The multi-talented Audra McDonald, a five-time Tony Award winner, will serve in the dual role of host and artist in the next installment of “Live From Lincoln Center,” airing Friday at 9 p.m. on WHYY.
Starring in “Audra McDonald in Concert: Go Back Home,” the versatile vocalist/actress, born in Berlin, Germany, will demonstate why she has become known as “a unique presence on the American scene.” She has appeared in both dramas and musicals on the stage, and has performed as a recitalist in concert with some of America’s great orchestras. McDonald is a highly successful recording artist and a regular guest on television talk shows.
Her television and film career is equally impressive. She has starred as Daddy Warbuck’s secretary in the 1999 telecast of the musical “Annie,” and she was guest soloist with the New York Philharmonic in its annual New Year’s Eve concert on PBS in 2006. As a dramatic actress on television, she has appeared in numerous programs, among them “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First Hundred Years” and “The Bedford Diaries.” In December 2012, she appeared on “The Colbert Report” singing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with host Stephen Colbert. The respected and sought-after actress was featured opposite Taye Diggs on the ABC medical drama “Private Practice,” as well as “The Good Wife” on CBS. Her theatrical films include “Seven Servants,” “The Object of My Affection” and “It Runs in the Family.”
“For us on ‘Live From Lincoln Center,’ Audra McDonald has chosen an uncommonly varied and exploratory program,” said Martin Bookspan, the announcer on “Live From Lincoln Center” from its beginnings in 1976 until his retirement in 2006. “With a 35-piece orchestera conducted by Andy Einhorn, currently conductor of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” on Broadway, and with Lee Musiker (piano), Mark Vanderpoel (bass) and Gene Lewin (drums), she will explore the vast riches of our Broadway musical heritage. Among the composers on her list are Cole Porter, Gus Kahn, John Kander, Frank Loesser, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, George Gershwin, Adam Guttel, Gabriel Kahane and Jule Styne.
“More information than that I cannot give you because she will not select the exact details of the program until shortly before she goes on stage!” said Bookspan. “But I can assure you that it will be a long-remembered musical feast. Incidentally, the title ‘Audra McDonald in Concert: Go Back Home’ derives from the song ‘Go Back Home’ in the Kander and Ebb musical ‘The Scottsboro Boys.’”
For more than a decade, the world, even beyond the sport of tennis, has been captivated by the intriguing and supremely talented Williams Sisters - Venus and Serena.
Now, an engrossing new film documentary delves into the lives and careers of the two world-class tennis greats, who have defied the odds to become, arguably, the best female athletes ever to play the sport.
Directed by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major, the film begins with the meteoric rise of Venus Williams, a teenage tennis phenom from Compton, Calif., competing in a sport in which non-whites were clearly not welcome.
The situation became even more interesting when her younger sister, Serena, proved to be equally talented. “What do you want to be when you grown up?” the girls are asked in an early interview, and simultaneously they respond, “I want to be a tennis player!”
As you might expect, much of the focus is on Venus and Serena’s father, Richard Williams, the “visionary” who also served as their coach, and there is very early footage of Richard, who expressed his desire for both girls to be “number one in the world,” working with his daughters and begging country clubs for their used tennis balls, which he loaded into a shopping cart.
With the young athletes clearly outcasts in their sport, Richard is also shown to be fiercely protective, shutting down an interview when he determines the line of questioning to be unreasonable.
“Venus and Serena” puts their career triumphs in bold relief, with the sisters having won 13 Grand Slam and three Olympic doubles titles together. Their on-court rivalry is also placed firmly in the spotlight. Venus was first to win an Olympic singles title, taking the gold in Sydney in 2000, while Serena triumphed in London last summer.
However, while they admit to being extremely competitive, particularly against each other, it is the love and closeness between the sisters that is most evident.
“What didn’t I do to copy Venus when I was young?” Serena asked. “Her favorite color was my favorite color. He favorite animal was my favorite animal. She wanted to win Wimbledon, I wanted to win Wimbledon.”
The sisters, who purhased an opulent home together, are seen going about their daily lives — dealing with business, training and family — and not even their parents, definite outsiders on the pro tennis circuit, are off limits.
The film briefly touches on the divorce of their mother, Oracene Price, from Richard, and shows him escorting the new woman in his life to various tournaments. When questioned about her ex-husband, Oracene is quite candid.
“Venus and Serena” also explores the struggle of these two aging superstars during the 2011 tennis season as they battle life and career-threatening health problems.
Among the challenges is Serena being hospitalized for a blood clot, and Venus battling back from a devastating auto-immune disease.
With personal observations by tennis legends Billie Jean King and John McEnroe, as well as Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, “Venus and Serena” is a riveting true tale of tragedy, triumph and determination.
