Music travels with us throughout our lives. It makes the world go round. For many, it is a lifesaver, gateway to the soul and makes up the soundtrack of our lives. Like the great reggae artist, Bob Marley so eloquently says, “When the beat hits, you feel no pain.”
This brings me to the recent release of ‘The Upside‘ a comedy-drama starring funny guy Kevin Hart taking a spin at a serious role opposite thespian Bryan Cranston and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman. The movie which features the music of late music icon, Aretha Franklin is a remake of the 2011 French movie, ‘The Intouchables’ which starred Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet. In this American remake, the concept is kept pretty much the same but lacks the full-on heartwarming charm and inspiration that the French version exuded thanks in parts to Sy. The movie, based on a true story, tells the story of two men from different backgrounds culturally and financially, who change each other lives for the better. Hart plays Dell, an ex-con out on parole hired as the caretaker of Phillip (Cranston), a billionaire and quadriplegic, the result of a paragliding accident. Kidman plays Phillip’s assistant.
The movie is the first comedy-drama released for 2019. That it includes a soundtrack featuring the music of the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin who passed away in August of 2018 will definitely lend to getting lots of music fans talking and filling theater seats. I had the opportunity to attend a recent screening in New York City, given by the MOMS .
Aretha’s musical chords are woven perfectly into scenes. Hart himself even gives it a go, with a comedic spin, of course, singing on the much beloved “Think”. Four of Franklin’s songs appear on the movie’s soundtrack, each song adding flair to the storyline, like when Dell is overcome with his appreciation of classical music while attending the opera alongside Phillip and hearing Nessun Dorma sung superbly by the Queen of Soul.
Surprisingly, taking the #1 Weekend Box Office opening position away from front runner ‘Aquaman‘ which is holding high with billion dollar sales worldwide, ‘The Upside’ on its Jan 11-13 opening weekend cemented itself to the list of movies featuring Aretha’s music that went on to become memorable.
Like I said music makes everything better. I felt that the music saved the ‘Upside.’ The movie could definitely have been better. If I had to watch the movie again I would probably opt for the French version as Hart and Cranston didn’t fully click like Sy and Cluzet. The movie did showcase that if given more opportunities Kevin Hart should really try dipping into more dramatic roles but without the funny. Finally, I would also ask Hollywood to stop going back to that old drawing board script that depicts black male characters as ex-cons, dead beat dads or not privy to a socially elite lifestyle.
With that being said out of 10 popcorn bowls The Upside gets 5
Want to check out ‘The Upside’ movie soundtrack take a listen here at the website Lyric Soundtrack.
Want to see the 2012 French version ‘The Intouchables’ which starred Omar Sy as the lovable Driss a down and outer from the projects of Paris and Francois Cluzet playing the role of Phillipe. Watch here
Are you searching for a new book to inspire you? One that will motivate you to make a change, in you! Then, look no more because crownheightsmom has the perfect book for you.Trust me, there is no better time than now, to start reading a book like this. Let me present, best-selling author and TV host Hoda Kotb’s newest book,Where We Belong : Journeys That Show Us The Way . It is a definite must-read that will leave you inspired, motivated and possibly rethinking your life path and and where you belong.
I just got through reading this book which I received recently at a MOMS and Secret Resorts & Spa luncheon and book signing with Kotb. The event, held at Manhattan’s Hunt and Fish restaurant in mid January made for an wonderful afternoon that was filled with laughter, tears , the sharing of personal stories and a delicious meal amongst a group of mom bloggers—all fans and cheerleaders, of Hoda Kotb .
The book, released on Jan 5 is filled with inspiring stories of individuals who answered “the call” from within. Individuals, whom were able to the answer the questions each of us will ultimately ask ourself one day. The questions of what is your life purpose and where do you belong?
