Allison Samuels

Stories by Allison Samuels

  • Style: Iceman Cometh

    Sure, a diamond is "forever." But that doesn't mean it can't be trendy. L.A. jeweler Chris Arie ("The Iceman" to his patrons) has earned an A-list following including Allen Iverson, Will Smith and Halle Berry--who just snatched up 20 of his diamond-and-platinum dog-tag necklaces ($900 and up) for her friends, like best bud Oprah. His hottest item, the new Traveler watch, is a hit with Michael Jordan, Eminem and Denzel Washington--despite the awfully steep $6,500-to-$125,000 price tag (2awesomeint.com). "I'm not a bling-bling guy," says Washington, who asked for a diamond-free Traveler. Since he's still glowing from his Oscar win, the rocks might be overkill.
  • Newsmakers

    The King of Pop's Latest MoonwalkWe swore after he dangled the baby, no more Michael Jackson for the next year. But when a guy who looks like the Tin Man tells the world how sweet it is to sleep chastely with children--other people's children--you just have to think out of the box. Jackson sure does. In a British documentary, rebroadcast on ABC last week, journalist Martin Bashir coaxed Jackson to talk about all sorts of things. About how he's had plastic surgery only on his nose. About how he's Peter Pan. (We believe that.) But naturally people fastened onto Jackson's disquisition about how "the most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone." Since Jackson had paid an out-of-court settlement in 1994 after a 14-year-old boy dropped a civil suit that accused Jackson of sexually molesting him (Jackson denied the accusation), this was surprising. Or not.Jackson's friend Uri Geller (yes, the guy who used to bend spoons) helped put him together with Bashir; Geller now says, ...
  • Ready For Her Close-Up (Again)

    My mother told me when I was pretty young that you can be who you are or try hard to be something else," Whoopi Goldberg says, with a toss of those trademark funky dreadlocks. "I was always a lazy b--h, so trying hard to be something else wasn't going to happen." That's always been the Goldberg formula for success: one part Horatio Alger uplift, one part in-your-face street talk and one part in-her-own-face self-parody. When a young African-American woman who grew up in New York City public housing drops the name Caryn Johnson and reinvents herself under a name from deepest Mall America, attention must be paid--which of course was the whole point. Lately, though, we haven't seen her much, except when she's hosting the Academy Awards. "When I was hot," she says, "others had to stand back for a minute--a very short minute, I might add--and now I'm standing back." You can imagine how she likes that. And of course she's got a plan.This week Goldberg will open on Broadway in a revival of...
  • First Time For Everything

    No Hollywood screenwriter would have dared to dream up a story as improbable as Antwone Fisher's--except one. Fisher grew up in Cleveland's foster-care system; his foster parents neglected and abused him, and he picked fights with everyone in sight, even after he enlisted in the Navy. But aboard ship he bonded with a Navy psychiatrist named Jerome Davenport, and their profound relationship gave him the tools to cope with civilian life. While working as a security guard in L.A., he finally tracked down his birthfather's family, who offered him a ticket back to Cleveland for Thanksgiving. "To get the time off, I basically had to tell my life story to my boss," says Fisher, 42. That story quickly got around town--because Fisher just happened to work at the Sony Studios lot. Eventually producer Todd Black decided to film the story. To write it, he picked a first-timer with no credentials but a world of experience: Antwone Fisher.The heart-wrenching "Antwone Fisher," which opens this...
  • Mourning A Master Dj

    DJ Jazzy Jeff needed a moment to let it sink in. One of the founding fathers of hip-hop, Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC, had been murdered, and the phones in Jazz's office were ringing off the hook with friends and reporters wanting to talk. Yet Jazz, whose real name is Jeff Townes, couldn't bring himself to answer. The two had been tight ever since Jazz and fellow teenage rapper Will Smith opened for Run-DMC during the rap supergroup's 1989 world tour. "That's how we dealt with one another, as family," says Townes. "Me, Will and Jay always talked about our kids and what they were doing, and about being at a good place in our lives."Those are the types of conversations that now haunt many who knew Jason Mizell, who along with Joey Simmons (Run) and Darryl McDaniels (DMC) founded the crossover rap group in the early 1980s. Mizell, 37, was shot in the head execution style by a masked gunman Wednesday evening inside the recording studio he owned in Jamaica, Queens, N.Y., leaving the hip-hop...
  • No. 1 Without A Bullet

