Friday, 27 February 2015

WE SHALL OVERCOME: Selma captures the power of a movement, MLK's heroic leadership

ALL FOR ONE: The historical drama tackles race, Black pride, and the fight for equality.

It's not by chance that Selma opens with Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) being honoured with the 1964 Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo, Norway. It's a proud legacy moment that stands in sharp contrast to the film's more gritty, visceral moments, none more sobering than the horrors of racial segregation and the brutal oppression that underprivileged Black men, women and children had to endure at the height of the Civil Rights movement in America.

As such, what debutante film director Ava DuVernay succeeds in bringing into sharp focus is how MLK's heroic leadership catapulted the movement forward and secured small victories that eventually snowballed into triumphs along the way. In the end, what we witness is an unflinching, well-made motion picture about class, race and the fight for equality.

Anchoring DuVernay's film is an enthralling, robust performance by Oyelowo, who delivers the conviction, confidence and swagger of the iconic preacher-man whose gift for rhetoric could only be matched by his uncanny charisma. "Our lives are not fully lived if we are not willing to die for what we believe in," he advised his supporters and followers as they rallied to get their voices heard. As we all know, he was the living proof.

When sitting president Lyndon Johnson (ample use of Tom Wilkinson) refused to use his clout to help their cause, their yearning for the right to register and vote, King's followers head to Selma, Alabama, for a massive demonstration that took shape as a great march to Montgomery 50 miles long, a five-day journey if completed on foot to send a message. Things take a turn for the worst though, when they are set upon and savagely beaten by law-enforcers, the images beamed live across the country. Undaunted, the survivors regroup for the next fight, with MLK in tow, displaying inspiring resolve and what a people can achieve when they put their collective minds to it.

Much has been said of Selma being the latest in a long line of Black consciousness pictures that recall the great freedom-fighters Malcolm, Mandela but what sets Selma apart from the predecessors is its razor-like focus on a singular revolutionary moment in Black history and the iconic figure at the centre. And who has proven more revolutionary in the annals of Black history that Martin Luther King, who speaks truth to power as only he could in Oyelowo's masterful portrayal.

This fine British-born actor may have wowed critic and audiences with noteworthy turns in The Butler and The Paperboy, but it is Selma that should finally put him on the map and get him properly noticed. Like everybody else, we believe his memorable stint in MLK's shoes deserved a run for Best Actor at the recent Academy Awards. And because MLK didn't bring his dream to life all by himself, kudos are in order for the sturdy supporting cast, led by Carmen Ejogo (as the gracious-under-fire Coretta Scott King), Oprah Winfrey, Common, Tessa Thompson, and Cuba Gooding Jr, among several others.

The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. transcends the Nobel Peace Prize, the special holiday and national monument named in his honour. Like Ghandi, this Atlanta preacher-man and agitator was man of the people who believed in the power of non-violent protest and progress for the Black race. He led by example, inspiring the masses and giving a voice to the voiceless. At its best, Selma is glowing testament to this man's work. Tyrone's Verdict: A-

> MORE MOVIES: Does Fifty Shades of Grey live up to the hype?

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Thursday, 26 February 2015

BEST IN SHOW: Alligator High bags lion’s share of 2015 Actor Boy nominations

STRENGTH OF CHARACTER: Cast member sharing a scene in the riotously funny Jambiz comedy.

When the Actor Boy Awards celebrates its 25th anniversary with a star-studded ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on March 30, Alligator High could emerge the life of the party. Jambiz’s latest well-reviewed comedy copped a leading 12 nominations at last Monday’s official announcement of nominees, hosted by Jampro, for the most prestigious accolade in Jamaican theatre.

In addition to nods for Best Production, Directing (Patrick Brown and Trevor Nairne), New Jamaican Play, Set Design and Costuming, the superfunny show secured recognition for lead actor Glen Campbell, the entire supporting cast of Camille Davis, Sakina Deer and Courtney Wilson, and leading lady Sharee Elise, as the imperious Mrs. Sonya Lee.

Meanwhile, the Edna Manley College’s School of Drama also found favour with the new crop of Actor Boy judges. Their terrific adaptation of Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain and Pierre LeMaire’s Wild Alice picked up eight nominations apiece, while An Echo in the Bone, a worthy update of the classic Dennis Scott drama, got six.

It was also a good year for edgy musical comedy, as Oliver Mair’s laugh-out-loud revue Laff it Off earned nine bids, including shots at Best Choreography and Original song. Last summer’s hit Funny Kind ‘A Love, also from Jambiz, earned mention in seven categories.

A special highlight of this year’s ceremony, TALLAWAH has been informed, will involve plays that have won the coveted Best Production trophy over the course of the last quarter-century. “In celebrating this year’s honorees, we will be honoring some of the memorable productions that captivated us in the past,” explains chief show producer Michael Daley. “It will be a retrospective of Best Production winners.”

> To check out the complete list of 2015 Actor Boy nominees, click HERE.

