Fans know Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. from their soul and pop music, especially with the 5th Dimension.
For this Mediaplanet article, I had the opportunity to interview the married duo about their career, social justice, philanthropy, and their lifelong commitment to giving back to the Black community.
Here’s an excerpt:
The couple — known for hits like “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” and “Up, Up and Away,” with their group, The 5th Dimension — have been married for more than 50 years. They’re lifetime advocates for health education, and disease prevention and treatment, with a special emphasis on the unique needs of the African American community.
I remember the first time I saw “West Side Story.” I watched the 1961 film during class at my Catholic elementary school decades later — on a square TV on a rolling cart — and it was transformative. I immediately loved the music, choreography, dancing, characters, and storytelling. I watch that version from time to time and it never gets old.
The new “West Side Story” will likely be one that I watch over and over too.
I saw the new film a few days ago at a VIP preview screening and I’m still thinking about it. The musical is dreamy, endearing, dramatic, poignant, and more.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story” sticks close to the storyline of the 1957 Broadway show and the movie that followed a few years later. The plot: rival groups, the Jets, white street rats in New York City, are battling turf wars against the Sharks, Puerto Rican newcomers to the neighborhood. What happens when a love story sparks between a girl and guy from the different groups?
One of my favorite scenes is when leading man Tony (Ansel Elgort), who used to be a Jet, spots leading lady Maria (Rachel Zegler), sister of a Shark, at the dance. When the two see each other, they lock eyes and form an immediate connection.
Spielberg’s “speed up” effect at the dance shows everyone dancing fast and everything happening quickly — except time seems to stand still for Tony and Maria. Even in a crowded room, they’re the only ones.
There’s so much to love about this new version of the classic doomed love story. Like the original film, the music, choreography and dancing are delightful.
The casting is amazing too. Scenes with Maria and Tony are filled with emotion. Their chemistry is palpable and even though the characters have known each other for only a few days, you really feel they’re meant to be together forever. I particularly enjoyed Elgort’s version of “Maria” and Zegler’s, “I Feel Pretty.” Their duet, “Tonight” is stunning.
I love Rita Moreno (Anita in the 1961 film) in a grandmotherly role as Valentina, the candy store owner and Tony’s boss. Her singing performance of Somewhere” showcases a lot of emotion, including longing for what could be.
Current Anita (Ariana DeBose) is a powerhouse who sings, dances and exudes confidence. Don’t miss her singing and dancing to “America.” Mike Faist is fun to watch as Jets’ leader Riff, a tough guy who’s full of personality but lacking direction in life. Fernano (David Alvarez), leader of the Sharks, is a boxer who’s proud of his Puerto Rican roots but overly protective of his little sister, Maria.
This new musical, which runs two and a half hours, stands on its own. It’s more of a companion to the original film than a competitor.
At a time when we’re all used to watching movies on TV, tablets and even phones, “West Side Story” is meant to be seen in theaters. It comes alive with engaging music and amazing colors. It looks and sounds incredible on the big screen.
West Side Story opens in theaters on December 10, 2021.
Model Chrissy Teigen shared she recently had eyebrow transplant surgery. In an Instagram post, she explained she’s tired of wearing makeup to fill in her eyebrows. For her eyebrow transplant surgery, her surgeon Dr. Jason Diamond transplanted hairs from the back of her head to her brow area.
Want to know what’s involved in hair restoration?
I interviewed International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) president Dr. Paul McAndrews for this Mediaplanet article. He explains how the procedure works and questions patients should ask.
According to a 2019 practice census survey, ISHRS members treated more men than women – 84.2% men, compared to 15.8% women – for surgical hair restoration procedures. Over half of all surgical patients worldwide were ages 30 to 49 years old.
Hair transplant surgery helps restore naturally growing hair by surgically taking hair from the sides or back of the scalp and moving it to areas that are thinning or bald. Surgical hair transplants are permanent and can be used on the scalp, as well as eyelashes, eyebrows, and other facial or body hair.
My sons and I attended the media preview of “Ron’s Gone Wrong” – an animated comedy adventure by 20th Century Studios and Locksmith Animation’s first theatrical release – about a socially awkward 7th grader, Barney Pudowski. The boy becomes friends with a B*Bot – a personal robot that walks, talks and is supposed to keep him digitally connected.
