After months of discussion and media hype, “Think Like a Man,” a highly entertaining romantic comedy inspired by Steve Harvey’s New York Times best-selling book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” opens today in theaters nationwide.
Featuring a strong ensemble cast, “Think Like a Man” is directed by Tim Story of “Barbershop” fame, and follows four beautiful and successful women, all looking for love. There’s Kristen (Gabrielle Union), who’s in a longtime relationship that appears to be going nowhere; Candace (Regina Hall), a devoted single mother who is looking for a good, stable man; Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), a successful “Type A” businesswoman who is actively seeking a man who is “on her level,” and the sexy Mya (Meagan Good) who has dated a string of opportunistic losers — the latest being the silly and immature Alex (Chris Brown).
The ladies are dealing with the usual suspects when it comes to the men in their lives - Zeke, the smooth playboy (Romany Malco), Michael (Terrence J), the hopeless “Mama’s Boy,” the complacent, commitment-phobic Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and Dominic (Michael Ealy), the hardworking guy with limitless potential, who often gets overlooked because that potential has yet to be realized. Despite the women’s angst, this band of merry men thinks that life is great — except for their pint-sized pal Cedric (Kevin Hart), who is going through a messy divorce, and never lets any of them forget it.
Just as their frustration becomes unbearable, the ladies see Steve Harvey on TV discussing his new book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” and are instantly intrigued. They race to buy copies of Harvey’s “self-help” book, and immediately put his plan into action. His advice works like a charm until the guys discover that they are being “played,” and that it was another man who sold them out.
The clever and engaging screenplay was written by Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, although that appears to mean very little to Philly’s outrageous Kevin Hart, who will do or say just about anything, forcing his cast mates to deal with the fallout. Fortunately, he was working with a group of professionals who rather enjoyed the challenge of managing an out-of-control scene stealer who would improvise during his scenes, talk non-stop, dissolve into tears without warning and physically threaten folks who were almost two feet taller and about 100 pounds heavier than he.
For me, and apparently for the rest of the ladies in the house, the most captivating couple was Lauren and Dominic, the controlling over-achiever and the struggling dreamer who has yet to arrive. Versatile Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson sizzles as Lauren, who drives the best cars, drinks the best champagne and is waiting for a man who can top her impressive six-figure income to show up.
The cerebral and sensuous Michael Ealy does a slow burn as Dominic, a sincere, ambitious guy who parks cars and works as a waiter while pursuing his dream of becoming a professional chef. One day while parking an expensive car for a customer, he encounters Lauren, and against his better judgment (along with his friends’ bad advice), allows her to believe that it is his. A relationship develops and the sparks fly until Lauren discovers that it’s all based on a lie. Can she love a man based on his potential, or will she find it impossible to “lower” her standards?
Tim Story does a brilliant job of directing this superb ensemble which includes sassy veteran Jenifer Lewis as Michael’s overbearing mother, and Steve Harvey appears just enough for the audience to associate him with his book. There are countless cameo appearances in the film, and you will have a great time pointing them out, particularly when you finally get to meet Cedric’s estranged wife.
Featuring an engaging story, a beautiful, talented cast, and Kevin Hart’s hilarious hi-jinks, “Think Like a Man” was definitely worth the wait, and for those who still have not seen enough of Taraji Henson at the conclusion of the movie, she is featured in all her natural glory in “Allure” magazine’s “Look Better Naked” photo spread hitting newsstands April 24. (Rated PG-13)
Celebrity Sound Bytes: Michael Ealy, on why good guys are often overlooked: “Guys like Dominic get overlooked because it starts when you’re young — high school. I have this theory that if young girls looked at the 3.8, 4.0 GPA instead of athletes ... when I was growing up in Maryland/D.C., it was drug dealers ... they had the cash, they had the clothes, the swagger, but it’s the guy who was getting the 4.0 who’s running American Express right now. That’s the difference. It’s all about everybody having to evolve. Women have to start out as girls, and they have this fascination with what’s flashy. The same thing with guys. At the end of the day, I think women overlook guys like Dominic because their priorities are not in the right place.”
Steve Harvey: “Every man can change, and every man eventually will change, but there is only one woman that we will change for.”
Aaron D. Spears has a distinctive way of crafting analogies. Using descriptive metaphors, he has an ability to describe his life experiences in poetic verse. And with his extensive résumé of film and television roles, Spears’ acting career is grounded on a foundation of spoken-word.
He’s known as the suave Justin Barber on CBS’ “The Bold and The Beautiful,” which nominated him for the 2011 and 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama.
Now, Spears has landed a role on BET’s new drama series “Being Mary Jane” starring Gabrielle Union. In the network’s first hour-long drama series, viewers follow a Black woman who’s a career-driven talk show host juggling family, social life and work life. Spears plays co-anchor, Mark Bradley.
