Allison Samuels

Stories by Allison Samuels

  • Lisa Lopes: Left Eye's Fatal Vision

    Lisa Lopes was a sad, tortured person—that much was clear after the TLC singer burned down her boyfriend's mansion in Atlanta back in 1994. But until you've seen the documentary "Last Days of Left Eye" (premiering May 19 on VH1), you have no idea how miserable she was. There are the scars on her forearm that spell HATE—Lopez cut the letters with a disposable razor, in part to obscure the LOVE that she had carved before. At its height, TLC was the top-selling female R&B group, but that didn't stop Lopes from fighting with her bandmates, with the media and with her father, whom she blamed for turning her into an alcoholic. Lopes actually started the film during a 2002 "spiritual journey" to Honduras, where she'd hoped to make peace with her many demons. But bad luck seemed to follow her like a dark cloud, and it flew with her to Honduras, too. Lopes is in the passenger seat—and filming—when her car runs over a 7-year-old boy and kills him. It gets worse. A few days later, Lopes is...
  • A Death in the MTV Family

    Back when reality TV stormed the beaches of prime time, when we first saw people eating worms or marrying strangers or jumping out of helicopters, the conventional wisdom was that the insanity wouldn't stop until the ultimate happened—until someone died. Last week someone did, though not in the way anyone would have predicted. Her name was Victoria Anne Simmons, and she lived only a few hours. Victoria's birth was supposed to launch the third season of MTV's "Run's House," a kind of hip-hop "Father Knows Best" featuring Joseph Simmons (a.k.a. Rev Run of the rap group Run-D.M.C.), his wife, Justine, and their five children, ages 9 to 23. Cameras followed Justine's pregnancy throughout the second season, right up to her emergency C-section. But in the operating room, real life intruded on reality TV. The camera, mercifully, doesn't show Victoria's death, but we're up close and personal as the family gets the news.Victoria's death may have been an unscripted plot twist, but it wasn't...
  • 'Run's House:' Reality TV Gets Real

    When “Run’s House” began on MTV three seasons ago, the plot line was family life with a hip-hop twist. Joseph Simmons (a.k.a. Rev Run of the seminal rap group Run-D.M.C.) was cast in the classic “Father Knows Best” role, with his wife, Justine, and five children cheerfully going along for the ride. Most of their antics were lighthearted fare—an over-the-top high-school graduation party, homework problems, the saga of one child wanting to move out on her own—made all the more comical because Simmons is both a rich semi-celebrity and a real reverend, and a stern one at that.But lighthearted wasn’t the tone when the show returned last night. Last season ended with Justine, 43, several months pregnant and the family preparing for the birth. But the comedy took a tragic turn. Justine was rushed to the hospital—with the cameras rolling—and given an emergency C-section. The baby, who was named Victoria Anne, lived less than two hours. Suddenly, the family and MTV faced a difficult...
  • Colorblind at Last?

    Black Hollywood has been keeping a secret. For decades, African-Americans had been so consistently overlooked by the Academy Awards that a private group began sponsoring the "Black Oscars." Every year, on the night before the actual Oscars, members of the community--including James Earl Jones, Whitney Houston, Samuel L. Jackson and Will Smith--gather at a Beverly Hills hotel to honor their own. "Everyone has on their tuxes, and you see all these people you want to work with who are cheering you on," says Malcolm D. Lee, director of "Undercover Brother" and cousin of Spike Lee. "It's a great feeling, and intimate--nice."But on March 24, 2002, Halle Berry crossed the stage at the Kodak Theatre to become the first African-American woman to win an Oscar for best actress. (She also set the record for most tears shed during an acceptance speech.) Minutes later, Denzel Washington took the best-actor award, the first black man to do so in 38 years. It was, by any measure, historic. Since...
  • Cosby's Darkest Hours

