By Bill Vaughan
Spike Lee is back as producer and director of a four-part docu-series essaying a subject close to his heart. In “NYC EPICENTERS 9/11»2021½,” he weaves together the stories, memories, and insights of those who were eyewitnesses to New York’s greatest challenges.
Beginning with the ongoing global pandemic and the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement, Lee traverses through time to the devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
As the consummate cinephile, Lee infuses the series with scenes from classic films to amplify his themes, weaving in clips from his own eerily prescient “Do the Right Thing” and “Inside Man,” and intercuts scenes from such films as “On the Waterfront,” “Casablanca,” “On the Town,” alongside cultural figures like Leonard Bernstein into his narrative.
Lending their opinions and insights to “NYC EPICENTERS 9/11»2021½” is a chorus of voices that mirrors the diversity of the city itself. Interviewees include Jon Stewart, Rosie Perez, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro; politicians Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chuck Schumer, Bill De Blasio, Ron Kim, Mondaire Jones, Stacey Plaskett, Ritchie Torres, Muriel Bowser; medical professionals Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Ian Lipkin, Dr. Fritz Francois; commentator Van Jones, New York Fire Department members; machine operators from Ground Zero; engineers and architects; news anchors and reporters.
The 40 Acres and a Mule production, with an original score by Terence Blanchard, debuts Aug. 22 on HBO with the following two episodes airing on subsequent Sundays leading up to the finale on Sept. 11.
THE RIGHT TIME: The Country Music Association announced that Ray Charles is one of the 2021 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The R&B superstar noticed that white singers of the day were covering Black artists with great success and figured he could flip the script and gain more fans than he would lose.
His prediction turned out to be accurate with the release of 1962’s ”Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music,” with the smash hit cover of a Don Gibson B-side called “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”
It became Charles’ first album to top Billboard’s pop albums chart and spent 14 weeks at No. 1, an achievement it would take a country album from Nashville 30 years to match.
He subsequently released a Vol. 2 as well as 1965’s “Country and Western Meets Rhythm and Blues” and 1970’s “Love Country Style.”
A formal induction ceremony will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the CMA Theater at a to-be-determined date.
Coincidentally, Tangerine Records is releasing “True Genius,” a limited edition six-CD box set including his hits and eight previously unreleased songs recorded live in 1972.
The collection including a photo book with contributions from Quincy Jones, musicologist A. Scott Galloway and Ray Charles Foundation President Valeri Ervin, will be available beginning Sept. 10.
SCREEN STUFF: Yvette Nicole Brown (“Big Shot“) will host the African American Film Association’s third annual AAFCA TV Honors on Aug. 21. “Lovecraft Country” stars Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors, directors Barry Jenkins and Steve McQueen, actresses Michaela Coel and Naomi Ackie, Netflix’s “Lupin,” OWN’s “Queen Sugar,” HBO Max’s “Exterminate All The Brutes” and Amazon’s “Sylvie’s Love” are among the awardees. Visit: AAFCA.com for info.
The 12th annual Bronze Lens Film Festival is in full effect virtually through Aug. 22. Packages for access to over 180 films such as “Ash Land,” produced by The Roots’ Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter; and panels featuring author/producer Tananarive Due, filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper, casting director Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd, Fox Soul Head of Programming James DuBose and more can be purchased at bronzelens.com.
CLIPPETTES: Panic In L.A. featuring Rakim, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Thee Mike B and Funkmosphere DJs converges Aug. 20 at 1720 beginning at 8 p.m. …
Also that evening, Houston SummerJazz begins streaming with Grammy winner Dianne Reeves in concert (and Marcus Hill Aug. 22). Visit https://www.dacamera.com/ for more …
Idris Elba (“The Suicide Squad”) will next voice the character of brawny sidekick Knuckles for the forthcoming animated sequel “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” …
Los Lobos (introducing songs from their new cover album “Native Sons”), The Mavericks and Ozomatli fill the bill at the Greek Theatre Aug. 21; as Utopia with special guest “The Maestro” DJ Timmy Regisford is presented at Leimert Park Plaza …
Damon Wayans went on Houston’s 97.9 The Box to call out Dave Chappelle for a first-ever comedy Verzus, a virtual battle format previously reserved for music artists. Maybe they should start with Katt Williams and Cedric The Entertainer, who the former accused of stealing his jokes …
Fourteen-year-old phenom Justin Lee Schultz, whose viral videos and Shanachie album “Gruv Kid” has earned critical acclaim, will be making his L.A. debut at the Baked Potato on Aug. 22. His dad and sister will be joining him in the band, so it promises to be a fun family jam …
Grammy-winning Haitian-Canadian producer and DJ Kaytranada and Grammy-winning rapper, producer and songwriter Big Boi will co-headline the Major League Soccer All-Star Concert on Aug. 24 at The Torch in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Tickets are $15 and will benefit World Central Kitchen.
