The Last Word: Terrence Howard, Jennifer Hudson as Winnie Mandela, Tyler Perry Gets Paid and more!

What’s up everybody? The end of another week is here and it’s been pretty slow with Thanksgiving around the corner. Among the highlights: Obama travels to China for international business, murder and rape charges on the way for the guy police say killed 5-year-old Shaniya Davis as well as other charges for the girl’s mother, Oprah talking about ending her talk show in 2011 and Twilight fans packing movie theaters to see the newest chapter of the saga, New Moon. Shout out to the sounding boards for never ceasing to be the talk of the town. So it all boils down to this…the Last Word for the week ending Nov. 20, 2009. 1. Terrence Howard Gets Reminded of the Value of Women It’s always funny how certain things in life bring you down to earth and put everything in focus. For Terrence Howard, that thing involves his daughters, whom he credits for changing his playalistic mind state. For those who enjoy the company of many admirers, the Oscar nominee has a message for the playas and an apology for his former flames. “Young men tend to come into relationships feeling very strong and powerful, and they make a lot of mistakes. But they soften when they have daughters,” Howard told Redbook as he detailed what happens when you have two daughters to care for. “You see women through a whole different light because now you know that they were once someone’s little girl. I wish I’d had this knowledge when I was 20 — I wish I could call all the women I’ve ever dated and apologize. I didn’t know how precious they were. I know better now.” I guess it truly is hard out there for a pimp. Or maybe in this case a retired pimp. But it’s all good considering Terrence’s motivation for turning over a new leaf. Good for and much respect to him for making a change for the better. 2. American Idol’s Syesha Prepares to Walk in Beyonce’s Dreamgirl Shoes Syesha Mercado is looking to occupy a different stage than the one she graced on American Idol. According to USA Today, the songbird will have some big shoes to fill as she gears up to play Deena Jones in the national tour of Dreamgirls. The last person to play the character was Beyoncé, who brought Deena to life in the 2006 film adaptation of hit play. Although she will “definitely pay homage to Beyoncé,” Mercado has her own plans for putting her own spin on Deena. “I try to focus on what the character is to me,” said the songbird, who pointed out similarities with her character. “We both grew up in a very poor background. I lived in the projects when I was younger, so I know what it’s like to come from nothing.” The Dreamgirls tour is among a few things on Mercado’s plate. The outing kicks off Sunday (Nov. 22) at New York’s Apollo Theater and concludes July 25 in Kansas City. Once it’s done, Mercado will get back to work on her pop/R&B debut album as well as other pursuits. According to the singer, the road is open to maximize her talents to achieve success. “There’s a line Deena has,” she shared. “She says, ‘I want to be more. I want to be an artist, I want to act.’ I want to be so much more than just one thing.” Sounds like a good plan. It’s good to see Syesha aiming high. From the looks of it, her stint in Dreamsgirls is a nice gig. It’s seems like playing Deena is safer than playing Etta James. No commentary from singing veterans included. 3. The Mandelas Get the Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Hudson Treatment While Morgan Freeman is making his movie rounds as Nelson Mandela, he’ll be happy to know that he’ll have Jennifer Hudson as his former better half. But not in the same film. Variety reports the singer/actress will play Winnie Mandela in the new drama, Winnie. For Hudson, the chance to play a woman who has seen her share of ups and downs in the political spotlight was too good to pass up. “I was compelled and moved when I read the script,” Hudson revealed to Variety. “Winnie Mandela is a complex and extraordinary woman and I’m honored to be the actress asked to portray her. This is a powerful part of history that should be told.” Best known for her support of Nelson Mandela as well as her efforts to free her husband, who was jailed as he led the fight against apartheid in South Africa, Winnie Mandela has been at the center of controversy over the years. Among the lowlights was a reported association with a bodyguard who murdered a 14-year old alleged informer for the government, addition to a 2003 conviction for fraud and theft. Despite being in good standing in the eyes of some, the good and bad of Winnie Mandela’s story will be told in Winnie. In addition to starring in the film, Hudson is expected to sing the film’s theme song. Winnie is set to begin production May 30 in various locations in South Africa, including Johannesburg, Capt Town, Transkei and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. Those wondering about Freeman’s portrayal of the former South African president can catch that next month in the Clint Eastwood-directed feature Invictus. The film, which also stars Matt Damon as South African rugby team captain Francois Pienaar, centers on Mandela’s release from prison as well as his attempt to use the 1995 Rugby World Cup to help bring his country together after the fall of apartheid. Invictus his theaters Dec. 11. In Other Words… Most people know Fergie for her hip-shaking dance moves and ability to elevate many of Black Eyed Peas’ biggest hits. But if you ask Slash, he’ll tell you about a different Fergie that folks aren’t familiar with. One that’s contributing to his remake of Guns N’ Roses classic hit “Paradise City” with Cypress Hill. “Until now, not too many people have heard Fergie sing rock & roll but she sings it better than most dudes I know,” the Velvet Revolver guitarist voiced on his Twitter page. “She’s a screamer at heart.” Despite criticism from Spike Lee, Tyler Perry continues to get paid. According to Variety, the entertainment mogul’s hit TBS show, Meet the Browns, has been green lighted to start running in syndication beginning next fall. Plans call for the series to air Monday – Friday in September on stations that cover 70 percent of U.S. TV households. Usher has joined the many artists whose latest album will be in stores during the Christmas season. The R&B crooner’s forthcoming release, Raymond V. Raymond, is scheduled to hit stores Dec. 21. If you’re a soap opera fan, this could come as good or rather bad news. Entertainment Weekly reports that Darius McCrary (aka Family Matters’ Eddie Winslow) is returning to the small screen to walk in shoes formerly filled by Shemar Moore. Thanks to a multi-year deal, the former sitcom star will maintain job security playing the role of Malcolm Winters on The Young and the Restless. The reason for Malcolm’s return, according to the soap’s co-executive producer/head writer, lies in seeing his brother and reuniting with his biological daughter, Lily Winters, as she fights for her life.” Look for McCrary’s official debut as Malcolm when it airs on Dec. 29. I’m not in to soaps so take this for what it’s worth. As for the original Malcolm, EW says that Moore considered coming back to the role but as an insider mentioned, his commitment to the show Criminal Minds prevented that from happening. Last week it was Rachel Ray. This week, it’s Steve Harvey, who’s spreading love over the Thanksgiving holiday with plans to give away more than 6,000 turkeys to needy families across the country on Monday (Nov. 23). The giveaways are the result of Harvey and his wife Marjorie working with Steve Harvey Morning Show affiliate stations in 53 markets to distribute thousands of turkeys, with live on-air gives taking place in 10 of those markets. In addition to that, the comedian/author/actor will host Steve Harvey’s Big Turkey Give Day in Chicago the same day. During that event, the Harveys will give away 1,000 turkeys and 1,000 ropes of turkey sausage courtesy of Hillshire Farm to Chicago-area residents.

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