Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dream Casting for Toni Braxton Lifetime Movie Biopic "Unbreak My Heart".

While there have been a few hit and misses with the Lifetime Movie biopics, namely the disaster of the casting and writing for the Aaliyah movie, but the rave reviews of the Whitney Houston biography starring Yaya Decosta, as a fan I am most certainly looking forward to the upcoming Toni Braxton biopic.  

There have been reports that the Grammy award winning megastar is ready to portray herself, however I feel to truly get the most out of this movie we need to allow this story to have its due diligence by having the lead role portrayed by a seasoned actress who can physically embody the evolution of from Toni's humble beginnings in Severn, Maryland to modern day.  

Serving as the executive producer, Ms. Braxton will be no stranger to the casting process, final review of the script and the production but does portraying yourself in your own biography truly tells your story in the best way? Well, a popular Lifetime movie fan favorite was the Fantasia Barrino story, with the singer portraying herself.  In this instance it worked, but it's good to note that Barrino was telling only the prior 5 years of her life.  Her biography was told for the specific chronicling of her compelling rise to stardom within a few years, so it was fitting that she played herself. But the Toni Braxton story is far more complex.  

In order for audiences to understand the woman and artist that Toni Braxton is now, you have to go back at least 30 years into her childhood, teen years and young womanhood.  In order to do that, we need an actress who can morph from a teenager to young adult seamlessly and who better than the fresh faced Keke Palmer who can still pull off a mature sensuality that Ms. Braxton is known for.  Keke definitely has the acting chops, her believability was proven playing Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas in CraxySexyCool: The TLC Story and she is no stranger to the Lifetime movie family playing the dramatic role of Carlina White in Abducted: The Carlina White story.  My vote is for Keke or another suitable actress to take on the lead role, though Toni herself is a capable actress also starring in several movie roles, including a recent Lifetime movie.  

Time will only tell the final decision but I'm still with my gut on this one, let a trained actress do this Toni, you will be there along the way to coach her to success much like Tina Turner did for Angela Basset's Oscar nominated performance in the biography, "What's Love Got to Do With It?" which was an impressive victory because the actresses does not resemble the singer but was able to copy her mannerisms and convey the story theatrically.  I project the same could happen with Palmer or another gifted actress.

[Photos used without permission of the copyright holders @kekepalmer via Instagram and screen cap from the "I Don't Want To" video released by Arista records.  No copyright infringement intended, used for editorial and informational purposes only. If said copyright holders wish for these images to be removed please contact this blog owner immediately.]

Sunday, October 4, 2015

FOX's "Empire" Episode 1 & 2 Review - Does the Show Have Staying Power?

With only two episodes into their second season, many fans and critics alike are saying that Fox's mega hit series "Empire" may not have the staying power they thought at first. Some are complaining that the season took too long to return, while others complain that the storylines have drug on for far too long without any real resolution. But that is to be expected, it's the nature of television sitcom design, you have to keep the audience wanting more so they keep tuning in once they become invested in the characters. 

Last seasons cliffhanger saw main protagonist Lucious Lyon played by Terrance Howard being carted off to jail for the murder of his friend and his ex-wife Cookie Lyon's cousin named Bunkie.  With that it meant one of the three Lyon brothers would have to take over the presiding role of the Empire Records company board of trustees for their father. We all know now, Lucious surprised everyone by choosing once at odd offspring Jamal to take over in his absence.  As the new season opens we see the once mild-tempered Jamal has become power happy, almost to the point of emulating his father, in a bad way, much the chagrin of his mother Cookie, and the added disdain of his brothers rapper Hakeem and record executive Andre.  The three scorned Lyons now devise a plan to devise a hostile takeover of the company but it fails miserably when Jamal secretly discovers their plan and alerts Lucious who is still acting as a managing Svengali from prison. 

Episode two we see Cookie, played by Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson and her sons planning to compete with Empire Records by opening up their own company aptly called Lyon Dynasty, but without the funding and the power they need from Lucious' brand and name their efforts seem futile. We did get to see some interesting highlights such as Lucious' shifty lawyer organizing a studio to record music, Luscious performing rap vocals reminiscent of the Hustle and Flow era that first connected him to Henson and made both popular household names. There was also a brief flashback of Lucious and his mother played by Grammy award-winning superstar Kelly Rowland while arguing with his eldest son Andre during a prison visit.  It greatly implies that Lucious was loved by his mother but she may have been plagued with mental illness which could be the reason why he and Andre, who also suffers from mental illness are always disagreeing and having personal issues with trust; something that I'm sure episode three of the rest of the season will delve into even deeper.  So that's it Luscious has "mommy issues", and it clearly shows. Don't forget to tune into Fox Wednesday's 9/8 central for the next episode of the highly anticipated second season of Empire.

[Photo Source: used without permission, but for editorial and Informative purposes. No copyright infringement intended, if you are the copyright holder, all images will be removed at your discretion.]

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