Hoda explains it best when she writes in the book—-Most of us wonder what we’re doing. We float around in the glass half-empty, gaze out into the world of possibilities, and wonder if we should get off of our raft and climb out. Maybe even today you asked yourself: Is it too late to do that thing that made me so happy when I was young? Could what matters most to me finally be the center of my life? Can I really trust this yearning voice in my head and longing in my heart? Do I feel like I’m where I belong?
In person, Kotb is very much what you see daily on Kathie Lee & Hoda. During the fourth hour of Today alongside Kathie Lee Giffords she is witty, fun and full of big smiles. In person she is the same way.
The mom bloggers chewed down on delicious eats from Hunt and Fish including servings of salmon, chicken, pasta , salad and even french fries . To wash it down they sipped on speciality fruit drinks .Midway through the luncheon Hoda walked in dressed in a vibrant fuchsia and purple dress that popped against her tanned skin tone . Greeting the more than 30 moms in the room she took out her cell phone and started takings pics of everyone in the room before sitting down with MOMS co-creators Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein for a frank 20-minute girl chat about the new book, surviving cancer, getting divorced and her wish to have children.They were joined by her co-writer Jane Lorenzini.
The breast cancer survivor and former Dateline correspondent really impressed the bloggers .She shared so much of herself and even gave out hugs in addition to signing books for everyone.
About surviving breast cancer she shared. “I wrote in my journal every day.” Adding, “at the bottom I would write one word . That one word everyday was FORWARD, because I wanted to keep moving . I wanted to move forward . Kotb would have that word written on a ring which she wears daily . Says the journalist, “whenever I get scared, I look down.”
On regrets she tells the group, “all of a sudden life gets away from you and you ask, what happened? I look at my life now and every time I see a baby carriage or a baby stroller I melt. It happens every single time and it is hard,” Kotb shares about not having kids of her own. She goes on to say, “I feel like something is missing but what do you do when you can’t fill that space? How do you do it?”The answer she says can be seen with a family in the book who adopted late in life or as Kotb recalls from personal experience when, ” I looked at PEOPLE magazine and I saw Sandra Bullock, [adopted ] and you go look what she did . I always thought about maybe starting a summer camp for kids. I thought that would help or that I wanted to be a school teacher.”
So adoption just might be an answer for Kotb. Says the journalist, “Something is missing! And you know, the people in the book did say often you don’t know what is missing until you find it. All of a sudden you go ‘How have I lived this long without X. So there are a lot of things I am thinking about.”
Kotb uses her life path as a teaching tool .”I got married late in life. ….. I had a failed marriage ….and I had breast cancer.” Adds the on air personality, ” If I didn’t get sick I wouldn’t have had the guts to go in and ask for this job.”
Hoda couldn’t agree more that the book comes at a great time of the year as people make their New Years resolutions and self reflect. “Now around the first of the year people are rethinking their lives and wondering what they should be doing. ” Or ,as she also puts it quite eloquently, “suddenly you feel like, am I just taking the path of least resistance, just sorta hopping on the train and letting it go or am I choosing? ” Adds Kotb, “the thing about this book is everybody chose.They put their hands on the steering wheels and they drove!”
Part of the reason I love what I am doing now [with Kathie Lee] is for the first time in my life we get to bring JOY.–HODA KOTB
Kotb is in the drivers seat .Joining the fourth hour of Today alongside Kathie Lee in 2008 she says she loves it there but can still remembers to that time when she did not find her purpose. She tells the story of covering Hurricane Katrina and the effect it had on her [She used to live in New Orleans]. “When you cover something that is personal you really feel it. Covering Katrina made me think about all the other stories I’d covered that weren’t personal to me but were personal to somebody and I wished I had handled it differently because sometimes as journalist you go in and you go out because you don’t have time to put your whole heart into it . It hurts your heart to do it over and over and part of the reason is that you kinda get hardened .”
I love what I am doing now ( with Kathie Lee)because for the first time in my life we get to bring joy.We get to lift people up and it is cool.”
