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.
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.”
March is Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month and TV host and dancer Carrie Ann Inaba is talking about her chronic pain from autoimmune diseases.
In my Mediaplanet article, she shares how she manages the pain and how she’s helping others through her platform Carrie Ann Conversations.
Here’s an article excerpt:
“Pain is a powerful teacher,” said Inaba, who wants to be a resource for people living with pain and autoimmune disorders. She recommends taking notes at each medical appointment since the appointments can be stressful and distracting. She also encourages communicating your pain to your doctors, and if a doctor isn’t helping you, to seek another opinion.
“You can’t give up,” she said. “Life with or without pain is a gift and I’m grateful for it all.”
Actor Cameron Boyce died last year of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) and now his family is continuing his humanitarian work. In my Mediaplanetarticle, his parents explain the 20-year old had a mission for good.
“He would most definitely want us to take care of each other and be loving to one another, and to be strong,” says his mother, Libby Boyce. “He would most definitely want us to continue working on things that make the world a better place.”
Read more about his epilepsy, #SUDEP and the projects he loved. This article ran last week in a Neurological Disorders report inside USA TODAY. Read the article here.