Jelks, Sharon Washington, James A. Williams and Anthony Chisholm.


Harmond Wilkes


Roosevelt Hicks