‘VICTORIA’ comes to MASTERPIECE this month on PBS

Scripted by bestselling novelist Daisy Goodwin (The Fortune Hunter), Victoria airs in seven magnificent parts, fit for a queen, on MASTERPIECE, Jan. 15 on PBS.

Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) stars as the young Queen Victoria at the outset of her epic reign, which set the stage for an entire era that would be named in her honor. The stellar cast also includes Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle) as Lord Melbourne, the British prime minister who was Victoria’s father figure and intimate friend, and Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge) as the handsome, brilliant and awkward Prince Albert, who stole Victoria’s heart after a rocky start.

In Victoria, writer Daisy Goodwin imaginatively depicts what it was like for an ill-educated, emotionally deprived teenager to wake up one morning and find that she is the most powerful woman in the world. Victoria charts how the new ruler rose to the challenge and weathered a series of crises — some of her own making — without ever losing her youthful charm and innate sense of justice, which made her popular with her subjects.

Victoria is a coproduction of Mammoth Screen and MASTERPIECE. It is created, written and executive produced by Goodwin. The director is Tom Vaughn (He Knew He Was Right). The directors are Sandra Goldbacher and Olly Blackburn. The producer is Paul Frift (Restless). The executive producers are Dan McCulloch and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen and Rebecca Eaton for MASTERPIECE, presented by WGBH Boston. It is distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

Ruby Dee to perform on Mother’s Day at the Apollo Theater in Harlem

Ruby Dee

The Dallas-based Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) is presenting Ruby Dee at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 13, 2012. Dee will perform in a special evening of spoken word at the historic Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street in Harlem, N.Y. 

“Ms. Dee is a shining example of African American culture and history,” says TBAAL Founder and President Curtis King in a news release. “It excites me to see her still performing so masterfully, and I am certain the audience will be just as excited to be in the presence of one of our country’s foremost living legends.”
The legendary actress was raised in Harlem and began her career there as a member of the American Negro Theatre. Over the years, Dee has appeared in such stage productions as “South Pacific” (1943), “Anna Lucasta” (1944), “Purlie Victorious” (1961) and “Checkmates” (1989). However, it’s her 1959 portrayal of Ruth, the long-suffering, inner-city wife of Sidney Poitier’s character, in the original Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” that made her a star. It ran on the great White Way for two years and was then made into a 1961 film for which Dee won a National Board of Review Award as Best Supporting Actress.
In the ’60s, Dee co-starred in several television series ranging from dramas to the primetime soap opera “Peyton Place” and the daytime soap, “Guiding Light.” In the years since, she (often with her late husband, actor Ossie Davis), has appeared in dozens of motion pictures such as Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and episodic television shows like “Golden Girls.” She’s earned seven Emmy Award nominations, including a win for a 1993 performance on Burt Reynolds’ “Evening Shade” sitcom and for a 1991 role in the telefilm, “Decoration Day.” Dee’s 2007 role as Mama Lucas in the 2007 film, “American Gangster,” starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, earned her an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress.  In 2004, Dee and Davis were recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, and she shared a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album with Ossie Davis for “With Ossie and Ruby: In this Life Together.” 

Tickets are available online at www.Ticketmaster.com or by calling the Apollo Theater Box Office at (212) 531-5305

Saxophonist Eldredge Jackson Featured in Soul Bowl Party in the Park

BLAC (Black Liberated Arts Center) Inc. will host Soul Bowl Party in the Park from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12. at Washington Park, located at Northeast Fourth and High Streets in Oklahoma City.
The event will feature new musical artists on the Discovery stage. Among those local talents scheduled to appear are Born in November, Lil Dezzy, Roderick Pugh and jazz vocalist Miss Muffy. Miss Muffy is the granddaughter of the late, legendary bandleader Leslie Sheffield.
“Our community has been asking over the years for BLAC, Inc. to showcase new talent, and we see this event as the perfect opportunity to introduce new faces in a relaxed setting,” Anita Arnold, executive director of BLAC Inc. said. “Washington Park is special in the hearts and minds of many in the city because of the wonderful historic significance and pleasant memories of the past.”
According to Arnold, there will be an area High School T-shirt competition. The high school that has representatives wearing most T-shirts will have a $500 donation given to the school by BLAC, Inc. The participant who wears the oldest T-shirt will have $250 donated to their school. Everyone is encouraged to wear a T-shirt that represents their high school alma mater.
The evening will end with the featured artist – Tulsa jazz saxophonist Eldredge Jackson. Picnic baskets, blankets and lawn chairs are allowed. BLAC Inc. will sell beverages during the event. No beverages of any kind are allowed in the park – particularly alcoholic beverages. The public is invited, especially alumni members of all local high schools. Event tickets are $10 and are on sale now at the following locations in Oklahoma City: Capitol Square Station, KM66, Learning Tree Toy Store, Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm and Blues Store and at BLAC Inc. offices. For more information, call (405) 524-3800.

Best-selling series returns to spotlight

The fictional “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series obviously has been out for a while, but there is now an HBO series, and renewed attention has been drawn toward author Alexander McCall Smith.
Viewers and readers are introduced to the engaging Precious Ramotswe, who opens a small storefront business in Gaborone – thanks to her hardworking father. Filled with poignant stories, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” chronicles important events in Mma Ramotswe’s life as well as her clients who hire her because of her stellar private-eye skills. Mma Ramotswe does everything from tracking down a missing husband to following the missing case of an 11-year-old boy, which tugs at her heart. Smith’s storytelling will conjure feelings of engagement, exhilaration and sadness at the same time. The books are not only worth reading, but the HBO series staring three-time Grammy Award-winning Jill Scott receives accolades as well.

A Little Bit of Soul Food and Music

Oklahoma City’s popular 411 Band will close out Black Liberated Art Center Inc.’s (BLAC) Soul Food Dinner Theater series on Friday, April 24, 2009. 411 Band leader John Ford said, “We have played many times for BLAC, Inc., at the Charlie Christian International Music Festival and during the Presidential Inaugural Ball, but this time will be very special. We will mix it up with Old School, a little Jazz and, definitely, some blues.” The band has also performed at various Oklahoma tribal casinos. Along with the music, there is an “all you can eat” Soul Food buffet. Dinner is at 7:00 p.m., and the show starts at 8:00 p.m. on 34th floor at the Petroleum Club in downtown Oklahoma City. Tickets are $45 each. For more information, call BLAC Inc. at (405) 524-3800. This evening of entertainment is partially sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council.