BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Queen Latifah flexes her muscles on and off screen

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By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

Actress, producer, singer and rap royalty Queen Latifah celebrated the renewal of her hit CBS drama “The Equalizer” for a second season by stepping up to publicly receive a COVID-19 vaccination in her familiar old New Jersey stomping grounds.    

“We should do what we have to do to end this pandemic and this vicious virus,” she said at the Essex County College COVID Vaccination Center. “Every time I go to work, I feel like I am responsible for hundreds of people’s lives. If I don’t go to work, they don’t go to work. If I get sick, I’m concerned about bringing things home to my family.”

“This shot in the arm is here to help our bodies fight this thing. I want to get on with the business of living life. This is about family and being able to spend treasured time, precious time with one another. Getting the vaccine is one big step toward that.”

After filming resumes for the Sunday night series, which returns March 28, Latifah will serve as executive producer and co-star of three projects: “The Tiger Rising” with Katherine McPhee and Dennis Quaid; New Orleans high school drama “Paper Chase;” and a hip-hop version of “Romeo & Juliet.”

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: The fifth annual WOW (Women of the World) Festival is an entirely digital, two-day program (March 20-21) featuring artists, thought leaders, authors and activists including Aunjanue Ellis, Elaine Welteroth, Harriette Cole, Nikki Giovanni, Julie Dexter and many more. For information, visit apollotheater.org.

Café Mocha’s Salute Her Awards on March 21 is honoring seven women for their resilience and innovation: Holly Robinson Peete, Cynthia Erivo, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, LaTosha Brown, Denene Millner, Pinky Cole and Melanie Campbell.

Loni Love will host the 4 p.m. virtual ceremony with musical performances from Dr. Dorinda Clark Cole, Eric Benet, Gloria Gaynor and musician/poet Morgan Harper Nichols at SaluteHer.com.

The National Urban League’s Women of Power Awards hosted by CBS News’ Michelle Miller will be held virtually March 25 with honorees Stacy Abrams, inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, CNN anchor Abby Phillip and others. Head to NUL.org for more info on the event with entertainment provided by Marsha Ambrosius.   

Ted Lange (“The Love Boat”) and Hattie Winston (“Becker”) with Fay Hauser-Price (“Hope Builders”) at the helm as its director welcome you to attend the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival (March 25–30).

Participants this year include Margaret Avery (“The Color Purple”), Karen A. Clark (The Clark Sisters), Florence LaRue (The 5th Dimension), Angela Gibbs (“This Is Us”) and Iona Morris (“Celeste’s Dream”); with the Infinity Award given posthumously to Diahann Carroll. Visit lawtf.org for details.

TASTY QUIP: “Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.” – THE WEEKND upon not getting a nomination for his chart-topping album “After Hours” and record-smashing single “Blinding Lights”

CLIPPETTES: The Texas Rangers paid tribute to late country legend Charley Pride — the baseball player-turned-trailblazing country singer who also held a part-ownership stake in the MLB team — by naming a field at their Surprise, Arizona, spring training complex after him. Pride died Dec.12 from complications related to COVID-19

Chris Rock is teaming with CBS Studios to produce and narrate an animated version of his hit UPN/CW series “Everybody Hates Chris”

Best-selling author and “TV host of “Finding Your Roots” Henry Louis Gates Jr. discusses “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song,” a companion book to his PBS docu-series with Eddie S. Glaude on March 25 via Eventbrite.com

Dominique Fishback (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) landed the lead opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Apple TV+ limited series “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey,” an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Walter Mosley …

Body Count, the hard rock group founded by Ice T and Ernie C, won “Best Metal Performance” for the first time at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards for the track “Bum-Rush” off their latest full-length album “Carnivore.”

TASTY QUIP: “Hell no, the Grammys ain’t rigged. B*tch, you win some, you lose some.” – MEGAN THEE STALLION

RESPECT: After a pandemic-pushed delay, National Geographic Channel is unveiling “Genius: Aretha,” starring triple threat Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin.

The third season of the limited series with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, writer Suzan-Lori Parks, director Anthony Hemingway and legendary hit record guru Clive Davis among the executive producers, will air with double-stacked episodes across four consecutive nights, beginning March 21.

The diminutive Erivo may not have been Aretha’s first choice to play the lead (Jennifer Hudson apparently was and will star in a feature film out this December), but when she starts to belt those songs, it is awfully hard not to be mesmerized.

Courtney B. Vance nearly steals the show as family patriarch Rev. C.L. Franklin, one of the first Black megachurch founders who was said to love Sunday morning and Saturday night.

Other standouts in the episodes directed by Hemingway, Neema Barnette and Bille Woodruff include Omar J. Dorsey (“Queen Sugar”) as Rev. James Cleveland, Clifford “T.I.” Harris as Ken Cunningham and Luke James (“The Chi”) as actor Glynn Turman, who married Franklin.   

The premiere episodes will be available the next day on Hulu, culminating in a celebration of the Queen of Soul’s birthday, with all eight episodes available to stream by March 25.

TC ON TV: March 19 – “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” (Disney+): Stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in a continuation of the superheroes’ adventures post “Avengers: Endgame.” “Double Cross with Blake Griffin” (Tru): The NBA star conspires with people who are tired of being the victim to help them get some sweet revenge on their unsuspecting prankster.

March 20 – “CBS This Morning Saturday” (CBS): Country singer Valerie June  “Super Soul” (Disc+): Priyanka Chopra Jonas: “Unfinished”

March 21 – “The Simpsons” (Fox): The animated series reaches a milestone 700th episode. “Tournament of Champions” (Food): The Bracket begins with L.A. chefs Nyesha Arrington and Antonia Lofaso in the mix.  “Unsung” (TV1): Morris Day opens up about his career in the season premiere featuring commentary from Snoop Dogg, Cedric the Entertainer and more. “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” (ABC): Lena Waithe and food delivery driver Ryan Fox  “Uncensored” (TV1): New Jack Swing creator Teddy Riley

March 22 – “Independent Lens” (PBS): “Coded Bias” is an award-winning documentary revealing that most of the facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces.

March 23 – “Tamron Hall” (Syn): Michelle Obama  “To Tell The Truth” (ABC): Sherri Shepherd, Gabriel Iglesias and Karamo Brown  “Soul Of A Nation” (ABC): “Black Joy”  “Boiling Point” (BET): The police killing of George Floyd is examined in the season finale.   

March 24 – “The Day Sports Stood Still” (HBO): Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and producer Chris Paul present this documentary about the day the pandemic shut down the NBA amidst social unrest. “Disrupt & Dismantle” (BET): “The Cost of Black Motherhood in Mississippi”

March 25 – “The Runaway Bunny” (HBO Max): A new animated special based on the children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown with songs by Tracee Ellis Ross, Mariah Carey, Kelly Rowland, Ziggy Marley, Kimya Dawson, Michael Kiwanuka and more.

IN MEMORIUM: “The end has to come as if you thought you were awake and now you’re asleep, because you’re just going to switch from this world into the afterworld, and the afterworld is very much like this world. You can’t tell which one is different, because they look the same, only one is brighter.” – Actor YAPHET KOTTO (“Across 110th Street” “Alien” “Live and Let Die” “Homicide”), who died this week at 81 in the Philippines, to InsideHook in 2019

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.