    Cornell Haynes Jr. looks every inch a GQ man. Young, handsome and with millions in the bank thanks to his rap alter ego known as Nelly, Haynes is only one of a handful of men selected to appear in the fashion magazine's music issue, and it's easy to see why. For his photo shoot he's wearing two major articles of clothing: a sizzling leather blazer with no shirt and Australian sexpot Kylie Minogue, who's draped all over him. As the camera clicks and one of Nelly's hit plays in the background, Minogue begins moaning and rubbing Nelly's chest and head. In fact, she moans for a good 10 minutes. Finally, a voice on the side of the room breaks the mood. "Mama ain't gonna like this," says his baby sister, Jackie. She leans over to her brother's publicist, who sprints over to a GQ editor. The steamy picture taking stops. Nelly's people have a problem. They're worried that if he's photographed seductively with Minogue, his core audience of African-Americans will be none too pleased--not just...
  • Must Have: It's A Shoe-In

    Wood hasn't looked this good in decades. Clogs, a fashion outcast since the '70s, are finally hip again. Designers like Michael Kors, Dolce & Gabbana and Miu Miu (and lower-end knockoffs like Candies and Steve Madden) are all selling clogs, reinvented with a sleeker shape and steeper heel. "We can't keep them in stock," says a rep for Saks Fifth Avenue. But remember, clogs are cool. Clogging is not. Besides, hoofing in these heels would be hazardous to your health.
  • Grant's Hill To Climb

    Grant Hill isn't afraid to show off his wounds. So after a long, one-on-one workout with a fellow Duke alum, Hill slumps down on a row of wooden benches and takes off his left sneaker. "Don't look at my ugly feet," he says, rolling down his sock to bare a swollen ankle with three large, dark slashes running across it. "Just look at the scars."The scars, from three surgeries that derailed the Orlando Magic forward's career for two full seasons, represent just the visible challenge to Hill's comeback. In 2000, after six all-star seasons in Detroit, Hill jumped to Orlando for $93 million over seven years. But the ankle injury he suffered during his final months in Detroit proved far more severe than he realized. "It bothered me all the time, but you know how it is--when you're a man, you're supposed to play through the pain and not complain," he says. That summer doctors inserted a steel plate and pins to secure fractures in the bone. But Hill kept rushing his recovery and reinjuring...
  • Making Scents

    Hollywood hits a new l'eau. The gardenia-scented potions from Kai have won fans like Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Garner and Tyra Banks. "It's just a yummy smell," Banks says. But the real draw was exclusivity: only one Malibu shop carried it. Now several do, and kaifragrance.com launches soon. Only the prices are B list: $40 for oil, $30 for lotion.
  • Must Have: Kai: Making Scents

    Hollywood hits a new l'eau. Kai's Gardenia-scented potions won fans like Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Garner and Tyra Banks. "It's just a yummy smell," Banks says. But Kai's real draw was exclusivity: only one Malibu shop carried it. Now it's at the Lisa Kline Boutique in Beverly Hills and Malibu's Planet Blue, and kaifragrance.com launches soon. Only the prices are B-list: $40 for oil, $30 for lotion.
  • Newsmakers

    He is superman, after all. So it shouldn't surprise anybody that Christopher Reeve has defied the odds again. Last week one of Reeve's rehab doctors, John W. McDonald, reported in a scientific journal that after years of intense therapy, Reeve can now move his right wrist, his hips and the fingers of his left hand. And he can feel sensations on his skin, allowing him to differentiate between a pin prick and soft cotton. No, Reeve still can't walk, button his clothes or breathe consistently without a ventilator--and no one can say whether he'll ever regain enough mobility to do any of that. But, even seemingly small advances are monumental after such a severe spinal injury. "I was blown away," says McDonald, of Washington University School of Medicine's Spinal Cord Injury Program. "His mind-set is just incredible."When he was thrown off his horse and shattered a piece of his spinal cord in 1995, nobody--other than Reeve--thought he would regain any significant movement or feeling...
  • What Beyonce Wants

