Entertainment Roundup 1.18-24.13

by Arturo Garcia and Joseph Lamour

(Note: NSFW language in the clip above)

R.I.P. Robert F. Chew: Just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Mr. Chew, best known for playing Proposition Joe on The Wire. But in the wake of his passing, his work off-camera training young actors in Baltimore is also coming to light:

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Chew graduated from Patterson High School and attended Morgan State University where he sang in the school’s world-renown choir. He was working full time in Baltimore area theater since the early 1980s. He continued to teach in the Arena Players Youth Theatre after “The Wire” ended production here in 2007.

“He was a triple threat,” said Catherine Orange, director of Baltimore’s Arena Players youth theater. “He could act, he could dance and he could sing. He was an extraordinary teacher and director for us. He believed in our kids and was a task master.”

In 2006, Mr. Chew helped 22 of his students land parts in Simon’s landmark series.

“Whenever I had to dig deep and find kids who not only had the talent but the reality and the belief, kids who didn’t look like the ones in a Jell-O commercial, I called Robert,” Moran said Friday.

Also recommended is Kevin Van Valkenburg’s tribute to Chew:

He was a teacher who worked really hard to give kids growing up in the inner city exposure to the arts, which no an easy task, especially when you consider that art is always first on the chopping block when people criticize the school system and insist we need to trim the budget to get rid of “waste.”

–AG

Image from BET.com

SNL: I think I may know where Lesley Arfin is working now. January 19th’s episode starring Jennifer Lawrence led with a monologue making fun of her fellow Best Actress Oscar nominees, with a couple of cringe-worthy jokes:

“Whatchu talkin’ bout Wallis,” while punny, edges a little too close to racial characterization (like if Lawrence called Quvenzhané “girlfriend,” for instance). It makes me just a little too uncomfortable for it to be okay in my eyes (and I’m usually the “cool mom” of Racialicious, so if it makes me cringe)… Later in the episode we were shown absolutely ridiculous sketch for Verisimo:

I don’t need to explicity explain why both attitude-filled machines being voiced to sound like people of color is racist, but the slow drawl attitude of the first machine (voiced by Jay Pharoah) and the rudeness of the second “supervisor machine” (voiced by someone who doesn’t work in the building, right?) combine to paint quite a picture of who SNL thinks Starbucks workers are and how they provide service. When is the last time Lorne Michaels had a black woman or Latina on the cast? I really don’t want to think about any of the remaining cast members doing the voice of the Verquonica (Lord in heaven, that name). If that’s you in there, Nasim Pedrad, I love you, but you can’t play every brown woman on the planet for SNL. –JL

Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant in “Fruitvale.” Image via Collider.com

Fruitvale: This dramatization of the final events of Oscar Grant’s life became the hottest property at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, with a reported bidding war capping off with the film’s acquisition by the Weinstein Co.

The film is also generating buzz for Michael B. Jordan, who plays Grant in the film:

I heard about it. It was up in the Bay, and I was living in L.A. at the time, and it trickled down. You hear about it and you get enraged, you know? It’s something that gets you upset. It could’ve been me. It could’ve been my brother. It could’ve been one of my friends. It could’ve been anybody. It makes you feel a certain type of way, and sometimes you can’t always win. So what I tried to do was to voice my opinion through my work and through the film and through Oscar, so that was my homage. That was my way of giving back.

–AG