The Detroit Jazz Festival (Sept. 3-6) announced a pivot to a virtual format that will be streamed and broadcast “live” for free this Labor Day weekend. This year’s performers will include artist-in-residence Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Gregory Porter, Keyon Harrold, Kurt Elling, Take 6, Manhattan Transfer and more.
TASTY QUIP: “I saw [“Genius: Aretha”]. What I can say, though, is I had spoken to Aretha and when I asked her who she thought should play her, she said Jennifer [Hudson]. From what I have seen from the trailers, I think she’s absolutely right.” – GLYNN TURMAN to Variety on the biopics of his ex-wife Aretha Franklin
TC ON TV: Aug 20 – “Truth Be Told” (AppleTV+): As the second season opens, new evidence compels podcaster Poppy Parnell (Octavia Spencer) to reopen the murder case that made her a media sensation. With Aaron Paul, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Beach, Ron Cephas Jones and Tracie Thoms. “Reefa” (HBO Max): Tyler Dean Flores, Ricardo Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) and José Zúñiga (“Snowfall”) star in this story of a teen’s fatal encounter with the Miami Beach police. “Reminiscence” (HBO Max): This sci-fi film with a cast of Hugh Jackman, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis and Natalie Martinez will premiere on the streamer as it opens in theaters. “Sweet Girl” (Netfix): Jason Momoa portrays a widower out for revenge while protecting his daughter (Isabela Moner). “Friday Night Vibes” (TBS): Chance the Rapper and Wayne Brady join Tiffany Haddish and co-host Deon Cole for this week’s double feature of “The Equalizer” and ”Rush Hour 3.” “Secret Celebrity Renovation” (CBS): Paula Abdul helps renovate a L.A. recreation center and gifts her childhood dance teacher with a sleek new state-of-the-art dance studio.
Aug. 21 – “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert” (CNN): Jon Batiste, Kane Brown, LL Cool J, Lucky Daye, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson, Wyclef Jean, Journey, Maluma, Polo G, Carlos Santana, Bruce Springsteen and others live from Central Park in a Clive Davis-produced show. “Stand Up To Cancer” (ABC/CBS/FOX/NBC): Anthony Anderson, Ken Jeong & Tran Ho, and Sofia Vergara are co-hosts for this special with performances by Common with Stevie Wonder, Brittany Howard and many more.
Aug. 22 – “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC): Vivica A. Fox vs. Bill Bellamy “The Walking Dead” (AMC): The final, expanded season will kick off with eight new episodes, the first of a massive 24-episode story arc that will bring the show’s decade-long successful run to conclusion.
Aug. 23 – “Love & Hip Hop: Miami” (VH1): “Bugatti” rapper Ace Hood and his wife Shelah Marie join the cast this season alongside rap legend and podcast superstar Noreaga and his wife Neri, and hard-hustling, Haitian “Queen of Kompa Music” Florence El Luche.
Aug. 24 – “David Makes Man” (OWN): Haven’t been a fan of this season’s arc with the odd casting of Kwame Patterson as the adult David and the minimizing of Alana Arenas who stood out last season as David’s complicated mom Gloria. Will give it up though to the penultimate episode that was a searing look at psychological therapy.
Aug. 25 – “CMT Giants” (CMT): The life and career of Charley Pride is profiled.
Aug. 26 – “Family Reunion” (Netflix): The funny sitcom featuring Loretta Devine, Richard Roundtree and Tia Mowry is back for a fourth season. “The Good Fight” (Paramount+): Loving last week’s addition of Wanda Sykes to the cast while Delroy Lindo’s departure leaves big shoes to fill. “Michael Jackson: Inside His Mind” (Reelz): Psychiatrist Dr. Bob Johnson digs deep to profile the man behind the mask. “The Mysterious Death of Eazy-E” (WE): “The Final Interview”
TASTY QUIP: “Do I get backlash? Every single day, multiple times a day. So I don’t know, I guess I just don’t give a s–t. … People can hate me for loving people, and I’m OK with that.” – EBONI K. WILLIAMS on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York”
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 email@example.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.