The “And the Good News Is…” Interview
with Kam Williams
Dana Marie Perino was born in Evanston, Wyoming on May 9, 1972, where she grew up herding cattle at the crack of dawn on a cattle ranch. In college, she moonlighted as a country music DJ while majoring in Mass Communications. And after graduating from Colorado State University-Pueblo, she went on to earn a Master’s in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Dana made history as the first Republican female to serve as White House Press Secretary. After seven years in the George W. Bush administration, she was recruited by the Fox News Network to co-host a new show, The Five, which has become one of the most highly-rated programs on cable TV.
Christians in word and deed, Dana and her husband, Peter, devote considerable time to philanthropy causes, traveling to Africa on numerous occasions to volunteer with charities ranging from Living Hope to Mercy Ships. The former is a faith-based organization working with AIDS victims, while the latter is a state-of-the-art floating hospital which sails down the Congo River to bring free medical care to desperate people living is some of the poorest countries in the world.
Here, she talks about her life and career, including the time spent as President Bush’s official spokesperson.
Kam Williams: Hi Dana, thanks for the interview. How are you?
Dana Perino: I’m pretty good, thank you.
KW:You know, I feel like I already know you, from seeing you on The Five everyday.
DP: That’s one of the favorite things I hear a lot on the book tour. I think that’s a huge compliment to The Five.
KW: Even though I’m very liberal, I still enjoy the show, especially because you and Greg Gutfeld aren’t predictable in terms of your political stances.
DP: I know what you mean. Bill Shine, an executive at Fox, once said, “Who would’ve ever thought that it’d be Dana Perino always defending the unions and the TSA?”
KW: Or coming to the defense of Obama administration White House Press Secretaries. What were your expectations, when you agreed to do The Five?
Bass Clef Bliss
Film Review by Kam Williams
Before Terrence Partridge turned 2, his parents first noticed an arrest in his development of age-appropriate social skills. In fact, he actually started regressing soon thereafter, as words he had already been using began to disappear from his vocabulary.
But it would still be a couple more years before they would receive the devastating diagnosis that their son was autistic. Unfortunately, the marriage would not last, as is so often the case with families touched by this affliction, and the burden of raising Terrence alone would end up falling entirely on his mother Therese’s shoulders.
Since early intervention can be critical in a kid’s prognosis, he was lucky she committed herself to giving him the love and support of even more than two parents. And she resolved to become an expert in autism, since it can manifests in myriad ways, making what might be a viable protocol for one child, totally inappropriate for another.
In Terrence’s case, he exhibited an early interest in music, being among the 1 in 10,000 people blessed with perfect pitch. His attentive mom recognized his talent which she proceeded to cultivate with the help of Louise Titlow, his trombone instructor. Under his patient teacher’s tutelage, the boy blossomed into a promising prodigy to the point where he would one day play in San Diego’s New Youth Classical Orchestra as well as jazz in a combo led by trumpeter Gilbert Castllanos.
Louise modestly explains away her student’s seemingly miraculous achievements with, “All it takes with Terrence or any autistic child is a little bit more love, a little more time, and a little more faith.” Perhaps of greater significance is her further assertion that, “He can be an angel of healing self-expression through music, and heal others as he’s uplifting himself.”
Directed by Patrick Scott, Bass Clef Bliss is an alternately heartrending and uplifting biopic chronicling the tight bond between a mother and son as together they confront an assortment of daunting challenges associated with autism. Scott makes a most impressive debut here, as he oh so delicately balances the access he was afforded to his subjects ‘daily lives with their plausible concerns about personal privacy.
Besides focusing on Terrence and Therese’s trials, tribulations and ultimate triumphs, this informative documentary features a cornucopia of facts and figures about autism, courtesy of both experts and anecdotal evidence. Did you know that in 1985, 1 in 2,500 babies developed the disorder, and that today the number is about 1 in 68?
