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Blackface

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NEWS
June 3, 1986 | By Aaron Epstein, Inquirer Washington Bureau
The Supreme Court yesterday assured a white Baltimore policeman that he could continue performing publicly in "blackface" makeup in defiance of a department order that said the performance was offensive to blacks. Robert M. Berger, known as "the singing cop," was fired in 1984 for refusing an order by the city's police chief to give up his popular imitation of the late singer Al Jolson during his off-duty hours. Berger performed in a black curly wig, white gloves, a tuxedo and blackface, singing "Mammy," "Waitin' for the Robert E. Lee" and other songs based on the black culture of the 19th century.
NEWS
January 2, 1988 | By MICHAEL DAYS, Daily News Staff Writer
Representatives of the Mummers Museum, "upset" by the removal from a City Hall exhibit of two photographs that appear to show white mummers in blackface paint, have asked to meet with city officials to discuss their action. "We would welcome an opportunity to discuss with the Mayor and City Council a more satisfactory resolution to this misunderstanding, which resulted in the summary removal" of the photographs, museum officials said in a letter to the Daily News. Mayor Goode earlier this week ordered the photographs taken down, saying they were "an insult to black people and should be removed.
NEWS
November 23, 1993 | By Ralph Vigoda, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A Halloween party picture showing four white Villanova University law students dressed as a Jamaican bobsled team - complete with blackface - has prompted a harsh letter from the dean and moved black students to call a meeting last night to clear the air. Students say the incident has been a topic of debate at the school. Some have said that displaying the picture on a law school bulletin board was insensitive, while others argued that it was nothing more than an innocuous snapshot of people dressing up for Halloween, and had been blown out of proportion.
NEWS
February 14, 2014
IT IS arguably the most important work of American musical theater of the 20th century. But "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," whose national tour brings it to the Academy of Music for a six-day run beginning Tuesday, could have turned out far differently. As absurd as it sounds today, there was a time when the musical stage adaptation of the book (and subsequent dramatic play), "Porgy," by DuBose Heyward - about the denizens of a Charleston, S.C., ghetto called "Catfish Row" - could have wound up as a musical comedy starring Al Jolson playing the crippled beggar, Porgy, in blackface, rather than as the dramatic jazz-opera that has provoked and enthralled audiences for almost 80 years.
NEWS
October 10, 1993 | From Inquirer wire services
Whoopi Goldberg laughed, as did most of the audience at her Friars Club roast in New York City. But boyfriend Ted Danson's appearance in blackface and his racially peppered jokes angered Mayor David Dinkins, talk show host Montel Williams and others. "I was confused as to whether or not I was at a Friars event or at a rally for the KKK and Aryan Nation," Williams said in a telegram to the Friars. Friars' roasts traditionally are no-holds-barred affairs at which the guest of honor is skewered by jokes that often are crude.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 19, 2000 | By Carrie Rickey, INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
Not long ago, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese were commiserating with the London press about the dumbing-down and sexing-up of Hollywood movies. "The movie industry is dominated by 12-year-olds," Lee groused about the difficulty of financing a serious film. "American Pie? . . . That's a movie?" Wait a minute, he thought, recalling the comedy's most famous scene. "The black version could be Deep-Dish American Pie. Now, I could get that movie made!" Such mordant humor inspired Lee's caustic satire Bamboozled, which arrives in theaters tomorrow starring Damon Wayans as Pierre Delacroix, the token African American writer at a TV network not unlike UPN. Under pressure to boost ratings, Delacroix makes a proposal even more degrading than Deep-Dish American Pie: a black minstrel show set in a watermelon patch where darkies tap-dance in blackface.
NEWS
January 2, 2013
By Jonathan Zimmerman Men dressed as women - at the Mummers Parade! Can you believe it? In November, parade organizers announced that 10 self-described "drag queens" would accompany the String Bands along Broad Street from Washington Avenue to City Hall today. They're also expected to perform at the Convention Center between the acts of the Fancy Brigades. Philadelphians greeted the news with a collective yawn, because cross-dressing has long been a staple of Mummery. Starting in the 1920s, feminine-attired "wenches" paraded down Broad Street paired with tuxedo-clad "dudes.