Even with two New York Times bestsellers behind her– Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives and Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee she continues to be the genuine no-airs-about-me, lovable and approachable on-air personality viewers are drawn to.
Hoda says it best when she says, “There is something to be said for being exactly who you are authentically, because if you are not, people sense it.” .
So true Hoda…..so true .Continue to stay exactly who you are. This is why we love you! ———by Debra Lewis-Boothman
That was quick! Yup, the lazy days of summer has begun and with it comes the task of choosing books that will get you through lots of hot days by the pool and at the lake. I’ve already planned a weekend trip to the legendary family-owned bookstore the Strand. If I am lucky I might even bump into Nancy who runs the store with her dad Fred. I haven’t seen Nancy since our kids attended nursery school together.
I put my summer reading list together weeks ago . It’s an eclectic list ranging from Chick Lit to memoirs, poetry books to a few DIY-ers – learning how to Code and even one on how to build a doghouse .
In just a few days the family and I will head to Pennsylvania to officially start our summer vacation. I’ve made the necessary stops at the library to pick up the kids’ books for their required summer reading, With reading materials put on reserve for pickup our evenings for reading are squared away and will be filled with adventures, laughs and visits to far off lands thanks in part to our books.
One title I am looking forward to curling up with is the Melissa Rivers bestselling memoir, ‘The Book of Joan.’
I’ve had this book a few weeks now but have held off reading saving it for my summer reading. Having only skimmed over the first chapter I am besides myself to just dig in and read it all in one non-stop go.
After meeting and and hearing Melissa speak about her mom at a luncheon during her NYC press tour I grew to like her even more than before. I was even lucky enough to have my copy of her memoir personally signed by her. So this book is a define keepsake.
Since its release, the book has been climbing the bestseller charts and is currently sitting on the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times’ and USA Todays’ Bestsellers books lists.
A quick sneak peek in Chapter One already has me in stitches. I can already tell this is going to be lots of laughs-out-loud. I am literally rolling on the floor as Melissa retells events from her life with her mum. Joan truly shines through each pages and at every mention .
I am pleased that Melissa was able to take readers into the world she shared with her mother, giving readers a first class, front row seats into their wacky, funny and loving family life. I can’t wait to read even more.
When Melissa arrived at the MOMS event held at Juniper Bar in Midtown Manhattan, I half expected to see Joan following directly behind her.Smiling, she greeted everyone with a wide smile and an excited “Hello everybody.” Dressed in a fun floral swing dress to the knees and copper pumps she quickly took her seat next to hosts Denise Albert and Melissa Musen Gerstein the co-creators of The MOMS . The trio chatted about everything Joan and family life.
I left the event feeling that Melissa Rivers is funny as hell. It was clearly visible how alike in personalities she and mom Joan really are.
Writing the book gave me permission to laugh.-—Melissa Rivers
Melissa looked happy and everyone present noticed it. It was good to see that 8 months after her mother’s passing the single mom was looking healthy and happy.
“I don’t come from a family where you sit in a puddle and fall apart,” Rivers said off the bat in dealing with the loss of her mum, Joan’s death in 2014 she says plainly, ” You get up and you go forward.”
Readers will come away knowing how kind my mother was and how real she was.” – Melissa Rivers
Melissa Rivers poses with The MOMS, CrownHeightsMom and other mom bloggers at Juniper Bar in NYC
After Joan was buried Melissa jumped head first into writing her memoir. Thanks to her editor whom she she recalled meeting the day of the funeral when, as Melissa tells the story “this lady walked up to me extended her condolences and proceeded to kindly place a business card into my hands.” The rest is history – the result a well written and oh so funny memoir that will make Joan proud.
This book gives you a moment to laugh.”–Melissa Rivers
Writing the book say Melissa brought comfort as well as a flurry of emotions– joy and tears. “I sat for a few hours every day and a couple of times every week with my writing partner and I remembered funny stories and it allowed me to laugh. It gave me permission where nobody can judge me. It’s a funny book.Writing the book gave me permission to laugh. Melissa adds that these feelings and memories spawned a bigger mission for her—preserving her mother’s legacy.