Thus, autism is now, effectively, universal in nature which makes a labor of love like Bass Clef Bliss certain to resonate deeply with any spiritually-inclined soul compassionately attuned to other than self.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 70 minutes
Distributor: Dance House Productions / Passage Productions / BKLYN2LA Productions / Drama House Productions
To see a trailer for Bass Clef Bliss, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiWffnyp1so
Film Review by Kam Williams
Cash-strapped Katherine McCoy (Vivica A. Fox) is holding down a couple of jobs to make ends meet while praying that her sons stay on the straight and narrow path until they can make it out of the ghetto. Though grown, both boys still live at home, yet neither is helping their struggling single-mom much financially.
At least the younger one, Michael (Robert Ri’chard), is close to graduating from college and works part-time at a diner as a short order chef. But he hasn’t even been able to save enough from that minimum wage position to have his car fixed, so he has to get around Los Angeles by bicycle. By comparison, his 30 year-old brother Chris (DeRay Davis) is a trash-talking hustler who shows more of an interest in hanging out on the streets than in finding gainful employment.
The siblings’ fortunes change the day they decide to patronize the local gentlemen’s club. For, while Michael is relieving himself in the men’s room, he’s approached by the owner (Michael Jai White) about stripping there on Ladies’ Night.
Initially, the handsome hunk hesitates out of concern about how his girlfriend (Imani Hakim) and his Bible-thumping mother might react to his moonlighting in his birthday suit. However, after taking the time to watch girls go wild over buff beefcake (played by Tyson Beckford, Ginuwine and others), he decides to throw caution to the wind.
So, on the advice of his brother-turned-promoter, he’s given the stage name “Sexy Chocolate.” I suppose taking “Magic Mike” might have been a tad too transparent even for this unapologetic rip-off.
Despite soon raking in the big bucks, Michael’s life nevertheless starts to come apart at the seams. His grades plunge from As to Fs. His mother worries about whether her son’s sudden gains are ill-gotten. And his girlfriend gets the surprise of her life the evening she shows up with her BFFs.
Written and directed by Jean-Claude La Marre (the Pastor Jones franchise), Chocolate City is basically a blackface version of Magic Mike that trades shamelessly in the same sort of titillating fare which made that flick a runaway hit a few years ago. A derivative, estrogen-fueled, overcoming-the-odds saga strictly recommended for females interested in seeing sepia-skinned Adonises gyrate while disrobing to mind-numbing disco music.
Good (2 stars)
Rated R for profanity, brief violence, partial nudity and pervasive sexuality
Running time: 91 minutes
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
To see a trailer for Chocolate City, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42HA58cBHAM
Vivica A. Fox, Tyson Beckford and Robert Ri’chard
The “Chocolate City” Interview
with Kam Williams
Is Vivica Really Dating the Handsome Hunk Who Plays Her Son in the Movie?
Vivica A. Fox, Tyson Beckford and Robert Ri’chard co-star in Chocolate City which is basically a remake of Magic Mike. Director Jean-Claude La Marre explains that he felt an African-American variation on the male stripper theme was in order, given the absence of black faces in the original.
This version of the tale revolves around a cash-strapped college kid (Richard) who hides from his mother (Fox) the fact that he’s moonlighting as an exotic dancer at a neighborhood nightclub on ladies’ night. The three recently spoke to me via a conference call about the film, and also about the rumors circulating in the tabloids of a steamy set romance between Vivica and Robert.
Kam Williams: Hey, thanks for the interview.
Robert Ri’chard: Hey Vivica, how are you?
Vivica Fox: I’m fine darling. How are you?
RR: When are you going to take me out for a glass of champagne, so I can buy you some chocolate?
VAF: [Laughs] You’re starting way too early, Robert. What, are you in need of a mimosa already? You’re too much! Too much!
Tyson Beckford: [Joins call] Hey, what’s happening everybody?
VAF: Hey, Tyson.
RR: I heard you’re in Vegas.
TB: No, I was in Los Angeles a few hours ago. But now I’m in New York. And I’ll be back in Vegas at this time tomorrow.
RR: I wanna dance tomorrow.
TB: You keep sayng that, but you’ve got to rehearse. You can’t just show up and get onstage. We’ll have to work you out. You’re rusty.
RR: I want to come to a rehearsal tomorrow.
TB: We don’t have one scheduled. I’ll have to bring you in and rehearse you real quick, if I have time for it.
KW: Let me start off the interview with a question from children’s book author Irene Smalls. She asks: What interested each of you in Chocolate City?