    I was surprised by a phone call at 5 a.m. from our New York office one morning in 1997. There were reports on the wire services of the death of a young man with the last name of Cosby, and my editors wanted me to find out if he might be related to Bill. I dialed actress-director Debbie Allen. Debbie was a longtime Cosby friend and associate, and of course her sister, Phylicia Rashad, had starred as his wife in both of his family-comedy hits. "Yes, it was him," Allen said in a low voice. My stomach dropped. To complicate matters, I'd made arrangements with Cosby's publicist to visit him on the set of "Cosby" the following week in New York. I assumed everything would be canceled because of the family tragedy, so imagine my surprise when I was told to make the trip. Cosby would be returning to work the very next week.Grief is a very individual thing, and Cosby seemed not to want to grieve alone. In speaking with Cosby's personal assistant before leaving Los Angeles, I was told to be at...
  • Oprah Goes to School

    Two thousand and six was the year Africa went Hollywood: Madonna, Clooney, Brangelina. And now, in 2007, the most exclusive spot on the continent will undoubtedly be in the town of Henly-on-Klip, about 40 miles outside Johannesburg. Set on 22 lush acres and spread over 28 buildings, the complex features oversize rooms done in tasteful beiges and browns with splashes of color, 200-thread-count sheets, a yoga studio, a beauty salon, indoor and outdoor theaters, hundreds of pieces of original tribal art and sidewalks speckled with colorful tiles. Julia Roberts, John Travolta, Stevie Wonder, Nelson Mandela and the reigning African Queen herself--Angelina Jolie--are expected to attend the grand opening this week. By now, you're probably wondering how much a spread like this goes for per night. Actually, it's free. There's only one catch--you have to be a 12- or 13-year-old African girl to get in. As spectacular as this place sounds, it's not a resort. It's a school: the Oprah Winfrey...
  • A King of Comedy Reclaims His Crown

    From Lil' Kim and Snoop Dogg to Denzel and Whoopi, America's black celebrities are intriguing far beyond the red carpet—sometimes vulnerable, sometimes inspiring, but more than anything else, human. In her new book, 'Off the Record,' NEWSWEEK reporter Allison Samuels looks behind-the-scenes at these boldfaced names of Hollywood, hip-hop and sports. In the following excerpt, she recounts her experience talking to Eddie Murphy right before his career rebounded with “The Nutty Professor.”Back in the high-flying eighties, Eddie Murphy was without doubt the brightest star burning in Hollywood and  beyond. Known as the leader of a Hollywood elite posse called the Black Packers, which included Robert Townsend, Arsenio Hall, and Keenan Ivory Wayans, Murphy had a cutting-edge,  dead-on take on African-American humor that pushed the comedy show Saturday Night Live to new  heights. Even in the face of the dominant stardom of John Belushi and Chevy Chase, Murphy held his own and shined in silly...
  • ‘He Kept It Funky’

    Soul singer James Brown will be returning to Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater for one final show Thursday—a public viewing, as part of his funeral festivities. Thousands of Brown’s fans and musical colleagues are expected to pay their last respects. Patti LaBelle, who worked periodically with Brown for nearly 30 years, regrets that she won’t be in attendance because she will be in South Africa for the opening of Oprah Winfrey’s new school there. LaBelle spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Allison Samuels about the “hardest-working man in show business.” Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: When did you first meet James Brown?Patti LaBelle: Honey I think it was the 1960s, but it was so long ago that I can't remember exactly. But I used to open for him at the Apollo—me and the Bluebells, and honey he loved us something fierce. I would work the club up into a tizzy, kicking my shoes off and the getting the crowd yelling and screaming so loud that I could hear James saying backstage, "Get her off the stage now so I...
  • What’s Selling

