The Last Word: LeToya vs. Capitol, ‘The Last Dragon,’ Mariah Carey on MJ

What’s good everybody? It’s been an eventful five days as film director Roman Polanski gets arrested more than 30 years after having sex with a 13-year-old girl in California, the Obamas campaign to get the 2016 Olympics in Chicago and relief efforts and prayers continue for those affected by a massive earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia and the Samoas.

Congratulations to former Half and Half star Essence Atkins, who married her boyfriend last Saturday (Sept. 26) after meeting on Match.com and Khloe Kardashian and L.A. Lakers star Lamar Odom, who got hitched on last Sunday (Sept. 27).

Shout out to the sounding boards and the 20 mothers I inherited for making sure I stay around to write another day.

And now the next chapter of… the Last Word for the week ending Oct. 2, 2009.

1. LeToya Luckett Fans Demand Better Promotion For Their Favorite Singer

Although President Obama is having his troubles in Washington, his “Yes we can” mentality has caught on with fans of LeToya Luckett, who feel the singer’s latest album, Lady Love, has not been properly promoted by her label Capital Records.

Despite a string of singles (“Not Anymore,” “She Ain’t Got” and the Ludacris-assisted “Regret”), LeToya’s supporters feel Capitol should do more for their favorite artist and promote her the way she needs to be promoted. So much so that they’ve organized a petition to put their grievances out there.

“We believe that she has proven she is more than deserving of the same promotion her label mates have received e.g. Katy Perry,” the petition stated. “We fully understand that her first two singles did not push this album the way we all hoped, but given the promotion they received we are not surprised.”

Supporters hope the buzz generated by “Regret” will encourage Capitol to put more of an effort into Luckett and her new music.

“We ask that you provide LeToya with, at the very least, the same promotion that her debut album received, an official add date for “Regret” to build upon its already strong airplay performance, and a budget that reflects a Grammy award winning, Platinum selling artist, with two #1 albums to her credit, so a “Regret” video can be produced and distributed,” the petition explained. “We understand that money does not grow on trees, and so far the album has not returned your investment, but we know that “Regret” can change all of that with your fully renewed support.”

While fans wait on Capitol to make up its mind, they can catch Luckett on the big screen in the upcoming movie The Preacher’s Kid.

2. Lyfe Jennings Prepares for Retirement After New Album

After five years of giving entertaining fans, Lyfe Jennings is retiring from singing. But not without giving fans one last album to enjoy, the forthcoming release Sooner or Later.

According to Jennings, the decision to hang up his active mic was more personal than professional as he confirmed to EUR’s Lee Bailey that “This is my last album.

“I have three children and they’re at an age where they really need me there. I just can’t be on the road seven, eight months of the year. They need me in their life right now,” Jennings said.

And while his desire to spend time with his children is strong, Jennings can partially attribute his retirement to an incident with the kids’ mother in October of 2008. According to reports, the crooner was arrested in Smyrna, Georgia, after police said he fired a gun in the air and attempted to evade arrest by leading them on a high-speed car chase after searching for his children’s mother at another man’s home. The entertainer was booked on a series of misdemeanor charges that included criminal trespass, discharging a firearm near a public highway and refusal to take a DUI test. In addition he collected two felony counts of attempting to elude and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

“With that situation that happened last year, the way it just forced me to be at home a lot and spending time around [my children] and getting to see them day-to-day; their growth cycle mentally and physically, that kind of made the decision easier for me than if I had been out on the road,” said Jennings.

As for his pending retirement, Lyfe is quick to let people know not to take the word literally. 

“When I say this is my last album, I’m not saying I’m not going to do music again,” said the singer who confessed to “trying to make good financial decisions and open up businesses and try and supplement the income.”

“I’m going to continue to tour, but I’m not going to tour in connection with an album. So therefore, I won’t be touring as much. I’m on my own label and I plan on doing other things with the label. Everything will work out.”

3. Mariah Carey Recalls Talk of Not Being Around for Success; Talks Death With Michael Jackson

Although she’s regarded as one of the most talented singers around, Mariah Carey confessed that the highs of her singing career and a second go round in the acting world with the buzz surrounding her performance in the film Precious is something she didn’t think she would be around to see.

“Honestly, I never thought I’d live this long. I have always been grateful for everything I had, but my personal life was a mess,” the songbird told In Touch magazine while touting her husband Nick Cannon’s influence on her. “So many artists just exist for their careers and then burn out quickly. That was me before I met Nick, and he helped me. I always thought that I wouldn’t be here at this point. I was thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve got another year of my life left. This has got to be the end of it.’ Finally, he was like, ‘Stop talking like that.’” 

