Remembering Chadwick Boseman
by Woodie King, Jr.
The death of Chadwick Boseman on August 28, at age 43, after he secretly battled colon cancer for four years, has left the Black theater community in shock. I am devastated and stunned, partly because I helped steward his early career at New Federal Theatre and partly because he had so much to give.
We first met at the Congo Square Theatre in Chicago at a reading of a play he had written, “Deep Azure.” He had an incredible honesty, very hip and aware. He looked college age but when he spoke to me, it was never like a young man looking up to a producer. He was most sincere about the writing career he wished for and I knew he had the wherewithal to be a major artist.
Chadwick had attended Howard University with the intention to study directing and there he was mentored in acting by a notable alumna of New Federal Theatre, Phylicia Rashad. Chad and some other classmates were accepted to the British American Drama Academy in Oxford and Ms. Rashad helped finance their trip with support from another “favorite son” of New Federal Theatre, Denzel Washington. Chad was to be frequently compared to Denzel, and Denzel produced one of Chad’s final appearance in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” that will now be released posthumously on Netflix.
That night in Chicago, I urged Chad to come to New York and visit me at New Federal Theatre. Once out of Howard, he moved here and I cast him in a leading role in Ron Milner’s “Urban Transitions: Loose Blossoms,” which I directed in 2002. Ron always created compelling realistic characters and this was his last play. Chadwick won an AUDELCO Award for his performance as a teenage boy who resorts to hustling to support his family when his father becomes disabled. I think he was primarily a playwright in his own mind, but this play launched him into an acting career that took him to Hollywood and ultimately to international stardom.
His mother and father came to see Chad in “Urban Transitions: Loose Blossoms” and we enjoyed a very pleasant evening together. They were not showbiz people, but his brother, Kevin Boseman, was a member of the Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham dance companies and was inspirational to Chad. “Urban Transitions: Loose Blossoms” was a major play by a major playwright; agents and managers flocked to NFT to see his work and his ascent into TV and film began. He landed a recurring role on “All My Children” and appeared in all the New York cop shows. Later, he joined the board of directors of New Federal Theatre. He let the world know he launched his acting career at NFT. When he became established, he not only supported NFT fiscally but also by visiting NFT workshops to speak to the students, giving his guidance and time.
His best-known films, like “42,” “Thurgood” and “Black Panther,” came to him in a rush after he was 35, but the honesty I saw in him shines through them all. Everybody says “that’s what you need on film” and he proved it in roles from Jackie Robinson to Thurgood Marshall to James Brown to the Black Panther. Despite being sick with colon cancer, he was offered great roles and he just wouldn’t turn them down. Not working wasn’t going to cure stage 3 and 4 colon cancer and, well, an actor just doesn’t let Hollywood know he is sick. Two weeks ago, I spoke with his agent about Chad’s being in a play series. He said he had just spoken with Chad the night before.
While I saw “Deep Azure,” I had only read Chad’s other major early play, “Hieroglyphic Graffiti,” which remains unproduced. NFT was able to present some of his other plays in readings. He regarded himself as pushing the boundaries of Hip Hop theater, which in itself was pushing the boundaries of theater. Throughout his plays, he was keenly aware of what was going on around him and able to capture it. He was brilliant and he loved his people and Black culture. What a loss. New Federal Theatre salutes you, Chadwick Boseman. Rest in Peace.
The Glorious Corner
FAMILY’S A BITCH-THE END OF SUCCESSION — Sunday’s finale of Succession (HBO) was a mixed bag. I’ll be honest: At first I thought the finale was totally underwhelming, but after some additional thought and reading some other excellent reviews, I’ve come to the point where I now believe it was, pure and simple, how it had to end.
None more so than Joss Stone on “I Put A Spell On You.” What a voice. I’m amazed she’s not bigger; very Janis Joplin.