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WHAT I’M WATCHING: Capital Quest host Jean-Paul Menou riffs on his television guilty pleasures

 FACE VALUE: "It's a good thing for Jamaica," Menou says of the new business-based reality series.

Actor extraordinaire Jean-Paul Menou may have been born for the stage, but he comes alive just as effortlessly under the glare of the video lights, whether on the set of a small film (like Red Amber Green) or a popular television programme (Schools’ Challenge Quiz, NCB’s new reality series Capital Quest). As Capital Quest, aired every Tuesday on TV J, zooms toward its epic finale, only a few weeks away, we asked the photogenic host to talk about what he’s been watching on TV:

I’m still partial to Schools’ Challenge Quiz, even though I’m not serving as a quiz master this season. I offered myself, but I was told that they’re testing out new people. But I’ve been 

watching nonetheless and making notes. I’m hopeful that I’ll be back on next season. It’s one of the better jobs I’ve had in the media. I’d love to see more game shows on local television, though. I think there’s room for several more.

CVM has got me hooked on Suits, but overall I’m more of a Netflix kind of guy. I like comedies and I don’t mind the occasional romantic drama. On cable, Judge Judy is one of my all-time favourite things to watch. I also watch a lot of Comedy Central: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. And, of course, I can’t leave out Capital Quest. It’s a good thing for Jamaica. It encourages entrepreneurship, which is always a great thing. I’m excited to be a part of it. Hopefully I will be asked to do it again in the future.

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

FIGURES OF SPEECH: Morgan Heritage, Owen Ellington, Carole Beckford, and more, sound off

"We always look forward to performing for our fans, and touring is the ultimate performing experience to us. Simply because we get to perform new material along with a catalogue for a different audience every night, all while augmenting the set, night in and night out, to fit a particular audience. These adjustments we make on the fly really epitomize our live show because the changes that occur in our live show on tour come out of nowhere and, most of all, when we least expect it."  Morgan Heritage bandmates announcing their Strictly Roots 2015 World Tour, scheduled to delight fans across the United States throughout April 

"Jampro has taken on, as part of its initiative and mandate to develop the film industry, to look at it from an exporting standpoint in what we call a Script-to-Screen Programme to initiate content developers to produce and present short films, features and documentaries during the five-day festival." Film Commissioner and Manager of Creative Industries at Jampro, Carole Beckford, outlining details (at a JIS think tank) concerning the inaugural Jamaica Film Festival, slated for July 7-11 in Kingston 

"The arts play an important [role] in our advancement and is a central part of development [and] a natural part of Jamaica's cultural dispensation. [It's] important to the development of critical thinking. We appreciate that this competition will not only promote a better appreciation for classical literature, but that it will assist students with sharpening their analytical skills, as well as in speaking to different audiences and understanding how to adapt works and information to suit varying contexts."  JNBS General Manager, Earl Jarrett, endorsing a 2015 project that will see nearly 20 Jamaican high schools vying for the opportunity to tour the UK in 2016 to showcase their Jamaican versions of Shakespearean plays 

"They used solid materials like old vehicles, old appliances, sand bags and propane gas cylinders, which were booby-trapped. They bought construction steel materials and chopped them up into small pieces to be used as shrapnel... Barricading close to 10,000 innocent civilians in a community with all those explosives, with tyres put in strategic positions all around the community and with the intent, it seems, to set them on fire and to set off explosives, there would be thousands of civilian lives at grave risk of being injured." Retired Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, testifying before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry at the Jamaica Conference Centre, giving his account of the tragic 2010 police-military operations in Tivoli Gardens 

"The resolution was not taken, as it did not meet the legal requirements. However, given the nature of the situation, we took the decision to put the issue to the general membership. They then voted in support of the overturn, and we the leadership of the association will abide." Jamaica Cricket Association president, Billy Heaven, on the collapse of the JCA's initial plan to support Barbadian Joel Garner and not Jamaica's Dave Cameron for the WICB presidency 

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THE MEASURE OF A MAN: Schools' Challenge Quiz plans tribute show for Rev. Glen Archer

PROUD MOMENTS: Archer, with Jamaica's Gifton Wright (centre) at the 2012 Scripps Howard tournament in Maryland. (Below), with Ardenne's victorious 2013 quiz team at Smile Jamaica.

As the glowing tributes attest, Rev. Glen Archer was the quintessential educator and mentor who specialized in results, when it came to his work in the classroom at Ardenne High, coaching spellers for the National Spelling Bee and preparing Ardenne's team for Schools' Challenge Quiz. His record of mentoring 23 National Spelling Bee champions and three winning quiz teams is unmatched. 

