BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Janelle Monáe fights enslavement in ‘Antebellum’

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By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

After a pandemic-delayed release, the racially charged thriller “Antebellum,” starring Janelle Monáe, is now here from Lionsgate and QC Entertainment— the producer of the seminal horror films “Get Out” and “Us” — via all major digital and cable retailers.

In this first feature film from Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz (best known for their politically themed videos crafted for Jay-Z and R&B vocalist Maxwell), we are trapped within the horrors of slavery as experienced by Eden (Monáe) after she is caught following an escape attempt.  

What follows is a frightening tale that transcends time and eras.

“Christopher and Gerard’s script was a conversation starter around race, politics, what it means to be an American, and what the American Dream means today — all in a thriller unlike any I’ve seen before,” Monáe said about choosing the project. “The concept of silencing black people is pure horror. [The filmmakers] leaned into the framework of a psychological thriller to depict these horrors.”

“Antebellum” also stars Eric Lange (“Escape At Dannemora”), Jena Malone (“The Hunger Games”), Jack Huston (“Boardwalk Empire”), Kiersey Clemons (“Hearts Beat Loud,” “Dope”), Marque Richardson (“Dear White People”), Robert Aramayo (upcoming series “Lord of the Rings”), Lily Cowles (“Roswell”), newcomer Tongayi Chirisa (“iZombie,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show”) and Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious,” “Empire”), who steals every scene she appears in.  

This is one of those movies you do not want to know too much about going in. Early trailers made it seem like a take on “The Shining” — which it is not. Avoid the advertisements and reviews that may slip a spoiler or two for a more satisfying trip.

JAZZ NOTES: On Sept. 18, Impulse! Records and Legacy Recordings are presenting physical and digital editions respectively of the never-before released live album “Palo Alto” by legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Sphere Monk. The rarity was recorded from a 1968 concert at Palo Alto High School, where Monk performed to help bring about racial unity in the community while raising funds for the International Committee.

Also that day at 5 p.m., SFJAZZ concludes its five-part celebration of the great Wayne Shorter, featuring a masterful performances by the saxophonist and his quartet that includes Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci and special guest Terri Lyne Carrington. This one-time exclusive broadcast of a performance filmed in April 2017 is raising funds that will go directly to help the 87-year-old Shorter’s ongoing medical needs. Go to www.sfjazz.org/watch for details.  

Keyon Harrold, cited by Wynton Marsalis as the “future of the trumpet” and “one of the most sought-after trumpeters in the world,” is in concert Sept. 19 from the famed Blue Note in New York City. Visit www.bluenotelive.com/eventsold/keyon-main for tickets to the St. Louis native’s 5 p.m. livestream. 

CLIPPETTES: Renowned spoken word masters Sonia Sanchez, Quincy Troupe, Haki Madhubuti, Jessica Care Moore, Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets and more are set for “She Speaks, He Speaks, Generations Speak: Black Words Matter,” a two-part virtual poetry jam on Sept. 21 and 28. The program is free with RSVP at www.newfederaltheatre.com

The beloved ’70s sitcom “Good Times” is coming back as an updated animated series for Netflix from a team including the show’s original producer Norman Lear, Carl Jones (“The Boondocks”), Seth MacFarlane (“Family Guy”) and NBA All-Star Steph Curry …  

Singer John Legend is in conversation with Rutgers African-American Studies Professor/NY Times Critic-at-Large Salamishah Tillet, Sept. 23, from 4 to 6 p.m. at www.apollotheater.org/event/in-conversation-john-legend/ … 

Hot recording artists Summer Walker, Young M.A and A-Trak join the virtual YouTube series Tito’s Made To Order on Sept. 24 at 5 p.m.  In addition to the performances, craft cocktail lessons and culinary discoveries, Tito’s is raising funds for World Central Kitchen and matching audience donations up to $100,000.  

TC ON TV: Sept. 18 – “All In: The Fight For Democracy” (Amazon): With the perspective and expertise of Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the documentary offers an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting that most people don’t even know are threats to their basic rights as U.S. citizens. “Becoming” (Disney+): A 10-part docu-series chronicling the inspirational life stories of entertainers, musicians and athletes such as Candace Parker, Anthony Davis and “Stranger Things’” Caleb McLaughlin. “American Barbecue Showdown” (Netflix): Lyric Lewis (“AP Bio”) and Rutledge Wood (“Floor Is Lava”) co-host this competition with a helping hand from Kevin Bludso, the owner of Bludso’s Bar & Que on La Brea. “Wilmore” (Peacock): Emmy Award-winning producer, actor and comedian Larry Wilmore returns with a new weekly talk show featuring discussions with high-profile people from all different backgrounds. “The View” (ABC): Kim Klacik, the Black Republican woman running for the late Elijah Cummings’ congressional seat, states her case. 