Also, Gary Clark delivered a blistering, amazing performance on Stevie Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.” No question that he’s the next guitar-wizard. Here they both are: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvO2_noxaXQ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO2BLAXveVo …
I watched all 9 seasons of the CW’s The Flash and the first 5 were pretty terrific. The remaining ones got poorer and poorer as the original cast disappeared one by one. Grant Gustin, The Flash, was there the whole time, but their finale last week was terribly confusing – save for a song by Tony Award winner Jesse L. Martin (for Rent) – a key member of the original cast. The last two seasons had a myriad of costumed villains, some from the comic, some not, but just wildly messed up. The CW was sold to Nexstar last year and big changes are in their future. Sad … and, CNN is reporting that Universal Music is close to snapping up the rights to the Queen-catalog for $1 billion-plus. Good for them.
Disney had it previously, but Queen’s music is more popular than ever before. It’s a real shame Freddie is not her to share in it. If you wondered the record for the biggest previously was for Bruce Springsteen’s catalog at $500 million.
Midnight Moment: The Doors: Lizard Kings
From June 1–30, 2023 | Nightly 11:57pm – 12am metallic crystal-ridged lizards prowl and skitter across the screens of Times Square in The Doors: Lizard Kings by Zach Blas. Featuring five fantastical computer-generated creatures choreographed across 63 distinct channels, June’s Midnight Moment stems from Blas’s 2019 immersive media installation The Doors, a work exploring psychedelia, drug use, artificial intelligence, and Silicon Valley’s connections to California counterculture from the 1960s.
The Doors: Lizard Kings also nods to the contemporary psychedelic trends of microdosing LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, as well as taking nootropics. Blas suggests that this new drug culture, popularized in the tech industry, re-engineers psychedelic experience to optimize labor, promising to “unlock” doors of the mind for workers to labor faster and more efficiently. The Doors: Lizard Kings proposes a new generation of Barbaturex morrisoni, computational symbols for a 21st century psychedelia predicated on worker productivity, smart drugs, and AI hallucinations.
Zach Blas, The Doors: Lizard Kings 2019 / 2023
Originally commissioned by Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg, Germany; de Young Museum, San Francisco, US; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands
- Computer Graphics Supervisor: Harry Sanderson
- Animation: Mikkel Aabenhuus Sørensen
- Animation Assistant: Yan Eltovsky
- Modeling and Visual Effects: Dayne Kolk
- Simulation Assistant: Aslak Kjølås-Sæverud
- Compositing: Felix Lee
- Video Editor: Martin Gajc
- Project Manager: Talia Golland
- Project Assistant: Audrey Amman
The original presentation of The Doors featured an aural accompaniment that oscillates between abstract soundscapes and poetry spoken in AI generated voice resembling Jim Morrison’s.
- Machine Learning Engineers (video and poetry): Ashwin D’Cruz and Christopher Tegho
- Machine Learning Engineers (voice and music): Sam Parke-Wolfe and Cameron Thomas
- Musicians: xin and Aya Sinclair
- Supervising Sound Editor: Tom Sedgwick
- Mix Engineer: Ben Hurd
Zach Blas (b. Point Pleasant, West Virginia) is an artist, filmmaker, and writer whose practice spans moving image, computation, theory, performance, and science fiction. Blas engages the materiality of computational technologies while also drawing out the philosophies and imaginaries lurking in artificial intelligence, biometric recognition, predictive policing, airport security, the Internet. Blas has exhibited, lectured, and held screenings at venues internationally, including the 12th Berlin Biennale, Walker Art Center, Tate Modern, British Art Show 9, 12th Gwangju Biennale, de Young Museum, the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, ICA London, Van Abbemuseum, e-flux, ZKM Center for Art and Media, and Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. His practice has been supported by a Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields, the Arts Council England, Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. His work is in the collections of Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, and Whitney Museum of American Art. Blas’s practice has been written about and featured in Artforum, Frieze, ArtReview, BBC, The Guardian, and The New York Times. His 2021 artist monograph Unknown Ideals is published by Sternberg Press. Blas is an Assistant Professor of Visual Studies in the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.