Spelling Bee and Quiz were areas of focus to which Rev. Archer brought zeal, a perfectionist streak and incredible passion. He was highly respected by the quiz producers at TVJ, who are planning to salute him in a most fitting way next month. "This year we're using our annual Master's match to honour Rev. Archer. As you know he had a very close link with the programme, and I don't think you could find a more dedicated coach," main producer and question co-ordinator J. Michael Gonzales told TALLAWAH in a recent interview. We value his contribution to the development of the programme, and we felt very strongly about honouring him in an appropriate way." 

For the upcoming Master's match (scheduled for late March; the Grand Finals are March 31st), Ardenne High will provide a team comprised of past quizzies who were coached by Archer, while a rural-based institution (to be confirmed) will assemble the opposing team. 

Rev. Archer, who famously coached Jody-Ann Maxwell to the Scripps Howard Spelling Bee Championship title in 1998, passed away last Sunday, his death the result of renal failure, according to the reports. He was 61. 

For the editors of both national newspapers, his passing brought into sharp focus his inspiring penchant for excellence. "Rev. Archer was more than a mentor and a coach to his students; he was a father figure, a man who shared their moments of sadness and triumph, a man who nurtured and protected them," the Jamaica Observer wrote. "One of the things that struck us most about [him] was his strong belief that Jamaica's children, and indeed those in the wider Caribbean, are blessed with academic brilliance." 

"Glen Archer epitomized a commitment to excellence and a view that Jamaica and its children are not constrained by geography, their immediate personal circumstances, or the state of the country's development," a Gleaner editorial noted. "Those were challenges to be sealed with the application of intellect, discipline and effort." 

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SCENE & HEARD: Out and about with Usain Bolt, Tessanne Chin, Harry Belafonte, Shaggy and PM Simpson-Miller

WALK THIS WAY: Feb. 19, Kingston. To mark the 2015 State Opening of Parliament in Downtown Kingston on Thursday, Jamaica's leading politicians stepped out in some of their most exquisite ensembles, making their own individual style statements. Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, in a pop of bright yellow, led from the front as the PNP stalwarts made their way along Duke Street towards Gordon House. Among those flanking the PM are ministers Lisa Hanna, Philip Paulwell, Anthony Hylton, Noel Arscott, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams and Dr. Peter Phillips. (Photo: JIS)

FIRE STARTER: Feb. 18, United States. Red is the colour of power and of passion, so Tessanne Chin was an ideal invited guest for the Woman's Day Red Dress Awards in New York City recently, beaming as she worked the red carpet in this ravishing number that must have had heads turning all night. (Photo:

STUDIO VERSION: Feb. 11, United States. Grammy winner Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell, who has inked a new deal with Sony Music, was in Washington DC a few days ago to add some star power to a reggae session hosted by Sirius XM on The Joint. The diamond-selling star's latest album, Out of Many One Music, was up for Best Reggae Album at the Feb. 8 Grammy Awards. (Photo:

POWER OF TWO: Feb. 11, United States. Scores of luminaries from the worlds of film, fashion and high society gathered at Cipriani Wall Street in New York last week for the 2015 AmFar New York Gala, where iconic artist and activist Harry Belafonte was among the night's honorees. Here, the song-and-dance man shares a light moment with fellow stage and screen icon Whoopi Goldberg. (Photo:

BUILT FOR SPEED: Feb. 10, United States. Each year Bolt season sees the superstar sprinter and multiple brand ambassador making appearances across the globe on behalf of sponsors like Gatorade, Hublot and Puma, in addition to registering sizzling performances on the track. Legions of fans in the Big Apple's Times Square recently welcomed the World's Fastest Man on the occasion of the electrifying launch of Ignite, Puma's new line of super-responsive running shoes. (Photo:

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Friday, 20 February 2015

PLEASURE PRINCIPLES: Well-made Fifty Shades is a sexy, utterly seductive affair

YOU BELONG TO ME: Dakota Johnson (as Anastasia) and Jamie Dornan (as Christian) in a scene from the box-office hit.

Each year Hollywood serves up at least one motion picture that's so hotly anticipated he buzz reaches deafening proportion months before the film even lands at the box office. This year that honour falls to Fifty Shades of Grey, acclaimed director Sam Taylor-Johnson's big-screen adaptation of E.L. James' erotic novel that ate the world. 

I can't vouch for the millions who devoured the book version of this electrically charged, sexually heightened fairy-tale romp but, as it stands, the film, which opened worldwide on Valentine's Day, is a well-made and brilliantly acted love story that gets under your skin with its satisfying blend of intensity, light humour and erotic passion. The mature audience I saw it with last Thursday evening enjoyed it immensely. 

While there are aspects of the story, adapted for the screen by Kelly Marcel, that some might find downright disturbing (that Christian Grey needs some Jesus!) and a tad exploitative to others, what we get is, more often that not, an escapist fantasy heavy on seduction and steamy bedroom (and playroom!) action. And at the centre of it all is a bright young ingenue whose sexual awakening comes with a price. 

