Cambridge, Oct 14 (AP/UNB) — Music artist and actress Queen Latifah is among the honorees being recognized by Harvard University this year for their contributions to black history and culture.
Harvard is set to award the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal to Queen Latifah and six other recipients on Oct. 22, according to the Cambridge, Massachusetts, school's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.
Other honorees include poet and educator Elizabeth Alexander, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Lonnie Bunch III, poet Rita Dove, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television Sheila Johnson, artist Kerry James Marshall and Robert Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners.
The award is named after Du Bois, a scholar, writer, editor, and civil rights pioneer who became the first black student to earn a doctorate from Harvard in 1895.
Beverly Hills, Oct 12 (AP/UNB) — Jennifer Aniston, Ellen DeGeneres, Awkwafina and more stars overcame a dysfunctional teleprompter to toast one another and their charities at a women's luncheon Friday in Beverly Hills.
"I'm fine but Jen (Aniston) is freaking it back there," DeGeneres said as harried staff struggled to fix the broken screens that just a few minutes earlier had Awkwafina nervously winging it ("I can do a little tech support," she offered) before calling someone to just bring up her phone so she could read her speech manually.
But there's nothing like a few comedians to handle technological issues with grace and humor. Both had the crowd in stiches despite the minor chaos happening around them.
The 11th annual Variety Power of Women luncheon honoring Aniston, Awkwafina, Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey, Brie Larson and Disney Television Studios chairman Dana Walden boasted a roster of A-list guests and presenters from DeGeneres, to Natalie Portman and Ryan Murphy who charmed and inspired the well-heeled crowd of entertainers and industry insiders with speeches about their charitable causes and their commitment to empowering women in the industry.
Aniston was introduced by DeGeneres, who kept things light and didn't mention the recent social media uproar around her friendship with George W. Bush.
"What an honor it is for Jen Aniston to receive this from me," DeGeneres said. "In a world where people are angry and mean she is one of the nicest people I've ever met."
Aniston wiped tears away as she recalled meeting a young girl fighting cancer at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
"Every child deserves to know that they are seen and heard," she said, remembering a time when an adult told her, at 11, that she didn't have anything interesting to say. She said she carried that sentence with her into adulthood and often finds herself feeling like that 11-year-old at dinners.
"The Morning Show" star said her "Friends" mom Marlo Thomas introduced her to the hospital, which she has been working with for 25 years. And she said the last two years in the industry, following the rise of #MeToo, has made her think a lot about the messages "we send" young kids and girls.
"The things we say and do can either build them up or tear them down and make them feel like maybe their voices don't matter," Aniston said.
She admitted that she never, "Actually thought about myself as powerful. Strong, yes, but not powerful...It's a distinction I've actually been thinking about a lot lately because that word 'power' and its counterpart, 'abuse of power,' keeps coming up in light of what is happening in our country and in our industry — a rebalancing of the scales."
Aniston's speech wasn't the only to touch on cancer. Ryan Murphy, who credited Walden with giving him a chance in television when no one else would, also thanked the Disney executive for being there when he found out his 18-month-old son had a tumor a few years ago. Walden has worked with the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center since her own mother was diagnosed a decade ago.
Justice and empowerment were also on the minds of Carey, who spoke about how her own experiences at a performing arts camp helped inspire her to begin Camp Mariah 25 years ago, and Larson, who ceded part of her speech to Equal Justice Initiative operations director Eva Ansley, the woman she plays in the upcoming movie "Just Mercy," about the advocacy organization's founding.
The event, which was put on with the help of presenters like Lifetime and sponsors like Audi, was tamer than in years past when celebrities used their platforms to talk about everything from politics and the patriarchy to Harvey Weinstein.
But Carey managed to thrown in a little spice of her own in remembering how she had to learn how to gain control over her career over the men who wanted to dictate what she wore and who she worked with when she was just starting out.
"I want to thank each woman in this room and all the women who have come forward with their truths, their harrowing experiences, and above all their triumphs over the misogynistic society of corporate (expletives) that we deal with every day," she said.
New York, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — At this stage of her life, Natalie Merchant is more proud of getting an honor named for John Lennon because of what it says about her activism than her music.
The singer is the sixth recipient of the John Lennon Real Love Award, and will headline a tribute concert to the former Beatle in New York on December 6.
"It's gratifying," Merchant said in an interview. "To have any connection to John Lennon, especially with activism, is quite prestigious and meaningful to me because he was one of the main artists who inspired me when I was growing up to think about the wider world and my impact on it."
Merchant volunteers three times a week for a Head Start program near where she lives in Hudson Valley, helping disadvantaged children. She often performs free concerts for children and, at the height of her fame three decades ago, volunteered at a homeless program in Harlem, where most of the people thought she was a student from nearby Columbia University.
She got to know Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, when they worked on the anti-fracking movement in upstate New York.
Merchant, 55, records and performs sporadically now and, aside from guiding her teenage daughter through high school and into college, said her activism takes up most of her time.
"These projects, for a good reason, they suck your life blood," she said. "I began to see these projects as much more important than making another Natalie Merchant record."
Joan Osborne, Rachael Yamagata and Sam Amidon are among the other artists who will perform at the annual Lennon tribute, now in its 39th year. The show will take place at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space.
Merchant, who calls "Imagine" one of the most powerful pieces of music ever recorded, is already rehearsing some Lennon songs with her accompanist for the tribute.
"The thing that we want to do is not faithfully perform the songs as John recorded them, to give stylistic alterations," she said. "It will be fun. We don't want to feel like we're a John Lennon karaoke group."
And what are some of her favorite Lennon songs? What might she be performing?
"I think that would spoil the surprise, wouldn't it?" she said.
Los Angeles, Oct 10 (AP/UNB) — Ozzy Osbourne says he's going off the rails on a crazy train while stuck at home with health woes, but plans to be back on track soon.
Osbourne says in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday that in a "bad fall" early this year he "screwed up all the vertebrae" in his neck.
The 70-year-old says he'll have to cancel European tour dates that had been scheduled for January and February, but he's recovering enough that he's keeping North American tour dates that start in May on the calendar.
The former Black Sabbath frontman and solo metal star behind hits like "Crazy Train" says in the video that he's "bored stiff" being stuck in bed all day.
Osbourne had to cancel North American shows this year because of health troubles.
Los Angeles, Oct 8 (AP/UNB) — Eagles are planning massive performances of their album "Hotel California" during their 2020 tour.
Performances of the band's 1976 album will include a 46-piece orchestra and a 22-voice choir. Organizers announced Tuesday that in total, 77 musicians are expected to be onstage while Eagles perform hits from the album including "New Kid in Town" and "Life in the Fast Lane."
The band's 2020 tour will kick off Feb. 7 in Atlanta and end April 18 in Los Angeles. Stops will include New York, Dallas, Houston and San Francisco.
The band recently performed the album in its entirety at shows in Las Vegas, the first time in its history that it had played the whole album in concert.
Tickets go on sale Friday on Ticketmaster.