    Beyonce Knowles is not pleased. The 20-year-old lead singer of Destiny's Child wants something to read while a stylist weaves her curly, honey-blond hair into a funky ponytail. More specifically, she wants the August issue of a certain magazine that her staff has been hiding from her. "I really don't want you to read it again," her publicist says, before reluctantly forking it over. Knowles is incredulous as she flips through the story, which, she says, barely mentions her role in the new "Austin Powers in Goldmember," and, instead, paints her as a pitiful and unstable diva. "It's like they don't think I'm human," she says. "That I need people to feel sorry for me and my so-called unhappy life. There've been ups and down, but I don't have an unhappy life. I'm doing just fine.''Blame the Beyonce backlash. Ever since two of the original Destiny's Child girls quit the Grammy-winning group, claiming nepotism by its manager (who happens to be Beyonce's father, Mathew), she has been...
  • Will Iverson Foul Out?

    Everyone knows that Allen is a pretty difficult guy to get along with," says an associate of Philadelphia 76ers superstar Allen Iverson. "And no one knows that better than his wife." Mrs. Iverson got a reminder of just how difficult when her husband, apparently convinced she was having an affair, threw her out of their $2.4 million mansion on July 1, clad in nothing but her panties. Now Iverson, 27, is facing arrest on criminal charges stemming from his armed hunt for his wife in the days after the fight. (Neither Iverson nor his lawyer returned calls.)Iverson's temper is legendary, from a Valentine's Day brawl in high school that landed him in jail for four months to his on-court feuds with 76ers coach Larry Brown. But this time, the all-star seems to have outdone himself. After Tawanna failed to come home for a day, Iverson and his uncle went looking for her. At 3 a.m. on July 3 they banged on the door of Iverson's cousin, Shaun Bowman, who had driven Tawanna away the night of the...
  • Newsmakers

    Will Smith has always been a man with a plan. With plans. Back when he was the rapper known as the Fresh Prince, he wanted to become an actor. As a movie star, he wanted to go beyond slam-bang summer action flicks ("Men in Black," "Independence Day") to serious character studies ("Ali"). And now he wants to do a love story. Love stories.He and his wife, the actress Jada Pinkett, have written a romantic picture together, but now Smith has put that on the back burner in favor of another longtime scheme: a remake of the oft-remade classic "A Star Is Born," about an up-and-coming actress's romance with a has-been star.The 1954 version--the one Smith likes--with Judy Garland and James Mason, made the film a musical. Smith will, too--he's always wanted to show off his singing voice--but he'll flip the roles: he'll be the up-and-comer. He already has a production deal with Sony Pictures; all he needs now is a green light, a script (he's tried several writers), a director and a leading lady...
  • Drama Queens

    Like a good piece of sweet-potato pie, "Soul Food" has finally found the right seasoning. "Soul Food" is the first African-American TV drama to make it to its third season, and its very survival provides a lesson in the ways of television. When "Soul Food" debuted, it was a solid if conventional family drama with so-so ratings--just the kind of program the networks would have canceled. But "Soul Food" appears on Showtime, and cable programmers are notably more willing to nurture a show until it finds itself--and the audience finds it. What's more, Showtime has built its schedule on programming that caters to niche groups: "Queer As Folk" is its No. 1 show, and the Latino-oriented "Resurrection Blvd." is also a strong performer. "Soul Food" serves an audience that's been notoriously ignored by the networks but is central to Showtime's mission. "We respect that we have so many different cultures tuning in to our networks, and we have to cater to them," says Jerry Offsay, president of...
  • Angela's Fire