I'm talking about Anastasia Steele (the lovely and talented Dakota Johnson), a mousy college English major who doesn't know what to expect when, filling in for her ailing college roommate Kate (Eloise Mumford), goes to interview the Christian Grey for the college newspaper. Whom she encounters in that spectacular office with a view is a gorgeous man of mystery with dark eyes and quick wit, who just happens to be the world's most eligible billionaire bachelor. 

But there's more to Christian Grey than deep pockets, fine suits and a telecomms empire. "I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele," he tells her in his crisp baritone. Fair warning. As Anastasia begins to fall under his powerful spell, over the course of their rapid 'courtship', he takes her from crayons to perfume and opens her up to a world she never knew existed. Before long Ana is a flower in bloom and Christian's deepest, darkest secrets, including his voracious appetites and sexual proclivities, come to light. But can Ana's feeble heart take it all in? 

Fans of erotica-on-film staples like Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies and Videotape, and Zane's recent page-to-screen feature Addicted will no doubt rejoice at having Fifty Shades to add to the collection, thanks in no small part to its core concepts of sexual liberation, gender, sadism, dominance and submissiveness, and the perpetual clash between good and evil. 

Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden and relative newcomer Luke Grimes make fleeting but memorable appearances as Christian's mother and brother respectively. 

I always felt that a movie like the film version of Fifty Shades would be David Fincher territory, presenting another handsome challenge for the celebrated director of such gargantuan successes as Gone Girl, The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But Taylor-Johnson has proven that her amazing work on projects like the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy was no fluke. Her Fifty Shades pulses with vigour and a brutal honesty that lingers long after the final credits roll. 

With no major flaws to phone home about, Fifty Shades of Grey, is a beast, and the director brings just the right amount of ferocity to the material, yielding compelling performances from her attractive leads. For the record, I'm a huge fan of Dakota's (incidentally Vogue's February cover girl) who brings allure and an astonishing vulnerability to her work in the film. She's a terrific foil for Jamie's brooding presence and raw, sinewy masculinity. 

In the end, the movie thankfully lives up to the hype. With its intoxicating mix of power, passion and seduction, it leaves you wanting more. Tyrone's Verdict: B+ 

> MORE MOVIES: Our review of Jennifer Lopez's latest, The Boy Next Door

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

A COUCH AND A MIC: Candid reflections, mellow vibes delight at Havatio Music's Soul Sessions

CENTRE STAGE: Stephenie rendering one of her soulful tunes; (below) Stephenson and Bennett in the spotlight, with emcees Shawna-Kae Burns and Fabian Thomas.

Live music with a sophisticated twist is probably the best way to describe what was on offer at Soul Sessions, a nearly three-hour concert last Wednesday night at Redbones, where Havatio Music brought together songstress Stephanie, veteran producer and songwriter Mikey Bennett, and reggae-roots crooner of the moment Duane Stephenson for a hugely enjoyable, highly entertaining round of good music and mellow vibes.

The artists' musical stylings and candid reflections provided invaluable insight into the ever-changing reggae-dancehall landscape and how three of our finest talents manage to navigate the challenges, creative and otherwise, in an industry that prizes hype and buzz over genuine artistry and independent spirit.

As they tell it, staying true to themselves and the kind of music that appeals to them most deeply is paramount for Stephenson and Stephanie. "I've been through a lot of that," Stephenson said, referring to the gritty realities that overwhelmingly define his distinctive brand of straight-from-the-innercity musicality. "Music to me is my diary; my way of putting how I feel about a particular situation into words. What I sing is reality." To wit, Stephenson's debut single "Ghetto Pain" and several others like it have made successes of his trio of solo albums August Town, Black Gold and last year's Dangerously Roots.

That's the direction Stephanie is eyeing as she looks to ascend to the next level. "I grew up on a rich variety of music, so it took me a while to find my musical identity. But people kept encouraging me to stay true to my roots, which is reggae," confessed the singer, who has to date released a funky EP (Real Woman) and a Christmas record. She describes her sound as reggae-fusion, a soothing blend of lover's rock, reggae, R&B-soul and dancehall. "With reggae-fusion I have been able to target various different markets out there" and win collaborations with Sony Music Japan and industry pioneers/mentors like Bennett, who we were delighted to learn is the writer behind classic hits like JC Lodge's crossover smash "Telephone Love."
"It was one of the most important songs to come out of Jamaica at the time, and it really started my international career," Bennett revealed. "Music is a business, so the way we marketed the song made it one of the biggest selling records to come out of Jamaica." Lodge aside, Bennett's long and rewarding career has seen him collaborating with the best of the Jamaican talent pool (Dennis Brown, Judy Mowatt et al) and a slew of international marquee names, most recently Roberta Flack, with whom he linked up a few years ago in Barbados.

While Bennett also riffed on his very musically savvy extended family (son Nicky B, daughter Kimala), his approach to songwriting and penning classic reggae anthems, Stephanie addressed how life continues to imitate art in her personal experiences, and Stephenson spoke to making the leap, quite astonishingly from boy band (To-Isis) to solo stardom. In the end where all three artists found common ground was in that serious passion for what they do. In a nutshell, it's all about the music.

