All posts by alanwp

Independent Lens focuses, finally, on D.W. Griffith’s racist “Birth of a Nation”

More than 100 years after the release of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, which depicted the KKK as heroes and African Americans in the most racist caricatures imaginable,  there’s (finally!) a documentary that recounts the little-known story of the battle waged against the film by an early and largely forgotten civil rights activist named William Monroe Trotter. Angered by the film’s unrepentant racism, Trotter led African Americans in a pitched battle against the film’s exhibition that culminated with protests in the streets of Boston, laying the foundation for the civil rights movement to come.

Welcome to  PBS Distribution’s Independent Lens: Birth of a Movement on DVD.  The program will also be available for digital download.

As the first African American Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University, Trotter decried the film as a flagrantly racist glorification of the Klan, and as a dangerous and powerful new form of propaganda that would lead to the lynching of African Americans. Together with W.E.B Du Bois, Trotter founded the Niagara Movement, a national network of black activists that would grow into the NAACP.

Griffith’s film, originally titled The Clansman, opened in 1915, as America was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil War. Although virulently racist, the film—a powerful retelling of Reconstruction that portrays the Ku Klux Klan as righteous vigilantes restoring America to greatness—was lauded in the press, and became the first film ever to screen in the White House. It was seen by a quarter of America’s population and transformed Hollywood and the history of cinema.

Ironically, it was Trotter who called for censorship of The Birth of a Nation to control “hate speech,” while Griffith advocated for freedom of artistic expression. Ultimately, Trotter would lose the battle as the film went on to become the first financial blockbuster and established racial stereotyping as a bankable trope. His fears that the film would unleash racial violence proved true; the film is credited with inspiring the rebirth of the Klan which, by the ’20s, was bigger than ever before.

Through interviews such sources as with Spike Lee (whose NYU student film The Answer was a response to Griffith’s film), Reginald Hudlin and DJ Spooky, Birth of a Movement explores how Griffith’s epic—long taught in film classes as a groundbreaking work of genius—motivated generations of African American filmmakers and artists as they worked to fight and reclaim their history and their onscreen image.

In the wake of the “#OscarsSoWhite” controversy, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and increasing social and political turmoil, the program traces the line between Griffith’s controversial epic and Hollywood’s continued legacy of misrepresentation and negative racial stereotypes. Based on the book The Birth of a Movement: How Birth of a Nation Ignited the Battle for Civil Rights, by Dick Lehr, the film features interviews with historians, writers and filmmakers and is narrated by Danny Glover.

John Lewis continues an unwavering fight for justice. His motto: “Get in the Way”

For more than 50 years, he has had one main goal: To continue an unwavering fight for justice. The life and career of John Lewis will be documented in the fascinating documentary John LewisGet in the Way. This is the first documentary biography of Lewis, the son of sharecroppers, who grew up in rural isolation, seemingly destined for a bleak future in the Jim Crow South.

But Lewis took a different path, rising from Alabama’s Black Belt to the corridors of power on Capitol Hill, his humble origins forever linking him to those whose voices often go unheard.PBS Distribution releases John Lewis–Get in the Way on April 18.The program will also be available for digital download.

The program covers more than half a century, tracing Lewis’ journey of courage, confrontation and hard-won triumphs. At the age of 15, his life changed forever when he heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio. It was 1955, during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Lewis listened with rapt attention as the young preacher called for nonviolent resistance to the harsh injustice of segregation. Lewis embraced Dr. King’s spiritual call with a fervor that would transform the course of his life.

As a student activist in the vanguard of the civil rights movement, Lewis was arrested and jailed for the first time during the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins in 1960. During the 1961 Freedom Rides, he was repeatedly assaulted by angry mobs. He was the youngest speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington, and in March 1965, Lewis led the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, where state troopers attacked peaceful protesters with billy clubs, bullwhips and tear gas. Their horrific actions were broadcast on news reports into living rooms across America; eight months later, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law.