“Cast and crew [were] very open, very down to earth. Gabrielle Union was a pleasant surprise,” Spears said. “She was not bourgeois. She was a regular girl, an average person at work. She was very warm and welcoming and mending herself to multiple options, not just stuck in one way doing or creating a character.”
Produced by husband and wife duo, Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil (“The Game,” “Jumping the Broom”), Spears described the couple’s working style as a joint effort of support.
“The director was cool,” he said. “Mara was very helpful in explaining any questions you may have. I like Salim in that he was open to suggestions, more of a collaborative effort as appose to directional effort.”
Spears admitted that while on set, he has learned a lot about himself as an actor. Balancing one television series takes hard work, but adding a second, Spears said will be a true endurance challenge.
“Some things that you ask for you’re not ready until you get that experience,” Spears said. “And that experience will either let it be known that yeah I am ready, or you will find out very quickly that you’re not.
“I compare this experience like double Dutch rope,” he added. “You’re getting your rhythm, you’re bouncing back and forth. You go to jump in the rope, but [if] you don’t catch that rhythm, that rope is going to sting your leg. That’s kind of how it is when you’re doing a drama because it’s long hours. A lot of shooting. A lot of waiting around. A lot of different takes. One, you have to maintain a level of testament, and two, making sure your interest don’t drop. When you’re off camera take that time to rest because at three AM you maybe doing a close up.”
Seen in films, “Babel,” “The Mannsfield 12” and “Blue Hill Avenue,” he has guest starred on television shows “NCIS,” “Castle,” “Boston Legal,” “Lincoln Heights,” “Bones” and “Criminal Minds.”
Aside from his full-time work in acting, Spears is passionate about his family. He credits his wife for providing support while he works.
“You got to have a strong person by your side. In terms of my wife and what she does, I always tell her like, ‘They couldn’t pay me to do your job. No. I’m good.’ You got to have a foundation. It’s a lot easier for me to go out and do my job because I have a foundation at the house.”
And the foundation that launched his acting career, stemmed from his experiences as a spoken-word poet.
“Spoken word was something very interesting,” Spears said. “Spoken word just kept following me.”
When he wrote a poem and got approval from family and friends, Spears said he realized he had a flair for poetry. After he moved from New York to California, he embarked on a journey — which yielded more opportunities for the actor.
“There was a poetry scene and that was my outlet of continuing to be in the spotlight. It kept me driven,” he said. “It kept me open. I kept writing and I kept performing at various clubs around the city. It kind of lent itself to me and I never was closed to it. Different energy [than acting], but still a creative vice to express. And ‘til this day, I still do spoken word.”
In 1997, Spears established his own company, HENNA Inc., which has introduced a new perspective of spoken-word poetry and a renaissance of film making in Hollywood.
Spears, a Washington, D.C., native, has additional talents as a former football player, artist and dabbles in singing, as well. Yet, he gave praise to Philadelphia for providing him his first experiences in the entertainment industry.
“I have a lot of ties to Philly,” Spears said. “Philly was one of the first places when I was jumping off the map trying to do my thing. I did a lot of modeling and auditioning in Philly. Philly always has that closeness to my heart. If it wasn’t for Philly, I don’t even know if I would have lasted in New York.”
As a previous Penn Relays participant, attendant of the annual Greek Picnic in Philadelphia and a fan of The Roots and Jill Scott, Spears jokingly said he wants to come back for a “fish cheese steak” sandwich. Just skip the beef because he’s no longer eating red meat.
LOS ANGELES — The date-night movies “Think Like a Man” and “The Lucky One” finally have knocked “The Hunger Games” off its No. 1 box-office perch.
“Think Like a Man,” based on Steve Harvey’s dating-advice best-seller, debuted as the top weekend draw with $33 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. That’s almost double what studio executives had expected for the Sony Screen Gems ensemble movie, which features Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson and Gabrielle Union.
The Warner Bros. drama “The Lucky One,” starring Zac Efron in an adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ romance novel, opened at No. 2 with $22.8 million. It also came in a bit above studio expectations going into the weekend.
“Think Like a Man” was produced for about $13 million and took in nearly that much on opening day Friday alone, with business getting even better on Saturday. Sony executives had figured the movie might pull in about $17 million for the whole weekend.
“It was a wild ride. It just got better and better as the night went on Friday. Then to be up so much on Saturday,” said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony.
Lionsgate’s blockbuster “The Hunger Games” took in $14.5 million, slipping to third-place after four weekends at No. 1. The film raised its domestic total to $356.9 million.
“The Hunger Games” added $13 million overseas, where its total now stands at $215.8 million, for a worldwide haul of $573 million.
Disney’s nature documentary “Chimpanzee” opened at No. 4 with $10.2 million.
