By Bill Vaughan
The triumphs and challenges of Black athletes despite instituted barriers to impede their greatness is on display in two new impelling documentaries.
“The League,” directed by acclaimed filmmaker Sam Pollard (“MLK/FBI”) and executive produced by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (“Summer of Soul”) and Tariq Trotter (“Descendant”) of The Roots, celebrates the dynamic journey of Negro League baseball players through the first half of the 20th century.
The story is told through previously unearthed archival footage and never-before-seen interviews with legendary players like Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil — whose early careers paved the way for the Jackie Robinson era — as well as celebrated Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron who started out in the Negro Leagues.
From entrepreneurial titans Cumberland Posey and Gus Greenlee, whose intense rivalry fueled the rise of two of the best baseball teams ever to play the game, to Effa Manley, the activist owner of the Newark Eagles and the only woman ever admitted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, “The League” explores Black baseball as an economic and social pillar of Black communities, while also examining the unintended consequences of integration.
It opens exclusively at AMC theaters nationwide July 9, 10 and 12 before arriving on digital platforms July 14.
“Black Ice,” exposes a history of racism in hockey through the untold stories of Black hockey players, both past and present, in a predominantly white sport.
Directed by Academy Award and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Hubert Davis, the documentary navigates the struggles and unique experiences faced by these athletes through poignant firsthand accounts from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color hockey players past, including Willie O’Ree, the first Black player in the National Hockey League, and former professional hockey player Akim Aliu, with the stories of present stars, including P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds.
The film explores the deep BIPOC roots of the game, dating back to 1865 and the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, the first all-pro league, which not only introduced the slap shot but shaped the game of hockey we know today.
It also exposes racist patterns that span generations, even highlighting stories of how sports institutions have exerted pressure on players seeking change to remain silent.
The award-winning “Black Ice,” executive produced by LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Aubrey “Drake” Graham and Adel “Future” Nur, opens exclusively in AMC theaters on July 14.
CLIPPETTES: A 1970s Soul Jam featuring: The Stylistics, The Manhattans, Peaches & Herb, The Delfonics featuring William Hart, The Blue Notes and Jimmie “JJ” Walker is being held on July 7 at the YouTube Theater …
Also, The Azar Lawrence Experience is at the L.A. County Museum of Art, Black Soprano Family’s Rick Hyde is making his headlining debut at Catch One, singer/trumpeter Johnny Britt (Impromp2) is playing at Catalina Bar & Grill, Black Angel featuring Audrey Turner is at Whiskey A Go Go, David Garfield headlines at Vibrato Grill & Jazz, Lyle Lovett is at the Libbey Bowl as the Fabulous Thunderbirds grace the Coach House, and the “Maestro of the Movies” John Williams teams with the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra for the start of a two-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl …
Comic Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias fills the Santa Barbara Bowl on July 8, while the Fivepoint Amphitheatre hosts Hot Summer Nights with TLC, Shaggy, En Vogue and Sean Kingston; and SRT, featuring former Rufus drummer John “J.R.” Robinson and special guest Tom Scott, are at Catalina Bar & Grill …
July 10 is National Piña Colada Day in the U.S. and DJ Cassidy, Shaggy and Rayvon will be celebrating with the release of their new single, “If You Like Pina Coladas” at an exclusive press reception in Hollywood, sponsored by VP Records and Malibu …
Despite not releasing an album since 2016, Rihanna has become the first woman to have 10 songs reach 1 billion streams on Spotify. In response, the 35-year-old award-winning singer/entrepreneur took to social media to write: “Bad Gal billi … wit no new album … lemme talk my s—” …
July 12 is Sheila E. Day as the singer/drummer gets her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 11:30 a.m., prior to her 8 p.m. celebration concert with friends at The Bourbon Room …
Additionally, Charlie Wilson and En Vogue will sing at the Hollywood Bowl, and legendary songwriter and musician Jimmy Webb is at The Coach House …
The Happy Together Tour brings Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Little Anthony (“Goin’ Out of My Head,” “Hurts So Bad,” “Tears on My Pillow,” “I’m On The Outside (Looking In)” and “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop”) to the Libbey Bowl July 13 along with The Turtles (and Ron Dante), Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Vogues, Classics IV and The Cowsills …
Meanwhile, Gustavo Dudamel, Patina Miller and the L.A. Phil pay tribute to the music of Duke Ellington’s and George Gershwin at the Hollywood Bowl, Haitian-American songstress TeaMarrr brings her vibes to The Venice West, Keith Washington and Monifah perform at Inglewood’s Hollywood Park Casino, Vonda Shepherd plays at Vibrato Grill & Jazz, and the Elysian Theater presents Sydnee Washington‘s electrifying hour-long, solo show “How To Start A Fire.”
