A Recap of 2016’s Entertainment Highlights

Grammy-winning R&B singer Regina Belle (Courtesy photo)
Grammy-winning R&B singer Regina Belle (Courtesy photo)

The year 2016 provided this writer with plenty of fascinating interviews and top-notch films for reviews.

The year began with an interview with Mykel Jenkins (“Bold and the Beautiful”). We talked about his starring role in the movie “The Masked Saint,” based on the life of a professional wrestler with the same name who became a Baptist minister that ended up being a vigilante and neighborhood hero.

Next was an interview with Luci Martin, original lead singer of the group Chic. We spoke about the formation of her girl group Next Step, that consists of other Chic vocalists Norma Jean Wright and Alfa Anderson.

Next I interviewed one of my favorite vocalists, Grammy-winning R&B singer Regina Belle. We talked about the release of her new inspirational album “The Day Life Began.” I did a review of the album and it was so inspiring I still have the title track on my MP3 player.

Movie reviews followed of DreamWorks’ “Kung Fu Panda 3” and Walt Disney’s “The Finest Hours.” For “The Finest Hours,” which was based on a true story, I was privileged to interview Ben Foster (“X-Men: The Last Stand”), Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) and Casey Affleck (“Chasing Amy”).

Coverage of the NAACP Nominations Luncheon followed, and during the red carpet arrivals, I was able to interview screenwriter Nzingha Stewart (“With This Ring”) and actors Hudson Yang (“Fresh Off the Boat”) and J. August Richards (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), as well as radio personality Egypt Sherrod about her book “Keep Calm…Its Just Real Estate.” An interview with Le’Andrea Johnson, a gospel singer and an unorthodox minister, was next and we talked about her role in the Oxygen network reality show “Preachers of Atlanta.”

Coverage of the 2016 SAG Awards in February provided interviews with Sola Bamis and Mason Cotton (“Mad Men”) and Emily Robinson (“Transparent”). An interview with Christian Jules Le Blanc (“Young and the Restless”) followed. We talked about the “Young and the Restless Genoa City Live Tour” that he was hosting. I watched the “Young and the Restless” daytime series religiously in high school and while serving in the U.S. Navy, so I was very excited to speak with Christian, who plays Michael Baldwin.

Another exciting interview followed with the R&B group Silk. We talked about their “Quiet Storm” album release. Coverage of the Bergman’s Oscar party allowed me to interview Renee Olstead (“Space Cowboys”), Kelsey Scott (“12 Years a Slave”) and Sara Scott (“True Blood”).

I was excited to also interview three-time Grammy winner Harry “K.C.” Casey of K.C. and the Sunshine Band. We talked about his new album release, “Feeling You.”

Coverage of the NAACP Theatre Awards and an interview with gospel singer and Stellar Award winner Jonathan Nelson (Light Records) followed. We talked about Nelson’s album release “Fearless.” I also reviewed the “Fearless” album which featured guest vocalists Kim Burrell and Dorinda Clark-Cole.

Another exciting interview was with Tanya Blount (“Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit,” “Preacher’s Kid”) and her husband Michael Trotter Jr. We talked about their album release “Love Affair.” Tanya is likely best known as the vocalist in the film “Sister Act 2” who sings “His Eye is On the Sparrow” with Lauryn Hill.

Comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley took the time in 2016 to speak to me about his reality show “Rickey Smiley for Real” on TV One. A review and interview with Slim, lead vocalist of the Grammy-winning group 112, followed. We talked about his new solo project “Refueled,” which features vocal assistance from Carl Thomas, Ma$e and Rich Homie Quan.

I went to review Universal Picture’s “Warcraft,” a CGI film based on the video game, and Warner Bros’ “Central Intelligence” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“Fast 8”) and Kevin Hart (“Ride Along 2”). “Central Intelligence” is about an unlikely pair of high school acquaintances who ends up saving the country. Reviews of Warner Bros.’ “The Legend of Tarzan” and Universal Pictures’ “The Secret Life of Pets” followed.

Though I have interviewed her many times in the past, I was excited to interview 11-time Grammy winner and pastor Shirley Caesar about the release of her newest album “Fill This House” (Light Records) which features Anthony Hamilton and Hezekiah Walker.

Other interviews that excited me, even though I have also interviewed them many times in the past, included Grammy-nominated Will Downing for his project “Black Pearls” and Dave Hollister of Blackstreet fame, who is now a pastor. Hollister and I talked about his album release “Manuscript” (Shanachie Entertainment) which features vocal guest Angie Stone. I also reviewed the Will Downing project, an album of cover songs of legendary black female vocalists.

Movie reviews followed which included Paramount/MGM’s “Ben-Hur,” the Weinstein Company presentation of “Hands of Stone,” based on the life of famed boxer Roberto Duran, and Walt Disney’s “The Light Between Oceans” starring Oscar-nominated actor Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave”) and Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander.

An interview with a longtime friend and jazz guitarist Vernon Neilly (Boosweet Records) followed. We talked about his new album release “Outta Time.” That interview was accompanied by a review of the album which has a Jazz/Hip-Hop fresh sound.

More movie reviews followed that included Warner Bros.’ “Storks,” MGM/Columbia Picture’s “Magnificent Seven” and Summit Entertainment’s “Deep Horizon,” starring Oscar-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg (“Planet of the Apes”). “Deep Horizon” is based on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Interviews followed that included Bishop J. Drew Sheard, father of Grammy-nominated singer Kierra Sheard and husband of Grammy-winning gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard, about his “GEI Live” album release. Jazz pianist Jim Brickman’s interview was about his new project “Soothe for Sleep” which included a review, while Fred Hammond talked about his album release “Worship Journal Live” and his “Festival of Praise” tour featuring Hezekiah Walker, Israel Houghton, Regina Belle, Karen Clark Sheard, Casey J and comedian Earthquake.

VaShawn Mitchell’s interview had us talking about his new release “Secret Place: Live in South Africa”; Grammy-nominated Bishop Paul S. Morton, father of Grammy-winner PJ Morton (Maroon 5), about his new album release “Legacy: Live in New York” which was also accompanied with a review, and an interview with Anthony Michael Hobbs, my grandson, an award-winning actor (PBS’s Emmy nominated “The Abolitionist”) and filmmaker (“One Nation”) at only 11 years old, was about his Best Youth Film award from the Gary International Black Film Festival for directing his second film “Naga Pixie” (Imagination Lunchbox).

More movie reviews followed, included Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them” and Universal Pictures’ animation musical “Sing.” The year ended with an interview with famed East Coast radio personality Donnie Simpson about coming out of retirement to host TV One’s “Donnie After Dark” television show.

The year also ended with my column, The Pulse of Entertainment, picked up by The Washington Informer (for its print edition and website), adding to its syndicated readership numbers which include over 1/4 million a week.

Eunice Moseley has an estimated weekly readership of over 1/4 million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She’s also a public relations strategist and business management consultant at Freelance Associates as well as the promotions director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times.

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