Allison Samuels

Stories by Allison Samuels

  • No Laughing Matter

    AUTUMN JACKSON, THE 22-YEAR-OLD college dropout accused of squeezing Bill Cosby for $40 million, wept into her hands when the guilty verdict was read last Friday. ""How could they?'' she asked her lawyer, seemingly dazed by the jury's decision after three days of deliberations. After threatening to tell the tabloids that Cosby was her true father, Jackson and Jose Medina, a codefendant, now face up to 12 years in prison and as much as $750,000 in fines. Still mourning the murder of their only son, Cosby and his wife of 33 years, Camille, were said to be relieved. ""Camille's suffered greatly in the past few months, and not even this will ease her pain,'' a close friend told NEWSWEEK. ""But at least it's over.'' ...
  • Straight Outta Cleveland

    ST. CLAIR AND EAST 99TH STREET IN Cleveland is a tough neighborhood to call home. A smaller version of Compton, Calif., complete with drive-bys, crackheads and street pharmacists, it's the kind of place where young black men die almost every day. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony grew up here, and they still fit in. Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, Krayzie Bone and Layzie Bone (they won't give their real names) are hanging out in Gordon Park, helping out on a video shoot for some friends of theirs. They're dressed in baggy shirts and baggy pants, with their hair either pulled back into long braids or fluffed and puffed out. Though they've moved to different parts of the city now (a fifth member, Flesh-N-Bone, lives in L.A.), Bone Thugs-N-Harmony try to keep these streets a part of their identity. ""We always want to give off that Cleveland vibe, and we always put our city in our music,'' says Layzie Bone. ""We ain't got nothing to do with no West Coast, East Coast s--t. We're just making music that sounds...
  • A Comic's Erratic Ride

    MARTIN LAWRENCE WAS SUPPOSED to be the next Eddie Murphy. Five years ago he'd just costarred in back-to-back hit movies, ""House Party'' and ""Boomerang,'' and signed a deal with Fox to star in the network's first African-American sitcom, ""Martin.'' Now Lawrence sits in his publicist's office looking fragile, sounding sedate and talking guardedly about getting his life back on track after months of chaos, both personal and professional. ""I want more kids,'' he says quietly. ""That's the only thing in my personal life that I'm sure of.'' ...
  • And Then There Were Three...

    THE MEMBERS OF EN VOGUE REALLY sort of like each other, and they 're about to prove it. Terry Ellis, Cindy and Maxine Jones are in an L.A. studio, finishing remixes for their new album, "EV3." Nobody's floating airs. Despite the high-tech glam of their image, each looks down-to-earth, casual. Ellis wears denim overalls, Braggs is in a hockey jersey and leggings and Jones goes for simple chic in jeans and a T shirt. They're contemplating the three years of management squabbles, financial traumas and personal upheavals that temporarily drove the group apart, caused the departure of one member and nearly ended En Vogue for good. Jones drops her voice to a whisper. "We weren't in touch that much, but I did miss them," she pledges, with an expectant look at her bandmates. Neither rises to the bait. Finally Ellis and Braggs nod slowly in agreement. Now, with that bit of sisterly love out of the way, can they get on with the interview? ...
  • The Fire This Time

    THE POLICE FOUND MALCOLM SHAbazz, 12, in the early hours of Sunday, June 1, disoriented and reeking of gasoline. He was a few blocks away from the Yonkers, N.Y., apartment where he had recently moved to live with his grandmother. His mother, Qubilah Shabazz, 36, was back in San Antonio, Texas, separated from the son whose years have been as nomadic and unstable as her own; his grandmother Betty Shabazz, 61, was fighting for her life, burned over 80 percent of her body. And Malcolm, the grandson of Malcolm X, was walking between generations of his haunted family, walking away from the fire that has burned through the family for longer than the boy could know. Last week he was taken into custody in connection with the blaze and underwent psychiatric evaluation. He has not been charged. ...
  • A Diva Does It Her Way

    MARY J. BLIGE HAS BEEN TO CHARM SCHOOL. Back in 1993, she was still overwhelmed by success and reportedly showed up at interviews high, drunk or not at all. Her advisers were bent on changing her world-be-damned ways, so they enrolled her in a school for round-the-way girls. "Hell, I already knew how to sit right and talk right," says Blige. "I just didn't want to be Ms. Prissy or any of that other bulls--t. And even if I didn't know how to set my fork down right, f--k it--this is the way I want to eat, so screw whoever doesn't like it." Got that? Blige prides herself on representing the hard-core urban world she knew growing up in the notorious "Slow Bomb" project in Yonkers, N.Y. And as she releases her third effort, "Share My World," she knows that change would be a crime her fans would never forgive. ...
  • Unchained Melody

    IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, IN the middle of a storm, in the middle of an ocean, 53 Africans break out of their chains and slaughter the crew of a Cuban slave ship called the Amistad. True story. Unfortunately, the Africans don't know how to sail. Their leader, a tribesman named Cinque ("Sinkay"), lets the captain and the first mate live and demands the ship return to Sierra Leone. Instead, the Cubans take them to New York's Long Island, where they're captured and put on trial. The Africans should never have been on the Amistad in the first place: it's 1839, and kidnapping slaves from Africa has been illegal for years. So the venal prosecutors claim the slaves are Cuban. How can Cinque et al. prove their identity? They can't speak English. They don't even know you're supposed to stand when the judge walks in. ...
  • Death Of A 'Hero'

    BILL AND CAMILLE Cosby made a point of keeping their five children out of the meat grinder that can chew up the children of the rich and famous. But it's not like America didn't know their only son, Ennis. The joys and jolts of parenthood had always been a wellspring for his father's comedy, especially in his landmark sitcom "The Cosby Show." Ennis's struggles in school were fodder for the very first episode, in 1984. His triumphant college graduation was reprised in the show's 1992 finale by his TV alter ego, the sly but lovable Theo Huxtable. If Bill Cosby became surrogate father to a generation, Ennis was all in the family. Which is why his murder last week on a desolate offramp of a Los Angeles freeway cut so deep. When a remarkably poised Bill Cosby returned to his New York town house just after hearing about his son, he told the mass of hovering reporters: "He was my hero." The nation knew exactly what he meant.But if young Ennis Cosby's life was full of promise, his death...
  • Last Tango In Compton

    EVEN IF YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT the man, Dr. Dre's ""Been There, Done That'' is a video strange enough to freeze a channel-surfer's thumb: a Busby Berkeleyan ballroom-full of sleek couples in evening dress, all of them black, doing the tango in subtly infernal light, to violin music as eerily insistent as the soundtrack to a fever dream. But only when you realize that the sexy yet Buddha-like master of these slinky revels was both a founding father of gangsta rap--his breakthrough hit was N.W.A's ""F--- tha Police''--and a bona fide bad boy in real life can you truly appreciate how odd this all is. It must have surprised some of Dre's old homies to learn that last August he spent three days in a dance studio in the San Fernando Valley taking tango lessons. Then again, maybe not. As a kid in Compton, Calif., he wielded the turntable at his mother's house parties. As a teenage skating-rink deejay, he was considered the best ""mixologist'' in L.A. As a self-taught producer, he's been...
  • Strutting His Stuff

    LOS ANGELES IS NO PLACE FOR THE shy, and Shaquille O'Neal feels right at home. Here he is one recent evening onstage at a Sunset Strip club, celebrating the launch of his new record label, T.W.IsM. (This World Is Mine). At 7 feet 1 and 300 pounds, he is decked out head to toe in turquoise leather--with a $120 million basketball contract under one arm and a MAN OF STEEL tattoo emblazoned on the other. The audience is a hip-hop who's who, including Warren G, Bobby Brown, Rick James, TLC and Dean Cain, the much smaller fellow who plays Superman on TV. Here is Shaq, hear him roar: ...
  • Man Of Peace

    SNOOP DOGGY DOGG DOES NOT RUN with the pack. After he and his bodyguard were charged with the 1993 killing of an alleged L.A. gang member--both were acquitted earlier this year--the rapper decided to stay out of trouble for good. Snoop began flying in different planes from the ones used by the controversial entourage of Death Row Records, which included CEO Suge Knight and the late rapper Tupac Shakur. He began riding in different limos, staying in different hotels. He concentrated on his 2-year-old son, CordE. He did not want to get caught up in rivalries. He did not want to die. ""It's not about any fighting and fussing with me,'' says Snoop. He is speaking softly and looking at the floor, which is what he always looks at. ""All through the trial I just thought about my son and how I had to be out to see him grow up. I wasn't getting caught up in any bulls--t again. My son's face is the first one I see in the morning and the last one at night, and that's the way I want it to stay....
  • Will O.J. Get The Kids?

