‘Daytime Divas’ Star Vanessa Williams Loves Hearing Her Music Made You Cry

New York City Ballet 2017 Spring GalaVanessa Williams wants you to know that even when you’re not seeing her on TV, she’s out there working hard to entertain you.

After two highly successful stints on network television (“Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives“) and a steady stream of guest stints (including “The Good Wife” and “The Mindy Project“), Williams is readying for a full-fledged return, headlining the dishy VH1 drama “Daytime Divas,” set in the competitive and ego-driven world of an afternoon talk show in the vein of “The View” (based, appropriately on former “View” host Star Jones‘s knowing novel “Satan’s Sisters”).

In the meantime, Williams has kept her chart-topping, awards-winning singing voice in peak form, performing both on Broadway and in concert around the country. And before “Daytime Divas” premieres, the former Miss America will hit the airwaves on May 28th as one of the all-star roster of performers for the PBS broadcast of the National Memorial Day Concert at the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., singing a classic of Americana, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

The singer/actress joined Moviefone for a peek at what she’s got in store for audiences, and why she loves hearing how she made her fans cry.

Moviefone: Here we are in an era where a lot of people have their own ideas about what it is to be an American. I wanted to know your feelings about being an American, and why you wanted to celebrate it by taking part in the National Memorial Day Concert.

Vanessa Williams: This is not my first time being a part of this PBS Memorial Day celebration, so I was happy to get the call again. In terms of Memorial Day, personally, we come from a long line of military. My great-great-grandfather was one of the first colored troops to participate in the Civil War. My grandfather was in World War II, my father was in the Army, my uncle was in the Air Force.

So I understand the significance and the importance of the military, and I also know what a privilege it is to live in the United States and be an American. As much chaos, and disagreement, and tension, and fear that’s going on right now, the bottom line is we are lucky to be in this great country. We are lucky to have a voice, and lucky to be able to exercise our rights, and when you travel the world, it’s great to come back home.

As you think about the things that make you happy and proud to be an American, what things really top the list that are the little intangibles that you appreciate?

The fact that we have the freedom of education. Being a woman, being a minority in this country, the trailblazers that have gone before us have opened paths so that we can live a life that we dream about and actually have it come true, whether it’s financial or aspirational, in terms of professional. The possibilities are endless when it comes to this world. Sorry to get in the grand scheme of things, but that’s what really, I think, kind of hits home with me.

And of course, my creature comforts of having plumbing that works, having food that’s clean and safe to eat, having a secure neighborhood — which I’m talking about my particular life. Those are aspects that I work hard to have, but also have them as part of my life.

In terms of Memorial Day and the concert, it’s great to be reminded that our legacy, and what we were founded on, is the freedom for us to be American, and to exercise our rights. I’m proud, I’m singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” this year. They asked me to sing that, and it couldn’t be more appropriate, because of the world knowledge that we have, I think now, with everything online, and viral, and happening instantly, we know when there’s disturbances, and catastrophes happening, minute by minute, and peace is one of those things that you can’t ignore.

The fact is that I think people really understand the importance of world peace, so that’ll be my little addition to the PBS show, the Capitol concert, and I’m proud to be there and try to be a voice of unity.

Tell me what it’s like to be on that stage in that context, with the people who come out to see you for that particular show.

Singing with the Capitol behind you, it’s very elegant, it’s very stately, and it’s got some gravitas. It’s important that when you get the phone call that you’ve been selected to be a part of an American celebration. So I’m always honored, and we’ve got a full orchestra. Again, it’s a very elegant evening. PBS does it like no other.

Some of the great songs that we cherish about America are not the easiest to sing. Tell me your experience in figuring out how to pull off some of the performances of these great, timeless songs that can be challenging for any singer.

My particular song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” is one that’s not very challenging, and is one of those things that we had to sing in chorus pretty much every year. So when I was given the suggestion, I called my dear friend and my musical director to kind of do a contemporary version of the song — he literally left about an hour or so ago. We were figuring out how we were going to approach it, and I think we came up with something that’s kind of unique, and cool, but also still equally as beautiful.

