(CNN)A letter containing a white powder was sent to the Chicago set of “Empire” days before one of the show’s stars, Jussie Smollett, was allegedly attacked by two men on January 29. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told CNN that the letter, received on January 22 at Cinespace Studios, where the show is filmed, prompted a response from the HAZMAT unit. Guglielmi said authorities determined the powder to be aspirin, but declined to give details on the content of the letter.
Country Outlaw Songwriter Billy Joe Shaver Dies at 81
He became a reliable storyteller, logging songs with Kris Kristofferson (“Good Christian Soldier”), Tom T. Hall (“Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me”), the Allman Brothers (“Sweet Mama”) and Elvis (“You Asked Me To”). When Jennings invited Shaver to Nashville to work on what became his 1973 outlaw country landmark album Honky Tonk Heroes, Shaver burst into national…
He became a reliable storyteller, logging songs with Kris Kristofferson (“Good Christian Soldier”), Tom T. Hall (“Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me”), the Allman Brothers (“Sweet Mama”) and Elvis (“You Asked Me To”). When Jennings invited Shaver to Nashville to work on what became his 1973 outlaw country landmark album Honky Tonk Heroes, Shaver burst into national prominence. He landed credits on 10 out of 11 tracks on the album that is often tagged as the first, and some say best, “outlaw” LP from a back-to-basics 1970s movement that included Willie Nelson, Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and a number of others.In 1973, he also released his Kristofferson-produced solo debut, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, which included his beloved songs “Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me” and “Georgia on a Fast Train.” Cash covered his song “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Some Day),” which he wrote after giving up drugs and alcohol. In all, Shaver released nearly 2 dozen albums on a variety of labels (MGM, Capricorn, Columbia, new West, Sugar Hill), earning a Grammy nomination for Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Album for his 2007 effort Everybody’s Brother. His most recent release, 2014’s Long in the Tooth, was his first to chart on Billboard’s Top Country Albums tally and it featured a duet with Nelson on “Hard to Be an Outlaw.”Shaver received the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting from the Americana Music Association in 2002 and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. His highest praise, however, came from the men who towered in the genre and whom he called friends. Cash once referred to Shaver as “my favorite songwriter,” and good pal Nelson said he was “definitely the best writer in Texas… Everything he writes is just poetry.”His rough-and-tumble songs often emerged from a life that had its share of tragedies and heartache, from his son Eddy’s 2000 death from a heroin overdose to the nearly fatal heart attack he suffered onstage in 2001 and a notorious incident in 2007 when a bar fight ended with Shaver shooting another man in the face; he was acquitted of the charges and turned the scuffle into the song “Wacko From Waco.”Shaver also acted in a number of films, including Secondhand Lions, The Wendell Baker Story and Bait Shop, and his song “Live Forever” was performed by his friend Robert Duvall in the Oscar-winning film Crazy Heart; Duvall cast Shaver in his 1996 movie The Apostle and produced the 2004 documentary A Portrait of Billy Joe.Check out some of Shaver’s songs below.