    Will Sleaze Dominate Black Publishing?Latisha James had no idea who Bebe Moore Campbell was when she stopped by the Waldenbooks in Los Angeles’s Fox Hills Mall on Tuesday. She and some friends had come to pick up the most recent celeb tell-all book by Carmen Bryan. (“It’s No Secret’’ recounts the most intimate details of Bryan’s sexual relationships with the likes of Nas, Jay-Z and Allen Iverson.) James, a 14-year-old high-school sophomore, says she’d love to become a writer when she graduates from college, but admits her bookshelves don’t contain the work of such celebrated African-Americans as Terry McMillan or the sci-fi novelist Octavia Butler, both of whom flourished in the 1990s. Or Campbell, who died last week of brain cancer, at 56. Waldenbooks was putting a memorial display in the window as James walked in. She “felt bad” that she hadn’t read Campbell before.That’s the reality of today’s black publishing world: Bryan and her literary predecessor, Karrine Steffans (who wrote...
  • It’s All in The Game

    After blasting his way onto the charts more than a year ago with the 2 million-plus selling album “The Documentary,’’ Jayceon Taylor aka “The Game’’ is back again with “Doctor’s Advocate.’’ The just-released album is a head-thumping ode to West-Coast rap that is as satisfying as anything hip hop has had to offer all year, and the Compton, Calif., native isn't shy about saying as much.But just as his music makes waves on the radio, The Game’s personal and professional relationships have made non-stop headlines in newspapers, blogs and hip-hop journals. A long-running feud with one-time label mate 50 Cent and Game’s subsequent break from his idol Dr. Dre’s record label has kept the Game in a state of self-described frenzy. But the former drug dealer hopes he’s released more than a few of his demons on the new album, which already has sales of more than 450,000 copies. He talked to NEWSWEEK’s Allison Samuels. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Your first album came out after such a rough time in your...
  • Maybe It Is the Shoes!

    Stephon Marbury's $15 basketball shoe made its debut in stores in August, and 3 million pairs have already been sold. Last week the shoes made an even more important debut--on an NBA court, as the season got underway with Marbury's Knicks winning. Sneaker heads doubt the lower-priced shoes can compete with the top-end versions, but Marbury says he wore the shoes through the preseason and his performance stats were as good as ever. If his play (and his shoes) hold up, Marbury may succeed in his goal of turning the industry on its head, two decades after Nike slapped Michael Jordan's name and a $100 price tag on a pair of basketball shoes."It just makes no sense for sneakers to cost as much as they do and put families in the situation they get in when their kids want them," Marbury says. But pricey sneakers have been declining in popularity: in 2004, sales of $100-plus basketball and running shoes dropped 19 percent; as of last year, sneakers in that price range accounted for just ...
  • A Battle for Black Souls and Votes

    While the Democrats weren't looking, the GOP lured away conservative African-American churchgoers. This time around, says Al Sharpton, 'We won't let it happen again.'
  • Exercise: Pilates for The People

    Kim Carruthers has taught Pilates to Tyra Banks and Patricia Arquette, but a highlight of her career was helping Jamila Ofumbi fit into her prom dress. Ofumbi, a 17-year-old from South-Central L.A., had read in a fashion magazine that Banks firmed her frame with thrice-weekly Pilates classes, and she reached out to Carruthers. "I knew if someone just helped me, I could learn," she says. Carruthers discounted some of Ofumbi's classes; Ofumbi earned the rest of the money she needed braiding hair and washing cars.Their relationship was mutually beneficial. Ofum-bi looked great in her gown (low-cut, backless), and Carruthers found her calling. In addition to training celebs and ladies who lunch at her Hollywood studio, she teaches at the Boys & Girls Club in South-Central. Early next year she will open the first in her chain of inner-city Pilates studios, called Pilates in the ' Hood, where small groups can take classes for a fraction of her standard $80 fee. "I just want to offer...
  • Spike's Katrina

    Spike Lee is a proud New Yorker --he lives for the Yankees, dies for the Knicks and bleeds for all things Brooklyn--but for the past year, his heart has been in New Orleans. To make his new four-hour HBO documentary about Hurricane Katrina, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," the 49-year-old director visited the Gulf Coast region nine times and interviewed more than 100 people, including the mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana, Sean Penn, Soledad O'Brien, Kanye West, engineers, historians, journalists, radio DJs--even the guy who spotted the vice president during a post-Katrina photo-op and told him, "Go f--- yourself, Mr. Cheney." But the voice you'll remember best belongs to a 42-year-old woman named Phyllis Montana LeBlanc, a survivor from the city's obliterated Lower Ninth Ward and one of the rawest specimens of classic Nawlins spitfire you'll ever find. In Lee's devastating film, LeBlanc is a frequent, and frequently hilarious, presence, a fuming Greek...
  • No More Mr. Ice Guy

