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Q&A: Meet 'Roxanne, Roxanne' breakout Chante Adams

Actress Chante Adams had just graduated from Carnegie Mellon University when she got a call from a casting agent who wanted her to audition to be the lead in the Roxanne Shante biopic "Roxanne, Roxanne." Adams had no feature credits to her name and a background in theater. But the agent saw something in her at CMU's senior showcase, where students perform in front of agents, managers and casting directors, and sought her out.

Soon enough, what began as "oh, cool, my first audition" became Adams' first film role in the anticipated pic about the life of hip-hop pioneer Roxanne Shante from director Michael Larnell. "Roxanne, Roxanne," which co-stars "Moonlight's" Marhershala Ali and Nia Long, and premieres Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival.

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AP: How familiar were you with Roxanne Shante?

CHANTE ADAMS: Not very. I wasn't born until '94! Her era was definitely the '80s. I knew of her, I knew who she was. I had older siblings, and I kind of knew her through them and the hip-hop music they listened to. But I didn't know much about her, so after I got the first audition, I went straight into research mode. I saw the video for "Roxanne's Revenge" and was like "Oh my God, we kind of look alike!"

AP: You only had a week and a half from being cast to shooting. How did you prepare?

ADAMS: Hours and hours of research. I'm pretty sure I've watched very single video on the internet that exists of Roxanne Shante — every interview, every music performance, and just using that to get it down. I met her once before we started filming, and that was such an honor. I was so lucky to be able to do this biopic while she is still here so I can make sure I got it right.

AP: What did you talk about with Roxanne?

ADAMS: She was just telling me about her life. It was me, her, Nia Long and Michael. She was giving me pointers on the voice, and she was telling Nia about her mom. She told me she was going to be on set as much as possible, but there's some stuff that she won't be on set for because it's a little difficult to relive that. I understood that and understood that I had to take that into my own hands and do what I could with it. She was on set a few times a week, which I loved. Anytime I had a question or needed advice, it was awesome to have her right there. I could go straight to the source

AP: Was there a particular scene she helped you with?

ADAMS: There's a scene where she's stealing from a department store. I did the scene how I imagined you would steal from a department store, because I don't know. She was there and we were about to wrap and she told Michael "we need to do it again because she's not stealing right." She basically came over to me and taught me the correct way to steal clothes. She was like "No, you can't look at the clothes, you can't look at the bag, just grab it, keep your eyes up, you can't make it look suspicious." So she taught me the proper way to steal clothes from a department store.

AP: What's next for you?

ADAMS: Just to continue in the film world for right now. Ride the "Roxanne, Roxanne" wave and, you know, we'll see where it goes!

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Wynonna Judd Sounds Off on Twitter After Ashley Judd's Women's March Speech

Wynonna Judd usually uses social media to share news, bits of wisdom and faith, or to have discussions with her fans, but she found herself in a very different position on Saturday (Jan. 21). After her sister, Ashley Judd, took the stage at the Women's March in Washington, D.C., to deliver an impassioned speech denouncing President Donald Trump, Wynonna turned to Twitter to explain her own position at length.

Continue reading…

Matt Damon says he'll pitch clean water to Trump

Matt Damon took the cause of clean water to the Sundance Film Festival, where he said he's hoping to pitch Donald Trump on the issue.

Damon told The Associated Press on Saturday that clean water accessibility isn't a partisan issue and demands "an all-hands-on-deck approach to solve this." The actor has publicaly supported Democrats, including Hillary Clinton.

When asked his response to the election, Damon demurred and said hopes Trump will be open to backing clean water programs like his nonprofit Water.org. Said Damon: "Hopefully we'll get our turn."

Damon in 2009 founded Water.org with civil engineer Gary White. It uses micro-finance loans to bring hygienic connections to water and toilets to impoverished communities. Damon also spoke about the issue at the Davos Forum last week.

Luke Bryan to perform national anthem at Super Bowl

Luke Bryan just landed what may be the biggest gig of his life.

He’s set to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Feb. 5. This marks the first time Luke has performed at the big game and he’s understandably beside himself with excitement.

Luke told People there was never a doubt he would take on this gig. When the NFL made the big request, Luke said, “Hell yes, I’ll do it!”