Following a film festival run and featuring never-before-seen interviews shot over 20 years, the program features Lewis, a masterful storyteller, relating the gripping tale of his role in these history-making events. Other key interviewees include civil rights activists Andrew Young, C.T. Vivian, Juanita Abernathy and Bernard Lafayette, as well as Lewis’ congressional colleagues Eleanor Holmes Norton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Emanuel Cleaver and Amory Houghton.

Once an activist pushing from the outside, Lewis, now 77 years old, has become a determined legislator creating change from the inside. Considered by many to be the conscience of Congress, with equal measures of modesty and forcefulness, Lewis strives to persuade D.C. power brokers to hear the voices of the unheard. He fights for those suffering from discrimination, poverty, poor education, police brutality, inaccessible healthcare and limitations on voting rights. Despite setbacks—and there have been many—John Lewis’ eyes remain on the prize.

 

PBS Distribution offers a one-hour probe into the Worst. U.S. president. Ever.

How did Donald Trump transform himself from real estate developer to entertainer to sexual predator to the worse president? Through lies and hate. In Frontline’s President Trump, filmmaker Michael Kirk and his investigative team go behind the headlines to examine the key moments that shaped America’s 45th president—from his childhood, to his tumultuous career in the public eye.

Drawing on the critically acclaimed film The Choice 2016, the program features dozens of in-depth interviews from advisors, business associates, and biographers, and paints a revealing portrait of where Trump came from, how he leads and why he sought out one of the most difficult jobs imaginable.

PBS Distribution has released the DVD; the program will also be available for digital download.

Masterpiece indeed! “To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters” comes to Blu-ray and DVD

Ever since they were revealed to the world as quaint country-women and not the notorious Bell brothers of their pseudonyms, the Brontë sisters have fascinated legions of devoted readers. PBS Distribution goes a few steps further with the release Masterpiece: To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters on DVD and Blu-ray. The program, will be available on Blu-ray and DVD and Blu-ray April 11; the program will also be available for digital download.

Written and directed by Sally Wainwright, the program makes a perfect companion to Masterpiece’s past adaptations of Brontë novels: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1997), Wuthering Heights (1998 and 2009), and Jane Eyre (2007).

Depicting the evolution of secluded, dutiful clergyman’s daughters into authors of the most controversial fiction of the 1840s, the drama stars Finn Atkins as Charlotte, who shocked society with her edgy epic, Jane Eyre; Chloe Pirrie as Emily, author of the darkly gothic and disturbing Wuthering Heights; and Charlie Murphy as Anne, whose true-to-life love story The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was deemed “coarse and disgusting” by Victorian critics.

Also starring are Jonathan Pryce as their distracted father, Reverend Patrick Brontë; and Adam Nagaitis as the sisters’ only brother, Branwell, whose wild and dissipated life contributed to vivid characters in each of their novels.

To Walk Invisible was filmed in and around Haworth, the picturesque Yorkshire village where the Brontë sisters lived and which is now a mecca for Brontëphiles from all over the world. Scenes at their parsonage home were shot in an exact replica that recreates the feel of a lived-in mid-19th-century provincial dwelling, with the sisters congregating around the dining table to pen their stories and plot their editorial strategy.

“The Bronte Sisters”, also known as the “Pillar Portrait,” was painted by their brother Branwell in the 1830s. Left to right is Anne, Emily and Charlotte. This is the only surviving group portrait of the sisters. Most contemporary comments on Branwell’s portrait paintings agreed that they were “poorly executed” but there was no criticism of the resemblances, which were considered “good.”

Based largely on Charlotte’s voluminous letters, the film follows the Brontë sisters in the eventful three-year period that saw them rise from ordinary, unmarried women, taking care of the household and their widowed father, to the secret authors of the world’s most sensational literature.

Although he never suspected it, Branwell was the inspiration. A would-be poet and artist, he was a complete failure due to alcoholism and opium addiction. As Reverend Brontë slowly went blind, Branwell was on an even more precipitous downward slide, inciting the sisters to do something to keep the family out of the poor house.