"To every art there is a science, and I think where there is weakness in the music industry right now is mainly in the performance," Bennett told the sizeable audience. "My mission over the next few years is to work with some of the younger entertainers to help them get it right because ultimately it's about securing the future of reggae music."

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

FEELING CHANGE: Little-White's Mediamix poised for fresh start in post-Outameni chapter

 ON THE JOB: Much of the action on The Blackburns is filmed on Jamaica's north coast, where Mediamix if opening new offices.

If you thought Lennie Little-White was off pouting somewhere over the fallout from the NHT/Outameni scandal, which dominated the local news for weeks on end, think again. Instead, the noted filmmaker and businessman's post-Outameni days have been chiefly marked by work, work and more work. To say that he is juggling multiple projects all at once would be a masterpiece of an understatement. In addition to overseeing the editing of Season 8 footage of The Blackburns and tweaking the final cut of his latest icon-on-film documentary Being Barrington, Lennie Little-White is in the throes of getting the company's new north coast digs ready.

Yes, the Mediamix empire is packing up shop, meaning a move from their landmark spot on South Avenue in Kingston to the Garden Parish is well in the works. While the team has ample time left at the old headquarters, which has been their home for over a decade, the relocation process is at an advanced stage. TALLAWAH's recent visit revealed stacks and stacks of boxes, an assortment of video equipment and machinery being prepped for the moving vans, and the team of about four, including Little-White working out of a single upstairs room. "As you can see we're getting things ready for the move, and so currently this small room is our based until everything is finally in place," Little-White pointed out. "But we'll be here for a few more months until then."

The impending change of scenery should yield terrific results for Mediamix, the film crew in particular, which spends the greater part of their work on The Blackburns each season shooting picturesque outdoor landscapes on Jamaica's north coast, and moving in and around the all-inclusive hotels, where a lot of the action, soap-opera style drama, is set.

But as much as we would like to wax optimistic with Lennie about the future of the show and the evolution of his empire, we can't ignore the ten-tonne elephant squatting silently by the door. "In effect, it's an old transaction from 2013. But politically some people think there's a flaw in the armour of the PNP, as far as the sale was concerned," he said, reflecting on the brouhaha that ignited the Outameni saga which, in addition to making headlines, drew parodies and comedy sketches on shows like Oliver Mair's hit theatrical revue Laff If Off Again.

When asked if he feels any anger or bitterness over how the whole thing played out in the court of public opinion, Little-White was quick to dismiss such a suggestion. For the most part, he made clear, Mediamix's work and his leadership remained unaffected by the scandal. "That didn't really impact our operations in any serious way," he said. "What happened the other day is just like somebody call your name in the middle of a mix-up." So there you have it.

With the scandal now a thing of the past, Little-White is hopeful about the future of Mediamix and Palm Productions. In many respects, the impending move up north symbolizes a new chapter, a new beginning. "Things change, and you move on," Little-White concedes. "We don't need as much space as we used to. And because of the advances in technology, the size of the equipment, like the cameras, is much smaller. Now we are doing more with less."

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Monday, 16 February 2015

GOING THE DISTANCE: Usain Bolt to hang up spikes after 2017 World Championships in London

SKY'S THE LIMIT: Bolt reaches for new heights as he helps launch PUMA's Ignite sneakers in New York.

It turns out The World's Fastest Man will be going the distance after all. Sprint king Usain Bolt has confirmed that the Rio Summer Olympics in Brazil won't be his last hurrah as initially planned. Instead, the Olympic champ has opted to go for another year and hang up his spikes after competing at the World Championships in London in 2017.

Terrific news for fans of the showman and Jamaican golden boy, who is doing the Paris Diamond League meet in France in July. "That was my initial plan to retire in 2016, but my sponsor has asked me to go for another year to 2017 and London," Bolt recently told the UK's Daily Mail. "I'll be doing one event, the 100 [metres]. I've already discussed it with my coach. So I can concentrate on that and on retiring on a winning note."

Returning to Beijing, China, on a winning note is also in the cards for the sprinter, whose loyalists are anticipating the kind of golden runs in both sprint events that hark back to his dazzling exploits at the Olympic Games seven years ago - when it all started for real. "If everything goes well this season, anything is possible," Bolt concedes, looking ahead to the 15th IAAF World Champs. "If I can get myself in good shape, it should be wonderful this season." 

Adds the unpredictable 28-year-old: "I live for competition. I thrive on competition. I live to compete against the best. It means a lot when you beat the best."