TASTY QUIP: “Thank you Supreme Court for allowing me to discriminate. I’ve decided to forbid bigots and homophobes from watching ‘The Sopranos,’ ‘The White Lotus,’ ‘Goodfellas’ or any movie or TV show I’ve been in.” – MICHAEL IMPERIOLI on IG regarding the court’s decision to allow one to deny services for religious reasons.
TC ON TV: July 7 – “The Horror of Dolores Roach” (Prime Video): Justina Machado (“One Day at A Time”) stars in this contemporary urban legend of love, betrayal, weed, cannibalism, and survival of the fittest based on the hit podcast of the same name. “Down For Life” (Latino Vibes): The critically acclaimed film with Danny Glover, Laz Alonso, Snoop Dogg, Elizabeth Peña and Nicolas Gonzalez premieres on television nearly 12 years after its theatrical debut. “The Out-Laws” (Netflix): In this comedy with Lil Rel Howery and Michael Rooker, Adam Devine gets involved with his criminal in-laws (portrayed by Pierce Brosnan and Ellen Barkin). “The Next Black Millionaires” (Roku): This six-episode docuseries captures the journey of three ambitious entrepreneurs growing their passions into successful businesses. “Ready To Love” (OWN): This season, Dallas-based singles get their chance to meet their match.
July 9 – “See It Loud: The History of Black Television” (CNN): From executive producers Lebron James and Maverick Carter comes this five-part series celebrating the achievements of Black actors and creators, examining the historical impact Black culture has on all culture.
July 10 – “BBQ Brawl” (Food): Sunny Anderson comes aboard the fourth season of this Bobby Flay competition series as a mentor. “Lil Jon Wants To Do What?” (HGTV): He’d like to keep providing amazing room transformations for a second season. “POV” (PBS): In “Liquor Store Dreams,” two Korean American children of liquor store owners confront the complex legacies of L.A.’s racial landscape, including the 1991 murder of Latasha Harlins and the 1992 uprisings sparked by the police beating of Rodney King, while engaged in current struggles for social and economic justice.
July 12 – “The Afterparty” (Apple TV+): More of the hilarious murder mystery with Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson and Dave Franco. “Quarterback” (Netflix): Goes inside the huddle and into the homes of QBs including Patrick Mahomes following their 2022-23 NFL season. “The 2023 Espys” (ESPN): The star-studded ceremony honors leading athletes and sports performances of the year.
July 13 – “Full Circle” (MAX): An investigation into a botched kidnapping uncovers long-held secrets connecting multiple characters and cultures in present day New York City. Executive produced and directed by Steven Soderbergh with a cast including CCH Pounder, Claire Danes, Dennis Quaid, Jharrel Jerome, Timothy Olyphant and Zazie Beetz. “Project Greenlight: A New Generation (MAX): A reinvention of the critically acclaimed original HBO series, this iteration focuses on the next generation of talented female filmmakers who are given the chance to direct a feature film. Executive Producer Issa Rae along with Kumail Nanjiani and Gina Prince-Bythewood serve as mentors throughout the season. The selected director Meko Winbush’s first feature film “Gray Matter” will run on the streamer concurrently. “Survival of the Thickest” (Netflix): Michelle Buteau is writer, creator, executive producer, and star of this series about a passionate stylist who seizes the opportunity to start over in life and love while finding happiness on her own terms. With Tasha Smith and Tone Bell.
END QUOTE: “I think that being polished and tailored is the main difference between when a celebrity wears something versus a standard consumer. Celebrities are real women and real people, just with better tailoring.” – Fashion designer SERGIO HUDSON to Page Six Style