The Glorious Corner
LASSO’S MOM CITY — I believe that the best ever episode of Ted Lasso was dropped this week, entitled Mom City. It started off innocently enough with Ted leaving for work and walking right past his mother! He realized it and turned back to her. Turns out she had been in London for a week and was just now seeing Ted.
Also, Harry Nilsson’s “Puppy Song” was a key musical moment in the EP. Harry, we love you!
SHORT TAKES — The #1 iTunes song currently is Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do with It.” Much deserved … Producer Joel Diamond used to live at 220 Central Park South in NYC. His building was torn down and re-built. It is now part of what they call Billionaire’s Road. WSJ-reporter Katherine Clarke’s new book is about just that.. Via Random House, Billionaire’s Row is out on June 13 …
We dropped the name of new Latino-artist Sasha Prendes last time; we just saw a teaser clip for her new video “Shake This.” Check it out here: https://www.sashaprendes.com/video … Micky Dolenz headlined at this week’s Abbey Road On The River and delivered his usual high-octane performance.
He leaves for England this week for the James Burton & Friends/One Night Only event June 4 at London’s Palladium … Terry Jastrow interviewed by Brad Balfour for his podcast this week …
ENDQUOTE: Via Deadline: The View’s Whoopi Goldberg Claims ‘American Idol’ Led To The Downfall of Society. Ouch! Check it out here: https://deadline.com/2023/05/the-view-cohost-whoopi-goldberg-claims-american-idol-led-to-downfall-society-1235380500/ … Happy Bday Buddy Blanch and Bobby Shaw!
Films In June
There is the upcoming superhero movies (including upcoming Marvel movies) to look forward to.
6/2: The Boogeyman with Chris Messina, Sophaie Thatcher. A horror-thriller from the mind of best-selling author Stephen King, which opens June 2, 2023, in theaters nationwide. High school student Sadie Harper and her younger sister Sawyer are reeling from the recent death of their mother and aren’t getting much support from their father, Will, a therapist who is dealing with his own pain. When a desperate patient unexpectedly shows up at their home seeking help, he leaves behind a terrifying supernatural entity that preys on families and feeds on the suffering of its victims.
6/2: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse with Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld Miles Morales. Return for the next chapter of the Oscar®-winning Spider-Verse saga, Spider-Man™: Across the Spider-Verse. After reuniting with Gwen Stacy, Brooklyn’s full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is catapulted across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. But when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders and must redefine what it means to be a hero so he can save the people he loves most.
6/9: Flamin’ Hot (Hulu Release) with Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez. The inspiring true story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican American heritage and upbringing to turn the iconic Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global pop culture phenomenon
6/9: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts with Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback. Returning to the action and spectacle that have captured moviegoers around the world, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will take audiences on a ‘90s globetrotting adventure with the Autobots and introduce a whole new faction of Transformers – the Maximals – to join them as allies in the existing battle for earth. Directed by Steven Caple Jr. and starring Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, the film arrives in theatres June 9, 2023.
6/16: The Blackening with Antoinette Robertson, Dewayne Perkins. The Blackening centers around a group of Black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway only to find themselves trapped in a remote cabin with a twisted killer. Forced to play by his rules, the friends soon realize this ain’t no motherf****** game. Directed by Tim Story (Ride Along, Think Like A Man, Barbershop) and screenplay and screen story by Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip, Harlem) & Dewayne Perkins (The Amber Ruffin Show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), The Blackening skewers genre tropes and poses the sardonic question: if the entire cast of a horror movie is Black, who dies first?