On a lighter note, watch as Lightning Bolt test-run the new super-responsive Ignite sneakers from PUMA in their latest promo video. [Video]

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FIGURES OF SPEECH: Edward Seaga, Dr. Orville Taylor, Andrew Holness, and more, sound off

"My overriding consideration as Leader of the Opposition was in discharge of my duty to safeguard the spirit and intent of the Constitutional provisions which provide for the protection of the Constitution from changes which may not be in the best interest of the Jamaican people. My action, therefore, in accepting the advice of the claimant, regarding the resignation of the senators, in that manner, was to ensure the effective administration of the Government for the people..... The entire situation is regrettable, including the embarrassment caused to Arthur and Chris."  Opposition Leader Andrew Holness expressing regret at the much-publicized saga including himself and former JLP senators Arthur Williams and Dr. Christopher Tufton 

"This is not a simple matter to just call for the resignation of a leader. You have to look at the implications for the Senate in playing its primary roles as protector of the human and political rights of the people. That is its primary role. The Senate must support the Government and reject what is suspect or detrimental to the rights of the people. If you can't depend on it, then those rights will have to be taken away from them, and so the matter must be handled gently. In the final analysis you have to look at who can command eight members in the Senate and give full support at all times."  Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga on Andrew Holness' future as Opposition Leader in the wake of the recent Constitutional ruling

"Although we want to win and winning is a habit, we also know that performance determines results more than anything else. So we want to focus on the performances and set ourselves specific targets in those games and, whatever the result, we will focus on those targets for individual players, groups of players, and the team as a whole."  Jamaica's Under-17 football coach Andrew Edwards, on preparing the squad for the Feb 21 and 24 away matches against Costa Rica

"Access to good health care is crucial for the country's well-being. Therefore the issue has now become: how can we continue to sustainably ad adequately finance the health sector, and at the same time, provide satisfactory health care and service to all? We need to be able to mobilize enough resources to finance expenditures for basic public and personal services, without resorting to excessive public-sector borrowing and creation of excessive external debt - and to raise revenues equitably and efficiently."  PSOJ President William Mahfood bemoaning the gross underfunding plaguing Jamaica's health sector

"I was employed at a time when the industrial climate was begging for deep analysis, and so the thesis of my book is very simple, perhaps simplistic, which is, if you want to build a democracy, you have to build it on the shoulders of the people, and as you build it you must treat those persons right." Sociologist and UWI Mona lecturer Dr. Orville Taylor launching his new book, Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets: A Century of Betrayal of the Jamaican Working Class, at the university on Tuesday of last week

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CAPITAL QUEEN: Heneka Watkis-Porter goes for the gold on NCB's reality show Capital Quest

SHOP GIRL: "Every time I finish a project I become a stronger leader," reflects the entrepreneur, photographed at Patwa Apparel, Devon House.

Any conversation about the most relentlessly achieving young female entrepreneurs in Jamaica must include Heneka Watkis-Porter, that highly self-motivated go-getter who embodies the unbridled TALLAWAH spirit. With an impressive track record that comprises such successes as the casuo-sporty clothing line Patwa Apparel, a range of recipe-ready condiments, two radio shows, and a motivational book released in 2014, the thirty-plus businesswoman is the kind of trailblazer who diligently pursues whatever she sets her mind to and usually comes out on top. 

So we were not at all surprised to see her working the spotlight and the camera angles on the new reality show NCB's Capital Quest, as one of seven entrepreneurs vying for a $50 million equity investment to catapult their businesses to the next level. With only five episodes remaining, Watkis-Porter gives TALLAWAH readers a first-hand account of the competition, what she's taking away from the overall experience, and the art of balancing commerce and creativity. 

TALLAWAH: You guys seem to be having so much fun on the show. What's the experience been like for you? 
Heneka Watkis-Porter: The experience has been very challenging. In terms of the time, the production hours are long hours. At the same time, the atmosphere is very competitive. I mean, I am up against some truly formidable challengers; all of them with great businesses. It's like the creme de la creme in local entrepreneurship. We all have our unique stories and humble beginnings, and, in spite of the individual differences, one thing we all have in common is that drive to succeed. We are all really motivated to do the best for ourselves and our family and make the country proud. 

TALLAWAH: Indeed. In the end though, what do you ultimately plan on taking away from the show? 
H.W.P.: Let's just say it's anybody's game right now, but for me in particular, what I'm taking away is the camaraderie that has come with participating on the show. On the production set we spend so much time getting to know each other while working together because we all know we want to build something solid. We have each other's backs. 

TALLAWAH: Sounds like you're all playing nice. Any behind-the-scenes drama to report? 
H.W.P.: Nothing outrageous (Laughs). A lot of the talk behind the scenes is more abut being a strong leader, being creative, strategizing and effective marketing. And from my experience, even before the show, every time I finish a project I become a stronger leader. 

TALLAWAH: How do you feel about the whole reality show element? 
H.W.P.: I love it! For me, it's a cross between Celebrity Apprentice and Shark Tank, and I really love both shows. So when I heard about this show being in the works and coming to local TV, I knew it was something I'd want to be a part of. 