    Judging by sales and air-play, lots of rap listeners still aren't tired of songs celebrating grills (gold teeth), ice (diamonds) and big booties--especially when shaken by pole-dancing strippers for Cristal-swilling playas. But one hip-hop hero is fed to the teeth (we don't mean grills), and he's here to tell you so. "It's all about a party now," says Ice Cube. "Rap goes through phases, and sometimes one phase can last too long. This phase has blinded a lot of the young cats from seeing what's really going on in the world.''This may sound like one more oldster getting grumpy about young folks and what the world's coming to--and promoting a new album. In fact, Ice Cube, 36, is much more the young radical than rappers half his age, whose role models seem to be Frank Sinatra and Donald Trump. In fact, Cube (born O'Shea Jackson) has been fed up for years. He was a savagely angry (and wickedly witty) social commentator on N.W.A.'s late-'80s benchmarks "Straight Outta Compton" and "F---...
  • See Reverend Run

    Angela Simmons wants a party for her high-school graduation, and boy, does she have ideas. A Plexiglas dance floor over the family swimming pool. Gift bags with iPods. And the finest food 250 teenagers can devour. But, look, girls with much less spend much more on MTV's hit show "My Super Sweet 16," and the Simmons family has a brand-new Rolls-Royce. If you watched the first season of "Run's House" on MTV, however, you know that Angela and her four siblings don't get to fling much bling. "Run"--formerly of the seminal rap group Run-DMC--is her dad. He's a minister now, and he and wife Justine preside over their house like stern Sunday-school teachers. It may not sound like fun--Angela ended up with a simple pool party and barbecue--but that's the surprise of "Run's House," which is returning for its second season on June 15. In a time when TV families have to be outrageous, dysfunctional or both, "Run's House" is sweet, wholesome and charming. "We wanted to do a show about a family...
  • The Katrina Cavalry

    Wesli Spencer, a 22- year-old junior at James Madison University, was at home in West Virginia last summer when Katrina swamped New Orleans. Like everyone else who watched the misery on television, he was dumbfounded by the lame response--and figured there had to be something students like him could do to help the people whose lives had been upended. "I can't really explain what it felt like to see so many black faces trapped and unable to get help," he says. So when he got back to school, Spencer started talking with others on campus and came up with a plan. Somehow, he would persuade students around the country to do the unthinkable: trade their cherished spring-break fantasies of partying at the beach for the sober reality of clearing rubble in New Orleans, Mobile and Biloxi. "There was no way to enjoy the things we normally could," he says, "knowing so many people who looked like us had suffered so much and were still suffering with no end in sight."Spencer knows a thing or two...
  • Learning To Give

    Former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder used to prod his father endlessly to share memories of his family's time in slavery. "The little we did learn from him was that my grandfather lived on a different plantation and had to sneak off to visit the family on weekends," says the 70-year-old, who was the country's first African-American governor. "His owner would beat him when he got back but finally gave up when he realized my grandfather was going to see his family, beating or not." The precious few tales of a painful past are what inspired Wilder to help found the United States National Slavery Museum, a $200 million project opening late next year in Fredricksburg, Va. "I know if at my age I don't know all there is to know about slavery, surely the young people of today have no idea."The nation is about to get a big lesson in African-American history. At least seven major black museums, cultural centers and memorials have recently opened or are being developed, including a...
  • She's Gotta Have Him