They had already tried being governesses—a thankless job except it provided good material for novels. So they set about turning personal experiences, keen observations, and unflinching honesty into fiction. Worried that female writers wouldn’t be taken seriously, they adopted male-sounding pseudonyms: Currer Bell for Charlotte, Ellis Bell for Emily and Acton Bell for Anne, retaining their own initials.

The last name, Bell, may have been inspired by the arrival of a new set of bells for their father’s church, a momentous event in Haworth. Another possible source is the middle name of Reverend Brontë’s assistant priest, Arthur Bell Nicholls (Rory Fleck Byrne), who later married Charlotte after the tragically early deaths of her siblings.

But Charlotte gave her publisher a deeper reason for anonymity—and provided the title for this film: “I think if a good fairy were to offer me the choice of a gift, I would say—grant me the power to walk invisible.”

“Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince” is a “cornflake and ham hock” winner

Ben Greeman’s book on Prince is a hot thing. Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince (Henry Holt and Co., $28) is a farewell to the mercurial funk-rock star. It’s also a love letter, a critical study, a personal essay. Yet readers will undoubtedly find it as compelling for what it is not as for what it is.

Dig If You Will the Picture is not is a traditional biography or a conventional critical consideration. It is not filled with gossip and “gotcha” moments. It is not simply a survey of Prince’s greatest hits. Rather, it’s a singular attempt to investigate the whole of Prince’s work and thought, to isolate the meaningful moments in his music, to think about the ways in which he provided the soundtrack for a generation, to define what genius means in pop music.

Greenman brings his encyclopedic knowledge of Prince and his music to the man and the time in which he lived—moving from his own suburban upbringing in Miami to Prince’s history in Minneapolis, from brash early albums like Dirty Mind through breakout classics like Purple Rain to mature complex works like Art Official Age.

In these pages, Prince is considered as a musician, certainly, but also as a gender theorist, an activist, and an independent businessman. Greenman illuminates the hidden corners of Prince’s vast discography: Do you know the mid-’90s manifesto “Style”? Do you know the mid-’80s B side “Shockadelica”? Do you know the outtake “2020”?

You should.

And you will.

As George Clinton raves: “When it comes to funk and words, lyrics and language, there couldn’t be a better pairing than Ben Greenman and Prince. From my experience with both of them, this is the perfect match, like ham hocks and cornflakes.”

Dig If You Will the Picture answers countless questions about one of our most mysterious and misunderstood pop icons, including:

  • What were Prince’s thematic preoccupations?
  • How did he change pop music forever?
  • How did he make so much fantastic work?
  • Did he really do it all himself?
  • Why did he go to war with his record label?
  • What did he think about sex, God, and the difference between them?
  • What were his politics?
  • How big was his Afro when he was young?
  • And what was with that symbol, anyway?

Dig If You Will the Picture meets Prince at his own level, as a pop-culture provocateur, a brilliant manufacturer of meaning, a complex and philosophical man, brooding introvert, singular talent—and a hell of a good time.

Frank Zappa’s Family Trust and UMe offer 24 (!) rare and limited-release recordings

It’s time to zap you with more Zappa news. Two dozen rare and limited-release Frank Zappa recordings will be made widely available around the world when UMe assumes distribution of the albums as part of their global partnership with the Zappa Family Trust.

In the U.S., the 24 albums are available on CD, download and streaming. They are also available internationally, with physical product to follow on April 28. Nine of the albums, including Zappa’s 100th release, Dance Me This, and the revered live disc, Roxy By Proxy, have never been available for download or streaming. The wide-ranging collection includes fan favorite and Grammy-winning titles from Zappa’s independent labels Barking Pumpkin, Vaulternative Records and Zappa Records and encompasses more than 20 years of releases, dating back to 1994’s posthumous release, Civilization Phaze III.

“For more than two decades, the only place to get exclusive Frank Zappa albums was through our mail order and website,” says Ahmet Zappa. “We are thrilled to be able to make these titles available to fans across the globe with the help of our friends at Universal.”

