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“Best Man” Sequel Returns with Great Expectations for the Holidays

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We have patiently anticipated the big screen return of the sophisticated, successful, sexy cast of Malcolm D. Lee’s Best Man franchise for many years, now the wait is over!

< p>Best Man Holiday, opening Nov. 15 from Universal Pictures, continues with college friends, turned upwardly mobile adults: Lance (Morris Chestnut), Mia (Monica Calhoun), Harper (Taye Diggs), Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), Julian (Harold Perrineau), Candace (Regina Hall), Shelby (Melissa DeSousa), Quentin (Terrence Howard), Jordan (Nia Long), and newcomer Brian (Eddie Cibrian), reunited for a Christmas gathering to make the holidays brighter, or will they?

Since we last saw them, life has brought about significant change, mostly for the better.

For starters, new looks for Candace and Julian, in addition to their roles and responsibilities as husband and wife. Robyn is huge with child, Quentin much the same with ego. Jordan has a steady beau, Shelby has gone wild and good girl Mia is still holding down that fort.

Unlike many horror stories of money woes for professional ball players, Lance has maintained bank, big time.

A beautiful film by any measure, equally, up close they all looked spectacular during press interviews in Los Angeles, ebullient with gratitude to be back for the sequel. There are surprises this time around and I’m not here to spoil them; you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Filmmaker Lee (UNDERCOVER BROTHER, ROLL BOUNCE, SOUL MEN, WELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS) relies upon his fluid ability as a storyteller, providing language complimentary to a loyal cast, several of whom saw their careers spring board from the original 1999 film, The Best Man.

Roll call:

Since the first Best Man, Harold Perrineau was cast in HBO’s incredibly popular prison drama OZ. His credits thereafter include THE MATRIX franchise, 28 WEEKS LATER, ABC-TV’s Lost and HBO’s Sons of Anarchy among others.

Nia Long already beloved by legions of fans before coming to The Best Man franchise continued with roles in STIGMATA, ALFIE, BIG MOMMA’S franchise, ARE WE THERE YET franchise, network TV’s Judging Amy, Third Watch, Boston Legal, The Cleveland Show and Showtime’s award-winning House of Lies.

Regina Hall has developed a penchant for comedic film roles in the SCARY MOVIE franchise, THINK LIKE A MAN franchise, MALIBU’S MOST WANTED, FIRST SUNDAY; network TV’s Ally McBeal, Second Generation Wayans along with dramatic parts in LAW ABIDING CITIZEN and TV’s Law & Order.

Sanaa Lathan has worked between film, television and stage. Her film credits include LOVE & BASKETBALL, BROWN SUGAR, OUT OF TIME, ALIEN VS. PREDATOR, SOMETHING NEW, THE FAMILY THAT PREYS, CONTAGION and HBO’s Disappearing Acts; TV’s Nip/Tuck, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, Showtime’s Boss; Broadway’s A Raisin in the Sun and Meet Vera Stark.

Taye Diggs is too a triple threat with film, television, and stage accomplishments sitting comfortably under his belt. Prior to joining the BEST MAN franchise, he wowed and tantalized in the big screen adaptation of Terry McMillan’s HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK. Subsequent film credits include BROWN SUGAR, CHICAGO, MALIBU’S MOST WANTED, and BAGGAGE CLAIM; among his TV credits are Ally McBeal, Kevin Hill, and ABC’s Private Practice and; stage credits include Rent, Chicago and Wicked.

Oscar-nominated, multiple award-winning Terrence Howard accelerated his career’s trajectory with roles in HART’S WAR, BIKER BOYZ, CRASH, RAY, FOUR BROTHERS, PRIDE, AUGUST RUSH, IRON MAN, FIGHTING, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, RED TAILS, THE BUTLER, PRISONERS and others.

Excerpts from our Best Man Holiday conversation follow –

What is your account of this sweet, sentimental franchise?

Sanaa Lathan (Robyn): I just marveled the whole time at the fact that nine people, 15 years ago, were kind of starting out in their career, nine black people, and 15 years later we were all thriving. We are all still in this business that we all know is risky and unpredictable for any actor let alone a black actor. The fact that we could all come together again, we all have our health, and we’re all relatively sane (laughter), I mean it’s one thing to get like three people back together, but nine people? I think that’s amazing and I don’t look upon that lightly. This is a testament to some kind of faith in all of us in terms of pursuing this career, in terms of living life. For me, I just felt like it was a blessing to have all of these characters’ lives kind represented again. To have these stories being told again, for us, as a community.

I think one of the reasons why the first movie worked so well is because we (African Americans) rarely get to see these people; we don’t get to see ourselves reflected so well, so differently and, in such a variety of ways on film. Malcolm does that so well. It was just a great blessing to be able for this story to come together initially and to get back together.

Sanaa and Taye, is there shorthand between the two of you given your opportunity to work together on other projects over the years?

Taye Diggs (Harper): As far as the shorthand between us, speaking for myself, I feel like we were very fortunate in the first film because we had an immediate bond with each other; this is the type of film that sets the stage for great friendships, you know. When we made the first one, I didn’t know a lot of the cast members. I was familiar with Sanaa but we all became pretty tight after that and maintained relationships. When we got together for the second one, we were able to pick up right where we left off; I mean, without patting ourselves on the back, I also think that synergy comes with being experienced actors. The director did us all a favor by picking up fifteen years later with the characters so we all have matured as human beings and as actors.