Sept. 19 – “Jimi Hendrix: A Perfect Murder?” (Reelz): Fifty years later, the cause of the iconic rock guitarist’s death remains questionable. The open verdict does not rule out murder, neither does it rule out suicide. This film reveals the secret history of Jimi’s manager and British spy Mike Jeffery and explores why he was the prime suspect while also uncovering another more likely candidate.

Sept. 20 – “The 72nd Emmy Awards” (ABC): About going virtual for the first time, the event’s new producer Reginald Hudlin told the L.A. Times: “To quote the great Melvin Van Peebles, ‘Trouble is opportunity in work clothes.’ This is forcing us to question all the tropes of awards shows. Some of those things we’ll miss, and we look forward to the day we can do again. Some of those things we’ve been holding onto for no reason.” Jimmy Kimmel, returning to host for a third time, simply jokes to Deadline: “People love watching train wrecks, right?” “Uncensored” (TV1): Eve 

Sept. 21 – “A Love Song For Latasha” (Netflix): The killing of Latasha Harlins became a flashpoint for the 1992 L.A. uprising. This documentary by Sophia Nahli Allison evocatively explores the 15-year-old’s life and dreams.  “Ellen” (Syn): The talk show host is supposed to open addressing the charges of heading a toxic set with special guest Tiffany Haddish. “Filthy Rich” (Fox): From writer/director Tate Taylor (“Ma,” “The Help,” “Get On Up”) comes this Southern Gothic family drama with Kim Cattrall (“Sex In The City”), Gerald McRaney (“This Is Us”) and Steve Harris (“The Practice”). “POV” (PBS): “In My Blood It Runs” peeks into the life of Dujuan, a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy growing up in Alice Springs, Australia.  “Like, Share, Dimelo” (Fuse): An unfiltered talk show hosted by Latina comedians Darlene “Dee Nasty” Demorizi and Sasha Merci. “Late Night” (NBC): Neil deGrasse Tyson

Sept. 22 – “The Playbook” (Netflix): From executive producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter comes a reflective docu-series where coaches with championship résumés share their personal rules for success in sports and life. “TIME100” (ABC): A one-hour special marking the broadcast debut of the magazine’s annual list of pioneers, artists, leaders, icons and titans. “Kal Penn Approves This Message” (Freeform): The actor (“Harold & Kumar,” “House”) who left the industry to serve in President Barack Obama’s White House hosts this unscripted comedy series that explores issues relevant to Millennial and GenZ voters. 

Sept. 23 – “The Masked Singer” (Fox): America’s favorite guessing game is back with host Nick Cannon and panelists Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke. The season four celebrity contestants combined have sold more than 281 million records worldwide, appeared in more than 5,475 episodes of television and 151 films, appeared in five Super Bowls, have four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. “I Can See Your Voice” (Fox): Arsenio Hall and Adrienne Houghton are judges for this new game show where good singers are guessed by their looks.

Sept. 24 – “The Chef Show” (Netflix): Writer, director and food enthusiast Jon Favreau and chef Roy Choi get a third season to explore food in and out of the kitchen with accomplished chefs and celebrity friends. “Haute Dog” (HBO Max): Robin Thede (“A Black Lady Sketch Show”) is joining celebrity dog groomer Jess Rona to judge this head-to-tail dog grooming creative competition series showcasing canine breeds of all kinds. Matt Rogers (“Las Culturistas”) serves as the show’s host. “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC): 2 Chainz vs. Big Boi 

TASTY QUIP: “I’m never proud of myself. No. People are always proud of me, but I think people can always be greater than me. People call me great; I don’t think that I’m great. But they say, ‘You are the inventor for the word reggae, you are great.’ And I have to say, ‘OK, thank you.’” – FREDERICK NATHANIEL “TOOTS” HIBBERT [Rest In Power] to Interview

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at tastyclips@yahoo.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.

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