The albums being made available internationally to online retailers, record stores, digital retailers and streaming services include a diverse collection of previously limited releases comprised of live concerts, taped rehearsals, treasures from Zappa’s extensive and extraordinary vault, audio documentaries, archival recordings, the famed “Corsaga” series and other exciting audio ephemera. The releases span Zappa’s entire career, from his first records with the Mothers of Invention to some of the last compositions and projects he ever worked on.

Here’s the loot:

A Token Of His Extreme (Zappa Records, 2013)
In August 1974, Zappa and The Mothers of Invention taped two legendary sets at KCET-TV Studios in Hollywood, CA. This popular footage was used by Zappa in a number of different edits originally intended as a TV special and eventually featured in the home video release The Dub Room Special (1982). A Token Of His Extreme was officially issued on DVD in 2013 along with the release of the soundtrack on CD.

Buffalo (Vaulternative Records, 2007)
Originally released in 2007, Buffalo captures an entire concert recorded live at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York on October 25, 1980. The original tapes were salvaged from the Vault by Vaultmeister Joe Travers and mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Frank Filipetti.

Carnegie Hall (Vaulternative Records, 2011)
As history would have it, and thanks to the persistence of promoter Ron Delsener, Zappa & his Mothers actually played Carnegie Hall. The two shows on October 11, 1971 were recorded for posterity to mono 1/4” tape using a concealed Nagra tape machine and a Electrovoice 664 microphone.

Civilization Phaze III (Barking Pumpkin, 1994)
This is one of the final projects to be finished by Zappa before his passing, and completes the trilogy of Masterworks established first with Lumpy Gravy and We’re Only In It For The Money in 1968. Originally envisioned as Lumpy Gravy, Phase III, this music morphed over a period of years in various states of completion. Realized mainly on the Synclavier and including performances by the Ensemble Modern and newly recorded dialogue from inside the piano, Frank finally put the finishing touches on the double CD in 1992. It received a Grammy for Best Recording Package in 1995.

Congress Shall Make No Law . . . (Zappa Records, 2010)
Gail Zappa always said that Frank always made a point to “educate” his audience as well as entertain them. She continued on that note with this release, an informative document that focuses on the importance of his testimonies to fight censorship. Zappa’s address to the Senate Committee Hearings in 1985 and to the Maryland State Legislature in 1986 are featured here in their entirety combined with various Synclavier and interview excerpts found in the Vault.

Dance Me This (Zappa Records, 2015)
The 100th release by the Zappa Family Trust and the last project to be finished by Zappa before his passing, Dance Me This, was composed and realized on the Synclavier, FZ’s go-to digital workstation that was state of the art at the time of the recording. The music is described by the Maestro as “designed for modern dance groups.” The album was finished but shelved by the Trust until finally receiving its much anticipated release in 2015.

Everything Is Healing Nicely (Barking Pumpkin, 1999)
The Ensemble Modern from Frankfurt, Germany spent a lot of time with Zappa during the last few years of his life. As the group was working closely with Zappa preparing for a series of concerts scheduled in 1992 (to be known as “The Yellow Shark”), Zappa, in his typical manner, was digitally recording every rehearsal. Everything Is Healing Nicely features highlights from those recordings, hand-picked by Zappa, compiled posthumously by then staff engineer Spence Chrislu, and released exclusively through mail order in 1999.

Feeding the Monkies at Ma Maison (Zappa Records, 2011)
Around 1987 or so,  Zappa completed a digital master of this title which was intended for a vinyl release. He never released it and re-worked some of the material for another project, mainly Civilization, Phaze III. Feeding the Monkies at Ma Maison, realized on the Synclavier, eventually found a release in original form in 2011. The CD contains unreleased compositions, unedited versions and added bonus tracks from the time period.

Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa (Barking Pumpkin, 1996)
When released on Halloween 1996, Frank Zappa Plays the Music Of Frank Zappa was considered to be an “Audio Tombstone” by the family. It features the three signature guitar pieces: “Black Napkins,” “Zoot Allures” and “Watermelon In Easter Hay” in their original released form (remastered) with added live versions that predate the issued masters. Also included is “Merely A Blues In A: from Paris ’74.  A fitting “Memorial Tribute” indeed.

FZ: OZ (Vaulternative Records, 2002) 
FZ:OZ is the very first release from Vaulternative Records, the label created by the Zappa Family Trust that focuses on material found in the infamous Zappa Vault. Released in 2002, this audio nugget contains an almost complete concert from FZ’s second and final visit to Sydney, Australia in early 1976.

Greasy Love Songs (Zappa Records, 2010)
The third installment of the Project/Object Audio Documentary series focuses on the 40th anniversary of Zappa’s 1968 homage to doo-wop and R&B. Cruising With Ruben & The Jets was FZ & The Mothers’ fourth album release. Greasy Love Songs brings together the long awaited release of the original 1968 mix along with mix outtakes, interview excerpts and oddities from the sessions. Also contains liner notes from Cheech Marin.

Hammersmith Odeon (Zappa Records, 2010)
In early 1978, Zappa played a string of dates between January and February at the famous Hammersmith Odeon in London, England. Hammersmith Odeon, first issued in conjunction with a special birthday event at The Roundhouse in London in 2010, contains performances from those shows. These recordings are famous for being the basis for the Sheik Yerbouti album. This album contains all alternate performances and highlights from the master show tapes.

Imaginary Diseases (Zappa Records, 2006)
Released in 2006, Imaginary Diseases compiles for the first time all live recordings from a very rare and undocumented Zappa band line-up. In 1972, after taking a 20-piece “electric orchestra” on the road for eight dates as The Grand Wazoo, FZ reduced the personnel to 10 pieces and toured this new band for roughly two months. Billed as The Mothers of Invention but eventually becoming known as the “Petit Wazoo,” audio from this period was never released during Frank’s lifetime.

Joe’s Camouflage (Vaulternative Records, 2014)
In late summer 1975, Zappa formed a band that never got past the rehearsal stage, but managed to have their own band promo shots taken with fall touring rapidly approaching. This Joe’s series entry, Joe’s Camouflage, finds mainly 4-track rehearsal tapes that captured FZ experimenting with this group, updating arrangements of older songs along with some new compositions, some that were never revisited later in his career. Featuring Novi Novog on viola and keys, Robert ‘Frog’ Camarena on vocals and Denny Walley on guitar, all three of whom left the band shortly after these recordings were made.

Joe’s Corsage (Vaulternative Records, 2004)
The first in a series of special material released from the Vault. The titles of the “Corsaga” are a play on words of FZ’s famous Joe’s Garaget itle, with the contents produced and compiled by the Vaultmeister, Joe Travers. Joe’s Corsage, the first release created in 2004, was produced in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the creation of The Mothers in 1964. It focuses on the origin of the Mothers of Invention as told by Frank himself, along with early recordings made before their first record contract in early 1966.

Joe’s Domage (Vaulternative Records, 2004) 
This, the second entry from the “Corsaga” series, gives insight into how Frank worked. The recording from this primitive cassette tape captures the first rehearsal of the Wazoo band, freezing in time early ideas and arrangements of material that went on to be used on The Grand Wazoo & Waka/Jawaka album sessions of 1972. Recorded ambiently in Frank’s rehearsal room in Hollywood, Frank conducted these sessions while confined to a wheelchair after being pushed offstage in London, England roughly three months prior.

Joe’s Menage (Vaulternative Records, 2008)
 Zappa, notorious for recording everything, carried cassettes with him on the road. On one occasion backstage during the late ’70s, Frank gave longtime fan Ole’ Lysgaard a cassette which contained a dub of a live recording excerpt from a concert in Williamsburg, VA on November 1, 1975. Thanks to Ole’, this excerpt has been forever immortalized as the content for “Corsaga” number 4.  Joe’s Menage is transferred directly from the show master tape.