    THERE MAY BE A GAG ORDER IMPOSED on O. J. Simpson for his upcoming civil trial, but you would have hardly known it last week. Sure, he didn't say anything substantive about the trial (set to begin Sept. 17). But in another of a series of visits to black churches, Simpson spoke at Washington, D.C.'s Scripture Cathedral and managed to stir more headlines. He attacked the white media, hinting at one point he has a ""hit list'' of news organizations he might sue for what he called ""untruths.'' He went after CNBC's Geraldo Rivera, likening him to a ""jackal'' and a ""buzzard'' (an attack Rivera said he took as a badge of achievement). And, noting that blacks are sometimes told to go back to Africa, Simpson said whites who don't like his acquittal on murder charges could go back to Europe. ...
  • From Boys To Men

    IT'S BEEN 10 YEARS SINCE BOBBY Brown and New Edition worked together, but some things never change. On a Friday evening, the other five members of the most popular R&B group of the '80s -- Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill -- are gathered at a Hollywood recording studio, waiting for Bobby. Everyone else managed to be there on time at 3 p.m. for a rehearsal for some dance steps from their video ""Hit Me Off,'' the debut single from their reunion album ""Home Again.'' But it's after 6 p.m. when Brown finally arrives. He makes a point of hugging everyone to show he's sorry for the delay. And the others let him off the hook. Later, during the rehearsal, it's easy to see why. Bobby may be the group's biggest pain in the neck, but he's also got the most style and charisma. When it's time to get down on the dance floor, the others go part of the way down; Bobby goes way, way down. ...
  • Box Office Prince

    WILL SMITH BATTLES ALIENS IN ""Independence Day,'' but that's nothing. Right now he's battling his own bodyguard. Tron is a 6-foot-4, 300-pound superhuman life force, and he has something Smith wants very badly: a newspaper. Smith makes a mad dash toward him. He grabs for the paper, but Tron swipes it away. They wrestle each other onto a couch, tussle and then: victory! Smith opens the paper to the movie grosses. ""Ninety-two million bucks over the first weekend,'' he exults. ""Incredible!'' A big smile spreads across his sweet-as-pie face.Saving the world, breaking box-office records -- these days it seems Smith can do anything. At 27, he's got one of the most impressively varied rsums in young Hollywood. In 1993 he earned heaps of praise for his portrayal of a young homosexual posing as Sidney Poitier's son in the film ""Six Degrees of Separation.'' Last year he scored commercially with Martin Lawrence in the buddy-action picture ""Bad Boys.'' With ""Independence Day,'' he goes...
  • Party Of The Century

    THE TAN LEATHER SWIVEL CHAIRS were still at the bar -- the same bar at which Det. Mark Fuhrman parked Kato Kaelin while he went rooting around out back for some evidence. To the left was an O.J. shrine, a recessed pool-table room still filled with old footballs and other memorabilia. To the right was the desert-white-and-beige family room, with its baby grand piano and a media center, where homicide detectives had watched the Simpson ""Frogman'' tape. And now, one night last week in Simpson's Rockingham estate, here was O. J. Simpson, in what might be called different circumstances, dressed in black tie and sipping champagne, trying to get all that messy stuff behind him.Outside the house, a fund-raiser for an L.A. anti-violence group was going on -- an affair critics derided as tastelessly hypocritical, as if the Menendez brothers were raising money for an orphanage. Inside, O.J. was talking to two NEWSWEEK reporters. ""I'm not a big fan of NEWSWEEK,'' he said at first, but then,...
  • The Nutty Career

    REGRETS, HE'S HAD A FEW, but fewer than you'd think. ""I regret not making "Ghostbusters','' says Eddie Murphy, 35. It's a Sunday evening in San Francisco, a couple of weeks before the release of his new comedy, ""The Nutty Professor.'' The actor's on the set of ""Metro,'' sporting baby dreadlocks and a small hoop earring, and lounging in a trailer full of peach-scented candles. ""We had just finished "Trading Places','' Murphy remembers, ""and Dan said, "How about making a movie about fighting ghosts?' I was like, I ain't f-ing with no ghosts. Then I saw it and'' -- he throws up his hands and lets out a high-pitched scream -- ""I wanted to jump off the roof.'' He also regrets not singing on ""We Are the World.'' ""Stevie asked me to come to the studio,'' he says, ""but I was working on my own album and blew it off. I was like, They'll probably put me in the back row with LaToya and Sonny Bono anyway. Then I saw the video and'' -- again with the hands and the scream -- ""I wanted to...
  • Ms. Lonelyhearts

    THE STORY OF TONI BRAXTON'S hair is the story of triumph over tragedy. In 1993, she launched a trend with her short pageboy cut after an overheated curling iron burned off a chunk of her hair. These days, Braxton is sporting a long, wavy weave, having recently been the victim of a home dye job. "My hairdresser told me not to do it, but I was bored, and of course my hair all fell out in the sink,' says Braxton, 28, laughing. "It sent LaFace [Records] into hysterics. What can I tell you? This business is hard on a black woman and her hair." ...
  • One For The Sistas