    Angela Bassett has a flair for the dramatic. Two hours into a long, frank interview at a Beverly Hills lounge, the actress is asked why, after not starring in a movie for four years, she turned down a chance for the lead in "Monster's Ball." Bassett bolts out of her overstuffed chair, and throws out her arms in a gesture worthy of her idol, Bette Davis: "It's about character, darling." In "Monster's Ball," which won Halle Berry an Oscar, a black waitress has a graphic, tortured--and, Bassett believed, demeaning--affair with her husband's executioner. "I wasn't going to be a prostitute on film," she says. "I couldn't do that because it's such a stereotype about black women and sexuality.'' Bassett is clear she isn't criticizing Berry--just the way Hollywood views women in general and black women in particular. Several actresses, including Vanessa Williams, passed on "Monster's Ball" as well. "Film is forever," says Bassett. "It's about putting something out there you can be proud of...
  • It's All In The Jeans

    Want to look like a starlet? Just combine good genes with Seven jeans. At about $150 a pair, the butt-flattering pants are popular with everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Brandy, who's nine months pregnant. "Seven has just the right amount of stretch to fit all shapes," says a rep at L.A.'s Fred Segal. "That's the genius of it." After two years of being sold only at high-end retailers like Fred Segal and Curve in Beverly Hills, Seven jeans have finally hit upscale chains, including Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. But the brand isn't looking to dress just anyone. "You won't be seeing 'Ann' in Ohio with them on," says a rep. "Most people don't even know they exist." Well, until now.
  • Rappers Wax Nostalgic

    Dissing on vinyl has always been a rap mainstay: mike swipes meant more sales, more ink. But lobbing insults took a dangerous turn in the late '90s when ill will between Death Row Records and Bad Boy Entertainment was believed to have contributed to the murders of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. "It made everybody in the industry pause," says L.A. DJ Big Boy.It's "Go Time" again. In the last year, rap's stars have been at each other. The latest: Nelly vs. legend KRS-One, who said that Nelly's party-boy image isn't good for hip-hop. On Nelly's upcoming album he says KRS needs a "rap pension and attention." Last year Jermaine Dupri told a magazine he was a better producer than Dr. Dre. Dre responded by calling 5-foot-3 Dupri "Mini Me and a midget" on a rap. "I'm short," Dupri tells NEWSWEEK. "But what is that to say?" Earlier this month Dupri shot back on the Web. He called Dre "gay" on a re-recording of a track Dre produced. Dupri also questioned if Dre produces the music he...
  • Usher In A New Era

    As 10,000 mourners gathered in a cavernous televangelist church in suburban Atlanta last Thursday to pay their last respects to TLC's Lisa (Left Eye) Lopes, Arista Records chief L. A. Reid was left to ponder what would become of his musical family. There, in the next aisle, was Whitney Houston, whose personal troubles have eclipsed her talents of late. P. Diddy, in the middle of severing ties with the label, was a no-show. Then there were the two surviving members of TLC, once the biggest-selling girl group, sobbing over the loss of their trio mate. As TLC's Rozonda (Chilli) Thomas wept, her boyfriend wrapped a comforting arm around her. That arm belongs to the one person Reid can count on for solace himself these days: Usher.Reid didn't have much of a honeymoon at Arista. No sooner had he taken over the struggling label from its ousted founder, Clive Davis, than Davis launched his own label, J Records, with the biggest new act of 2001, Alicia Keys. Reid was left to mop up the red...
  • Mixing It Up

    When Memphis Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol was named NBA Rookie of the Year last week, the 21-year-old Spanish sensation became the first European player to capture the award. In a league long dominated by black stars, the fact that Gasol is white drew no attention. In fact, white rookies have now won the trophy two years running, a "double" almost as unlikely--it last happened almost 40 years ago--as the Halle-Denzel sweep that created so much buzz at the Academy Awards. The back-to-back rookie honors and the emergence of other young white NBA stars are flouting one of America's most entrenched sports stereotypes: contrary to conventional wisdom, white men can jump.For most of its history, the NBA included white stars--from Jerry West in the '60s to Bill Walton to Larry Bird--who competed at the game's highest levels. But when Bird retired in 1992, the white NBA star appeared to be a dying species, with ageless John Stockton in the role of the last dinosaur. In 1998, for the first...
  • Tackling A Tough Subject