NEWS
January 5, 1988 | By Lucinda Fleeson, Inquirer Staff Writer
In the continuing controversy over the "Art in City Hall" exhibitions, two photographers said they would withdraw their work from the current show to protest Mayor Goode's banning of photographs that apparently was misconstrued to depict Mummers in blackface. Photographer Alan Hinerfeld has written the Goode administration that he was withdrawing his photograph of Mummers - which captures the strutters dressed in tutus - from the current exhibition "to spare the mayor and his colleagues the embarrassment of answering to the Association for Protection of Ballerinas or the National Organization for Women.
NEWS
November 11, 1986 | BY LINDA WRIGHT AVERY
The lights come up just enough to outline the white tie, white spats and white gloved hands. The man begins to move carefully, dancing smoothly and deliberately across the stage and singing a sad song. There is a stillness in the air, a kind of uncertainty, as if the entire audience is holding its breath. No one is quite sure how to react. The man - who is black - is performing in blackface, and by doing so, is forcing those present to ponder the caricature before them, to consider what "blackface" means - not as a theatrical convention but as a reflection of what America's racial reality once was and is now. The actor is Alan Weeks, playing the legendary black comedian Bert Williams, in The Philadelphia Company's production of "Williams & Walker," at Plays and Players Theater in Center City.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 20, 2000 | By Carrie Rickey, INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
When her brothers and sisters criticized actress Hattie McDaniel, best known as Mammy in Gone With the Wind, for accepting screen roles that demeaned blacks, she retorted pragmatically, "Better to play a maid than be a maid. " Bamboozled, Spike Lee's scorching surrealist satire about African American stereotypes on TV, challenges the McDaniel Doctrine with Lee's Law: Worse to accept the degrading stereotype than to be unemployed. Damon Wayans stars as Pierre Delacroix, a Harvard-educated TV writer, the token black at a struggling network, himself struggling to get his concepts produced.
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NEWS
February 14, 2014
IT IS arguably the most important work of American musical theater of the 20th century. But "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," whose national tour brings it to the Academy of Music for a six-day run beginning Tuesday, could have turned out far differently. As absurd as it sounds today, there was a time when the musical stage adaptation of the book (and subsequent dramatic play), "Porgy," by DuBose Heyward - about the denizens of a Charleston, S.C., ghetto called "Catfish Row" - could have wound up as a musical comedy starring Al Jolson playing the crippled beggar, Porgy, in blackface, rather than as the dramatic jazz-opera that has provoked and enthralled audiences for almost 80 years.
NEWS
January 2, 2013
By Jonathan Zimmerman Men dressed as women - at the Mummers Parade! Can you believe it? In November, parade organizers announced that 10 self-described "drag queens" would accompany the String Bands along Broad Street from Washington Avenue to City Hall today. They're also expected to perform at the Convention Center between the acts of the Fancy Brigades. Philadelphians greeted the news with a collective yawn, because cross-dressing has long been a staple of Mummery. Starting in the 1920s, feminine-attired "wenches" paraded down Broad Street paired with tuxedo-clad "dudes.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 20, 2000 | By Carrie Rickey, INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
When her brothers and sisters criticized actress Hattie McDaniel, best known as Mammy in Gone With the Wind, for accepting screen roles that demeaned blacks, she retorted pragmatically, "Better to play a maid than be a maid. " Bamboozled, Spike Lee's scorching surrealist satire about African American stereotypes on TV, challenges the McDaniel Doctrine with Lee's Law: Worse to accept the degrading stereotype than to be unemployed. Damon Wayans stars as Pierre Delacroix, a Harvard-educated TV writer, the token black at a struggling network, himself struggling to get his concepts produced.