On June 8 the GRAMMY Museum debuted its latest exhibit, Joan Rivers: Can We Talk? to commemorate the comedian’s life . Joan won a posthumous Grammy in February for Best Spoken Word for her Diary of a Mad Diva. The current Grammy exhibit showcases various stage costumes worn by Joan during her career. It also features family photos, her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star award, her hardcover book collection- including several of her New York Times bestsellers, the 1984 Harvard Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award, her 1990 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk/Service Show Host and one of her Louis Vuitton travel trunks. The exhibit runs through September 20th.
Going it alone without both parents, Melissa says she misses them (her dad passed away when she was almost 18) but, she has kept going for her only child, Cooper 14. “Having kids changes the dynamics of how you get through grief” says Melissa . “You get up and you move forward,” she says, adding, “That is how we have lived our whole live. There are days that are angry days, some that are painful days and that’s fine. ” Adds the proud mom, “My son needs to see that there is light at the end of every tunnel. Yes, there are days that are horrible and it sucks, but we are going through it. The example has to be that life continues and it does. That is what your parents would want you to show your children.”
“There was such a realness to our relationship [ it ] that everyone could see a little bit of themselves.”-Melissa Rivers on the relationship she shared with mum Joan.
On working with her mum for so long. Melissa says, ” In creating a career with my mom, it was hard and it was difficult and it was frustrating. It was coming to peace and terms with a lot of certain things and understanding that there are preconceived notions,” she notes, adding,” For me it was having to work harder than everybody else to prove that I am my own person.”
Coming from a showbiz family she says of going into the biz.”If you are going where your parents went and your parents were successful, you are going to have to work harder. You might get the interview but you are not going to get the job because of it.” If you get the job everybody will say you only got it because of your parents, so you have to work ten times harder just to be considered to be as good as everybody else and you know that and it doesn’t make it fair and it doesn’t make it less frustrating.
“We never let her drive! The worst words to hear at home from my mom was, ‘Melissa get in the car!'”-Melissa Rivers on mom Joan’s driving.
Melissa admits that growing up as the daughter of Joan Rivers wasn’t easy. “I wrestled control over certain things by the time I was 17.” In facts she says, “We never let her drive! The worst words to hear at home from my mom was, ‘Melissa get in the car'”. Other things say Melissa included Joan hiding money around the house. ” She was also not good with her Blackberry and she could not deal with the iPhone, at all,”adds Melissa.
Writing the book made it ok to laugh and ok to say we are all a little crazy.”—Melissa Rivers
Melissa says she hopes that the take away from reading “The Book of Joan” will be that, “readers will come away knowing how kind my mother was and how real she was.” She adds that she hopes that it gives readers a moment to stop and laugh. ” About that special thing her and mom Joan shared she says, “What resonated with us is that people related to us. Everyone could see a little bit of themselves with us and admitted it was ok to laugh.My mother’s personality was so big and she was so well known and was such a character you are hearing about it in her voice but from my point of view, which is different from her point of view. ”
I want people to know that even though our lives were crazy we took moments to laugh.- Melissa Rivers
“I want people to know how kind my mother was and how real she was and that even though our lives were crazy we took moments to laugh.
“One of the things that always resonated with my business partnership with my mother and our performing together and her being her and me being me is that people related to us because of the mother daughter relationship. There was such a realness to it that everyone could see a little bit of themselves. It made it ok to laugh and say ok, we are all a little crazy,” says the Fashion Police co-host.
If you would like your own copy of Melissa River’s memoir “The Book Of Joan” you can grab it at the Strand Bookstore in NYC or at their website here.
Gosh darn, come on now Mr. Huxtable. Does this mean Little Bill is a lie too?