6/16: Elemental with Mamoudou Athie, Leah Lewis. Transport to an extraordinary place called Element City, where a host of elements live and work. The trailer showcases each element—air, earth, water and fire—and what sets them apart according to Ember, a quick-witted and fiery woman who’s always stayed close to home in Firetown. In “Elemental,” which opens in theaters on June 16, she finally ventures out of her comfort zone to explore this spectacular world born from the imaginations of Pixar’s filmmakers and specifically crafted for the big-screen experience. Element City is inspired by big cities around the globe and embraces theorized contributions from each elemental community—from giant pine-tree-like buildings and waterfall skyscrapers to a tornado-shaped arena called Cyclone Stadium.
6/16: Extraction 2 (Netflix Release) with Chris Hemsworth, Tinatin Dalakishvili. This is a sequel to the first film that was based on the graphic novel ‘Ciudad’ by Ande Parks, from a story by Ande Parks, Joe Russo & Anthony Russo, with illustrations by Fernando León González. EXTRACTION 2 is produced by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Mike Larocca, Chris Hemsworth, Patrick Newall and Sam Hargrave, with Angela Russo-Otstot, Jake Aust, Benjamin Grayson, Steven Scavelli, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely as executive producers.
6/16: The Flash with Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton. Worlds collide in “The Flash” when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no Super Heroes to turn to. That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian… albeit not the one he’s looking for. Ultimately, to save the world that he is in and return to the future that he knows, Barry’s only hope is to race for his life. But will making the ultimate sacrifice be enough to reset the universe? “The Flash” ensemble also includes rising star Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon (“Bullet Train,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”), Ron Livingston (“Loudermilk,” “The Conjuring”), Maribel Verdú (“Elite,” “Y tu mamá también”), Kiersey Clemons (“Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” “Sweetheart”), Antje Traue (“King of Ravens,” “Man of Steel”) and Michael Keaton (“Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Batman”).
6/23: Asteroid City with Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie. Taking place in a fictional American desert town circa 1955. Synopsis: The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention (organized to bring together students and parents from across the country for fellowship and scholarly competition) is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events.
6/23: No Hard Feelings with Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Feldman, Laura Benanti, Natalie Morales and Matthew Broderick. Maddie (Lawrence) thinks she’s found the answer to her financial troubles when she discovers an intriguing job listing: wealthy helicopter parents looking for someone to “date” their introverted 19-year-old son, Percy, and bring him out of his shell before he leaves for college. But awkward Percy proves to be more of a challenge than she expected, and time is running out. She has one summer to make him a man or lose it all.
6/30: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny with Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Harrison Ford returns as the legendary hero archaeologist in the highly anticipated fifth installment of the iconic “Indiana Jones” franchise, which is directed by James Mangold (“Ford v Ferrari,” “Logan”). Starring along with Ford are Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”), Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”), John Rhys-Davies (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”), Shaunette Renee Wilson (“Black Panther”), Thomas Kretschmann (“Das Boot”), Toby Jones (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”), Boyd Holbrook (“Logan”), Oliver Richters (“Black Widow”), Ethann Isidore (“Mortel”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”). Directed by James Mangold, the film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Simon Emanuel, with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas serving as executive producers. John Williams, who has scored each Indy adventure since the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in 1981, is once again composing the score.
6/30: Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken with Lana Candor, Toni Collette. DreamWorks Animation dives into the turbulent waters of high school with a hilarious, heartfelt action comedy about a shy teenager who discovers that she’s part of a legendary royal lineage of mythical sea krakens and that her destiny, in the depths of the oceans, is bigger than she ever dreamed.
Events in June
Gay Pride, Bryant Park Picnic Performances, Movie Nights, Lincoln Center Summer for the City (Midsummer Night Swing), Juneteenth, New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Tribeca Film Festival, Free Outdoor Concerts, Museum Mile Festival, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and that’s just the beginning!
Until September 29 every summer in Times Square, NYC, TSQ LIVE showcases hundreds of artists, performers and cultural producers and this summer 80 free events hosting over a dozen incredible New York-based institutions and collectives, including Pioneer Works, NEW INC, Children’s Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Ailey Extension, New York Live Arts, OTA Entertainment, Soul Summit, Rash Bar, and Elsewhere.
