The Last Word: Usher Continues Charity in MJ's Honor, Kerry Washington Plays a Transsexual Prostitute In New Film, and Janet Jackson's Lawsuit Is Dismissed
Great day, everybody. Another week gone, another 25 cents
made as serious talk floats around of fully legalizing marijuana in California
to help with the states debt, the NAACP marks its 100-year anniversary with an
appearance from President Obama at its annual convention in New York on
Thursday (July 16) and Supreme Court confirmation hearings wrap up on Judge
Congratulations to BeBe Winans, who will be inducted into
the International Gospel Music Hall of Fame in October and Lady Gaga, who made
Top 40 history by becoming the third artist to have three No. 1 songs from a
debut album (Just Dance, Poker Face, and LoveGame). Shout outs to the
sounding boards for finding ways to stay cool while always bringing the heat.
Ladies and Gents the Last Word for the week ending July 17,
1. Usher Keeps the MJ Spirit of Giving Alive
Its no secret that Usher Raymond was influenced by the late
great Michael Jackson. All you have to do is watch one of his videos or his
tearful rendition of the music icons Gone to Soon at the MJ memorial.
And with the official start of Camp New Look on Monday (July
13), Usher looks to carry the torch for Michaels quest to heal t he world. The
summer camp is a two-week experience in Atlanta for 130 kids as it exposes them
to the business side of sports and entertainment.
I paid close attention to what celebrities like Michael Jackson
had done with his brand, Raymond told USA Today less than three weeks before the King of Pops unexpected death. He
made philanthropy something that was kind of like a sense of heart work, and
not hard work. All of the hard work went into who he was as a celebrity; the
heart work made a difference.
Although it would be easy to leave all the work to hired
hands, Usher admitted to waning to work with camp goers himself as he summed up
his motivation with a simple choice.
They say in life you can be a product of your experience or
a product of your environment, the 30-year-old entertainer said. I choose to
be a product of my experience.
And while it seems that Usher is jumping on the MJ goodwill
bandwagon, the desire to inspire kids was something thats always been in Usher
all along before the arrival of his own children.
Every kid may not be able to be a football player, athlete,
artist, but there are so many other talents that kids have I want to be
motivating to those who have talent or who just need motivation. With my
campers, I don't look at them as children. I look at them as young adults.
2. Ne-Yo Goes International to Expand Artist
Looks like the mogul bug has bit Ne-Yo.
Media sources report the R&B hitmaker has launched a
U.K. branch of his Compound Entertainment management/artist
Under the new company, Ne-Yo said that U.K. talent in all
its forms artists, songwriters, whatever's out there would be sought
out as well as talent from all music genres.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the entertainer wants to be as hands-on as
possible with his U.K. establishment. In addition to music, the new company
will also include a publishing arm.
I want to spend as much time here as possible, said Ne-Yo,
who runs Compound Entertainment with his manager/company co-founder and business
partner Reynell Tango Hay. I want to listen to everything and say yay or nay.
As it stands now, Ne-Yo stated the U.K. Compound location
will be the companys only international office for the foreseeable future.
More staffing details for the office will be come out later this year as
Compound looks for office space in the U.K.
3. Jada Pinkett-Smith Finds Sexual Alternative to Oscars
For any celebrity, theres nothing like the Oscars. Whether
youre a nominee, presenter or just there for the long show, its a safe bet
that youll be seen by a lot of people whenever you hit the red carpet.
And while the thought of making news on the red carpet is
appealing, leave it to Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith to opt for a more intimate
alternative. According to Jada, all it took was a look from Big Willie to get
In a limo, on the way to the Academy Awards this year, Will
started looking at me in this way that drives me wild, the actress confessed
to Shape magazine. We started kissing
passionately, and the next thing I knew, well, let's just say we missed the red
carpet and I ended up with almost no makeup on.
Considering all the information shes released lately about
her episodes with Will, it shouldnt come as too much of a surprise. After all,
this is the same person who credits lots of sex! as her number one beauty
secret while crediting sex in cars, at friends houses, in costume and outdoors
as ways to keep the fire burning in a relationship.
Anybody taking bets on when the sex tape will leak online?
Leave it to Will to keep his marriage in tack by gettin freaky with it.
4. Kerry Washington Reflects on Gritty Transsexual Role
in New Film
Kerry Washington has taken on a bunch of film roles during
her career on the big screen. But the head turners portrayal of a drug
addicted, pre-op transsexual prostitute in the new independent movie Life is
Hot in Cracktown literally offers a
different look at the actress.
Based on a short story collection by writer/director Buddy
Giovinazzo, Life is Hot in Cracktown
features various stories surrounding the invasion of crack cocaine on
inner-city streets and its affect on people.
While the movie may not be as pretty as a lot of stuff shes
been in and looked great doing, Washington explains that her deciding to do the
film came as a result of her desire to tell a compelling story as being moved
on a deeper level from reading a films script.