Joe’s Xmasage (Vaulternative Records, 2005)
Joe’s Xmasage was released on Frank’s birthday during the Christmas season of 2005. Joe worked closely with Gail Zappa on this third installment of the “Corsaga,” showcasing vintage recordings from Frank’s life in the early ’60s. Music, historical audio documents and Conceptual Continuity clues fill up this special Christmas dish from the Vault for you and yours.

MOFO (Zappa Records, 2006)
This two-disc version of the Making of Freak Out! Project/Object Audio Documentary contains highlights from the 4-disc version which is available only through mail order. MOFO was released in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of The Mothers of Invention’s first album, Freak Out!, it includes the original album’s 1966 vinyl mix along with exclusive tracks not found anywhere else.

One Shot Deal (Zappa Records, 2008)
Released in 2008, One Shot Deal features chunks of material found in the vault selected by FZ and compiled by Gail Zappa and Joe Travers. Ranging from 1972 to 1981, One Shot Deal blends live compositions, improvisations and guitar solos from various world tours, all recorded live.

Philly ’76 (Vaulternative Records, 2009)
Zappa played the Philadelphia Spectrum Theater on October 29, 1976. The concert was professionally recorded and was a perfect contender for the ongoing concert series from Vaulternative Records. Philly ‘76 was released in 2009 and features a complete show from a rare band line-up with another stellar mix from Grammy- winning engineer Frank Filipetti.

Roxy By Proxy (Zappa Records, 2014)
Roxy By Proxy contains material recorded live at the infamous run of shows at The Roxy Theater in Hollywood, CA, December 1973. It’s the first compilation made from digital mixes created in 1987 by Frank with Bob Stone at FZ’s home studio, The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen. The sequencing plays like a full show while the package features extensive liner notes from the one and only Ruth Underwood, then the percussionist in the band.

The Dub Room Special (Zappa Records, 2007)
A previously unreleased soundtrack album created by Zappa himself, contains material found in The Dub Room Special, a 90-minute home video first released by mail order only in 1982. Tracks consist of live cuts from The Palladium in NYC on Halloween 1981, along with performances taped at KCET-TV studios in Los Angeles during 1974.

WAZOO (Vaulternative Records, 2007)
WAZOO contains a complete show recorded live to stereo tape at the Boston Music Hall on September 24, 1972. Originally released in 2007, this set is the only document found in the Vault of the short-lived Grand Wazoo, an ambitious 20-piece “electric orchestra” formed by Zappa and toured for only eight dates during the fall of 1972.

Cannot get a ticket to catch Eric Clapton in concert? Now ready: The Blu-ray and DVD “Live In San Diego”

Anyway the wind blows you, you will end up watching Eric Clapton’s highly-anticipated Live In San Diego With Special Guest JJ Cale. The DVD and Blu-Ray follows the release of the 2-disc CD set, 3 LP vinyl set and digital album of the concert, that were released on September 30, 2016 on Reprise/Bushbranch Records. In addition to the main DVD and Blu-Ray program, fans will enjoy extra footage of Clapton and Cale rehearsing “Anyway The Wind Blows” and “Who Am I Telling You?” for the concert.

Recorded at Clapton’s March 15, 2007 performance at the iPayOne Center in San Diego, CA, Live In San Diego With Special Guest JJ Cale concert was part of a world tour that was much loved by Clapton fans and featured a stellar band that included guitarists Derek Trucks (now of the Tedeschi Trucks band) and Doyle Bramhall II. The two-hour San Diego concert was a highlight of the tour as it featured JJ Cale as a special guest on five tracks (including “After Midnight” and “Cocaine”), as well as Robert Cray on the final song of the record, “Crossroads.”

After successfully covering several Cale songs throughout his career, Clapton finally collaborated with Cale in 2006 on the original album Road to Escondido.  Says Clapton: “This is the realization of what may have been my last ambition, to work with the man whose music has inspired me for as long as I can remember.”

