Dan Gross: Roots frontman drawn to Dutton film

Charles S. Dutton was in town at Sigma Sound Studios, where he'll be shooting scenes for his film, "Must Be the Music."
Charles S. Dutton was in town at Sigma Sound Studios, where he'll be shooting scenes for his film, "Must Be the Music."
Posted: April 18, 2011

EVEN THOUGH he could have relaxed on his two- week vacation from "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," Tariq Trotter says that he jumped at the chance to take a role in "Must Be the Music," for two reasons: His appreciation for Charles S. Dutton, who wrote, directs and stars in the film, and the fact that he got to shoot at Sigma Sound Studios (212 N. 12th) where the Roots recorded their demos and first two albums.

Trotter, the Roots frontman, better known to many as Black Thought, plays a hardcore rapper named Shoot First in the hip-hop murder mystery. Trotter got involved in the movie through his barber, Faheem Alexander of Faheem's Hands of Precision (20th & Snyder) who is the official barber of the Fallon show and also cuts Steven "Stevie G." Gordon and Terence Glasgow, of GNG Films, who are producing the picture.

He says he caught the acting bug after his first movie in 1999, "Brooklyn Babylon," and has since been in several other films, including "Explicit Ills," the locally shot film directed by Philly-raised Mark Webber.

As for his primary job with the Roots, Trotter says that "it's an honor," to curate the Wawa Welcome America! Festival for the city, Trotter told us at Sigma the other day. The group will headline the July 4 concert on the Parkway, and back the other artists on the main stage, such as Michael McDonald, Estelle and Sarah Bareilles.

"It's something I grew up with as a child, watching Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Lionel Richie," Trotter says. "Now being able to curate a festival drives it home for us."

"Directing is like washing a battleship with a Q-tip," says Charles Dutton, "It's all encompassing."

The Baltimore native many remember as "Roc" got his start in acting while incarcerated for manslaughter at Maryland State Prison. He started a drama group inside the prison and kept acting after his release, first studying drama at Towson State and then pursuing a graduate degree in drama at Yale.

"I went from jail to Yale," says Dutton, whose credits include "A Time to Kill," "Get on the Bus" and "House."

Dutton was excited to cast people such as Trotter, Jadakiss and Lisa Wu-Hartwell, formerly of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Wu-Hartwell was quick to point out that "Must Be the Music" is not her first foray into acting. She wrote and directed a movie called "Black Ball," in 1999. She plays a "vicious bitch" named Karen in the movie, the assistant to Dutton's character Big Mike, and is one of the suspects when he goes missing.

Check PhillyGossip.com late this afternoon for a video of our interviews with Trotter and Dutton.

Out and about

_ Carson Kressley had breakfast at Teplitzky's at the Chelsea Hotel, in Atlantic City, Saturday morning. The former "Queer Eye" guy went for a Western omelet. The fashion stylist and friends caught Kathy Griffin's show at the Borgata over the weekend and at Teplitzky's was happy to take pictures with fans. He must have liked it because he returned for brunch there around noon Sunday.

_ Steelers offensive lineman Flozell Adams went for cheesesteak spring rolls, trout and iced tea during a trip to Davio's (111 S. 17th) a couple of nights back.

Actor here for 'Lebanon, PA'

"Cougar Town" actor Josh Hopkins will be in town April 29 to introduce screenings of "Lebanon, PA," along with its director, Ben Hickernell, at the Ritz at the Bourse. The pair will speak at the 7-ish and 9-ish screenings of the movie.

Exact showtimes are not yet known. The film, also starring Mary Beth Hurt and Samantha Mathis, won the Filmadelphia Award at October's Philadelphia Film Festival and also played the recent SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. For more info, check out lebanonpamovie.com.

A laughing matter

Big Daddy Graham, of 610 WIP, headlines the Sarcasm Comedy Club contest at 8 p.m. Saturday inside the Cherry Hill Crowne Plaza.

WIP intern Brian Gallagher and 97.5 The Fanatic's Phil from Mount Airy are among contestants who will compete for $100 and the chance to open up for "Jeffersons" star Sherman Hemsley when he headlines Sarcasm on May 21. WIP's Steve Trevelise, who owns Sarcasm, hosts the show for which Suzy Yengo, the national booker for the Catch A Rising Star chain, helps judge. For tix or information, visit sarcasmcomedy.com.

Visit PhillyGossip.com for Dan's latest updates or follow PhillyGossip on Twitter. Have a tip? Call 215-854-5963, or email grossd@phillynews.com. For recent columns, visit www.philly.com/DanGross.

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