NEWS
October 20, 2000 | by Gary Thompson, Daily News Movie Critic
"Bamboozled" may be the best idea for a movie that Spike Lee has ever had. A writer (Damon Wayans), the only black staffer for a network that routinely makes shows about African-Americans, wants to get out of his contract. So he writes a show so grotesquely offensive (a real minstrel show featuring two slave characters in a watermelon patch on a plantation) it's bound to get him fired. The plan backfires when the show becomes a hit - shades of "The Producers," the Mel Brooks classic (about a pro-Nazi Broadway musical)
ENTERTAINMENT
October 19, 2000 | By Carrie Rickey, INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
Not long ago, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese were commiserating with the London press about the dumbing-down and sexing-up of Hollywood movies. "The movie industry is dominated by 12-year-olds," Lee groused about the difficulty of financing a serious film. "American Pie? . . . That's a movie?" Wait a minute, he thought, recalling the comedy's most famous scene. "The black version could be Deep-Dish American Pie. Now, I could get that movie made!" Such mordant humor inspired Lee's caustic satire Bamboozled, which arrives in theaters tomorrow starring Damon Wayans as Pierre Delacroix, the token African American writer at a TV network not unlike UPN. Under pressure to boost ratings, Delacroix makes a proposal even more degrading than Deep-Dish American Pie: a black minstrel show set in a watermelon patch where darkies tap-dance in blackface.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 8, 1999 | By Clifford A. Ridley, INQUIRER THEATER CRITIC
In the very first scene of Jolson: The Musical, on view through Jan. 17 at the Merriam Theater, Mike Burstyn's Al Jolson steals a song, appropriating it from the female trio for whom it was written and goosing the tempo to suit his own brash style. The action, as things turn out, is premonitory - for, before you can say "Toot Toot Tootsie," Burstyn has stolen the show as well. Not that there's a lot of show to steal. Jolson, which won London's 1997 best-musical Olivier Award, is your standard musical-star biography, clomping from incident to incident as its subject attains the success that no one around him/her thinks possible.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 3, 1999 | By Julia M. Klein, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
To blacken up or not to: That was the question. Should Jolson: The Musical depict legendary singer Al Jolson performing in blackface, thereby risking protests and accusations of racism? Or should the show omit this potentially incendiary spectacle - and provoke scoldings from critics for trying to rewrite history? Jolson: The Musical has darted back and forth between these two rocky alternatives, the Scylla of racial insensitivity and the Charybdis of self-censorship. In England, a scene featuring the song "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" was performed in blackface, sparking short-lived protests.
NEWS
February 27, 1998 | by Gary Thompson, Daily News Movie Critic
"Krippendorf's Tribe" is about a culture cut off from the rest of the world, developed in guarded isolation, unfamiliar with modern thinking, marked by strange ways that to us seem primitive and ignorant. Yes, I'm talking about Hollywood, where a movie like this can still get a green light, even with blackface routines that make Amos 'n' Andy look like "Do the Right Thing. " If the painfully well-intentioned "Amistad" failed to acquire the PC seal of approval, then what on earth will the guardians of racial propriety think of "Krippendorf's Tribe," with its spectacle of white people in blackface trying to mime a tribal dance ritual by donning grass skirts and gyrating to "Boogie Fever"?
NEWS
April 14, 1997
SHAKE THE COP TREE, YOU'LL FIND ALL BAD APPLES Coverage of "bad cops" encourages people to believe the police as a whole are good and just a few bad boys and girls in blue are robbing, beating and murdering. This is propaganda. Anyone can see that this is not an issue of just a couple of crazed cops; it is systemic. The police as a whole - in Philadelphia and around the country - are an occupying military force in the African community. It doesn't matter if the cops are black, Latino or white - they are trained and instructed to terrorize and brutalize Africans into submission.
NEWS
January 28, 1997 | by Renee Lucas Wayne, Daily News Theater Critic
Good art has several characteristics, including the ability to stimulate and provoke. In a season full of rehashes, frivolous musicals and so-so comedies, Arden Theater Company's production of "The Countess Cathleen" is an example of theater doing more than strutting pretty on the stage. It's a disservice to say that this staging of William Butler Yeats' little-performed first play is daring. Making his Arden directorial debut, Ozzie Jones has layered the piece - already huge in allegory, symbolism and moral dilemma - with an entirely new social and political context.
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