    By the millions they have descended on the malls and multiplexes of America, women who paid their dues, women who have been down hard roads and encountered life at its lowliest. The women laugh and shout and call each other "girl"- as in, "Girl, Whitney still looks good even if she is married to a fool!" And they leave resolved not to make the same mistakes that have screwed up the lives of Whitney Houston and her costars without even slightly mussing their fabulous hairdos. A few months ago, black men had their march; now, in "Waiting to Exhale," the No. 1 box-office hit in America over the Christmas weekend, black women have their movie. ...
  • Part Business, All Music

    The working-class blocks of Compton, Calif., the birthplace of gangsta rap, are a far cry from the mansion-studded hillsides of Calabasas in the San Fernando Valley. But Andre Young -- better known as Dr. Dre -- has breached the psychic distance in a hip-hop minute. On this Saturday afternoon he's totally at home in the den of his $1 million French provincial home, eyes glued to the big-screen TV. Forget the gorgeous view through his windows. He's looking at something far prettier: the video of his new duet with Tupac Shakur, "California Love," which is guaranteed to be a hit and extend his reign as rap's most successful artist and producer. ...
  • Out Of The Groove

    R Kelly is a changed man. It's 1 a.m. deep in the mountains in Canyon Country, Calif. The R&B superstar--best known for graphic pillow talk like "Your Body's Callin'" and "Freak Dat Body"--is shooting a video for a new ballad called "You Remind Me of Something." The video is meant to showcase Kelly's sensitive side, and it finds him lounging comfortably in silk pajamas on a gold-plat-ed chair while a young woman in black lingerie feeds him grapes. "You remind me of my Jeep," he sings. "I wanna ride ya." R. Kelly is a changed man--but he hasn't changed that much. ...
  • Pop Music: A One-Man Soul Revival

    With his smooth, jazzy R&B hit single "Brown Sugar," singer D'Angelo has thrown the world of hip-hop a long-overdue curve- and earned a reputation as the new "son of soul." That's just fine with D'Angelo. "When you listen to Marvin Gaye, Prince or Curtis May-field, all you can do is just shake your head at how smooth their stuff was," says the corn-rowed 21-year-old. "I get my inspiration from listening to those guys and just grooving." ...
  • They Won't Back Down

    For a couple of guys who were taking on Bob Dole, the far right and a major media conglomerate, Daz and Kurupt of Tha Dogg Pound sure were enjoying themselves. The two gangsta rappers were in L.A. shooting a video for "Let's Play House (Runnin' Fo' the Fence)," from their forthcoming debut album, "Dogg Food." Death Row, their label, had rented a $4 million ultramodern house for the day. Between takes, Delmar (Daz) Arnaud, 21, played with his 11-month-old daughter, Imani. (Daz is Snoop Doggy Dogg's cousin.) Ricardo (Kurupt) Brown, 22, slouched around and scoffed at some wardrobe items offered up for his approval. Producer Dr. Dre called the boys over to a van so he could preview some hot new beats on the tape deck. The van bounced up and down, like a homeboy version of "Wayne's World."You'd hardly believe these fun-loving fellows are currently embroiled in a battle with their parent company, Time Warner. Since Senator Dole made his May 31 speech about "nightmares of depravity" in...
  • The Soul Revivers

    The soul train arrived in St. Martin on Memorial Day weekend, kicking reggae off the West Indian island for a few days. During Sinbad's '70s Soul Music Festival, a five-day extravaganza of concerts, street fairs and grooves deeper than the ocean, Pelican Bay Beach looked like a giant, open-air house party. Enormous speaker cabinets blared old-school funk from a deejay platform in the middle of the beach. Hordes of soul revelers boogied, goofed off and chomped on barbecue. When the deejay played Parliament's booty-shaking 1978 hit "Flash Light," the crowd couldn't contain itself. People splashed into the water and formed two lines, just like on the classic TV show "Soul Train," with Sinbad himself leading the way. They acted like teenagers, even though they were really a bunch of African-American physicians, lawyers, dentists and schoolteachers in their late 20s and 30s. They had lived through this stuff the first time around, and they were here to live it again. "My 15-year-old...
  • Absolutely Not Fabulous

