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A conversation with ‘Uncle Charlie’ Wilson

Charlie Wilson

Not being much of a conversationalist, when presented with the assignment to interview the great Charlie Wilson with regard to his pending trip to Memphis to perform for the Southern Heritage Classic, I tried my best to hand it off to someone else. When that didn’t work, I resolved to just relax and talk to him like I would my own uncle.

And when you have a conversation with Charlie Wilson, it is just instinctive to call him Uncle Charlie. So after we got on the phone and exchanged the initial pleasantries, I asked, “May I call you Uncle Charlie?” And it was on from there!

  • Written by Nina Allen-Johnson-Special to The New Tri-State Defender

Back in Memphis for ‘Black Angels Over Tuskegee'

Lamman Rucker


Lamman Rucker stars in the off-Broadway production of  “Black Angels Over Tuskegee,” which the National Civil Rights Museum is bringing to the Orpheum Theatre for a one-show-only performance on Sept. 16th at 7 p.m. The play tells the story of the historic Tuskegee Airmen.


The courage, determination and brotherhood of the Tuskegee Airmen will be part of what Rucker shares with young men and boys during an afternoon visit to Booker T. Washington High school on Sept. 15th. That evening, he will speak to the general public during a session at the National Civil Rights Museum.


  • Written by Bernal E Smith II

Reverential biopic revisits life of free-spirited Renaissance woman

Altina Schinasi (1907-1999) was lucky enough to be born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. The youngest of three girls, her parents were Sephardic Jews of humble origin who immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey in the late 19th Century.
Thanks to the tobacco fortune soon amassed by their industrious father, the sisters were raised in the lap of luxury on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Although headstrong Altina wanted for nothing, she proved to be something of a rebel, opting to study art in Paris after graduating from a prestigious prep school, rather than follow the conventional path of a pampered debutante.

Twenty years later, UniverSoul Circus still rolling along

This is about my tenth time going to the UniverSoul Circus and about the eighth time covering it. The circus performers may change but the theme remains the same: Having good family fun.
The venue was the Hickory Ridge Mall and the circus kicked off with SubRoy, a Memphis-area dance group that did a wonderful job. Perhaps my favorite circus act was next – The Caribbean Callaloo from Trinidad. Performers on stilts strut throughout the tent, towering over everyone. Then these beautiful women come out dancing in colorful outfits. Then comes the test of going under a stick blazing with fire. Wow! How low can you go?
  • Written by Warren Roseborough

Gary Owen is “Just a Cool Guy”

Gary Owen
“You don’t choose your audience, they just choose you.” With these wise words, the hysterical Gary Owen explains how a Caucasian comedian commands the attention of his primarily African-American audience.
Reminiscent upon his days as Comic of The Year and the only white host ever for BET’s Comic View, Gary appreciates and understands his core audience and doesn’t necessarily see himself as the “token” go-to white comedian, but more as “the handpicked talent” from producers.
  • Written by Leah Long- Special to the New Tri-State Defender

School desegregation issue is the crux of ‘Best of Enemies’

Claire D. Kolheim will have no trouble transforming herself into civil rights activist Ann Atwater in Mark St. Germain’s upcoming play, “Best of Enemies,” at Playhouse on the Square, Aug. 22 – Sept. 14.  
“I put a lot of work into the character and role,” said Kolheim, who researched the activist, watched several videos of her, and read Osha Gray Davidson’s best-selling book, “The Best of Enemies,” “to get a feel for who she is, her mannerism, and how she talks.”
  • Written by Wiley Henry


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Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  
“The Expendables 3” (PG-13 for profanity and violence) Third installment in the high-impact franchise finds the guys reuniting to rescue a former team member (Wesley Snipes) before squaring off with another (Mel Gibson) who has gone rogue with malevolent intentions. Beefcake cast featuring Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Kellan Lutz and Jet Li, along with Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer.   
“The Giver” (PG-13 for action, violence and mature themes) Adaptation of Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award-winning children’s novel about a teen (Brenton Thwaites) who becomes disillusioned upon learning the truth about his supposed utopia upon becoming the protégé of the one person (Jeff Bridges) living there aware of the existence of pain, sadness, war and other woes. Ensemble includes Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Taylor Swift and Alexander Skarsgard.