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13 October 2019 23:57

Robert De Niro The Irishman Frank Sheeran

Neville, the Godfather of Comedy

Surrounded by dark wood, seated in a cushy chair, his fingers steepled and his gray hair brushed back, sits a sagacious Clarence Avant. His demeanor is calm but slightly serious, as he relays the star-studded stories that have turned him into a major Hollywood figure. Avant's quiet but meteoric impact on culture is the subject of the new Netflix documentary The Black Godfather, which traces his influence through the various stars, from Barack Obama to Snoop Dogg, that have been impressed by Avant's business smarts. The film, which grapples with the idea of legacy and influence, brings into focus a stellar figure too long in the shadows. Despite his belief that numerical value is a key determinant in life, what he has done, according to executive producer and director Reginald Hudlin, is beyond numbers.

Born in South Carolina, Avant grew up extremely poor in a segregated south that had little opportunities to offer black men. Through a series of business decisions, his acumen quickly lent itself to music, sports, television, film and even politics despite being the unexpected choice, by all factors. Though his physical stature is small, his legacy is huge with athletes such as Jim Brown and Hank Aaron, to musicians like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Bill Withers, to executives like Andre Harrell and David Geffen, to politicians like Andrew Young and Barack Obama, all crediting Avant (affectionately called the Godfather) with providing boosts in their careers. He personally selected Hudlin, director of House Party and Marshall, for the project, following a sort of theme of his life: selecting talented black people to partake in the spoils of a glittering world. If WEB DuBois created and cultivated the Talented Tenth, Avant is the curator to Bootstrap Black Hollywood who has gone without his flowers for too long.

To Hudlin, a movie about Avant is natural: "Clarence is an important figure in American history … It would be criminal not to celebrate him." In the film, Jim Brown, Hall of Fame footballer and actor, discusses Avant's quiet takeover: "There were so many question marks at that particular time, racially, and Hollywood has its own power base and here was an African American man in Hollywood that was defying what Hollywood was supposed to be." Obama says: "One of the things he understands is there are different kinds of power. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Clarence Avant at the world premiere of The Black Godfather. A legacy like Avant's comes with a certain magnitude, which shows in the spectrum of people who chose to speak on camera about the impact he has had on their lives. Initially, Hudlin thought it would take only a year to make, but it soon swelled due to the scores of major names that Avant mentored. "It's just a vast array of people who he's touched in so many different fields that we just had to keep going, if we were going to do the story justice," says Hudlin.

A lot of times, I would ask people about the same stories because I wanted to hear all these stories from different perspectives, mainly because some of these stories are so unbelievable you have to hear it from multiple sources to confirm that they're true." To Hudlin, Avant epitomizes the eminence of great black historical figures who were crazy enough to dream and even crazier to dare. "Telling a story that's very specific to black culture doesn't limit its appeal in any way … The nuances and details of black culture and black life are things I know very well so I know I can tell these stories very well and very authentically," Hudlin says. He resumes: "With black folks who are still struggling with getting the full range of representation, telling our stories with integrity is very important, both for us and for the rest of the world. It is these cornerstones by which Avant has built his life. "Yeah, I helped a lot of people, but my job, so far as I'm concerned, is to move us forward, period," explains the music executive, mediator, mentor and political activist in the documentary.

free battle

It's as Fresh Prince of Bel-Air creator Benny Medina says in the film: "It's not even like he's the bridge. To that end, Paramount's got you covered with the recent release of The Godfather Trilogy: The Corleone Legacy Edition. The 4-disc Blu-ray set contains all three movies (classic, classic, ehhhh…), a host of previously available special features (audio commentary, a "making of" doc, deleted scenes, etc.) and a few new knick-knacks such as the Corleone family tree (pretty pruned by the end, all things considered) and theatrical art cards. In time for Father's Day, Paramount Home Entertainment released this week "The Godfather Trilogy: Corleone Legacy," a new four-disc Blu-ray collection of Francis Ford Coppola's epic masterpieces. The new collection packages all three films - "The Godfather" (1972), "The Godfather: Part II" (1974) and "The Godfather Part III" (1990) - along with previously released special features and new collectibles, including a Corleone family tree, original theatrical art cards and collectible portraits with frame, according to a news release. Collectively nominated for a staggering 28 Academy Awards, the films won nine, including Best Pictures for "The Godfather" and "The Godfather: Part II." Oklahoma City native Gray Frederickson shared in the latter as one of the sequel's producers, along with Coppola and Fred Roos. WINDHOEK - With a career spanning over 25 years in the entertainment industry, Neville Basson is probably the most sought-after comedian and corporate honcho Namibia has to offer. Basson's humour has, over the years, propelled him as a businessman and sometimes a man in a corporate suit. Year 2017 marked Neville's return to the stage with his one-man comedy show titled 'Sobiso', which he took to different cities around the country. He hopes to do a major production this year again, as stage has always been in his blood.The Head of Corporate Communications at Trustco Group Holding still dabbles in writing his humorous columns for Informante. He said it gives him immense pleasure to entertain people on a weekly basis to share about stuff that people do not always talk about freely. "Talking about water being cut off is a candid way of sharing one's personal experience with people, an experience we can all relate to,'' he said. Criticism is sometimes a norm with comedy, which he says he used to take personally in his early years. On his friendship with long-time best friend Jacobs that spans over 25 years, he feels that he is not a friend "but a brother". A Texas mom has pulled her 3-year-old out of day care because the center said the boy's godfather couldn't take part in a "Donuts With Dad" event on Friday. Tiffany Tillotson tells KTRK that she pulled her son, Nas, out of Parent's Choice Daycare in Spring, Tex., because she was told Nas' godfather, Jesse Moore, would not be allowed to take part in Friday's get together. Tillotson told the station she wanted Moore there because Nas' biological father is not in his life. "I just thought it was something cute his godfather could participate in," Tillotson said. The mother said when she asked the center to explain the reason for its decision, she was told that Parents Choice did not want extra people at the event. When Tillotson explained Moore is, for all intents and purposes, the boy's father, the center said they did not want Moore at the event for security reasons, according to KTRK. As it is, Moore already has permission to pick Nas up from the center, Tillotson said. "I think every young man, whether white, black, blue should have a father figure in his life," Moore said. Regarding the center's decision, he said, "It's completely unfair; it's unjust." Tillotson said she is past the point of wanting an apology. She said she just wants to share her story with the public to shine a light on the issue. "Every family doesn't have the structure that they believe every family has," Tillotson said.