Despite some healthy newcomers, Hollywood’s overall revenues dipped for the second weekend in a row. Domestic receipts totaled $129 million, down 5 percent from the same weekend last year, when “Rio” led with $26.3 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
Revenues likely will decline again next weekend, with no huge newcomers expected to come close to the $86.2 million debut of “Fast Five” over that same weekend last year.
But business should shoot back up after that as the superhero ensemble “The Avengers” launches one of Hollywood’s biggest summer lineups ever over the first weekend of May.
“‘Fast Five’ basically performed to summer box-office numbers in pre-summer last year,” said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “We’re not going to have a ‘Fast Five’ in late April this year, but that’s OK, because we’ve got ‘Avengers a week later, and that’ll more than make up for it.”
So far in 2012, domestic revenues are at $3.1 billion, up 16.6 percent from last year’s, according to Hollywood.com.
Paramount’s 3-D version of James Cameron’s blockbuster “Titanic” added $5 million to bring its three-week domestic total to $52.8 million. The film’s lifetime domestic haul now stands at $653.6 million.
With $34.3 million more overseas, the 3-D version’s international total rose to $225 million, pushing the lifetime worldwide gross of “Titanic” to $2.1 billion. — (AP)
On Tuesday July 2 at 10:30 p.m., BET will present the provocative original movie “Being Mary Jane,” starring Gabrielle Union in the role of Mary Jane Paul.
According to the network, Mary Jane, a.k.a MJ, is a fiercely independent woman who seemingly has it all as the beautiful and successful host of her own news show, “Talk Back.” In reality, she’s a self-sufficient powerhouse with a lackluster love life who remains devoted to a family that doesn’t share her motivation. How far is she willing to go to find the puzzle pieces that she — and society — insist are missing from her life? Intense drama and unforgettable moments unfold as Mary Jane juggles her life, her relationships, her work and commitments to her family.
In “Being Mary Jane,” Union plays a softer, more vulnerable character than we’re used to seeing from her — although she’s no pushover. In one scene she blasts a lying boyfriend with a garden hose while screaming at him to kiss her a**. In another, she reams out her trifling, unemployed brother, who comes to her job to ask for money. In yet another, she brazenly tells a woman that she has been sleeping with her husband, because she doesn’t want him to “keep getting away with it.”
MJ’s parents are played by entertainment icons Richard Roundtree (“Shaft”) and Margaret Avery (“The Color Purple”), and the cast also includes Aaron Spears, Lisa Vidal, Richard Brooks, Omari Hardwick, Tika Sumpter, Raven Goodwin, B.J. Britt, LaTarsha Rose and Robinne Lee. The pilot is directed by Salim Akil.
Following a recent public screening of “Being Mary Jane” (BMJ) series creator Mara Brock Akil addressed perceived similarities between BMJ and the hit ABC series “Scandal” starring Kerry Washington. “The difference is Olivia Pope is in a white world, whereas MJ is just not.” She continued, “I’m not sure if a show like ‘Scandal’ allows for a character’s humanity and real life experiences to be shown like BMJ does.” The series debut for “Being Mary Jane” is slated for January 2014 on BET.
Sunday, June 23 promises to be a captivating and provocative evening on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, when Lady O explores issues facing women of color in Hollywood and around the globe.
The evening begins at 9 p.m. with an intriguing episode of “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” featuring leading lady Gabrielle Union, Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, Emmy Award winner Alfre Woodard and Academy Award nominee Viola Davis. In their discussion, the iconic actresses open up about the “challenges, criticism and competition they face as African-American women in Hollywood.”
In the groundbreaking conversation, the women shed light on a topic that is not often discussed in the entertainment industry.
“People have their own perceptions of what they think your life is like,” Winfrey said.
The conversation continues and indeed intensifies at 10 p.m. with the television premiere of “Dark Girls,” a profound and provocative project by filmmakers Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry.
According to the network, “Dark Girls” explores the prejudices that dark-skinned women face throughout the world. Asserting that “Skin color amongst the Black community is a huge issue,” the film looks at the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem with a segment of cultures that span from America to the most remote corners of the globe.
Women share their personal stories, touching on deeply ingrained beliefs and attitudes of society, while allowing generations to heal as they learn to love themselves for who they are.
In a particularly telling segment, a very young Black girl is shown images of other little girls, ranging in hue from white to very dark and is instructed by an adult female to, “Show me the good-looking child, and why is she a good-looking child?”
Without hesitation, the youngster points to the lightest image and answers, “‘Cause she’s light-skinned.”
Another pretty brown girl, whose mother alleges that her daughter is treated differently because of her complexion, hangs her head in shame and says quietly, “I don’t like to be called Black.”
In another instance, a mature woman wearing her stunning white tresses in a bold pixie-cut says incredulously, “My own people don’t see any beauty in me at all!”
“Dark Girls” made its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and will be released on DVD on September 24.