Tag Archive: sammy davis jr


The extremely rare wet day in the City of Angels, so this is perfect.

Have a good weekend everyone.

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QUINCY-1998-FNL-copy

Quincy Jones has had a career and a life that just won’t me duplicated.

EGOT.  He opened the door for Oprah to go to the next level.  He opened the door for Will Smith to go to the next level.  Nearly any creative I know would feel like his 90th biggest accomplishment would easily be their 1st.

So it’s impressive that ‘Quincy’ does such a good job of giving an overview for how much he’s done over the years while blending in enough of a personal element to balance the story out.

I could be hear all day talking about Q’s accomplishments, so I’ll just pick a few highlights:

  • Sinatra is one of my guys, so the chapter detailing their relationship was riveting for me.  How much respect Frank had for him, how Q was right there with Sammy when Sinatra spoke up about really integrating Vegas, the album ‘Sinatra at the Sands’ (a personal favorite).  All gems.
  • Like Kendrick said, my generation was introduced to Q through MJ.  The music nerd in me was equally happy to hear him credit Rod Temperton as one of the great songwriters, but getting behind the scenes footage of their professional bonding over ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’ was cool.
  • I should have figured as much, but Q produced the concert that opened the Smithsonian African-American Museum.  Just seeing him walk through the pop culture exhibit and realize he produced or worked with damn near every person in the music section is another shake your head ridiculous moment; but seeing this man still producing massive events in his 80s is…humbling.

The film is co-directed by his daughter Rashida (side note: I’m far too young to know of a young Peggy Lipton, but seeing her with no context, my first reaction was still, ‘Oh, that’s Rashida Jones’ mom), and it’s well worth the two hour watch if you’re any kind of pop culture nerd.

High recommend.

 

 

Photo of Sammy Davis Jr.

Today’s video is one of my theme songs, performed by one of the show biz greats.

I’ve auditioned to play Sammy once; it’s still a dream part for me.  May realistically be a little too far removed at the moment for what Paramount is setting up, but you never know…

Enjoy!

 

 

OFF-THE-WALL-2016-EDITION-Epic-–-2016

While my childhood was one of many defined by what came next, as an adult I can’t really argue with anyone who feels ‘Off the Wall’ is a superior album.  Spike’s documentary captures all the reasons why.

As the title suggests, the first half covers the journey and how (absurd as it sounds now), Michael Jackson was having a hard time figuring out how to be taken seriously.  He was the bubblegum kid singer, he was the novelty at the front of the novelty act the Jackson 5.  As (a nice interview choice here) Kobe Bryant explained, young Mike was a hardcore student of his craft.  Not just studying Sammy Davis Jr’s moves, and James Brown’s moves, but how the industry treated them as black stars.

After ‘the Jacksons’ became a success after leaving Motown, it was time.  The concert footage really captures why ‘Rock With You’ is one of my favorite videos.  No one (in all the good and bad ways) was more theatrical than Michael Jackson, but he could blow you away with nothing but the microphone in his hand.  A great vocalist.

The last third of the film is the track by track breakdown.  Everyone from Questlove to his brothers, to Stevie Wonder breaking down ‘the last great disco record.’ Rock With You. Off the Wall. She’s Out of My Life. I Can’t Help It. Turn this Disco Out.

Yep, that album still holds up.  So does this doc.

Was a Showtime exclusive for a long time, now you can rent it on iTunes and I assume your other digital channels.

 

cabbie

For the newer visitors, this is one of my theme songs.  One reason is I just think it’s a great ‘storytelling’ song…

But to amplify that point, as it’s evolved over the years, it’s almost become the singer’s version of ‘the Aristocrats’.  In other words, the only way to ‘mess up’ the song (besides being a bad singer) is to not put your own signature on it.

The Sinatra version is usually considered ‘the standard’.  But Billie Holliday sings it in a way that makes it a Billie Holliday song.  Sammy Davis Jr. did it in a way that made it a Sammy Davis Jr. song.  I sing it (for those of you who’ve heard it) in the Rat Pack vein, but amping up the actor/storyteller element (cause that’s who I am).

Speaking of storytellers, when Cab Calloway sang it…well…

(and on a side note, THAT. IS. A. CONK!!!!)

Enjoy!

 

 

rat-pack7

‘You look like a god damned rat pack.’

R.I.P. Lauren Bacall.

 

 

B-man,

What up?  So kudos to you first for taking on the job on such short notice.  You’ve got the pedigree the Academy likes, and at this point, I don’t think anyone has any expectations for next year’s show.

So having said that, I think this year is the perfect opportunity to do something drastic. And by being drastic, I mean give the hosting duties to me.  I’ve thought this through and I will give you my reasons why I’m the perfect host this year…

1. I like damn good in a tux.

I mean seriously, look at me!