    Interracial relationships aren't exactly new in Hollywood movies--remember "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"? But what was the last romantic comedy in which the babe was black and the hunk was white? The aptly titled "Something New," directed by Sanaa Hamri and written by Kriss Turner, offers just such a romance. Kenya (Sanaa Lathan), a well-educated thirtysomething CPA in search of the perfect African-American mate, finds slim pickings. On a blind date, she meets a white landscaper named Brian (Simon Baker), who has a we-are-the-world attitude toward relationships. She's reluctant to date him again but hires him to work on her new house, and eventually... but why ruin the surprise?At first glance, this role reversal doesn't seem to make box-office sense. Thirteen percent of African-American men marry outside their race, as opposed to just 5 percent of African-American women. But another statistic suggests there might be an audience for "Something New": 42.5 percent of African-American...
  • 1940-2005: Richard Pryor

    Richard Pryor didn't tell jokes. He became them. Sometimes, the effect was pure hilarity, like the time he jumped off the stage in the middle of his Vegas act, took off his clothes, walked into the casino and hopped on a table yelling "Blackjack!" Most of the time--and even in that casino joke, if you think about it--Pryor's comedy came wrapped in barbed wire. After he nearly burned himself to death in a fire started by a crack pipe, he created a bit where he played the crack pipe, which taunted him on the joy of getting high. He played his own heart, too, in mid-heart attack (and, in fact, he died of a heart attack last week after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis). And then there was his indelible cast of characters: junkies, hustlers, winos. They were angry, proud, insecure, profane--people no one found funny before. But Pryor mined their stories for truth as well as humor, and he told their stories with a streetwise vernacular that verged on poetic performance art. ...
  • Boyz in the 'Burbs

    Some day, somewhere, R. Kelly may finally go on trial for child pornography. Until then, we'll have to settle for the made-for-TV trial on a new Cartoon Network show, "The Boondocks." That's right, we said the Cartoon Network, so you can already guess that this isn't your ordinary Court TV. Kelly doesn't say much, but his lawyer (voiced by "Batman" star Adam West) makes a passionate speech in defense of the right to urinate in bed. The really interesting stuff actually happens outside the courthouse, which is over-run by Kelly's supporters and detractors. The pro-Kelly folks are mostly young and poor African-Americans--exaggerated stereotypes decked out in gold teeth, fake fingernails and braided hair. His foes are led by Harvard professor Cornel West, civil-rights stalwart Dick Gregory and the one and only Rosa Parks--which makes it all the more insane when these august activists jump into a fight with Kelly's backers. At one point, a spandex-sporting woman hits Parks in the head...
  • STYLE: FLASH SOME SKIN

    Still clinging to your summer tote? It's time to trade up. This fall, skins, hobos and studs are the arm candy of choice. Luella's Gisele bag looks like something a hip doctor might carry. (Look for less expensive alternatives at lushfashions.com.) B. Romanek's alligator clutch has a striking wrapped-tail design. And Kooba's Claudia hobo bag comes studded in brass. (For similar looks, check shopthebaglady.com.) Because these days, bargains are stylish, too.
  • Facing The Music

    A few days before she was scheduled to start serving her prison sentence, Kimberly Jones--you know her as Lil' Kim--was ensconced on a plush sofa in a dimly lit recording studio in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen. Her mind was somewhere else. As the friends and associates around her laughed and chattered about Michael Vick's speed on the football field and shopping on eBay, the Queen Bee, as they call her, sat silently, apparently in a world of her own--until one friend announced he was leaving to get a bite to eat, and she snapped back into focus. Where was he going? When would he be back? For the rapper known for her bold and raunchy lyrics (and a fashion sense to match), it was a revealingly vulnerable moment. Time was running out on her--were all her friends running out, too?Back in March, Jones, now 30, was convicted of lying to a federal grand jury about a gun battle outside a New York City radio station; she was acquitted of obstructing justice. She was sentenced in July, and this...
  • Newsmakers