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Lukesaid "The Star-Spangled Banner" is very “challenging” and “nerve-wracking” to perform, but he’s up for the challenge.

“I moved to Nashville to follow my dreams and singing the national anthem on that stage doesn’t get any bigger,” he said. 

Singing the anthem is also a way for Luke to put his American pride on full display.

“I never served in the military — that’s something I wish I had had the opportunity to do, but I feel like this is my way of honoring my country. It’s a little chance to serve.”

Super Bowl LI will air Feb. 5, on Fox. Luke joins an illustrious list of country singers who have performed at the Super Bowl in years past, including Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, The Judds, Faith Hill, the Dixie Chicks and Charlie Pride.

    Thank you @nfl for this opportunity of a lifetime. See y’all in Houston. #SB51 A video posted by Luke Bryan Official (@lukebryan) on Jan 22, 2017 at 11:30am PST

Trump's 'war with the media' raises questions of trust

Donald Trump's "running war" on the media is continuing into his presidency, with statements over the weekend calling into question the extent to which information from the White House can be trusted.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Monday will hold his first daily press briefing at which he could face questions about a statement Saturday night that included demonstrably false assertions about the crowd size at Friday's inauguration and a promise by the new administration that "we're going to hold the press accountable."

Some Trump supporters will no doubt cheer the continued antagonism toward the media that was central to the Republican's campaign for president. Now the stakes are higher.

Press secretaries have been lied to by their bosses, or misled reporters through the omission of information, but veteran journalist Dan Rather said Sunday it was the first time he could recall false material being delivered in this way.

"I hope that people will stop, pull back for what we in television call a wide shot and see what is happening," Rather said. "This is a deliberate propaganda campaign."

Longtime Republican operative Spicer, who most recently was the spokesman for the Republican National Committee and also worked for President George W. Bush, is known for fighting tenaciously for his employers. His briefing on Saturday followed a Trump appearance at the CIA where the president criticized the media for its reporting his criticisms of the intelligence community and took exception to stories saying the crowd for his inauguration was smaller than those for predecessor Barack Obama. Trump declared that journalists are "the most dishonest human beings on Earth," saying "I have a running war with the media."

Spicer made two unprovable statements in his briefing: that photographs of the audience at Trump's inaugural were intentionally framed to minimize the appearance of support, and that Trump drew the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration.

But he also made statements that were quickly disproven: that the Washington Metro system recorded more riders on the day of Trump's inaugural than when Obama was sworn in for his second term, that Friday marked the first time that white floor covering was used on the Washington Mall that amplified empty spaces, and it was the first time spectators were required to pass through magnetometers to enter the Mall.

Spicer's briefing, during which he did not take questions from reporters, was televised live on Fox News Channel and MSNBC. CNN did not air the session but showed highlights later.

Trump's first press conference after he was elected, on Jan. 11, also took aim at the media. Coming hours after news reports revealed intelligence officials had presented Trump with unsubstantiated and salacious allegations regarding his relationship to Russia, Trump and his team condemned news organizations that disclosed details, calling out CNN and BuzzFeed as "disgraceful" and refusing to take questions from a CNN reporter.

Confronted by "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd on Sunday with "falsehoods" stated by Spicer, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway called them "alternative facts." She accused Todd of laughing at her and said he symbolizes how Trump has been treated by the media.

One person who has been in Spicer's position, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, said it seemed clear to him that Spicer was acting on orders from his boss. Press secretaries have to walk a fine line between reflecting the thinking and wishes of the president while trying to help the people covering him do their jobs, said Fleischer, who, like Spicer, worked for Bush.

Fleischer said he never knowingly delivered false information to the press while at the White House.

"You can't do that," he said. "It will shorten your career."

When Spicer faces the press on Monday, he needs to elaborate on his argument, "take the hard questions and demonstrate reasonableness," Fleischer said.

The conservative web site breitbart.com led its site with an article headlined: "White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer blasts media's 'deliberately false reporting.'" The article said that Spicer's "criticism of the media's fake news reporting resulted in a media meltdown on social media."

Yet it's a crucial time for Spicer's reputation. A press secretary whose word can't be trusted has no value to anyone, said Terence Hunt, a longtime White House correspondent and editor for The Associated Press who recently retired.