    It's pretty clear Spike Lee is a history buff, so it's no wonder that his first HBO documentary, 1997's "Four Little Girls," about four black children murdered at Sunday school in 1963, was nominated for an Oscar. In his second HBO documentary, Lee addresses another tough subject: football great Jim Brown. "After 'Four Little Girls'," Lee tells NEWSWEEK, "I just kept thinking about what would be an interesting piece of history to put on film. Jim Brown seemed like an obvious choice.""The Jim Brown Story," which airs in December, takes its audience into the funny, bewildering and sometimes frightening world of one of the most controversial athletes of the 20th century, who just happens to be currently incarcerated. Shortly before filming started, Brown was charged with domestic violence and ordered to do community service, which entailed picking up trash on a California highway. He refused and is serving six months.The documentary recounts Brown's poverty-stricken life on St. Simons...
  • Taking Care Of Business

    Ask Tampa Bay wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson where he was 10 years ago this week, and he gives you a sheepish grin. "I responded the way most black young men 18 or 19 years old did during that time," says Johnson, now 29, who was attending the University of Southern California on a football scholarship when he learned that his boyhood neighborhood of South-Central was on fire. "I couldn't sit home and watch it on television. I think everyone around there was thinking, 'What do we have to lose?' South-Central was hell way before the riots."Whenever Johnson returns, he's reminded of a poor childhood spent sleeping in cars and serving time in juvie. And so it is with a measure of pride on this trip that he arrives at a new shopping center he helped get built at the corner of Western and Slauson, just down the road from where the riots first erupted. In other parts of L.A., this 275,000-square-foot stucco expanse with its British-sounding name, Chesterfield Square, might seem like just...
  • Television: Beating Carson Daily

    It isn't hard to find the intersection of 106th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem. Just follow the hundreds of teens clad in their hip-hop finest, lined up in front of the warehouse where Black Entertainment Television tapes its daily music countdown show. "106 & Park" has become a wildly popular program by featuring guest appearances by the likes of Puffy and Mary J. Blige, hip-hop video countdowns and, each Friday, a talent contest for would-be rappers. On this particular "Freestyle Friday," a 17-year-old Queens kid who calls himself Gin is rapping about street life in New York City and hoping for his seventh win in a row.Some 60 blocks south of here, a nearly identical scene plays out every afternoon, as teenagers line up in Times Square to see many of the same stars on MTV's "Total Request Live." The uptown audience is mostly black and the midtown one largely white. But there's a far more surprising difference between the shows. "106 & Park," which airs at 6 p.m. ET,...
  • Female Trouble

    Joan Clayson's life looks pretty familiar to a lot of black women. She's a hard-working thirtysomething with a good job, terrific friends, a fly wardrobe ... and no man in sight.Of course, Joan is only a character on the sitcom "Girlfriends." But her stories--and those of her friends Toni, Lynn and Maya--seem to ring true with many of today's black women. During the show's second season, which concludes next month, "Girlfriends" has become one of the top-rated sitcoms in black households.For obvious reasons, the program is regularly referred to as a black "Sex and the City." And yes, it's a comedy about four gorgeous women in an urban setting (this time, downtown Los Angeles), and the fashion is fierce. But there are also striking differences.The "Girlfriends" don't have endless amounts of money at their disposal. One of them is a secretary and another is a grad student. Nor do they have an abundance of hunky doctors and moguls to date and discard. On "Girlfriends," Lynn and her...
  • Will It Be Denzel's Day?

