BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: LeBron’s first theater show highlights unusual Ali alliance

By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

Will Power’s dynamic “Fetch Clay, Make Man” is coming to the Kirk Douglas Theatre June 18 through July 16 as a first theatrical endeavor of The SpringHill Company (“The Shop,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” “Hustle”), founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter. 

In partnership with Center Theatre Group, the staging will be led by Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen (“A Different World,” “Amistad,” “Grey’s Anatomy”).

“I am thrilled to take the reins (of this piece), which unearths the real-life relationship between Cassius Clay, the champion fighter/poet and Stepin Fetchit/Lincoln Perry, the vaudeville comedian considered the first Black actor to have a successful career in old Hollywood,” says Allen. “The play explores universal themes like racism, politics, sexism and religion through a mythic realism that is certain to provoke much thought and debate from audiences.”

Adds Power: “‘Fetch Clay, Make Man’ illustrates the vast tensions that exist between a celebrity’s public persona and the complexities of their true selves that bubble and brew underneath. In that sense, it is a very Los Angeles story as the struggle to craft one’s own image that actor Stepin Fetchit, movie mogul William Fox and a soon-to-be-icon, Muhammad Ali, wrestle with in the play, still resonate in the 21st century.”

Tickets are currently on sale through CenterTheatreGroup.org, Audience Services at 213-628-2772 or in-person at the Center Theatre Group Box Offices (at the Ahmanson Theatre) at The Music Center.

AT THE MOVIES: Fathom Events and the Metropolitan Opera present a live transmission of Terence Blanchard’s jazz-inflected opera “Champion” April 29, as part of The Met: Live in HD series.

The first opera by the seven-time Grammy Award-winning composer depicts the double-life of closeted boxer Emile Griffith, from his arrival in New York City from the U.S. Virgin Islands to his rise from hat-maker and then world-champion prizefighter, then to the tragic moment that he killed his opponent in the ring — an act that haunted him for the rest of his life.

James Robinson — whose productions of Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” and the Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess” at the Met scored major successes — directs, as he did when the work had its world premiere in St. Louis a decade ago. Choreographer Camille A. Brown also returns.

For theater locations and tickets for this showing and the encore May 3 visit fathomevents.com.

“Sisu!” The title was whispered at last fall’s Toronto Film Festival as a sleeper not to be missed — if a ticket was to be found.  Now the action war drama, starring Jorma Tommila as a grizzled bear of a miner who gets poked by Nazis, is opening April 28 at TCL Chinese Theatres + IMAX, AMC The Grove 14, Universal Cinema AMC at Universal Hollywood, AMC Century 15, AMC Burbank 16, AMC Santa Anita 16, and 1,000-plus theaters nationwide. Be prepared for a bloody good time with this Lionsgate movie from the producers of the “John Wick” franchise.

TICKET WATCH: For the first time in 30 years LL Cool J is touring arenas in “The F.O.R.C.E. Live” with the Roots, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Z-Trip, and rotating turns in select cities with Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Rakim, Common, MC Lyte, Method Man & Redman, Big Boi, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Ice T, and more. VividSeats.com has tickets for all dates including Sept. 3 at The Forum.

The Summer Block Party Tour, featuring Jodeci, SWV and Dru Hill, is kicking off this July with a Sept. 7 date at YouTube Theater. Tickets go on sale April 28 via Ticketmaster.

TASTY QUIP: “Just found out Don Lemon was terminated from CNN. Damn, Don. But guess what, the brothers got your back. We’re hiring at Wingstop. And for some reason, I believe you know what you’re doing with them lemon pepper wings.” – RICK ROSS 

CLIPPETTES: Ne-Yo, Robin Thicke and Mario fill the bill April 29 at the Greek Theatre, as the Dymally International Jazz & Arts Festival hits Carson’s Dignity Health Sports Park with Lalah Hathaway, Marcus Miller, Euge Groove, Down to the Bone, Jazz in Pink, Theo Croker and more …

Also that evening Devin The Dude graces Los Globos, Shwayze is at The Venice West, comic Rob Haze is ‘Frontin’ at the Elysian Theater, and Deborah Cox, Fran Drescher, Jai Rodriguez and more team for InterPride’s 40th Anniversary Gala at Avalon Hollywood Theatre and Bardot Lounge …

Octavia Spencer’s “Truth Be Told” for Apple TV+ is over after three seasons, joining other surprise cancellations at Showtime (“Ziwe”) and Disney+ (“National Treasure: Edge of History” directed by Mira Nair with engaging performances by rising star Lisette Olivera and Catherine Zeta-Jones) …

Meanwhile, coming to CNN this fall is “King Charles,” a weekly primetime show with Gayle King and Charles Barkley, who will not be leaving their day jobs …

Where’s the party at? The Hollywood Bowl on April 30 as Willie Nelson, 90, is celebrated with America’s favorite country music icon and performances from over 35 musicians, including Snoop Dogg, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, Neil Young, The Chicks, and others …

New York Times bestselling author and star of Marvel’s Shang-Chi, Simu Liu celebrates the paperback release of his memoir, “We Were Dreamers” with special guests at the Fonda Theatre on May 1 …

Billy Porter’s “Black Mona Lisa Tour” arrives at the Hollywood Palladium May 6, as The Whispers, Jeffrey Osborne and Con Funk Shun are at The Greek Theatre.