One of the reasons I became an actor is because
storytelling is really important. To tell the stories of who we are as a
society and as a culture, thats vital to the human experience, the actress
told EURWeb. Sometimes we dont always tell the stories of people whose lives
we might find uncomfortable or disconcerting; disenfranchised people. I think
everybody deserves to have their stories told, so that was part of the
decision, too; wanting to be a part of the honest telling of a community that
we dont always acknowledge.
In order to convincingly play her character, Washington did
a lot of research and reading on transsexuals in addition to gaining insight on
the transsexual community from a trans-woman.
One of the things I learned was that for most trans-women,
these are people who are born knowing that they are women, but their biology
has betrayed them in some way, she said. The real question to ask myself was,
What if I couldnt take my identity as a woman for granted? Here I am this
sort of post-modernist, post-feminist woman and Im at the gym trying to work
off my butt and thighs, but what if I was spending thousands of dollars in
hormone therapy and injections because I desperately needed to have a butt and
thighs because I felt thats who I was? What if I was me, but my body betrayed
me and I couldnt physically be who I knew I was?
The experience of making Life is Hot in Cracktown proved to be an eye-opening one that reinforced
Washingtons stance on being exposed to things and issues that may be uncomfortable.
Sometimes its important to watch things that are hard to
watch because we can run into danger when we stop acknowledging our fellow
human beings and their stories and their humanity,
Washington said. Its like we want to ignore the kid on the
street, and the woman on the corner, and the kid that lives in the crack hotel,
and the violent gang member. We dont want to pay attention to them, we dont
want to see them and I think thats an illness. I think life is hard and thats
one of the things that the film speaks to.
Life is Hot in Cracktown
is currently in limited release.
5. Court Judge Takes Janet Jackson Out of $120 Million
Here's a bit of good news on the Jackson family. According
to reports, a $120 million lawsuit filed against Janet Jackson has been
The suit was filed by Leonard Salati, who claimed that one
of Jacksons bodyguards treated him roughly in February 2004 in a nightclub
called Marquee. According to Salati, the bodyguard put him in a chokehold when
he approached Janet and attempted to give her his number and kiss her on the
Joey Moldanado, Jacksons only bodyguard on duty the night
of the incident maintained that he didnt witness or involve himself in any
sort of scuffle. Although Moldanado is Latino, Salati described those who
assaulted him as African-American.
Nevertheless, New York State Supreme Court Justice Jane
Solomon cited a lack of evidence as the reason for her throwing out the part of
Salatis case that included Jackson and Moldanado on June 25.
There is no evidence that [Jackson's bodyguard] assaulted
Salati, or that anyone assaulted Salati at Jackson's direction, Solomon said
in her ruling.
Despite Janet, her bodyguard and Marquee getting off the
hook, the security club that was contracted to provide security and protection
for the nightclub may still feel the effects of the case, Salatis lawyer,
Jamie Levy, told E! News. A pretrial hearing on the matter is scheduled for
All this trouble over trying to slip a phone number and a
kiss on someone. This guy shouldve focused on someone less famous. At least,
the brush off wouldve been less trouble. I guess it takes a minute for some
people to catch on.
In Other Words
* The Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami is getting a
helping hand from the world or Reggaeton as Puerto Rico-based duo Wisin &
Yandel will donate $25,000 help the organization build new homes. On Wednesday,
the group announced that they will donate $1 to Habitat for every ticket sold
for their U.S. tour this fall. The outing, which kicks off Sept. 17 in Miami,
comes on the heels of the May release of Wisin & Yandels seventh album La
Revolucion. The lead single from the
release is Abusadora.
* As if Tom Cruise couldnt match his couch-jumping
spectacle a few years back on Oprah or the Yung Joc dance he did on 106
& Park, now the actor has joined the
folks who have shown their love of Beyoncés hit single Single Ladies (Put a
Ring on It). People.com reports Cruise was seen doing the tunes famous dance
at Beys recent concert at L.A.s Staples Center.
To hear one concertgoer tell, it everyone was laughing and
taking pictures, as they enjoyed Cruise, who sang (and danced!) along to the
music all night while settling in next to the sound booth.
* Last week, I hit you with news of Justin Timberlake
working to bring his love for the game of golf to the masses in the form of a memoir-like
work. Now, the former boy band member is taking things a step further with the
opening of his new eco-friendly golf course, Mirimichi.
The new green, which officially opens on July 25, is the end
result of two years of preparation. According to E! Online, Timberlake invested
roughly $16 million in the reconstruction of the former Big Creek Golf Course
after buying it late in 2007 to save it from commercial development. The
Mirimichi is designed to be the first eco-friendly golf course to be certified
by the Audubon International Classic Sanctuary Program.