    One of the original kings of Comedy has a new talk show, "Weekends at the DL," on Comedy Central. Hughley spoke with NEWSWEEK's Allison Samuels.On the ads for "DL," you say, "You thought they wouldn't give another brother a show, didn't you?" Why so bold?Hey, it's the 800-pound elephant in the room. Dave Chappelle and I aren't really alike in our comedy, but we're both black men who tell jokes, so the comparisons are unavoidable. I can't lie and say the network isn't gun-shy after that incident with Dave, so I just thought I'd deal with it from jump street. No disrespect to Dave, but there's no sweeping it under the rug.Your jokes about Condi Rice's hair are brutal! You think you'll hear from her people?Please. My jokes are always going to be about the stories in the news. Condi's hair is a major point of contention with black people, whether the rest of world knows it or not. She looks like a black Carol Brady. I mean, in Washington, D.C., which is full of black people, somebody...
  • WHY NOT RAVEN?

    Celebrities gripe about the press all the time, but Raven Symone's hard-luck story was a new one on us: the actress says that at her 19th-birthday party last year, only a single paparazzo showed up. "It was so sad," she says with a laugh. "I mean, I was dressed up and ready to party and not one flash went off. My mom is always telling me not to leave the house with my sweats and T shirts that might have jam from breakfast on them. But I know they don't even know who I am."Anyone who's stood in line at a supermarket knows who Paris, Jessica, Mary- Kate, Ashley, Hilary and Lindsay are. Too many late nights and too little body fat, a surfeit of fast cash and a bare minimum of clothing have made them tabloid princesses. So why aren't the tabs on a first-name basis with Raven? And why isn't she being hounded by aging men with cameras? This bubbly young Disney star once played the 3-year-old Olivia on "The Cosby Show." (All she remembers is the smell of soul food and cigar smoke.) She has...
  • NO LONGER A BIT PLAYA

    Terrence Howard takes pleasure in keeping you on the edge of your seat. Whether he's portraying a crazed bank robber, as he did in "Dead Presidents," or a wisecracking, no-nonsense playa, like the one he portrayed in "The Best Man," Howard manages to give a flavorfully dangerous twist to his characters--and to humanize them as well. But even for an actor used to playing outsiders, his latest role, in Craig Brewer's new film "Hustle & Flow," seemed like a stretch: a pimp going through a midlife crisis? "I didn't really want to play a pimp at first," says Howard, 36, over an ordinary breakfast of bacon and eggs at L.A.'s not-so-ordinary Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. "But then I thought, 'This guy isn't the typical person, but he's facing the typical question we all face, no matter who we are--what's next?' ""Hustle & Flow," set in a slow-paced but ominous Memphis, Tenn., tells a familiar story: a man who yearns for a better life--in this case, the rap career he'd dreamed of...
  • HERE COMES TROUBLE

    Most likely you've never heard Karrine Steffans's name, but perhaps you've seen her... face, in such hip-hop videos as Jay-Z's "Hey Papi" and Mystikal's "Dangerous," or opposite Vin Diesel in "A Man Apart." A few years ago, Steffans was not only a booty-shaking, breast-implanted video queen, but arm candy (and, she claims, much more) for some of the most famous men in hip-hop, Hollywood and sports. She shopped at the best stores, went to the best parties and even enjoyed a four-month period during which, she says, one superstar athlete was depositing $10,000 a month in her personal account so she'd be available at his whim. Steffans not only offers scandalous details but names names in a book called "Confessions of a Video Vixen," scheduled to be in stores next week. "I wasn't trying to hurt or embarrass anybody with my story," Steffans told NEWSWEEK. "Because that's what it is--my story, not theirs. It describes what happened to me in graphic detail. I'm just putting it out there...
  • NEWSMAKERS