The B*Bot, short for Bubble Bot, was created by a company named Bubble, which seems to be a mix of Apple and Facebook. While the device is a digital friend, it’s actually tracking the user’s preferences and knows that person’s private information. While Bubble sees this as a business opportunity for marketing and sales, kids just see it as fun, and a chance to make friends.
“Best Friend out of the Box”
When we left the theater, my eight-year-old told me he would love a B*Bot. On some level, I think we would all like a personal robot. The B*Bot is billed as “Best Friend out of the Box.” It’s loyal to one person, it’s owner/user. Think about it, with a personalized robot, you always have a friend: someone to agree with you, someone who likes what you like and someone who will always do what do you want to do.
But even a personalized robot might not be all it seems. All of the kids in Barney’s school have one of these robots. He doesn’t have one and consequently he always feels left out. We see him struggling at recess to make a friend while his classmates are having fun with others and everyone’s robots too.
Barney, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, is desperate for a B*Bot, since it seems like a friendly sidekick. His dad and grandmother realize it’s all he wants so they scrape together money but there’s a long waiting list. All they can buy is a back-alley battered bot that is scratched. They didn’t realize it was malfunctioning too.
When Barney realizes his bot is damaged, he’s disappointed but he perseveres because a battered bot is better than none at all, or so he thinks. It turns out his robot, serial number R0NB1NT5CAT5CO, aka Ron, doesn’t know how to be an instant friend and it has different settings than a typical model. Comedian Zach Galifianakis is fun in this role as Ron.
Soon Barney finds out the malfunctioning robot can get violent. He’s amazed as Ron beats up the bully, a YouTuber-type who’s always picking on Barney. The bully’s live stream shows the whole incident and soon the hunt is on for Barney and Ron – since the Bubble team is concerned that a violent robot would be bad for business.
By then, Barney has been teaching Ron how to be a friend. The two have fun, even laughing and playing outdoors. They genuinely like each other and start to become real friends.
Meanwhile we see how these devices, which are always connected, can livestream users’ activities which can embarrass them. For example, a stunt goes awry and we see Barney’s classmate, a girl he’s known since kindergarten, get humiliated on camera.
Technology isn’t all bad though. This movie was made during the pandemic and every Friday, the the “Ron’s Gone Wrong” crew would get together on Zoom for their weekly production status meeting.
Ron is unlike other B*Bots. The B*Bot’s creator, Marc Wydell (voiced by Justice Smith) – a young developer a lot like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg – never programmed the device to laugh. He longed for friendship as a kid and seems to embrace this unexpected malfunction. Mark says his design was created for the purity of having a friend. But like real life social media, the original intent seems to get lost in a sea of sales and business opportunity.
The other B*Bot executive, Andrew Morris (portrayed by Rob Delaney) – a Steve Jobs-like character – emerges as the bad guy, who’s more concerned about profiting off the product, than customer satisfaction.
Andrew is the one who wants to literally crush the malfunctioning bot. But Barney and his real-life friends band together to protect Ron and restore their friendship. After all, they’ve all known each other since kindergarten and even though they’re doing different things now, they have a common foundation of friendship.
The movie is an eye-opener about how as a society, we’re all so focused on having the latest device, and at the same time, ignoring real-life relationships. It’s a good remind for adults and kids to look beyond screen time for interaction.
“Ron’s Gone Wrong” opens nationwide October 22, 2021.
One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. In my Mediaplanet article, celebrities Samantha Harris and Jaclyn Smith share their respective breast cancer journeys and offer tips to others with breast cancer. #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth
“When you get breast cancer, it opens your eyes up to a lot, because you never think you’re going to hear those words, ‘cancer.’”
“Listening to your inner voice and your gut is such an important factor,” she said. “And being your own best healthcare advocate, because we know our bodies better than anyone else. We’re in them every day.”
Thrive sent me three limited edition shades of their brilliant eye brightener: Tara, a rose mauve shimmer, Racquel, a soft silver shimmer and Betty, a sky blue shimmer. These colors are inspired by a tropical beach filled with bright skies and a great sunset.
I tried all three colors including blending the Betty and Racquel. I really like how these shades make your eyes pop with color and how long last!
Did you know? Thrive Causemetics products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free and consciously formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates and fragrance. #gifted