The Billboard Music Awards, airing live from the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas at 8 p.m., Sunday on ABC, will take a definite walk on the wild side this year, enlisting the services of outrageous funnyman Tracy Morgan to host the show. The comedic actor, who spent eight seasons on “Saturday Night Live” and seven on “30 Rock,” also starred in a sitcom bearing his name.
“I’m honored to be a part of one of music’s biggest nights,” Morgan said. “When you look at the artists who have come up through Billboard over the years, it’s incredible. And how can you say no when Prince is going to be there?”
Indeed, Prince, a 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, will be honored with the Billboard Icon Award, following the 2012 Icon recipient, Stevie Wonder. Madonna, another Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, will receive the Top Touring Artist Award.
Taylor Swift, fun and Maroon 5 lead the finalists for the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, and after scoring 18 category appearances in 2011 and 13 more in 2012, “Diamonds” superstar Rihanna once again lands double-digit finalist slots by competing in 10 categories this year, including Top Artist.
The star-studded event will include performances by Ne-Yo, Miguel, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez, the Band Perry, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Brown, Ed Sheeran, Akon, David Guetta and Icona Pop.
The dazzling list of presenters includes Kelly Rowland, Kid Rock, Cee-Lo Green, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ke$ha, Hayden Penettiere, Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Miley Cyrus, PSY, Jennifer Nettles, Sky Blu, Alanis Morisette, Wiz Khalifa, Florida Georgia Line, Chloe Grace Moretz, Alyssa Milano, Jennifer Morrison, Gabriel Mann, Stana Katic and Emmy Rossum.
The awards reflect Billboard’s chart rankings based on key fan interactions with music, including album sales and downloads, track downloads, radio airplay and touring as well as streaming and social interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Vevo, YouTube, Spotify and other popular online destinations for music. These measurements are tracked year-round by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen Entertaninment and Next Big Sound. The awards will be based on the reporting period of Feb. 27, 2012 through Feb. 24, 2013. Tops artists will be recognized in a variety of genres, including R&B, rap, pop, country, rock, Latin and alternative.
Okay. So Billy Chambers has been exposed as the mole, the shrewd and desperate Mellie still has not named Liv as the “whore” that is sleeping with her husband, and President Grant has told the media that his marriage is none of their business, before announcing that he will definitely run for re-election. That is just enough fuel to light the fuse for an explosive season finale of “Scandal,” airing Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC.
According to the network, in the season’s final episode titled “White Hat’s Back On,” Olivia and her team are in very real danger, now that the mole has been identified as Billy Chambers (Matt Letscher), Vice President Sally Langston’s (Kate Burton) former chief of staff, who was assumed dead after setting up the president to take the fall for Amanda Tanner’s pregnancy. Reportedly, we will find out much more about how it all unfolded, and meanwhile, the latest White House scandal pushes Cyrus (Jeff Perry) to his limits.
Guillermo Diaz plays Huck, a hitman who is strangely popular with fans. He calls his tragic, yet sympathetic character “the role of a lifetime,” and while Diaz didn’t give up any secrets about the finale, he is looking ahead to even more high drama, courtesy of “Scandal” creator, Shonda Rhimes.
“I just came back from Israel a few days ago,” he said during an interview with Bobby Holiday of WDAS-AM. “I went there with Katie Lowes, who plays Quinn on the show, and Bellamy Young, who plays the first lady. We all took a trip to Israel for a week. I’m just relaxing. I’m just taking it easy until the show gets picked up. Then we start shooting again in July, and it’s a pretty grueling schedule once we get shooting, so I’m just trying to chill right now and enjoy life. I’m kind of filling up the well so I can have something to give when we start shooting the show — trying to live life, so I can have something to draw on when I start acting.”
Versatile entertainer Wayne Brady, winner of both Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards, will be among the celebrated guest judges when “So You Think You Can Dance,” (SYTYCD) returns to Fox for its tenth season with a two-part premiere airing at 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 14 and at 9 p.m., Wednesday, May 15.
Other guests joining resident judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy at auditions in Austin, Boston, Detroit, Memphis and Los Angeles will be Minnie Driver, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Adam Shankman, as well as “SYTYCD” “All-Star” Stephen “tWitch” Boss, whose career has enjoyed a metoric rise since he competed and placed second in the fourth season of the Emmy-nominated dance competition.
Hosted by Cat Deeley, this search for “America’s Favorite Dancer” (not “best,” but “favorite”) showcases a potpourri of gifted dancers skilled in a variety of dance styles, including krumping, jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop and contemporary - each competing for a prized spot on the live shows in Los Angeles.
As the nationwide auditions begin, each two-hour show will feature breathtaking performances as well as suspenseful eliminations as the aspiring artists dance their way to a chance at the $250,000.00 grand prize. In recent years, several of the stand-out contestants on “STTYCD,” including Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsie Hightower and Dmitry Chaplin have been recruited to join the professional roster of another wildly popular dance competition, ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”