The challenge would be the National Anthem, which I’ve sung at a Super Bowl, and World Series, and U.S. Open, and [the trick] is to make sure that you start comfortably enough where you have somewhere to go and be able to hit the final notes for the end of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Again, it’s always an honor, no matter what the venue, no matter what the occasion, to be asked to sing our National Anthem.

It’s always great to hear you sing, and it’s always great to see you on TV. We’ve been seeing more and more of you again recently. What’s been fun for you to kind of come back and do shows like “Daytime Divas”?

I personally don’t think that I’ve been away, because I’ve been working my a** off, always! So if I’m not on television, I’m performing my concerts on the weekends. I just had a show yesterday. I have a show in St. Lucia next weekend. If you don’t see me, it doesn’t mean that I’m not working! I did “Trip to Bountiful” on Broadway with Cicely Tyson, and I did “After Midnight,” which is a musical. Then we did “Trip to Bountiful” in L.A. and Boston. In between that, did a pilot for Fox that didn’t get picked up.

I wish it was a few years of rest and relaxation, but it hasn’t! But I think that I’m happy for “Daytime Divas” to premiere. It starts June 5th. Yet it’s another talented group of actors, and writers, and let’s hope that it finds an audience.

Can you tell me about that joy that you found in performing when you were first starting out, and getting your first opportunities to sing and perform in front of people, and the way you feel about it now?

The lucky part for me is, I started in chorus and, obviously, doing musicals. But the lucky part of me being a recording artist is when I do my show, I can not only sing all my songs that still hold up and people still sing along, but also dip into the Broadway shows that I’ve done and be able to do a whole different approach, where people who might not have seen the show will get an education on musical theater. Then do tribute stuff, where I can sing some of the songs that were inspirational to me while I was growing up.

I’ve been lucky to be able to have over 30 years of material and fans that have followed me through my career, that I have a connection with. Probably the most satisfying part for me is when people sing along, especially “Save the Best for Last,” or “The Sweetest Days,” or “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas.” But also when I see people connect, and they tell me their stories about why these particular songs mean something in their lives. Whether it’s a wedding song, whether it’s a prom song, whether they had an issue with their spouse, and this was the song that got them back together.

I think the two biggest comments are, a.) I sound like my record, and b.) “You made me cry.” That’s a very big compliment. I still sound like I do, and when I connect with my audience, there’s a connection back.

With such a multi-faceted career, are there still a couple of big bucket list items, goal posts, that you’re like, “Yep, I’m going to get to that too! That’s going to happen for me”?

I’ve performed on “Saturday Night Live” twice, and done one skit, but I would love to host. That would be because I’m a big fan of the show. So that could be a possibility. I have done a movie musical for television. I did “Bye Bye Birdie” for ABC back in ’95, but I would love to do a movie musical, which would be great.

I’m just starting to direct, and I think that’s going to be really interesting, and challenging, and exciting. I’m always up for a challenge and to learn. I think that’s one of the new things that I can tick off on my list.

Sounds like you actually are saving some of the best for last.


Rosario Dawson May Join X-Men Spinoff ‘New Mutants’: Report

Build Presents Rosario Dawson Discussing Her Work With The Lower Eastside Girls ClubIt sounds like Rosario Dawson is ready for another superhero project.

The actress is in talks to star in the X-Men spinoff film “New Mutants,” Variety reports. MCU fans are already very familiar with her thanks to her work as Claire Temple in multiple Marvel series for Netflix. In “New Mutants,” however, she would play Dr. Cecilia Reyes, a character who serves as a mentor for young mutants.

The film is apparently going to be a horror flick centering on teenage superheroes. The cast includes “Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams and Anya Taylor-Joy (“Split”). Directed by Josh Boone, it is intended to be very different from other Marvel movies.

Distinct as the movie will be from the studio’s other projects, we hope to see more of Dawson in the MCU. She’s been a staple of Netflix’s Marvel series, including the most recent, “Iron Fist,” which debuted on the streamer in March. The cross-over series “The Defenders” premieres this summer.

Assuming Dawson takes the part, we’ll see her in “New Mutants” when it opens on April 13, 2018. Here’s hoping!