"You can't tell lies in the White House," Hunt said. "Somebody will smoke you out, on issues large and small. The president's integrity and credibility are at stake in everything you say, so be super careful."

If the White House can't be trusted to tell the truth on a relatively trivial matter like crowd size, the public will wonder about the reliability of information on important topics like terrorism or the nuclear capabilities of North Korea, said Ben Mullin, a managing editor at the Poynter Institute who does a podcast on the relationship between Trump and the press.

Former CBS anchor Rather, who famously tangled with the Nixon White House during the Watergate era, said the situation saddened him.

"I don't think the American people as a whole, whether they supported Donald Trump or not, want a situation where the press secretary to the president comes out and knowingly tells a lie," he said.

Dierks Bentley Shows True Grit In Nashville

It's fair to wonder if, had Dierks Bentley's What the Hell Tour busses been parked in any other city on Saturday night (Jan. 21), would the singer have taken the stage?

Continue reading…

Madonna defends her anti-Trump speech at women's march

Madonna is defending her fiery, expletive-laden speech at the women's march, saying her words were "taken wildly out of context."

The singer said at the Washington, D.C., march Saturday that she had at times been angry after the election and had thought "an awful lot about blowing up the White House."

In a statement Sunday on Instagram , Madonna said she was trying to express there are two ways to respond to Donald Trump's election: with hope or with outrage. She said she hopes to effect change "with love."

Madonna wrote that she doesn't promote violence and people should listen to her speech "in its entirety rather than one phrase taken wildly out of context."

Cable news networks broadcasting her speech cut away after Madonna used several expletives. MSNBC later apologized.

Madonna defends her anti-Trump speech at women's march

Madonna is defending her fiery, expletive-laden speech at the women's march, saying her words were "taken wildly out of context."

The singer said at the Washington, D.C., march Saturday that she had at times been angry after the election and had thought "an awful lot about blowing up the White House."

In a statement Sunday on Instagram , Madonna said she was trying to express there are two ways to respond to Donald Trump's election: with hope or with outrage. She said she hopes to effect change "with love."

Madonna wrote that she doesn't promote violence and people should listen to her speech "in its entirety rather than one phrase taken wildly out of context."

Cable news networks broadcasting her speech cut away after Madonna used several expletives. MSNBC later apologized.

Dee Rees' American odyssey 'Mudbound' captivates Sundance

Director Dee Rees wanted to get to the big questions in her enthralling period epic "Mudbound." Specifically: What is it to be a citizen and what is it to fight for a country that doesn't fight for you? The film, which premiered Saturday night at the Sundance Film Festival, had audiences raving and some already speculating about Oscar chances.

Based on Hillary Jordan's 2008 novel "Mudbound," chronicles the lives of two families in the WWII-era South — one white and one black, and the complicated intersectionality of their paths. There's the McAllans, Laura (Carey Mulligan), her husband Henry (Jason Clarke), his brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and their father Pappy (Jonathan Banks), and the Jacksons, Florence (Mary J. Blige), her husband Hap (Rob Morgan) and their son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell).

They're tied together by a rental agreement — the Jackson's rent their land and home from the McAllans — and the deeply complicated racial relationships in the segregated South in which Henry can demand help from Hap at any moment and Pappy can insist that Ronsel exit the local store from the back entrance.

It's a sprawling and deeply American story about women, men, race and personhood that defies a simple summary.

"It's not didactic, it's not preachy," Rees said. "The thing I love about it is it's multiple points of view."

Both Jamie and Ronsel go off to fight in WWII, where Jamie's once shiny life becomes clouded by the horrors of war and alcohol. Ronsel finds freedom and acceptance that he'd never had in the U.S. embodied in his appointment to Sergeant status and a relationship with a German girl. But back at home, nothing has changed.

"I wanted to juxtapose the battle at home versus the battle abroad with the battle at home sometimes being even bloodier than the battle abroad — to show these two families fighting on the front lines," Rees said, whose grandfathers both fought in wars, one in WWII and one in Korea.

"Both went away and came back and both didn't quite get what they should have gotten," she said.

Rees, who directed "Pariah" and the HBO movie "Bessie," found in the story a deep resonance with her grandmother too. She integrated images and truths from her grandmother's life in the Louisiana into the story, like how she wanted to be a stenographer and not a sharecropper (one of the Jackson children declares this her dream) and how she remembered as a child being pulled on the back of a cotton sack.