    Every career has its moment of truth. For Denzel Washington, it came on a March evening two years ago, when Gwyneth Paltrow took the stage at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium to announce what many friends and fans hoped would be his first Academy Award for best actor. "I remember buying three Armani suits for that night because I just knew Denzel would win and we were going to party all night long,'' recalls "Boyz N the Hood" director John Singleton. But Washington sensed he wouldn't carry the night. Controversy had erupted in the weeks before over whether his film "The Hurricane" had glossed over the more unsavory facts about real-life boxer Rubin Carter; by the time Hollywood marched down the red carpet, the smart money was on the critics' favorite "American Beauty" and its star. ...
  • Crossing Over

    Last year, after over a decade in the music business, Lenny Kravitz finally landed a magazine cover that rocked his world. It wasn't Rolling Stone. Nor was it Vanity Fair, Us Weekly or even NEWSWEEK. "I got Essence!" exclaims the singer. ...
  • Alicia Keys

    Alicia Keys is having a funky hair day. R&B's new queen is in a New York brownstone doing a cover photo shoot for Essence magazine, but her signature braids are a bit too frizzy, and her personal braider will have to unravel her lengthy mane and begin again. Keys used to braid her own hair until her little gospel gem of a song, "Fallin'," hit the charts and catapulted her to stardom. The 20-year-old Bronx, N.Y., native released her debut album, "Songs in A Minor," in June, right at the start of Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious" summer. Six million fans eager for more talent and less cleavage (and obviously less booty) quickly migrated to Keys's melodic voice and smooth piano skills. With a soulful crossover appeal not seen since Janet Jackson, Keys's luminous beauty and dressed-down jeans-and-do-rag glamour won both mainstream and hard-core hip-hop fans handily. Both Mark Wahlberg and Snoop Dogg eagerly pronounce themselves members of her fan club."It took off and it just didn't...
  • 'They Know I'm About Something'

    Growing up in a poor Los Angeles neighborhood that still shows scars from the 1992 riots, David Ramirez watched friends wind up in juvie, or worse, after getting involved in theft and other small-time crimes. He knew he was headed in the same direction if he didn't get a plan.So in the ninth grade, David enrolled in the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at Inglewood High School. Though he thought the olive uniforms were dorky, David liked the sense of purpose he'd seen in others who enrolled. "The more free time you got, the more you're bound to end up in some type of trouble," says David, now 17. "Plus, I didn't want to be home that much. In ROTC, everyone's family.'' He likens his school's ROTC to a secret fraternity. "When I walk in my neighborhood now, the gang guys see me in my uniform and they leave me alone. They know I'm about something."Dare we say it? ROTC is cool again. Started in 1916 when the United States was faced with world war, ROTC fell out of favor...
  • Newsmakers

    In the mood for celeb spotting at Hollywood hot spots? These days it's easier finding stars in L.A.'s smoggy skies. The terrorist threat has famous folks running for cover--or the nearest gas-mask purveyor. Jennifer Aniston backed out of charity gigs and plans to skip the twice-postponed Emmys. On the other coast, Gwyneth Paltrow admits she's terrified during public appearances. And even B-list Shannon Elizabeth set up a safe house in Wyoming and bought mini gas masks for her five dogs. (Why would she be a target? Her performance in "Tomcats" wasn't that bad.) "Because stars are used to being the focus of attention, they tend to feel more anxious than the rest of us who can take comfort in anonymity," says Alan Hilfer, senior psychologist at Brooklyn's Maimonides Medical Center. It's strange to see stars worrying about terrorists. We're just so used to their thinking only about themselves. ...
  • Hot Dogg!

    He entered the rap world in 1992 with a lazy Southern drawl, a lanky physique and a name built for fame. Snoop Doggy Dogg, as he was then known, first hooked hip-hop fans with his underground hit "187 on a Undercover Cop." That year he also penned most of the songs on Dr. Dre's definitive album "The Chronic." By the time his debut record "Doggystyle" was released in 1993, the 22-year-old writer-rapper had such an enormous following that the album entered the charts at No. 1--the first rap record ever to do so. Much media attention followed, including the cover of Rolling Stone. Big things seemed in store for Snoop.Instead, due to many arrests and controversies, it's taken almost a decade for Snoop Dogg--as he's called himself since 1999--to achieve something close to mainstream success. The audience reception toward "Bones," a horror flick that opened Wednesday with Snoop as its lead, may be the truest indicator yet as to whether he has indeed finally transcended his bad-boy rap...