TASTY QUIP: “Does this mean that Fox News has gone… woke?” – “Late Night” host SETH MEYERS on that network’s dismissal of Tucker Carlson 

TC ON TV: April 28 – “Citadel” (Prime Video): Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Richard Madden (‘Game of Thrones”) and Stanley Tucci are featured in this new spy series from executive producers Joe and Anthony Russo (“Avengers: Endgame”). “Peter Pan & Wendy” (Disney+): Yet another adaptation, this time with Tinkerbell played by Yara Shahidi (“black-ish”). “Tamron Hall” (Syn): Jermaine Dupri “International Jazz Day from The United Nations” (PBS): Gregory Porter, Marcus Miller, Joey Alexander, Brian Blade, Randy Brecker, Terri Lynn Carrington, Ravi Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, David Sanborn, Lizz Wright and more.

April 29 – “Moonage Daydream” (HBO Max): A trippy documentary on David Bowie’s 54-year career.

April 30 – “Time100: The World’s Most Influential People” (ABC): Jennifer Coolidge is set to host with Doja Cat, Michael B. Jordan, Zoe Saldaña, Angela Bassett, Jerrod Carmichael, Ali Wong, Patrick Mahomes II, Brittney Griner, President Joe Biden, Hakeem Jeffries, Tina Turner, Penelope Cruz, Venus Williams, Tiffany Haddish and Beyoncé among those being recognized. “Spring Breakthrough” (HMC): Keesha Sharp (“Power Book II: Ghost”), Demetrius Grosse (“Banshee”), and Rhyon Nicole Brown (“Empire”) star in this film about a single mother who finds romance while traveling to The Gulf Shores for her daughter’s surprise engagement. “Autopsy: The Last Hours Of….” (Reelz): Flip Wilson Eva Longoria: Searching For Mexico” (CNN) Veracruz. “Unsung” (TV1): “Best In Black – Movies & Film” “Uncensored” (TV1): Meagan Good 

May 1 – “Live from The Red Carpet – Met Gala 2023” (E!): The theme this year is “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” in celebration of the life of the late Chanel designer who died in 2019. “That’s My Jam” (NBC): Diallo Riddle Bashir Salahuddin (“South Side“) vs. wrestlers Mike “The Miz” Alexa Bliss “The Daily Show” (Comedy): Dulcé Sloan guest hosts this week.

May 2 – “CBS This Morning” (CBS): Tony Award-winner Myles Frost (“MJ: The Musical”) and Lea Michele (“Glee,” “Funny Girl”) announce this year’s Tony nominees. “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta – Run It Back” (MTV): A new clip show where fan favorites re-watch jaw-dropping moments from the first season and share the inside scoop of what happened. “1000% Me: Growing Up Mixed” (HBO): W. Kamau Bell explores the experiences of mixed kids and families in the San Francisco Bay Area in this film inspired by the lives of his own daughters.

May 3 – “Ed Sheeran: The Sum Of It All” (Disney+): A four-part docu-series on how an unlikely child with a stutter rose to become one of the biggest global music superstars and how his chart-topping hits were born. This comes as Sheeran is being sued by the Marvin Gaye estate for lifting elements of “Let’s Get It On.” “Iconic America: Our Symbols and Stories with David Rubenstein” (PBS): “The Hollywood Sign”

May 4 – “Bupkis” (Netflix): Pete Davidson plays himself in this comedy series based on his life with a cast including his current girlfriend Chase Sui Wonders, Edie Falco, Kenan Thompson, Charlie Day, Ray Romano and Joe Pesci returning to acting from retirement. “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” (Netflix): The young queen’s marriage to King George of England sparks an epic love story and transforms high society in this “Bridgerton” universe prequel from Shonda Rhimes. “Re(Solved)” (Vice): “Prince” “Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out” (VH1): Roxanne Shante “Celebrity Prank Wars” (E!): Ludacris vs. Lil Jon 

END QUOTE: “My activism always existed. My art gave me the platform to do something about the activism.” –HARRY BELAFONTE  [Rest In Power]

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly 1 million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at tastyclips@yahoo.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.

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