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‘The Shape of Water’ wins top Producers Guild Award

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By LINDSEY BAHR

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Women and inclusivity continued to dominate the awards season conversation Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards, where Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical romance “The Shape of Water” won the top award and honorees like Jordan Peele and Ava DuVernay gave rousing speeches to the room of entertainment industry leaders.

The untelevised dinner and ceremony, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., is closely watched for its capacity to predict the eventual Oscar best picture winner, but this year the “awards race” seemed to be the secondary show to the more urgent questions facing the industry, including the crisis of representation and sexual misconduct.

The Producers Guild on Friday ratified guidelines for combating sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, and everyone from DuVernay to Universal Chair Donna Langley and television mogul Ryan Murphy made mention of the changing times and the work that still needs to be done.

“If we want more brilliant films like ‘Get Out’ …we need to have many different perspectives including equal numbers of women, people of color, people of all faiths and sexual orientation involved in every stage of filmmaking,” Langley said in accepting the Milestone Award — noting that she was only the third woman to do so.

It was not the only time “Get Out” got a special mention, despite not winning the top award. Peele also won the Stanley Kramer Award.

Del Toro was not present to accept the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, due to the health of his father.

His film was up against 10 others this year, including “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which won big at the Golden Globes earlier this month, “Lady Bird,” ″Get Out,” ″Dunkirk,” ″The Post,” ″Call Me By Your Name,” ″The Big Sick,” ″I, Tonya” ″Wonder Woman” and “Molly’s Game” — many of which were represented by actors and directors in attendance like Timothee Chalamet, Christopher Nolan, Margot Robbie, Patty Jenkins and Greta Gerwig.

Other presenters included the likes of Tom Hanks, Reese Witherspoon, Mary J. Blige, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kerry Washington and Morgan Freeman in the ceremony that saw Disney and Pixar’s “Coco” pick up best animated feature and Brett Morgen’s Jane Goodall film “Jane” win best documentary.

In television, “The Handmaids Tale” picked up best drama series, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won best comedy series, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” won best TV variety series, “Black Mirror” for long-form TV, “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” for nonfiction television, “Sesame Street” for children’s program and “Carpool Karaoke” for best short-form program.

The pre-announced honorees stole most of the show, however.

Norman Lear presented the Stanley Kramer Award to Peele invoking the award’s namesake in speaking of “Get Out,” which Lear proudly said he’s seen three times.

Peele said he was proud to call Lear a friend.

“I want to say, you can use my body for your brain anytime,” Peele laughed, before taking a more serious turn in his speech.

Peele likened the idea of “the sunken place” in the film to what is happening in the world right now, referencing Haiti, the water crisis in Flint, and President Donald Trump’s criticisms of athletes for protesting on the field.

“What really scares me…is the silencing of voices,” Peele said “‘Get Out’ is my protest against that.”

Peele ended on a hopeful note, however.

“Finally unique voices are breaking through,” he said. “Diverse and honest storytelling opens eyes and hearts. We can break out of the sunken place together.”

“Selma” and “A Wrinkle in Time” director Ava DuVernay gave a similarly poignant speech in accepting the Visionary Award,

“It’s an odd moment, you have a women’s march and you have a country with a government shut down,” DuVernay said. “We’re in the midst of times that will be long remembered.”

DuVernay said what is important is, “The way we work. The people we actually choose to see. That we choose to amplify in the moments where no one is looking.”

“Don’t think of diversity as a good thing to do,” she added. “Think of it as a must. An absolute must.”

Like many awards shows in the midst of Me Too and Time’s Up, even the men accepting awards devoted large portions of their time on stage to talk about extraordinary women in their lives.

“Wonder Woman” producer Charles Roven used his David O. Selznick Achievement Award acceptance speech to call out powerful women he’s worked with, from his late wife Dawn Steel, to Langley, Sue Kroll, Amy Pascal and Jenkins, who he said “has reignited this industry.”

“Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, who got the Norman Lear Achievement Award, said, “Women were always my champions and mentors for 20 years now and I believe that’s because they deeply related to my struggle — what it’s like to be an outsider.” He has taken steps to ensure that women occupy at least half of the directing spots in his productions.

In the larger context of awards season “The Shape of Water’s” win Saturday surprised some who expected “Three Billboards” to continue its ascendancy after the Globes. “The Shape of Water” is also up for two Screen Actors Guild Awards, which will be announced Sunday.

The Producers Guild’s choice for top film has eight times in the last 10 years matched the eventual Academy Award best picture winner. Last year, its nominees predicted all 9 best picture nominees, although the PGA went to “La La Land” which lost out to “Moonlight” at the Academy Awards.