[via: Variety]

Official Trailer for Netflix’s ‘Shimmer Lake’ Film with Benjamin Walker

Shimmer Lake Trailer

“Once you open that door there’s no going back!” Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for a new film titled Shimmer Lake, the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Oren Uziel. This small-town crime mystery is told in reverse, going backwards day-by-day, telling the story of the local sheriff’s attempt to solve a bank robbery and find the criminals. Benjamin Walker (from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) stars as the sheriff, with an eclectic cast of indie actors including Rainn Wilson, Stephanie Sigman, Rob Corddry, Wyatt Russell, Ron Livingston, Adam Pally, and John Michael Higgins. This seems like it’s riding the coattails of all the buzz about small-town crime TV shows and films, but I’m still curious to check it out. ›››

Continue reading Official Trailer for Netflix’s ‘Shimmer Lake’ Film with Benjamin Walker

‘X-Men’ Spinoff ‘New Mutants’ Is a Horror Movie With No Costumes or Supervillains

Fans are used to seeing the “X-Men” characters in a certain way on film, but “The New Mutants” director Josh Boone is “trying to do something very, very different” with his upcoming spinoff.

Maisie Williams (playing Wolfsbane) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Magik) have already been cast in “New Mutants,” and sources close to production told Entertainment Weekly that Henry Zaga of “13 Reasons Why” will soon be announced to play Sunspot. (Rosario Dawson may be joining the cast as well.) The comic book follows a group of teen mutants who must learn to control their powers. We’ve seen versions of that before, but here’s Boone sharing his ambitious plan to EW:

“We are making a full-fledged horror movie set within the X-Men universe. There are no costumes. There are no supervillains. We’re trying to do something very, very different.”

A source close to the project shared more plot details with EW, including this logline: “Held in a secret facility against their will, five new mutants have to battle the dangers of their powers, as well as the sins of their past. They aren’t out to save the world — they’re just trying to save themselves.” Mutants are said to be most dangerous when their powers are new, like when they’re teenagers.

“The New Mutants” is reportedly scheduled to begin production in July for a projected spring 2018 release date, aiming for a PG-13 rating — which is good to attract teens, but bad for anyone hoping for another “Logan.”

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Cannes 2017: Accepting the Challenge of Viewing Provocative Cinema

The Square Cannes

Challenge accepted. What kind of world would we live in if there were not any art, or books, or discussions that made us question our own beliefs. This kind of intelligent provocation is how we grow, and learn, and progress, and step forward together as people from different countries and different cultures all over the world. Over the last few days at the Cannes Film Festival, cinephiles and critics have been treated to a few unique films that challenge the audience. These are the kind of films that are designed to deliberately challenge viewers, to make them feel uncomfortable, or upset, or angry, or frustrated. Great artists know that it’s possible to create work that challenges us in just the right ways, that makes us think and question ourselves as a process of learning, and critiquing who we are. And it’s refreshing to come across these films. ›››

Continue reading Cannes 2017: Accepting the Challenge of Viewing Provocative Cinema

First Official Trailer for Taylor Sheridan’s Snow-Noir Film ‘Wind River’

Wind River Trailer

“You’re looking for clues, but you’re missing all the signs.” The Weinstein Company has unveiled an official trailer for the indie thriller Wind River, the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (of Sicario and Hell or High Water previously). This film is a “snow-noir” thriller about a murder mystery set in the snowy mountains of Wyoming, mostly around an Indian Reservation where the locals clash with the government authorities. Jeremy Renner stars, with Elizabeth Olsen as a FBI agent sent to investigate. The cast includes Jon Bernthal, Martin Sensmeier, Julia Jones, Kelsey Asbille, Graham Greene, and Gil Birmingham. I first saw this at the Sundance Film Festival and loved it – saying in my review that “Sheridan is as talented of a director as he is a screenwriter.” It’s also showing at the Cannes Film Festival. ›››

Continue reading First Official Trailer for Taylor Sheridan’s Snow-Noir Film ‘Wind River’

‘Dirty Dancing’ Viewers Feel ‘Personally Victimized’ by ABC Remake

Twitter was not gentle, but it was very funny, in response to the new “Dirty Dancing” remake. The TV movie could’ve been a pleasant surprise, you never know. Plenty of viewers gave it a chance, or just chose to hate-watch in defense of the 1987 original, and the result put ABC squarely in a corner.

The 2017 “Dirty Dancing” left Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes in the impossible positions of being the new Baby and Johnny, roles made famous by Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze.

