Thursday, September 28, 2006


Shonda Rhimes' Grey's Anatomy captures 25 million viewers in season opener

"There's something very sexy about surgery. You actually have your hands in someone else's body."

Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the hit medical series Grey's Anatomy

The creator of the hit series Grey's Anatomy hit the front page of the New York Times Arts section today. Her creation which is described as a "mixture of medicine, drama and sex" captured 25.4 million viewers in its season premiere and gave ABC execs something to celebrate as the network wound up No. 1 in the crucial 18- to 49-year-old demographic for the first week of the 2006-07 season.
"The youngest of six, Rhimes was raised in University Park, Illinois, outside Chicago, in a family of storytellers who were "obsessed with reading." To this day, she has about 20 books by her bedside at any given time. Her appetite runs from trashy novels to serious literature. Recently she was nibbling on The Soul of a Chef, All Girls: Single Sex Education and Why It Matters, Invisible Man, and The Undomestic Goddess. At eight years old, she remembers reading John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman but later, as an undergrad at Dartmouth, found herself drawn to the spoken word, acting in and directing plays. After graduation, she took a job in advertising, which she hated because "you're writing the things people are turning away from."

extended quote from The Cutting Edge: Shonda Rhimes dissects Grey's Anatomy Written by Pamela K. Johnson (From the September 2005 issue of "Written By")

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Actor, producer and director Forest Whitaker ready for his Oscar with portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland

"I want to tell stories that are revealing of the human condition."

Forest Whitaker in conversation with Tavis Smiley in 2003

The intensely talented and committed Whitaker takes on the difficult task of portraying the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin with The Last King of Scotland, opening this week across the country. Bob Mondelo, reviewing the film on NPR says that Whitaker portrays Amin as "commanding, fearsome, wide-eyed and all too human" and that the film was directed by Kevin MacDonald with "a cinematic urgency to match its historical events." A disciplined craftsman, Whitaker spent months in Uganda interviewing family and associates of Amin and even learned enough Swahili to be able to ad lib with actors on the set. Check out the NPR site for an extended interview with the star and scenes from the movie.

Read about another famous Amin:
When I was in Kenya in July, I had the pleasure of meeting Salim Amin, the son of the Kenyan photojournalist Mohamed Amin. Mohamed Amin is arguably the greatest photojournalist to come of Africa and was responsible for breaking the story of the Ethiopan famine. He also got closer to Idi Amin than anyone else and was the journalist the dictator contacted for an exclusive interview while in exile. The nail biting story of how he almost flew back with Amin to Entebbe right before the Isreali raid is high drama indeed and is one of the most gripping scenes in Salim Amin's film about his relationship with his famous father, Mo and Me.

Books to check out: The Man Who Moved The World: The Life and Work of Mohamed Amin

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Kwame Dawes' Wisteria: Twilight Songs from the Swamp Country makes its London debut at Poetry International 2006

This year Poetry International 2006 opens with the London premiere of Wisteria: Twilight Songs from the Swamp Country. This full length evening of poetry, music and images is described as a "prophetic account of the lives of women from South Carolina," that combine "the lyrical depth of a blues threnody with spiritual and emotional truth." The poems are accompanied by a musical and vocal score composed by Kevin Simmonds, and images of the women whose stories inspired the poems.

Kwame Dawes, a poet, playwright, author and professor of English at the University of South Carolina who was born in Ghana in 1962 and grew up in Jamaica composed a series of poems based on interviews conducted with older South Carolinians who had experienced the south before the Civil Rights era. In a moving essay online essay he describes how, upon his arrival in South Carolina after living in New Brunswick, Canada for nearly six years he felt alienated from African Americans because of his African and Caribbean heritage and the suspicion with which he was greeted by other Black southerners. However, a deep sense of kinship with the history, legacies, voices and culture of the south and a strong need to understand and embrace the Black American experience moved him to want to know what it was like for those Blacks who could not enjoy the privileges he routinely experienced as a professor at an almost all-white institution.

I came to see the older Black people who lived and worked in Sumter; as I did all those ancestral voices that had lived ahead of me; as the keepers of my understanding of myself. I wanted to know how they felt, how they responded to segregation and racism and how their feelings and thoughts had evolved since that time. I wanted to understand the daily realities of segregation in the very town in which I lived; the town I seemed to take for granted; I could go anywhere, sit in any park, drink from any fountain, enter any library I chose. What, I wanted to know, was it like not to be able to do that twenty, thirty years ago, and what impact had that had on the present.

Kwame Dawes is also an actor, musician and critic. He is the author of Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius, Natural Mysticism: Towards a New Reggae Aesthetic and edited Wheel and Come Again: An Anthology of Reggae Poetry. Give a standing ovation for Brotha Professor Dawes!

Friday, September 08, 2006


Michael Ray Charles: Denigrating Images Perfect for White Consumption?

Michael Ray Charles
46" x 51.70"
Mixed Media

from The Culture Game
Olu Oguibe

"When a wealthy white Texan collector buys one of Charles's Sambo paintings...he does not see in them a lacerating challenge to either his residual racism or that of his ancestors. What he sees, one contends, is an African American validating historical images of his own denigration and that of his race. Which is just as well, for the collector no longer has to denigrate the blacks. The blacks now have one of them to denigrate them. When young people without sound grounding in the history of race and imagery in America - which is to say, most young people in American - are exposed to Charles's paintings they are not induced to engage in a critique of racist imagery, and may only be expected at best to respond with indifference because they cannot comprehend it, or to find them intriguing, and at worst to treat with mirthful indifference."

p. 136

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