6/1: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park New York City Opera: La Bohème
6/2: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Jazzmobile: The Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra
6/2: Billy Joel @ MSG
6/3-4: Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit atUniversity Place, starting at East 13th Street and continuing south along the east side of Washington Square Park to West 3rd Street.
6/7 until September: Little Island Tony and Grammy Award winners in The Glade, late night djs, drag bingo, and dance parties in The Play Ground, weekly artmaking activities for all ages and Teen Night every Friday.
6/7 – 18: Tribeca Film Festival will take place movie theatres, rooftops and various venues throughout NYC, such as the new Pier 57, Beacon Theatre, the Angelika. The premiere of Let the Canary Sing with a performance by Cyndi Lauper or The Closing Gala: A Bronx Tale, followed by a conversation with director and star Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal, and writer and co-star Chazz Palminteri.
6/8 – 8/6: Shakespeare in the Park – Hamlet
6/8: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Contemporary Dance: Robin Dunn, The Lite
6/9: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Contemporary Dance: Dance Heginbotham, Jennifer Muller/The Works
6/9 – 11: @ Citi Field Governors Ball Music Festival – The contemporary music festival for music lovers by music lovers. With 60+ artists of all genres across 4 stages, there is something for everyone, including delicious restaurants, food trucks and menus.
6/9 – 18: River to River Festival The festival takes place in a variety of public venues that canvas all of Downtown New York – from Chambers Street down to the southern tip of Manhattan and across the island from river to river.
6/11: National Puerto Rican Day Parade Fifth Avenue, 44th to 79th Street
6/12: Bryant Park Movie Nights Almost Famous (2000)
6:13: Museum Mile Festival on Fifth Avenue from 84th Street to 109th Street: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Neue Galerie New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; The Jewish Museum; Museum of the City of New York; El Museo del Barrio; and The Africa Center.
6/14 – August: Dancing Under the Stars (formerly Midsummer Night Swing), free outdoor movies, dancing, singing, readings, celebrations, flamingos, disco ball, poetry, Mozart, concerts, crafts, Juneteenth and much more!
6/15: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Contemporary Dance: Terk Lewis + Kayla Farrish
6/16: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Contemporary Dance: Soles of Duende + Josh Johnson
6/17-25: Gay Pride The Rally, The March & Pride Island. The 2023 theme is “Strength in Solidarity” and Christina Aguilera is headlining NYC Pride Island on Sunday, June 25th at Brooklyn Army Terminal. The festivities begin with Family Night and the Rally and culminate with PrideFest & The March. Other events include Pride Island and the annual Dance on the Pier, following the parade wrapping up Pride Week in a grand fireworks display.
6/16 – 18: Juneteenth is a celebration of June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, which declared the ending of slavery in the USA. The three day Juneteenth in NYC festival kicks off Friday with a virtual summit, Friday night is the Celebration of Black Kings, Saturday is Festival Community Day and the festival culminates Sunday with a Parade, Fashion Show, Food trucks Field Day and more. Monday, June 19th, is a national holiday, with government, banks and post offices closed. More Info: Junteenth NY
There are dozens more Juneteenth celebrations throughout all 5 Boroughs, including BBQs, the NYC Parks Department, Seneca Village, Broadway, Lincoln Center, concerts, shows, theater and more.
6/17: The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is the nation’s largest art parade where 3,000+ participants dress in hand-made costumes.
6/ 19: Bryant Park Movie Nights Amistad (1997)
6/23: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Emerging Music Festival: Psymon Spine, THUS LOVE, Katy Kirby
6/24: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Emerging Music Festival: Ky Vöss, Seramic, Miss Grit, Dead Tooth
6/26: Bryant Park Movie Nights Mean Girls (2004)
6/30: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Jalopy Theatre: Michael Daves Quartet ft. Tony Trishka, Yacouba Sissoko, Terrell King
6/30: Intrepid Museum Summer Movie Series: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Remembering Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd
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