    Michael Gross got his first close-up look at modeling back in the '70s, when he was writing about what, at the time, seemed like the most overindulged creatures on earth: rock stars. Those were the days of model-as-appendage, when all but a few worked anonymously and played in the shadow of their rocker boyfriends. Now, of course, models are superstars themselves, hotter than rock stars, movie stars and investment bankers combined. They've got their own TV paean ("Models, Inc.") and even their own fanzine ("Top Model"). But even 15-year-old Cindy wanna-bes know that beyond the glam is an industry that abuses its young and masks the carnage under layers of hairspray and hype. Gross calls it the "endless sausage machine." We can't get enough of it -and Gross knows it. ...
  • No Faking The Funk

    Between dodging bullets in manhattan last November and entering prison on a sexual-abuse charge, rapper Tupac Shakur found time to release his third album, ""Me Against The World.'' As in ""2Pacalypse Now'' and ""Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z . . . ,'' Shakur takes the angst of young urban black males and sets it to a funky ""old school'' beat. It's a forceful reminder of the problems -- drugs, gangs -- Black America faces in the '90s, set to the comforting, mellow sounds of the much more hopeful '70s. The 23-year-old is one of the few rappers who gets ""props'' (respect) from both sides of the feuding worlds of East Coast and West Coast rap. So he boldly blends the L.A. P-funk reinvented by Dr. Dre with the uptown ""in your face'' beats most recently laid down by New York chart toppers Craig Mack and Biggie Smalls. ...
  • Lopped Locks

    Who was Brooke Shields kissing on a New York sidewalk last week? None other than her beau, former longhair Andre Agassi. Maybe he knitted her a sweater.
  • Fabiolicious!

    Focus groups agree: FABIO means romance. And what could be more romantic, more sensual, than butter-flavored cooking spray? No wonder the folks launching I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spray have signed the pec-bedecked Italian to do his first national TV campaign, debuting next week. He'll also host a fete for the press to demonstrate the new no-fat spray, which -- sorry, ladies -- he will not apply to his chest. "Now why would you ask that?" queried a brand spokesperson, who explained that Fabio would spritz some pasta and do "a whole funny self-parody of himself." Count on it.
  • It Must Have Been The Mistletoe

    Holidays. relatives. ugh. still, a few big names decided to throw caution to the wind and acquire some new in-laws in time for Christmas. Christie Brinkley, 41, may have been Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," but the supermodel mommy ascended yet further to marry her new husband, developer Ricky Taubman, 46. The pair got hitched at 11,890 feet in a ceremony atop the ski mountain in Telluride, Colo. Christie's daughter Alexa Ray and Taubman's son Wyatt were among about 150 ski-shod guests, and, at the on-slope reception, the newlyweds announced they're expecting a brand-new son. "Melrose Place" vixen Heather Locklear, 33, also tied the knot before Christmas. Twice. She wed Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora, 35, in a civil ceremony at his place in New Jersey, then the duo jetted off to Paris for a more romantic rite at the American Cathedral. Nobody wore skis. PHOTOS: Christie and Ricky ski into wedlock (left), Heather leaves the Paris church
  • Hall: Not Going Peacefully

    THE MAN ONCE DUBBED ""Obsequio'' for his fawning demeanor won't have to worry about that nickname anymore. In his final week on the air, Arsenio Hall invited media execs to ""kiss my black ass'' and stridently told ""Empty Nest'' star Park Overall that racism rages unabated. What gives? Sources say Hall thinks Paramount deserted him in the face of stiff new competition. ""For a brief minute, he felt he would be allowed to play ball with the white boys and get his fair chance at bat,'' says one Hollywood pal. ""The Leno-Letterman situation let him know real quick he was just another ball boy.'' Says another: ""He tried to please The Man, and The Man still jacked him in the end, so now he knows.''
  • Playboy Plays Patticake

    RONALD REAGAN WORRIED about strategic missiles. His daughter Patti Davis concerns herself with ""strategic body parts.'' She covered hers recently with Kimberley (Mrs. Hugh) Hefner's dog for an upcoming anti-fur ad, the latest float in the flesh parade that is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' ""I'd rather go naked than wear fur'' campaign. But the Hef connection doesn't stop there. Playboy's July issue will boast an array of Patti pics guaranteed to melt Ron's jelly beans. ""I'm sure it's not something they're real crazy about,'' says Davis, 41, of her folks' reaction to her posing. (They haven't discussed it.) She doffed her duds to show off her barbell-enhanced bod and to counter a spate of ""nasty press pieces'' that pointedly referred to her as ""middle-aged'' -- a symptom, she says, of ""what we do to women in this country when they have the audacity to turn 40.'' Patti's pleased, though, with how the lens treated her. ""I said to someone at Playboy, "How come when...