2. I’ve been doing Oscar preview/live blogs for the past five years.

Going back to our film school days (maybe earlier), my partner in crime and I have used the interwebs to offer predictions and last year running commentary on the show, so it’s not like I won’t be watching anyway.

https://malikaziz.com/2011/02/27/2011-artfradieu-oscar-live-commentary/

3. I’m cool with ‘this’ Establishment.

My generation of young actors, writers, directors, producers, etc. are coming up so you’d get to keep that ‘we’re still hip’ vibe that Eddie and Brett were giving you.

4. I keep my private affairs to myself.

So no talk from me about my gigantic balls or what 70s group my genitalia are named after.  But having said that…

5. I’m down for a little bad publicity.

But only on a short term basis, and only if we’re clear the endgame is to drive more eyeballs to the show. I’m single, Kim Kardashian is single; I’m just saying…

6. I’m a genuine film geek.

I have the respect for ‘Old Hollywood’ that I think is mandatory for the job.  And in my particular case I know the history of those who came before me, from Sammy to Whoopi to Chris, and the historical part of that turns me on. And it’s going to be a little weird if Viola Davis is the only black person in the Kodak Theatre.

7. I’ve been vocal about my support for gay marriage.

So you’d be getting someone who’s gone in the complete opposite direction from the little fiasco that got the last guy fired.

8. I’m an award winning producer/director/actor who has hosting experience.

And my writing team works cheap to boot!  Here’s a joke I was just handed:  “So this Herman Cain fella? This week one of his accusers says that he grabbed the back of her neck and said ‘You want the job right?’ during her sexual assault.  When asked for comment, former President Clinton said, ‘I like a blow job as much as the next man, but if that’s your modus operandi, you are NOT qualified to be the President of the United States!”

(Hm, you’re right. That’s more of a Golden Globes joke, than an Oscars joke isn’t it?  I’ll fire that writer.  Let’s table that one for now…)

9. It’d be a Full Circle/Small Town Moment

One of the first gigs I ever had in this town was working for Imagine Entertainment as a researcher for your Hugh Hefner project.  You paid me to go to the Playboy Mansion everyday, so really, as a man, I’m already in your debt.  There’s a lot of jokes there, but I’m saving them for the monologue.  And finally…

10. I’d Genuinely Be Happy to Have the Gig

And that should mean something right?

King

 

Like most black kids of my generation, I had the idea that Dr. King was ‘somebody’ before I had any real concept of who that ‘somebody’ was.  It was his picture and Jesus on the back of our church fans.  At my grandfather’s house, there were two pictures in the house that weren’t family: John F. Kennedy and MLK.  There wasn’t a ‘King Holiday’ in the early years of my childhood, for awhile he was just the ‘black hero.’

When my sister and I were still in our ‘kiddie’ stage, we made the family road trip to Walt Disney World.  My father decided one of our pit stops would be Atlanta, which struck me as a little odd since I knew at the time we didn’t have any family on either side in the ATL.  As it turns out, he timed our pit stop on the weekend of some type of “King Fest.”  My mother still has a picture of herself with Yolanda King that she treasures; we stopped by Ebenezer, we went to the Center, we visited Dr. King’s tomb.  It was the first time I went to the gravesite of someone outside my family.  It wasn’t a morbid thing since it’s right there with the museum, but it made me think.  In retrospect, it was probably the beginning of my interest in Black History.

Once I got to an age where I could understand race and America, I started with Dr. King’s life and works.  All of them.  His own words (“I have a Dream,”, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,”) some of the well written biographies about him and his crusades (Selma, Chicago, Birmingham, D.C., and Memphis), his allies and his adversaries (the Kennedys, Malcolm, Sammy and Brando, Hoover). I wouldn’t call myself an expert but I’d say I’d know “more than average.”  It played a large part in shaping my identity and what I value.

In practical and satirical ways, people often ask a) has Dr. King’s Dream been fulfilled and b) what would Dr. King be fighting against today?  The answer to both questions of course is that we’ll never really know.  Even in his eerily prophetic final speech, he said “I may not get there with you, but we as a people will get to the promised land!”  For better or worse, part of the practical nature of giving your life over to a larger purpose means you will not see the ‘end result’ of what you’re fighting for.  In the cynical times we live in, it’s something of a minor miracle that anyone does something knowing their good deeds can and sometimes will be taken in vain.

But as the man himself wrote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  (That’s also my single favorite quote of his.)  As a child looking at his final resting place, I had no idea what ‘injustice’ meant.  As a man, I understand it too well.  I don’t have the hero complex I had as a teenager, but I will always care enough about the world around me to do what I can.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.