TALLAWAH: Local stations, the cable channels included, have been ratcheting up their efforts when it comes to delivering quality local programming to cater to that growing demand. Do you agree? 
H.W.P.: Yes. I am an avid fan of local TV; I love to see a good local programme. I think TV J in particular is getting it right. Yes, we Jamaicans have an appetite for foreign shows, but you see where they are pushing for us to maintain that taste for good local programming. But more support is needed, especially from corporate Jamaica. 

TALLAWAH: Let's talk money. Should you walk away with that cool $50 mil, what are your spending plans? 
H.W.P.: Certainly if I win that kind of investment, the first thing I'd do for the business is step up the marketing arrangements and start expanding across territories regionally and internationally. But the truth is we are all winners by simply being able to take part in a competition like this. It's a life-changing opportunity. 

TALLAWAH: Within the last decade or so you've accomplished remarkable things in terms of making your mark as a serious businesswoman - in the areas of fashion, literature and the culinary arts. How do you plan on diversifying further as you take Brand Heneka into another decade? 
H.W.P.: What we're looking at is a new line and working on a new website for In terms of the shirts, we have a few new designs promoting right now. We put funny patois expressions of the shirts along with the interpretations in English because the aim is to put a smile on people's faces wherever in the world they are. Part of our marketing strategy has to do with the fact that you may not know patois, but there is something about Jamaica that resonates with you. We also plan to forge relationships with people in the music industry and so on. I've learnt that with business you have to be patient and willing to put in that time and financial investment. But I think I'm doing a good job in terms of creating an awareness and getting some solid results.

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Saturday, 14 February 2015

WARMING UP: Sprint king Usain Bolt all set to resume domination in men's sprinting

PERSONAL BEST: Bolt, 28, opens his international track season in Paris this July.

As the 2015 track-and-field season gains momentum, the summer months promise to be an extravagantly busy period for Jamaica's cream-of-the-crop athletes, like sprinting powerhouse Usain Bolt, who is gearing up to renew his rivalry with top contenders on the international scene. And 2015 is a World Championship year after all, so the spotlight is all the more focussed on the 28-year-old fastest man in the world, who has ambitiously set his sights on lowering his highly coveted world records in the 100 and 200M sprint events. 

At the same time, the aim (obviously) is to maintain that global dominance in men's sprinting. So opening his international season on July 4 at the Paris Areva Diamond League meeting in France should provide Bolt with his first big challenge of the season, a test of his level of readiness to face the other giants as the championships inch closer. 

Of course, the well-decorated Olympic champion, who signalled his intention recently to grace the track at this month's Camperdown Classics, is no stranger to the French scene, having competed at Areva on quite a few occasions in the past and caught Grand Slam tennis action at Roland Garros. Even so, his participation will prove useful for more significant reasons this time around, given the event's calendar proximity to the National Senior Trials, taking place at the National Stadium June 25-28, and the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships set for August 22-30. 

With a slew of fast and fresh rising stars and perennial opponents all jostling for the sprint king's crown, it will be interesting to witness how he stamps his authority, while exhibiting that mix of strength, class and showmanship in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Summer Games, where the history books will, once again, be wide open to chronicle the exploits of the World's Fastest Man as he seals his legend and legacy. 

In other Bolt news, meantime, the affable sportsman and multiple brand ambassador brought his inimitable, one-of-a-kind star power to the Big Apple this week, teaming up with the New York City runners to launch PUMA's innovative line of super-responsive running shoes, dubbed Ignite. A massive crowd was reportedly on hand for the spectacle, where the superstar sprinter exhibited his fail-proof crowd-pleasing skills as photographers and video camera crews captured highlights of the moment to be enjoyed by fans across the globe. 

> ACTION TIME: Bolt's big meets won't be the only ones making headlines this year. Gear up for these five sporting events sure to command attention: 
- ISSA Boys & Girls Champs: March 24-28 
- CARIFTA Games: April 4-6 
- Penn Relays: April 23-25 
- Jamaica International Invitational: May 9 
- IFNA Netball World Cup: August 7-16

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Friday, 13 February 2015

NEVER LET ME GO: Obsession and family dysfunction collide in half-baked Boy Next Door

GOOD NEIGHBOURS: Lopez (as Claire Peterson) with Guzman (as Noah Sanborn).

With the exception of Naomi Watts perhaps, does any actress in modern Hollywood play more damsel-in-distress roles than Jennifer Lopez? Be it the put-upon single mother (opposite Ralph Fiennes' millionaire) in Maid in Manhattan, the battered wife who finds her strength in 2002's Enough, or the estranged spouse on the run from her crazy ex in Unfinished, the bombshell Latina consistently makes a point of bringing that authentic blend of vulnerability and, you have to admit it, conviction to the screen.

For any other actress, one could easily sum it up as a serious case of typecasting, but with Lopez it's more a case of a talented actress taking on acting challenges more in tune with her natural abilities.