So it’s fitting that one year later, Cale joined Clapton on stage for this special concert where they performed together, underlining the mutual respect the two musicians had for each other.

The concert features a superb set list from across Eric’s career. Notably, it includes songs from Eric’s classic Derek and the Dominos album Layla, with Derek Trucks playing many of Duane Allman’s original guitar parts.

Clapton is currently preparing to play North American shows for 2017, a series of concert dates at two famed venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles’ Forum.  The shows will be a celebration of 50 years in music and just as many decades performing at these two venues.  Legendary guitar players Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan will be special guests at the shows.

The remaining dates for Clapton ion concert:

Thursday, September 7 New York Madison Square Garden
Friday, September 8 New York Madison Square Garden
Friday, September 15 Los Angeles The Forum
Saturday, September 16 Los Angeles The Forum

 

The conversation continues in the must-see documentary “The Talk: Race in America”

There’s an increasingly common conversation taking place in homes and communities across the country between parents of color and their children, especially sons, about how to behave if they are ever stopped by the police. In many homes, “the talk,” as it is called, usually contains phrases like this:

If you are stopped by the police: Always answer “yes sir, no sir”; never talk back; don’t make any sudden movements; don’t put your hands in your pockets; obey all commands; if you think you are falsely accused, save it for the police station. I would rather pick you up at the station than the morgue . . .

This important and essential (and shamefully needed) conversation is highlighted in PBS Distribution’s The Talk: Race in America.  The two-hour documentary will be available on DVD April 4; the program will also be available for digital download.

The film will present six personal stories to illustrate the issue from multiple points of view: Parent, child, the police and the community. Filmed across the country, in communities including Long Beach, California; Oakland, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Richland County, South Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and Cleveland, Ohio, the stories will include interviews with academics, police force members, community activists and family members.

Among those profiled are activist and founder of The Ethics Project, Dr. Christi Griffin, who, after living through the traumatic events of Ferguson, created “Parent 2 Parent,” a series of conversations with black parents talking with white parents about “the talk” with their black sons; Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, who was a 12-year-old boy killed by the Cleveland police while playing with a toy gun in a local park; Reverend Catherine Brown, who was assaulted by Chicago Police in front of her children in her own car; Trevena Garel, retired sergeant, New York City Police Department (NYPD), who has investigated allegations of misconduct involving both uniformed and/or civilian members of the NYPD; Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President and retired officer, New York City Police Department (NYPD); the Ramirez family, whose 28-year-old son, Oscar, was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff in Paramount, California, a community southeast of Los Angeles; and members of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, who share the protocols for using lethal force and describe the danger from a police officer’s point of view.

In addition, sharing their own stories are Kenya Barris, creator/executive producer of Peabody Award-winning ABC series black-ish; Nas, musician/activist; Rosie Perez, actor/director, activist; John Singleton, director/screenwriter/producer; and New York Times columnist Charles Blow.

Each story is produced by a different filmmaker to ensure that diverse perspectives are presented. The project’s director and supervising producer, filmmaker Sam Pollard, an Academy Award nominee and multiple Emmy winner; and Oscar nominee Julie Anderson, closely oversaw the producers and managed the overall creative look, storytelling and structure.

 The Talk: Race in America will also be accompanied by an engagement campaign. Social media conversations will explore the topics of community policing, the power of representation in media and how to talk to children about race. Online audience members will also be invited to share their experiences of having or giving “the talk.” Visit PBS.org/thetalk for exclusive video content, special features and more.

Meghan O’Hara’s “The C Word” is mandatory viewing for everyone . . . do not whisper!

The film begins with a simple black screen, the backdrop for a sound that was immediately jarring: whispered, staccato words, clearly the words of someone who needed to deliver one final message, no matter how much effort it took.
Welcome to The C Word, an extraordinary documentary that will forever change the way we think and view cancer.  The film, narrated by its co-producer Morgan Freeman,  is fueled by the words of French neuroscientist and cancer revolutionary Dr. David Servan-Schreiber. The doctor, author of Anticancer: A New Way of Life, developed a method for reducing the risk of getting cancer. The movie’s other source: its director Meghan O’Hara.
This fascinating documentary arrives on Digital HD and DVD from Virgil Films on March 7.