Oscar nominations will be announced Tuesday in advance of the ceremony on March 4.

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For full coverage of awards season, visit: https://apnews.com/tag/AwardsSeason

 

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Aretha Franklin, ‘The Queen of Soul,’ dies at age 76

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  • Aretha Franklin, known famously as “The Queen of Soul,” has died at age 76.

Aretha passed away in her Detroit home where she was under hospice care. She’d been in failing health for many months and she was down to 86 pounds. One source told us he was informed more than a week ago that Aretha could go at any time, according to TMZ.

Aretha’s career is just incredible. Born in Memphis in 1942, her family eventually relocated to Detroit where she began singing in her father’s church. She was such a powerhouse gospel singer, she landed a Columbia record deal in the early ’60s.

Her string of chart-topping hits began with her Atlantic Records deal in 1967.

Aretha’s achievements in the late ’60s were remarkable for any artist, but especially so for a black woman in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. She held the record for the most entries on the Hot 100 list of any female artist for nearly 40 years, only to be dethroned in 2017 by Nicki Minaj.

She won 18 Grammys and was the first woman ever inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Aretha delivered a powerful rendition of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” — while wearing that unforgettable hat — at Barack Obama‘s 2009 inauguration.

Throughout her career, Aretha was known for delivering incredible one-off live performances, including at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors show where she sang ‘Natural Woman’ in honor of the song’s co-writer, Carole King.

The Queen of Soul was 76. She is survived by her 4 sons.

She was surrounded by friends and family when she passed.

She had appeared incredibly frail in recent years, and rarely performed live. Her most recent appearance was last November for Elton John‘s AMFAR event.

RIP

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Entrepreneurship Camp for girls starts Monday in Jacksonville, ages 10-17

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“My passion is to see young ladies during their best. I wanted to do something that would bring out their creativity and teach them that they can be a vital part and help build our economy,” is what the event organizer Aisha James had to say when asked what inspired her to host this kind of event. 

Aisha James said that this event will show the young ladies that the power of making money can start in their hands and in their minds if they just change their thinking. 

“I want to show them another way outside of how social media depicts the young ladies today,” James said.

The Entrepreneurship Hands-On Craft Camp is a 4-day event at Sleep Inn & Suites in Jacksonville, North Carolina located at 129 Circuit Lane.

The event will run through Monday, August 13-Thursday, August 16, where young ladies between the ages of 10-17 will be learning how to:

  • Upcycle old jeans and t-shirts
  • Properly rhinestone and embellish
  • Design cupcakes
  • Tutu designs and arts

This event will be a longterm goal for the girls. “These girls will always have something to fall back on in life and will always remember that they can make it and that they are somebody special in their own way,” James said.

James is no stranger in Jacksonville. Once before she held her first event titled “Working On My Selfie” at the USO in Jacksonville and more than 80 girls were in attendance. The purpose of that event was to teach the young girls to be more than a selfie by showing them the beauty on the inside of them. 

The event beginning Monday will be James first event based around entrepreneurship, which is planned to take place every year. The event is sold out and will begin at 10 AM-3 PM daily.

 

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Out with the old and in with the new, Roller City Skating Rink to open Thursday

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Welp, now that the HALFWAY HOUSE doors at Skate Nation have closed, it’s time for new owners to give the people of Jacksonville what they’ve all be waiting for and that’s a REAL SAFE family-fun skating rink.

Jeni and Bradley Lanier, of Richlands, and the new owners of Roller City skating rink will hold its grand opening Thursday evening at 120 Bridget Lane in Southwest of Jacksonville. The rink known as Wheels and Skate Nation will now be the place for every teenager to have fun and experience fun in a safe environment. We reported to you two weeks ago about the closing of Skate Nation due to drugs and violence which led the halfway house to run out of business. (click HERE if you missed that)

The new owners said that when they saw the announcement about the rink closing, they immediately started looking into it the same day. According to the family, the skating rink floor has been repaired and re-coated. All skates left at the rink by the old owners have been cleaned, including removing old gum stuck to the wheels.

I think that’s a darn shame that the former owners of this rink weren’t even taking care of the skates…, why is gum stuck to the wheels of the skates? Thankfully no one got hurt because had anyone did it would’ve been a check the Brown’s couldn’t have written.

Roller City will be open Thursday through Sunday and regular admission is $9, with the exception of Thursday, which is cheapskate for $5. There will be $1 off admission on Sundays for those who bring in a church bulletin.

Homeschool students will be able to skate every Friday morning once the school year starts back. Toddler skating will also be in the making and the community interest in the new addition is much needed.

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