TB: I’ll answer first, since I was the first to sign on. What interested me was the script. I loved how the characters showed their emotions. It made me feel for Robert’s character [Michael], because I’ve been through that as a college student trying to make my way through life. And I did the whole topless waiter thing in a male revue before, so I knew I could connect with it. In addition, I found the idea of Jean-Claude [director Jean-Claude La Marre] building an entire cast around me kind of intriguing. I was eager to see what he would come up with. So, that’s why I jumped in.
VAF: I’ll be very honest with you, Kam. I had worked with Jean-Claude before and, when I heard that he was doing this, I went to see Magic Mike. And I went, “Wow! How crazy is it that they don’t have any African-Americans in this?” I felt that whoever makes this film African-American will win. Jean-Claude let me know he wanted me to play the mom and, when he told me about the cast, I said, “I’m so totally in for this.” I’ve seen it, and it’s awesome. It’s a feel-good, girl’s night out film that everybody will enjoy.
KW: And why’d you do the film, Robert?
RR: Because I had a crush on Vivica.
TB: You see, that’s how rumors get started, Robert!
RR: The first time I ever modeled, I walked the runway with Tyson. And he let me walk in front of him. He was the man! I was like, “This is my dude!” So, when I was approached about working with him for a whole movie, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I just said, “Count me in.”
KW: Is there any truth to the rumor that you two are an item since making this movie?
VAF: Yes, Robert Ri’chard is the love of my life!
RR: The rumor’s not big enough.
VAF: [Laughs] We’re having fun, but let me set the record straight. No, it’s not true. It was my first time working with him. And our scenes were so intense that everybody was like, “Wow! They have a major connection with each other.” But it was literally mutual respect as actors. There’s no romance going on.
RR: Yet. I wonder how the tabloids are predicting the future.
KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier for Vivica: I am a big fan and have followed your career since the late Eighties. I probably watched Two Can Play That Game, one of my favorite romantic-comedies, over 40 times. Is there any chance you’ll make another sequel of this movie?
VAF: We actually made one sequel, called Three Can Play That Game. I did co-produce the film, but it didn’t do as well, because they didn’t allow me to have my original cast back. Lord, would I love to get that original cast back together, and do the real sequel that should’ve been done, because it’s a cult classic, and it’s been done by other nationalities. So, I’d love to do a true sequel. Absolutely!
KW: Patricia would also like to know whether you might like to direct in the future.
VAF: Ooh! Directing is a lot of responsibility. In the future, yes, but I probably wouldn’t get into that for another five years or so.
KW: Patricia has a question for Tyson. She says. You have roots in Panama, and I am taking this occasion to say that I went there last year for almost a month. I was very moved by the warmth of the people there. Not one person was impatient towards me when I looked for words in my French-Spanish dictionnary to communicate with them. Given your diverse background, would you be open to play in a foreign film in the future?
TB: Yeah, I would definitely love to do that. Panama is like one of my homes. I have cousins down there that I’d like to bond with. So, I‘d love to make a movie there.
KW: What advice do you have for guys who want to follow into your footstep in modeling and for those who want to be involved in modeling?
TB: That’s tough to answer, because you have to be cut from a certain type of cloth. You have to have be a certain height, build and a have a certain look. You can’t just wake up and decide to model one day. It’s hard to explain, but getting into the business is all about the features.
KW: “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan says: Vivica, when you're really feeling naughty, and you just want to let your diet go off the rails, what's your guiltiest pleasure? Is there a place you specifically go in LA to get some really “bad" food? The type that makes you say, “Boy, I'm gonna have to hit the gym tomorrow.”
TB and RR: [LOL]
VAF: Do you hear them giggling in the background? I hear you. They’re so bad! Can you imagine having to deal with this all day? Where do I go? Two places: Casa Vega, because I love some good ole Mexican food, and California Pizza Kitchen, because I also love pizza. Those are my guilty pleasures, and not something else that they’re snickering about.
TB and RR: [Laugh some more]
KW: Jimmy also says: Tyson, you've enjoyed an enduring modeling career. When you started out, did you think this modeling thing would last as long as it has? Did you always have your sights set on the acting thing as a logical extension?