Broadway comes to TV with ‘American Utopia’ and ‘What the Constitution Means to Me’
Both shows are worth the time, although seeing them at home, frankly, reinforces what’s lost in translation given the tingle that live theater, at its best, can send up your spine — a sensation that doesn’t quite emerge on either front. Together, they underscore what “Hamilton” so impressively accomplished by conjuring that elusive magic. Notably,…
Both shows are worth the time, although seeing them at home, frankly, reinforces what’s lost in translation given the tingle that live theater, at its best, can send up your spine — a sensation that doesn’t quite emerge on either front. Together, they underscore what “Hamilton” so impressively accomplished by conjuring that elusive magic. Notably, HBO Max’s “The West Wing” special also captures some of that by bringing a TV show to the stage for the purposes of watching at home. (Like CNN, HBO is a unit of WarnerMedia.)Byrne, the Talking Heads front man, has always possessed a theatrical and cinematic flair, including his 1986 directorial effort “True Stories.” Those qualities inform “American Utopia,” a collection of songs — imaginatively choreographed and lit — that conveys the joyous and playful aspects of his music.On the plus side, that sense of fun is entertaining enough. The main drawback is that while Byrne addresses pressing issues during his chatting with the audience — including the importance of voting, and introducing his performance of Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout,” name-checking Black people killed by police — there’s scant thematic adhesive to the presentation, unlike some other productions wedding rock to Broadway (Bruce Springsteen’s “Springsteen on Broadway,” filmed for Netflix, comes to mind).Lee does an admirable job of shooting the performance from every conceivable angle, although while the overhead shots are quite cool, one could probably do without closeups on Byrne’s feet, which along with the rest of the performers, are bare.Byrne’s playlist includes the hit “Burning Down the House,” and a boisterous rendition of “Road to Nowhere,” which includes a march through the appreciative audience.”American Utopia” doesn’t set the screen ablaze, but Byrne and his collaborators certainly know how to put on a show, even when it feels like they’re going nowhere.”What the Constitution Means to Me,” by contrast, is an audacious idea, one that starts slowly — at least in this format — before sinking in its hooks about halfway through.Playwright-star Schreck (a Tony nominee on both scores) earned college tuition money by competing in Constitutional debates, and revives her 15-year-old self to explore — humorously at first, pointedly later — its troubling and inequitable aspects, including mistreatment of women.Schreck’s reminiscing about “Dirty Dancing” and visiting legion halls to wax eloquently about the Constitution to mostly older men come into sharper focus when she exits the time capsule, and pivots to speaking in her 40-something voice.At that moment her memories and observations become sharper, from the patriarchal values of the court to violence against women to her own experience with abortion.”When abortion became illegal, it didn’t become rare,” she says, referencing the days before Roe v. Wade. “It only became deadly.”Schreck closes by engaging in a debate with a teen orator, Rosdely Ciprian, about whether the Constitution is indeed the living, breathing document that we’ve been taught to admire in school — adaptable to the modern age — or a hopelessly dated construct that needs to be discarded, starting over from scratch. It’s an interesting device, while lacking the impact of the material that precedes it.Directed by Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), “What the Constitution Means to Me” serves as a reminder that those pining for the past tend to ignore historic inequalities. There’s even quotation from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who caused a stir when she saw the show last year — which makes the special feel extra timely and poignant.Minor drawbacks aside, both shows have plenty to recommend them. And if live theater means anything to you, they provide at least a taste of what you’re missing.”What the Constitution Means to Me” premieres Oct. 16 on Amazon.”American Utopia” premieres Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO, which like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.
Taraji P. Henson confirms split from fiancé Kelvin Hayden
The “What Men Want” actress confirmed during an appearance Monday on “The Breakfast Club” that she and the former NFL player have ended their engagement.”I just turned 50 and I mean, I hadn’t said it yet, but it didn’t work out,” she told the hosts of the popular New York City radio show. “I tried.…
The “What Men Want” actress confirmed during an appearance Monday on “The Breakfast Club” that she and the former NFL player have ended their engagement.”I just turned 50 and I mean, I hadn’t said it yet, but it didn’t work out,” she told the hosts of the popular New York City radio show. “I tried. I was, like ‘Therapy, let’s do the therapy thing,’ but if you’re both not on the same page with that then you feel like, you’re taking it on yourself. And that’s not a fair position for anybody to play in a relationship.”The couple got engaged in 2018 and were scheduled to be married in June this year.In March Henson told “Extra” they were postponing the wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic.”It’s probably going to be more like July,” she said at the time. “We have to see what this will be like at the other end.”The “Empire” star was part of a panel discussion on “The Breakfast Club” about trauma and relationships.She said she loves Black men and Black love and is a fan of mental health support for her community. “It hurts when relationships don’t last,” she said. “I love to see Black love and I want to see more of it. I want to see our relationships last and make it.”