Brace yourself, ’cause here are some of the reactions:

And now, the judge’s scores #DirtyDancing @DancingABC pic.twitter.com/qrRdscvVfU

— Jordan Stefanski (@SirSassquatch) May 25, 2017

The face of people after watching this remake #DirtyDancing pic.twitter.com/KbzBpBWjCe

— SAMO_Basquiat (@SAMO_Basquiat) May 25, 2017

The Original vs the Remake #DirtyDancing pic.twitter.com/U8XzsP6o0G

— SAMO_Basquiat (@SAMO_Basquiat) May 25, 2017

Whoever thought to remake #dirtydancing pic.twitter.com/gAUJfrMo4p

— ParrotNoir (@ParrotNoir) May 25, 2017

I’d like to state for the record that I feel personally offended and victimized by the Dirty Dancing remake #DirtyDancing

— Emily (@frenchieblogs) May 25, 2017

Who else feels personally victimized by this #DirtyDancing remake? pic.twitter.com/iMtxVxqDhr

— Priscilla (@mrssoto04) May 25, 2017

#DirtyDancing movie got me feeling like… pic.twitter.com/fttKcWdEBO

— Codybill (@Codybill_) May 25, 2017

Please put baby in the corner. Turn off the lights. Close the door. And never look back. #DirtyDancing

— Reese (@NY2Pgh) May 25, 2017

And just like that, #DirtyDancing Havana Nights doesn’t seem so bad. pic.twitter.com/GHgpCBPOkl

— Kristi Steinhour (@SteinhourKristi) May 25, 2017

And then y’all end it like this 🤔

I want a damn t-shirt after making it through this mess.

-I SURVIVED DIRTY DANCING 2017-#DirtyDancing pic.twitter.com/We1S0JmXpX

— a.m. 💀 (@headphonewearer) May 25, 2017

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse.
ABC: Give us 5 more minutes.#DirtyDancing

— Christine Buras (@TheCBuras) May 25, 2017

Actual footage of my face after watching #DirtyDancing pic.twitter.com/mx95wtN6bD

— Raul A. Ortiz Jr (@RaulAOrtizJr) May 25, 2017

First look at ABC’s remake of Ghost #dirtydancing pic.twitter.com/j0gPG1ckl1

— Thomas Rodriguez (@TRodriguez1980) May 25, 2017

This ending. Oh no. Really. Was it necessary#DirtyDancing pic.twitter.com/rnrcYxvkXY

— Shelby ☄ (@Sh3llbbyyy__) May 25, 2017

Good morning to everyone except the producers and director of the #dirtydancing remake

— Steph Beckett (@stephlbeckett) May 25, 2017

When you order it online Vs when it arrives….#DirtyDancing pic.twitter.com/lQ4FsWIkov

— Bibble & Gubbles (@bibble8gubbles) May 25, 2017

Me waking up this morning realizing I wasted 3 hours of my life last night watching this crap!!!#DirtyDancing pic.twitter.com/lChH2yk7qg

— Lisa Hought (@lisahought) May 25, 2017

#dirtydancing remake after last night. pic.twitter.com/TYloMG2oLI

— marshall (@MarshallMarsh78) May 25, 2017

I had to call in sick today ‘cuz of how I feel after watchin’ @ABCNetwork‘s remake of #DirtyDancing 🍉.

— Josh Papke (@joshpapke) May 25, 2017

Why did @ABC_Publicity @ABCNetwork think it was a good idea to remake the iconic #DirtyDancing it was an epic fail leave the classics alone!

— natalie burgio (@Cubby9521) May 25, 2017

ABC REMAKES #DirtyDancing -Johnny & Baby dont make it. #Titantic -Jack lives #16Candles -Jake dumps Sam after eatin cake

— roxαnn (@newxseason) May 25, 2017

9 hours later and I’m still pissed about ABC’s Dirty Dancing. What were you thinking!???!?? #dirtydancing

— cookie v (@cookievarga) May 25, 2017

Me reading all the salty tweets concerning #DirtyDancing. pic.twitter.com/ZtFP8PAJcs

— HAA (@poeta_epicus) May 25, 2017

Usually, we look for a few opposing opinions to share another perspective, but … any real fans of the remake must’ve left themselves in a corner and away from Twitter. This one might be the closest to a compliment:

I had the time of my life watching #DirtyDancing last night. Terrible in all the best ways & hilarious & #AbigailBreslin still charmed me.