In this month's lukewarm thriller The Boy Next Door, Lopez stands out as Claire Peterson, a sweet and nurturing middle-aged literature teacher who specializes in the classics at the local high school, while raising an impressionable teen son (Ian Nelson) and fighting off loneliness as her marriage to the absent, adulterous Garrett (John Corbett) lurks "in limbo."

When her son's athletic school buddy Noah Sanborn (Ryan Guzman), who just so happens to live next door, puts the moves on her, Claire, who's never had reason to channel her inner cougar, finds herself embarking on an illicit, lust-fuelled affair with the fiery young Marlon Brando look-a-like, who quickly makes her the subject of his obsessive affections.

Before long, boundaries become blurred and things begin to spiral dangerously out of control, threatening Claire's familial stability and the other things she cherishes the most. You will recall the teen-fling drama that rocks Cate Blanchett's Sheba Hart in Notes on a Scandal.

Directed by Rob Cohen, working with a tepid script by Barbara Curry, the film comes up short on the requisite thrills and coherence to efficiently woo the audience. In the end, The Boy Next Door comes off as a poor man's Fatal Attraction for the Whats-App generation.

But what ends up saving this movie from the trash bin altogether is Lopez's sincere, spot-on portrayal of a woman whose flirtatious romp with a cub explodes into a life-and-death nightmare. Then there's that spiky urn by Broadway darling Kristin Chenowith as the school's vice-principal and Claire's gal pal, Vicky. Hill Harper, meanwhile, rounds out the main cast as Principal Warren.

In spite of its shallow take on adultery, faith and trust, the briskly paced movie will remind you that in the jungle out there, all that glitters is not gold. Tyrone's Verdict: B-

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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

SHE'S THE ONE: Breakout starlet Antoinette Perkins talks family, dating, and the role of a lifetime.

FAN CLUB: "It's been a fantastic experience," shares Perkins (centre), posing for pictures with fans at the Little Theatre.

In modern Jamaican theatre you seldom hear of an actor landing a plum lead role in his/her pantomime debut. But that's exactly what Antoinette Perkins did last August, when she beat out dozens of other talented girls all vying for the all-important title role, aka Miss Lovely, in Princess Boonoonoonoos, and the chance to deliver a showstopping performance on one of the biggest local stages. As everyone will attest, Perkins doesn't disappoint, and her spunky turn in the spotlight is one of the show's highlights.

A 29-year-old grad of the St. Joseph's Teachers' College, the Mico University and, before that, the Alpha Academy, Perkins spends her nine-to-five hours in her Grade Four classroom at St. John the Baptist Prep and is a voracious reader, who has taken it upon herself to kick-start the very first pantomime book club, which only goes to show how splendidly she's been bonding with her new family. TALLAWAH recently chatted with the budding leading lady about working with theatre legends, being in a committed relationship, and making her parents proud. 

TALLAWAH: Did you ever imagine that you'd be playing a lead role in you first outing with the Pantomime Company  and impressing critics at the same time?
Antoinette Perkins: I never expected it, but it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. The rigorous rehearsals helped me a lot. We rehearsed every day up to the last day before opening night. It's just been a fantastic experience.

TALLAWAH: What has working with veterans like Faith Bucknor and writer Barbara Gloudon taught you about the industry? What lessons have you picked up?
A.P.: It was intimidating at first, but working with them has certainly boosted my confidence. I had no major experience prior to doing the pantomime, but they've made me feel welcome. I really look up to them. They've taught me how to be a good actor and how to bring my own personality to the stage. Every night [the actors] constantly talk to each other. They're a big help.

TALLAWAH: Your disarming character Miss Lovely experiences her fair share of brotherly attention in this production. When it comes to the real-life dating world, what are your rules?
A.P.: Being young and free and having fun (Laughs). In relationships you'll make mistakes, but you have to learn to live your life. I have been in a long-term relationship for the past eight years, and we're still going strong. We fight almost every day, but we never let the sun go down and we don't make up. Fights will happen, but I'm at a mature stage where I can admit I was wrong and apologize so we can move on. 

TALLAWAH: Were your parents supportive of your decision to pursue a life in the theatre?
A.P.: Absolutely. My father told me that from I was little he always saw me as a performer. I was always that kind of child; quiet by myself but whenever I'm around family I'm a loose canon. (Laughs). My mom cried when she saw the show on opening night. She has all the newspaper clippings.

TALLAWAH: What's your dream role as an actress?
A.P.: You know, I haven't really thought about that. I know I want to build a solid body of work, but for now I'm just taking it one day at a time.

TALLAWAH: Understood. So what do you consider your biggest achievement to date? 
A.P.: Doing the pantomime, definitely. I don't even have to think about the answer to that. It's been fun; I love the energy of the show. When I'm on stage and the lights come on, you transform. When the focus is on you and you're confident in the spotlight, that's when you truly bring the audience into the experience.

> Review: Princess Boonoonoonoos melds lively music, community drama

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