page contents data-mobile="true" data-tablet-width="1100" data-tablet-small-width="840" data-mobile-width="640">
Log in

In Memoriam: Pioneering Filmmaker Ike Jones Dies at Age 84

Another entertainment pioneer has departed.

Ike Jones, a pioneering African American filmmaker who was born Isaac Lolette Jones on December 23, 1929, in Santa Monica, died on October 11 at an assisted living facility, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Jones had a stroke several months ago and also suffered from congestive heart failure, said his friend Ann Stone. A series of bad investments pushed Jones from a house in Malibu to a rented room where he lived prior to his stroke.

A Los Angeles native and reportedly raised by his stepfather a pig farmer, Jones played high school football for Santa Monica High School and then UCLA. He turned down a draft offer to play for the Green Bay Packers because football was just a means to an end. Jones was real clear; he used football to put himself through college to study film. In so doing, Jones became the first African American to graduate from UCLA's prestigious film school.

Jones was determined to take Hollywood by storm. A 1952 article in Jet magazine said, "Handsome, personable, talented Isaac (Ike) Jones is determined to become the first Negro to crack the Hollywood motion picture industry from the production or executive ends."

He went to work for production companies that oversaw projects for Harry Belafonte and Burt Lancaster, and he headed Nat King Cole's Kell-Cole Productions that produced the singer's highly successful live shows. For the rest of his life, Jones kept a photo of himself and Cole at the White House with President Johnson.

In 1966 Jones was one of the producers of the film A Man Called Adam. Sammy Davis Jr. headed a cast that included Ossie Davis, Cicely Tyson, and Louis Armstrong. Jones said on several occasions that the movie marked the first time a black person produced an A-list picture.

Secretly married to Swedish-born actress Inger Stevens, the pair felt the need to keep the marriage secret to protect their careers. In 1970, Stevens died of an overdose in what was ruled a suicide.

Jones' last major producing credit was on the 1978 TV miniseries "A Woman Called Moses" (with Cicely Tyson as Harriet Tubman). However, Jones was an eternal optimist because even into his 80s, he reportedly was developing projects in hopes of a comeback.

Rest in peace, Ike Jones, rest in peace.

Cicely Tyson Receives Surprise at Final Curtain for The Trip to Bountiful

WATCH VIDEO: Students Serenade Tony Award-winning Actress Cicely Tyson

At the closing curtain call of The Trip to Bountiful, students from the Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts (East Orange) paid tribute to Cicely Tyson,the Tony Award-winning actress by singing Blessed Assurance, a hymn that featured prominently in the show.

Fellow show stars—Vanessa Williams, Adepero Oduye, Leon Addison Brown and Tom Wopat—were in attendance. Directed by Michael Wilson, the show's cast also includes Devon Abner, Pascale Armand, Curtis Billings, Pat Bowie, Arthur French, Billy Eugene Jones, Bill Kux, Linda Powell and Charles Turner.


Videography by Alexis Williams

  • Published in Theatre

A Memorable Trip to Bountiful

On Wednesday, August 14th, I had the privilege to attend a showing of the critically acclaimed revival of Horton Foote's masterpiece, The Trip to Bountiful. Starring Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, and Cuba Gooding Jr., it tells the story of Carrie Watts (Cicely Tyson), who is living in a small Houston apartment with her soft-spoken son (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and very out-spoken daughter-in-law (Vanessa Williams).

Carrie dreams of returning to her home in a small gulf coast town called Bountiful where she grew up and raised her family. Sneaking away with her latest pension check, Carrie heads to Bountiful for the journey of a lifetime. The result is an unforgettable play about the idea of home and its power to sustain us.

This being the first Broadway show I have ever attended I was amazed and in awe of the performances, set design and overall experience. From the serious moments to the downright hysterical, I was enchanted by it all. The main cast and ensemble were a sight to behold.

After the show's end, the audience was treated to a special post show talkback with cast members Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat and Adepero Oduye. The event, moderated by writer and critic Caryn James, gave a behind the scenes look at the creative process of the show. The actors were very candid with both the interviewer and the audience and were open to any questions, which was a real treat for all in attendance.

I highly recommend this show and strongly encourage you to join the list of celebs that have seen the production. They include: Denzel Washington, director Kenny Leon, Whoopi Goldberg, Diahann Carroll, and Harry Belafonte.

Go see it before it ends on October 9th, 2013.

There is currently a 2 for 1 ticket sale going, get tickets while you still can!

  • Published in Theatre

Moreland's Review: The Trip to Bountiful

On the stage at Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful tells the story of an elderly woman, Carrie Watts (Cicely Tyson) yearning to return to the days of her young adulthood, where things were happier and simpler. Not being able to actually return to those days, she seeks the next best thing: returning to Bountiful where those days were spent.

At this point in her life she lives in Houston with her son, Ludie (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and his wife, Jessie Mae (Vanessa Williams). Poor Ludie constantly tries to keep peace between the two women in his life. Jessie Mae hates her mother-in-law's hymn singing and snooping while Carrie finds her son's wife to be demanding and pampered. And Ludie and Jessie Mae will have none of this nonsensical notion of visiting Bountiful.

Knowing that her son and daughter-in-law will never escort her there, Carrie decides to take off on her own, and with the help of kind strangers, she heads to Bountiful with her family in hot pursuit.

The story of an old woman wanting to return to her hometown is not in itself an interesting tale. But with the excellent writing of Horton Foote and the lively characters he creates, this story blossoms into a thoroughly fascinating adventure.

He takes the age-old conflict of the battling mother and daughter-in-law with the son caught in the middle and spins it into something entertaining and almost original. Foote's script would be nothing but words on a page without the exceptional performers to give them life. And Tyson, Williams and Gooding do just that.

In the earlier scene, the three characters interact in their apartment with each participating in the development and telling of this story. But once Carrie takes off to Bountiful this becomes Cicely Tyson's play and she is outstanding! Dancing and singing and carrying this play like Atlas with the world on his shoulders. This production is further enhanced by a superb set, which while modest compared some of the more elaborate Broadway settings, the backdrop serves this story well, supporting but not overwhelming it.

At this point, it's a cliché to say: Take this trip to Bountiful; but it is nevertheless true. It'll be worth your time and money.

The Trip to Bountiful is about two hours in length.

  • Published in Theatre
Subscribe to this RSS feed