— Kara Lee Corthron (@KaraLeeCorthron) May 25, 2017

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‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ Would Have Been Carrie Fisher’s Movie, Says Kathleen Kennedy

Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2016 - Day 4In case you weren’t already sad enough about Carrie Fisher‘s death in late 2016, producer Kathleen Kennedy has revealed that the actress would have had a huge role in “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

In a new Vanity Fair cover story, Kennedy discussed Fisher’s excitement about the latest trilogy, including her hopes of having a bigger role in “Episode IX.” Apparently, after finishing her work on “The Last Jedi,” Fisher went to Kennedy and told her, “I’d better be at the forefront of ‘IX!’”

As the producer explained it, after watching her co-stars Harrison Ford and Mark Hammil get to be “front and center” in “Episode VII” and “Episode VIII,” respectively, Fisher saw “Episode IX” as her turn.

“She thought ‘IX’ would be her movie,” Kennedy told Vanity Fair. “And it would have been.”

Needless to say, Kennedy’s comments inspire some serious regret over what could have been. Fisher’s character, Princess Leia, has been a beloved part of the series since the beginning, and it’s hard to imagine the films without her. Knowing that she was meant to be a huge part of the story only makes our sense of loss more acute.

Still, we do still have Fisher’s work in “The Last Jedi” to look forward to. Vanity Fair shared a touching photo Wednesday of Fisher and her daughter, Billie Lourd, who plays Lieutenant Connix in the movie.

It’ll be bittersweet to see Fisher in her final Star Wars film when “The Last Jedi” opens Dec. 15.

[via: Vanity Fair]

‘Logan’ Director Originally Planned Brutal, Tragic Opening Sequence

There was no escaping tragedy in “Logan,” but believe it or not, there was almost even more of it.

Director James Mangold recently opened up to IGN about the Hugh Jackman-staring film, and he revealed that an earlier version of its opening kicked off with a number of deaths. (If you haven’t seen “Logan” yet, there are spoilers ahead!) Instead of letting it come out subtly that Professor X (Patrick Stewart) accidentally caused multiple X-Men to die, the film was going to actually show their demises.

“I literally had written an opening which started with that sequence,” Mangold told IGN. “And so it was quite literal, who was dead.”

In later drafts, however, the scenes were changed because Mangold felt the opening “redefined the movie” in a way he didn’t want it to.

“It made the movie about the X-Men, instead of being about Logan and Charles,” he said. “And irrevocably, when you read the script opening that way, it became about this other tragedy, as opposed to that tragedy being something hovering like a shadow in the background for these characters.”

There were other benefits to the change, too. Killing members of the X-Men on-camera would have made it clear which of the mutants died. By having it happen off-camera, Mangold didn’t have to “nail … down” exactly what happened. Since there are bound to be more films in the franchise, the creative leeway could prove helpful.

And let’s be honest: We couldn’t have dealt with much more emotional unheaval. Mangold’s goal may not have been to go easier on us, but we’re glad he did.

[via: IGN]

‘Wonder Woman’: Warner Bros. Nixes London Premiere After Manchester Attack

After Monday’s tragic and deadly attack in Manchester, England, Warner Bros. has decided to cancel the London premiere of “Wonder Woman.”

The announcement came Wednesday, a week before the event, which was set to have stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Robin Wright in attendance, along with director Patty Jenkins, Variety reports. Given current safety concerns, the studio had to reevaluate.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by the recent tragedy in the UK,” Warner Bros. said in a statement. “In light of the current situation, we will not be proceeding with our plans for the ‘Wonder Woman’ premiere and junket activities in London.”

The situation is certainly tense. The attack Monday left 22 dead, and police determined that another U.K. attack could be “imminent,” according to the New York Times. In response, British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the country’s threat level to its highest alert on Tuesday.

Not surprisingly, Warner Bros. didn’t want to take the risk. The film will make its international debut as planned in Los Angeles on Thursday, but the studio is now foregoing a European premiere.

“Wonder Woman” hits theaters June 1 in the U.K. and June 2 stateside.

[via: Variety]