Blige, who is earning raves for her subtle and deeply powerful performance as the Jackson family matriarch, also had a grandmother who grew up in the South in Savannah, Georgia. She channeled her to embody Florence.

"She was so strong and silent. She never really said a lot, but when she said something it meant something ... She planted her own food, she killed her own chickens, she killed her own cows. (She) and my grandfather were Hap and Florence," Blige said. "Southern people are really all about love, and that's what I took. I'm born and raised in the Bronx in New York, and as a child I went down South every summer so I saw my grandmother give love. I was raised with 'yes ma'am' and 'no ma'am.' "

Though it's been less than a day, so far the response has been rapturous. The audience at the premiere gave Rees and the cast a long standing ovation, and subsequent screenings have elicited similar praise. "Mudbound" does not yet have distribution, but it is expected to be one of the Festival's hottest properties, and, one that people will be talking about long after Sundance comes to a close.

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AP Entertainment Reporter Ryan Pearson contributed from Park City, Utah.

Dee Rees' American odyssey 'Mudbound' captivates Sundance

Director Dee Rees wanted to get to the big questions in her enthralling period epic "Mudbound." Specifically: What is it to be a citizen and what is it to fight for a country that doesn't fight for you? The film, which premiered Saturday night at the Sundance Film Festival, had audiences raving and some already speculating about Oscar chances.

Based on Hillary Jordan's 2008 novel "Mudbound," chronicles the lives of two families in the WWII-era South — one white and one black, and the complicated intersectionality of their paths. There's the McAllans, Laura (Carey Mulligan), her husband Henry (Jason Clarke), his brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and their father Pappy (Jonathan Banks), and the Jacksons, Florence (Mary J. Blige), her husband Hap (Rob Morgan) and their son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell).

They're tied together by a rental agreement — the Jackson's rent their land and home from the McAllans — and the deeply complicated racial relationships in the segregated South in which Henry can demand help from Hap at any moment and Pappy can insist that Ronsel exit the local store from the back entrance.

It's a sprawling and deeply American story about women, men, race and personhood that defies a simple summary.

"It's not didactic, it's not preachy," Rees said. "The thing I love about it is it's multiple points of view."

Both Jamie and Ronsel go off to fight in WWII, where Jamie's once shiny life becomes clouded by the horrors of war and alcohol. Ronsel finds freedom and acceptance that he'd never had in the U.S. embodied in his appointment to Sergeant status and a relationship with a German girl. But back at home, nothing has changed.

"I wanted to juxtapose the battle at home versus the battle abroad with the battle at home sometimes being even bloodier than the battle abroad — to show these two families fighting on the front lines," Rees said, whose grandfathers both fought in wars, one in WWII and one in Korea.

"Both went away and came back and both didn't quite get what they should have gotten," she said.

Rees, who directed "Pariah" and the HBO movie "Bessie," found in the story a deep resonance with her grandmother too. She integrated images and truths from her grandmother's life in the Louisiana into the story, like how she wanted to be a stenographer and not a sharecropper (one of the Jackson children declares this her dream) and how she remembered as a child being pulled on the back of a cotton sack.

Blige, who is earning raves for her subtle and deeply powerful performance as the Jackson family matriarch, also had a grandmother who grew up in the South in Savannah, Georgia. She channeled her to embody Florence.

"She was so strong and silent. She never really said a lot, but when she said something it meant something ... She planted her own food, she killed her own chickens, she killed her own cows. (She) and my grandfather were Hap and Florence," Blige said. "Southern people are really all about love, and that's what I took. I'm born and raised in the Bronx in New York, and as a child I went down South every summer so I saw my grandmother give love. I was raised with 'yes ma'am' and 'no ma'am.' "

Though it's been less than a day, so far the response has been rapturous. The audience at the premiere gave Rees and the cast a long standing ovation, and subsequent screenings have elicited similar praise. "Mudbound" does not yet have distribution, but it is expected to be one of the Festival's hottest properties, and, one that people will be talking about long after Sundance comes to a close.

___

AP Entertainment Reporter Ryan Pearson contributed from Park City, Utah.

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