    Bobby BrownBobby brown knows a thing or two about drama. Starting June 30, the R&B star, 36, will take his troubled existence completely public in his own reality show on Bravo. He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Allison Samuels.So why a reality show? Haven't you had enough of cameras following you around?I needed to do something to stay out of trouble. Too much free time ain't too good for someone like me. And now that I'm feeling healthy and off the drugs and other stuff I was doing--I feel like getting myself back on track. But honestly, the main reason I wanted to do this is really for my kids. They're always saying, "Daddy, why do they always make you look so bad in the press?" You know? They don't see their father as a screw-up.In one of the first episodes, you make some really crude jokes about celebrities--like when you talk about Eddie Murphy wearing dresses in his downtime. Any worry that that might come back to haunt you?No, no worries. I didn't censor myself at all while the...
  • BYE-BYE, BAD HAIR DAYS

    Shalinda Williams wanted to set some tongues wagging at the Dorsey High School prom in Los Angeles, but she knew a long slinky dress and rhinestone-studded stilettos wouldn't do the trick. So the cheerleader and honor student, 18, headed to Extensions Plus in Reseda, Calif., armed with $500 and 20 pictures--cut from magazines--of Beyonce Knowles and her internationally famous hair."I love the way Beyonce looks so different each time, and it's the hair," says Williams, who purchased eight ounces of 18-inch-long straight hair to have woven onto her own. "I couldn't lose 30 pounds or get a nose job before the prom, but I knew I could add some hair to make me look amazing."Forget about those new Jimmy Choos or that Marc Jacobs bag. The hottest accessory for all sorts of women this season is hair, lots and lots of it. Why the surge? New techniques and better quality tresses are part of the answer. Throw in Us Weekly regulars like Halle Berry and Tyra Banks flashing flowing locks made of ...
  • IT TAKES A VILLAGE

    Malcolm X's grandson didn't get to see the celebrations in Harlem last week honoring his late grandfather's 80th birthday. Not the debut of the exhibit "Malcolm X: A Search for Truth" at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Not the dedication of the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center at the Audubon Ballroom, where his grandfather was gunned down 40 years ago. The 20-year-old has missed many a family event. But in this year of nostalgic reflection, which Malcolm X's family has dubbed "the Rebirth of the Legacy," Malcolm Shabazz is ready to make amends. "I've had a lot of time to sit in my cell and just think," says Shabazz, who is set to be released this summer from Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York. "I know I let a lot of people down. I know people expected more."Shabazz has spent a third of his life behind bars, first for setting a fire that led to the death of his grandmother, and then for attempted robbery. But the African...
  • KOBE WHO? NOW IT'S WADE'S WAY.

    Miami Heat point guard Dwyane Wade was never concerned that he and NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal wouldn't get along as teammates. Growing up on the tough side of Chicago where drug dealers and gang members commanded every corner, Wade developed the street smarts of going along to get along as soon as he learned to walk. "I just wanted Shaq to come so I could learn and get better as a player," Wade said recently over iced tea at a downtown Miami restaurant. "Nothing else mattered to me. Just getting better and winning."Wade, 23, has achieved both those goals at warp speed. During the past two weeks, the Marquette alum has been one of the standout stars of the NBA playoffs: in the team's first-round sweep of the New Jersey Nets, Wade averaged 26.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists. Those numbers only got better in the second-round series against the Washington Wizards, where he's averaging 30 points and 13 assists. And all this with little help from O'Neal, who's been hobbled by a...
  • BRUTUS ON BROADWAY

    Denzel Washington wants--no, needs--to explain why he's shown up for breakfast in a New York City cafe wearing a pink necktie. "I want you to know I didn't pick this tie out," he says as he takes his seat. "I mean, it's not that I don't like the tie. It's nice, I think--just an odd choice for me." But the two-time Academy Award winner is here to talk about what might seem an odder choice: to put his $20 million-per-film Hollywood career on hold in order to play Brutus in a Broadway production of "Julius Caesar"--memorizing line after line of Shakespeare's English and doing a grueling eight three-hour performances a week. "I recall when we began rehearsing," he says, "standing outside the theater and thinking, 'Oh, Lord, what have I done?' "Exactly what he wanted to do, it seems. It's been three decades since Washington, 50, started acting at Fordham University, where he appeared in "Othello" and "Much Ado About Nothing." He made his Broadway debut in the 1988 "Checkmates"; since...