O’Hara says the making of the The C Word was “therapeutic and inspirational”; her personal battle with the C word was the catalyst for its creation. She has survived Stage 3 breast cancer, a diagnosis she received about nine years ago at the age of 38.”I would like people to know that it’s unexpected, that there are revelations in here that people should be talking about but nobody seems to know,” she says, “and that there’s a great, powerful, powerful narrative at the heart of this film that really pulls you in. We tried really hard to make a rock ‘n’ roll documentary,” she said.

Indeed. The film uses  animation by saying “those cancer cells were so important for us to visualize.” It also features snatches of Family Guy and South Park to get certain points across.


One out of two people will get cancer in their lifetime. The latest research findings clearly show that up to 70% of cancer deaths are linked to our daily behaviors: smoking, a diet of processed foods, a sedentary lifestyle, excessive stress, and a continued exposure to daily contaminants.

 

Three albums that made Glen Campbell a star reissued by Capitol Nashville/UMe on vinyl

The Rhinestone Cowboy is still with us, and by the time I get to Phoenix or Galveston he still will be. News that’s gentle on my mind.

New gentle news: Capitol Nashville/UMe will reissue on vinyl Campbell’s albums Gentle on My Mind, Wichita Lineman and Galveston, the star-making albums that helped make Glen Campbell a global superstar and household name. Save the date: They will be reissued on March 24.


The titles, which haven’t been available on vinyl for decades, will be released on standard black vinyl and housed in replicas of the original sleeve art. Each album will also receive a limited edition color run that will be available exclusively at GlenCampbell.com at a later date.

Gentle on My Mind, released in 1967 on Capitol Records, was Campbell’s breakthrough album. It was the first to go to No. 1 on the country music charts and reach the platinum sales mark of one million albums sold. At its heart was the single, “Gentle on My Mind,” a cover of John Hartford’s original that so enchanted Campbell, he called in some of his buddies from his legendary studio band, The Wrecking Crew (which included Leon Russell), and recorded it himself to submit to his producer Al De Lory. His first major hit, the song earned him his first two Grammys and made the Arkansas native a rising star.Gentle on My Mind can be pre-ordered @ UMe.lnk.to/GlenCampbellGentleAmzPR and streamed @: ume.lnk.to/GlenCampbellGentlePR.

Released as Campbell was becoming a television star, film actor and crossover sensation, Wichita Lineman remains Campbell’s best-selling album. The double-platinum release reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and stayed there for a month (bracketed by Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland and only unseated by The Beatles’ The White Album. Wichita Lineman stayed atop the country music charts for 20 weeks and was the year’s top release in the genre. Centerpiece single, “Wichita Lineman,” written by Campbell’s songwriting soulmate Jimmy Webb, was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards and Single of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards.

In 2000, the title track–one of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”–was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Wichita Lineman can be pre-ordered @  ume.lnk.to/GlenCampbellWichitaAmzPR and streamed @ume.lnk.to/GlenCampbellWichitaPR.

Campbell teamed up with Webb again for two hits on his next album, Galveston, released in 1969. The title track returned to No. 1 and was a crossover hit. The duo logged another minor hit with the follow up single, “Where’s the Playground Susie.” Campbell’s last platinum-selling album of his late-’60s run arrived as he began to host his own television variety show, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” and became a household name in the U.S. Galveston can be pre-ordered @ ume.lnk.to/GlenCampbellGalvestonAmzPR and streamed @ ume.lnk.to/GlenCampbellGalvestonPR.

Taken together, Gentle on My Mind, Wichita Lineman and Galveston capture the Country Music and Musicians Halls of Fame member at the height of his powers. A country superstar, a member of The Beach Boys with his fingerprints on music history, one of pop’s greatest guitar players–all his personas can be found on this amazing run of albums.