As for Hollywood’s phobia against aging, Carey finds the fear and attention associated with it to be “offensive. “ “It unfairly taints women in particular, and makes people look at you differently. I lived with that my whole life,” said the singer, who referenced a screen legend as a personification of her preoccupation with life as an older person.

“I have been obsessed with the whole Marilyn Monroe thing my whole life – all those artists who died young,” she says. “Michael Jackson. At one point, we talked about that stuff. I can’t reveal what he thought. But yes, we had a conversation about it once.” 

4. Taimak Weighs In On Last Dragon Remake

We may have lost Sho’Nuff, but the hero of the ‘80’s film The Last Dragon continues to do him while exercising his acting chops. And with a remake of the classic feature on the way, it only seems fitting that Taimak Guarriello (aka Bruce Leroy) appear in some form or fashion. 

Despite the film doing well at the box office during its ‘80s heyday, Taimak admits that finding work after being front and center alongside Vanity and the late Julius Carry was a challenge in and of itself.

“There were the pros and cons, and then there was the reality,” the actor shared with BV Newswire. “It was 1985, and the problem was there was an expectation. It was one of the biggest movies in the country, and there were no big actors in it. I was naive to the ways Hollywood represented black men. And I thought that because you star in a movie that does well that there would be another opportunity. Hollywood didn’t have a structure for someone like me to step into.”

“Now 25 years after his film debut, Taimak, is set to return to the feature that started his career.

“I can’t give all the details, but I do know what role I am playing. I can say that it will be a surprise,” Guarriello said as he dropped a few details on the anticipated remake. “Samuel L. Jackson is already signed to play Sho’Nuff. The story isn’t going to be as comical as it was in the first one, but it will be very exciting. I am looking to read the rewrite of the script next month. I know that Devon Franklin, over at Sony, and Kerry Gordy really want to do a great job, so they’re really focusing in on the story.”

In case you’re wondering if the original Last Dragon cast has kept in touch, the answer is yes and no with Guarriello and Berry Gordy discussing the remake. As for his former leading lady, the actor had this to say. 

“I haven’t been in touch with Denise Matthews, who played Vanity, in about five years. I was in touch with Julius Carry up until he died, and since then, I have been in touch with his mother. She contacted me an hour after he died. It was very touching. There was definitely a connection between Julius and me, in the sense that we both had broken into Hollywood with one film in a big way.”

In Other Words…

     Although details surrounding her new album, Alicia Keys is moving forward. The singer, who recently released her new single, “Doesn’t Mean Anything,” has revealed the title of the follow-up to her 2007 release, As I Am. The album, which is called The Element of Freedom, is slated to hit stores on December 1.

     Mention Mr. T and you instantly picture a big muscular tough guy with a Mohawk saying “I pity the fool” while wearing a bunch of gold chains. Nowadays, you can find the former A-Team star with all but one of those things as he has retired the gold in 2005 after seeing the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Mr. T, the move was done out of respect for those who lost their lives in the infamous natural disaster.

“As a Christian I said I would never wear my own gold again because of what happened with Hurricane Katrina. It would be a sin against God for me to wear my gold when so many people lost everything,” said the ‘80s icon. “Sure, it’s my trademark, but I am the same person whether I’m wearing the gold or not. My moral values are the same. The gold don’t make me, I make the gold.”

     Washington DC’s AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s new healthcare clinic will carry the name of actor Blair Underwood. The Washington Post reports the 15-room AHF Blair Underwood Healthcare Center, located in Suite 606 at 2141 K St., opened last week and includes four examination beds and a single doctor.

Underwood’s reason for getting involved with the clinic stemmed from a need to attract more clients to the facility.

     Looks like Raphael Saadiq putting his creativity in a different zone. The R&B vocalist is invading the small screen as an executive producer for a new sitcom starring former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air cast member Tatyana Ali. According to BV Buzz, the show, called Love That Girl!, is based off the first single from Saadiq’s latest album The Way I See It. 

As it stands now, four episodes of the Love That Girl! have been taped. The series, which is also executive produced by actor/comedian Martin Lawrence, features Ali as Tyana Jones, a young divorcee who returns to Southern California to reclaim her independence, find a new career and start the next phase of her personal life. In addition to Ali, Love That Girl! includes Alphonso McAuley as her brother Latrell and Phil Morris, who plays Tyana’s father.

Despite having a few episodes in the can, Love That Girl!’s immediate future is up in the air. No premiere date has been announced for the show, which has not found a network to align with.

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