Books are a big part of my home. You can find them in almost every room except the bathroom. With my two youngest attending charter school, reading is happening even more at home.
Finding my children lost in books is never a surprise— I came in from work last Tuesday and found my 7 year old son sprawled across the bedroom floor amongst 7 to 8 books. It made me smile . On a closer look of the titles I saw the kid fantasy, “The Legend of Zelda”, “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” which is on my “bathroom talk” list as it celebrates the wedgie, booger and fart loving humorous stage only boys love to love and which my son currently LIVES for, and lives to tease his 8- year old sister with. The other four books including the one in his hand were all “Little Bill” book titles .
I did a double take and asked. “Hey what ya reading there ?” No answer. Finally an ‘Oh, hi mommy, I’m just reading Little Bill’s The Meanest Thing To Say’ was his reply.
In light of the accusations that have been leveled against Mr Cosby by many women including former top model Janice Dickerson as seen in PEOPLE magazine I immediately wondered did my 7- year old hear something on the news or read something on the computer . For me, I, wanted to know, if he did hear something, what , where, when and how much. Moreover, does he understand any of it.
Whispering to my husband I asked why the amount of Little Bills on the floor all of a sudden? What gives? In hindsight though had this happened before Mr. Cosby hit the headlines I would not have asked such a question. Instead I would have been happy knowing that he had chosen these books—-a book series by a black author and a black female illustrator, the late Varnette P. Honeywood.
Thinking aloud, I wondered will we have to decide on the fate of these books as many were deciding on the fate of the legacy of Mr. Cosby . Would this series of books loved by my children ages 22 to 7 continue to stay on our bookshelves. My eldest son grew up with Little Bill. They have a more than 15-year relationship.
On Mr Cosby. I have compartmentalized him into a few categories——the man accused of allegedly drugging and taking advantage of women going back more than 20 years; the man who has done great things to uplift his race; the man with the ideal legacy; the man who stood for fatherhood.
Looking back I remember to 2006 while still a reporter at PEOPLE that the magazine interviewed five accusers of Mr. Cosby who were at that time part of a civil lawsuit Cosby settled with Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee who claimed she was drugged and sexually assaulted by him in his Philadelphia-area mansion in 2004. At that time 13 “Jane Does'” as they were referred to in the court papers had come forward to testify. Fast forward 8 years later and we have celebrity faces like Dickerson and now most recently the famed African American model Beverly Johnson speaking out to Vanity Fair of being drugged by him.
Famed Model Beverly Johnson
Mr Cosby has stood for a lot and his Little Bill books stand for so much more . To children across the world the book series by one of America’s most beloved comedians has helped them to wrestle through the many stages of growing up. Yes I am torn about the man and what he is alleged to have done. But am I going to throw my Little Bill books out ? No, I am not. These books. They are staying on the bookshelf.
Our Little Bill books have a history and that is what makes them that more special to us and especially my small son and daughter. Besides knowing that they are hand-me-down books from big brother Dillon. Each of the 12 books help affirm the value of family and friendship and help encourage kids to solve problems fairly.. Mr Cosby definitely knows what makes kids tick and how they relate to each other. Hmmm, maybe he needs to take some “Little Bill” advice.
I can remember buying each and every one of them for Dillon. Packed away as he grew older they were put back on the shelf when we moved to our home in PA in 2006. When our now 7 and 8-year olds became Cosby fans they opted for the syndicated Cosby Show and my husband’s personal library of taped VHS Cosby Show programs. Once they grew older and got into reading chapter books they were quickly and easily hooked to Little Bill. the illustrated artwork alone is a draw. .
Little Bill has taught my black sons and daughter how to read better, how to treat their fellow man, how to cope with mean kids, the consequences of telling fibs, dealing with being afraid of the dark, and being teased about first crushes and more .
All in all Little Bill became that friend in a book . An imaginary bestie that they to this day continue to learn from
So I think Little Bill will get to stay. Big Bill though, I am not too sure about!