TB: A lot of people don’t know this, but I started out as an actor. Along the way, I was offered a modeling job, and the modeling took off. So, I put the acting off to the side. Still, I always told myself that once I made enough money, I was going to get out of the game. I didn’t intend to stay this long. I figured once my contract with Ralph [Lauren] was over, that I would go right into acting. But it’s taken awhile for Hollywood to recognize me. In fact, I still feel like they don’t recognize me yet, but they’re going to soon.
VAF: I know that’ right!
TB: You know me, Viv. You see how hard-headed I am. I ain’t stopping ‘til I get there.
VAF: I can tell you I’m so proud, because everyone’s really, really loving you at Chippendale’s, and you are just doing your thing. I’m so proud of you!
TB: Oh, thank you, babe.
KW: Reverend Florine Thompson asks: How do you maintain centered spiritually?
VAF: For me, it’s by keeping things simple, as far as the crowd of people that I’m around. I’ve also really learned to focus on family, and on how to be happy with myself from within.
RR: I come from a very religious family and, for me, the key is my family unit which supports me and keeps me grounded when it comes to just giving it up to God, and putting God first.
TB: I might not go to church as much as I should, but I walk with God every day. I speak to Him, I ask Him for things, and what I can do for Him. And we have a fair trade that has worked out for me.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
TB: I see someone with drive who is not a quitter.
VAF: A grown woman who’s happy in her skin.
RR: An ordinary American son with extraordinary experience.
KW: Lastly, what’s in your wallet?
VAF: American Express and $200 in cash.
RR: I’ve got a Mastercard and about the same amount of money.
TB: American Express. I never leave home without it! [Laughs]
KW: Thanks again for the time, everyone, and best of luck with the film.
VAF: Alright, thank you, Kam
TB: Take care.
RR: Thanks, Kam.
To see a trailer for Chocolate City, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42HA58cBHAM
Pitch Perfect 2
Film Review by Kam Williams
The Bellas are back and badder than before! In case you’re unfamiliar with the sassy, all-girl singing group, they’re students at Barden University, a fictional college located in Atlanta, Georgia. In the original, the students overcame a number of frustrating setbacks on the slow road to victory at the national acappella competition.
This semester, the motley crew led by super senior Chloe (Brittany Snow) has its sights set on the world championships in Copenhagen. However, they get off to a horrible start, thanks to an embarrassing, onstage wardrobe malfunction experienced by Fat Amy’(Rebel Wilson) while dangling at the end of a rope during a command performance for President Obama and the First Lady.
The audience lets out a collective gasp when she splits her leotard down the crotch, thereby completely exposing her private parts to the world. By the time the dust finally settles on the ensuing reactions to “Muffgate” by the media, the Barden Bellas find themselves temporarily suspended from competition by the board of governors.
Not to worry, the storyline seizes on that pause in the musical cause as a convenient excuse to develop the back stories of several group members. Amy has an ardent admirer in Bumper (Adam DeVine), but will she ever let her guard down long enough to share her sensitive side? Meanwhile, Beca (Anna Kendrick) secretly takes an internship with a Grammy-winning record producer (Keegan-Michael Key) with hopes of having him listen to the tunes she’s composed.
There’s also drama surrounding an angry black lesbian (Ester Dean), a freshman legacy admission Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) with low self-esteem; and an undocumented alien (Chrissie Fit), afraid of being deported. The pithy banter, here, frequently borders on the politically-incorrect, but it somehow works, perhaps because it’s never too mean-spirited.
As the assorted controversies are gradually amicably resolved, specter of the big showdown with the German defending world champs, The Sound Machine, looms ever larger on the horizon. Curiously, though billed as a celebration of acappella renditions of classic hits and show tunes, all the vocalists are actually accompanied by musical instruments.
Will the Bellas win? What? Are you in a rush? Just sit back and enjoy the irreverent ride. As one-man band Bobby McFerrin would warble, “Don’t worry, be happy.” A road to redemption paved with wisecracks and wonderful harmonies.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity and sexual innuendo
Running time: 115 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
To see a trailer for Pitch Perfect 2, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bh4mvJ5jUg