Sanaa: We didn’t have to play the fifteen years because it was fifteen …

Taye: We were able to use our life experiences and put that forth toward the characters so that helped with the shorthand, and, it was just fun.

Malcolm D. Lee allowed both of you to be vulnerable in your character portrayals; it came across authentically, especially the bedroom scene when Robyn and Harper were confessing to each other their fears and expectations, your shortcomings…the on screen vulnerability was appreciably palpable.

Sanaa: Oh, I love that, that’s great feedback. I think Malcolm is a great writer; you’d be surprised that there are not a lot of good scripts in circulation. There’s a reason why there are only a handful of great movies because I think it’s hard to write something good. Malcolm did a great job with the sequel, taking all these characters with their growth, wherever they were in their lives, and inter-weaving their stories.

Did either of you have any idea this film would factor greatly in launching and establishing your careers?

Sanaa: I was so happy to get the job …

Taye: Yeah, just to be working …

Will either of you return to Broadway soon?

Sanaa: Not that I know of…

Taye: Yeah, I want to…as soon as time permits.

READ MORE AT WWW.TALK2SV.COM.

Art

MC Arts Gallery Opens During the Marin Open Studio

The Gallery and its website display the art of a number of Black artists which includes: TheArthur Wright, Lumumba Edwards, and Maalak Atkins. Zwanda and Mitchell Howard also display their art at the Gallery. 

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From top: Oshalla Marcus (director/curator, MC Arts & Culture) with Osiezhe’s drawings to the right of the photo, Zwanda, Mitchell Howard , ISOJI’s Art Is Health Band: Carlton Carey (drums), Mwanza Furaha, (vocals), Jack Prendergast (bass), Ricardo Moncrief (keyboard), James Moseley (guitar, vocal). Photos by Godfrey Lee.

The MC Arts Gallery, located on 100 Donahue St. in the Gateway Shopping Center in Marin City, is open during the Marin Open Studios, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, May 1 & 2. 

The Gallery and its website display the art of a number of Black artists which includes: The Arthur Wright, Lumumba Edwards, and Maalak Atkins. Zwanda and Mitchell Howard also display their art at the Gallery. 

Zwanda seeks to be creative as she expands her ideas as a sculptress and painter. She is inspired by the human figure and dancers and is fascinated with music and the instruments themselves. Her art is a way to express this love and to share it with others.

Mitchell Howard studied art at San Francisco State University and the Computer Arts Institute of San Francisco. He was an art director at Cummingham & Walsh in San Francisco and has displayed his paintings at the Hannah Gallery, worked on the Rocky Graham Park Mural and has taught art at the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy Elementary School.

“Art can bring people together and illustrate things that people can relate to,” Howard says. “Art can also be powerful in sending social messages to society. Art makes you think, it expands your horizons and makes you use your imagination. People may see different things in the same painting.”

Osiezhe, Shakira Gregory’s son, will be displaying his drawings at the Gallery.

The ISOJI’s Art Is Health Band played last Saturday afternoon with Mwanza Furaha as their guest vocalist.

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Art

City Council Approves $480,000 in Arts Grants

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

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The Oakland City Council approved $480,000 in grants to 17 Oakland-based non-profit organizations and 20 individual artists through the city’s Cultural Funding Program, Neighborhood Voices.

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

The grant program seeks to bring Oaklanders together to create and support a sense of belonging within a community, to foster social connections that lift people’s spirits, to encourage community well-being and offer visions for a collective future, according to the announcement.

The following individual artists each won $7,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Frederick Alvarado; Karla Brundage; Cristina Carpio; Darren Lee Colston; Maria De La Rosa; Elizabeth D. Foggie; Rachel-Anne Palacios; Laurie Polster; Hasain Rasheed; Kweku Kumi Rauf; Carmen Roman; Michael Roosevelt; Fernando Santos; Teofanny Octavia Saragi; Kimberly Sims-Battiste; Cleavon Smith; Lena Sok; Babette Thomas; Ja Ronn Thompson; Joseph Warner.

Each of the following organizations received $20,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Asian Health Services for Banteay Srei;

Beats Rhymes and Life;

Chapter 510 INK;

Dancers Group for dNaga GIRL Project;

Dancers Group for Dohee Lee Puri Arts;

Dancers Group for Grown Women Dance Collective;

East Oakland Youth Development Center;

Higher Gliffs for Endangered Ideas;

Hip Hop for Change;

Junior Center of Art and Science;

Mycelium Youth Network;

Oakland Education Fund for Youth Beat;

Oakland Theater Project, Inc.;

Sarah Webster Fabio Center for Social Justice;

The Intersection for Alphabet Rockers;

Women’s Audio Mission;

Youth Radio/YR Media.

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Art

Student Work – Nayzeth Vargas

There is freedom with the Zentangle; there is no expected visual outcome and students are less prone to creative blocks and self-criticism. 

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This piece was created by Nayzeth Vargas, a senior at Oakland Technical High School. The Zentangle Method is a therapeutic technique which uses combinations of contrasting patterns and values to create an image. Students were introduced to the Zentangle Method to offset the mental stress they were experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation.  

There is freedom with the Zentangle; there is no expected visual outcome and students are less prone to creative blocks and self-criticism. 

Nayzeth is enrolled in the West Oakland Legacy and Leadership Project, an integrated arts program that supports youth in developing thoughtful, educated voices for their communities. Though art, youth practice mindfulness and boundless creativity. Enrollment for the West Oakland Legacy and Leadership Project is open to youth ages 13-18 through AHC, for more information visit ahc-oakland.org/legacy.

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