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Fly Interview: Omar Epps and Will Packer talk ‘Almost Christmas’, Being on Set, The Importance of Family, and More [SFPL Exclusive]

The holiday season is upon us and there’s one film with its sights set on becoming a holiday classic. Almost Christmas, the new family holiday comedy from writer/director David Talbert and producer Will Packer, follows Walter the patriarch of the Meyers family as he attempts to keep his family together after the death of the family matriarch. His wish is for everyone to get along under the same roof for five days without killing each other which proves to be no easy task.

Starring Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, Romany Malco, Jessie T. Usher, Mo’Nique, Omar Epps, JB Smoove, Nicole Ari Parker, John Michael Higgins, Keri Hilson and D.C. Young Fly the movie delivers the laughs and drama making it a holiday film everyone can relate to.

SFPL‘s own Arlene Danna chatted with producer Will Packer and Omar Epps who plays the neighbor next door Malachi, and has hopes of rekindling his romance with Rachel portrayed by Gabriel Union. Packer and Epps dished on how the movie came to be, working with comedic masterminds Mo’Nique and J.B. Smoove, being on set, as well as the importance of family especially during the holidays.

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Loved the movie. Could you briefly tell us about the film, your character, and his role in the film?

Epps: What I loved about the film is how they flipped the usual storyline. Normally, it’s the patriarch who passes, and it’s the mother who holds it all together.  It’s about love, family, and the trial and tribulations that come with that. Everyone will be able to relate because we all come from family, we all have our own interpersonal relationships. So and so doesn’t get along with such and such and oh here comes crazy uncle so and so. My character grew up with the family. He’s known them his whole life and he’s back home visiting as well. He has some history with Gabriel Union’s character Rachel who has been holding onto a grudge all these years over a misunderstanding.

The scene where you’re helping Gabriel Union’s character squeeze in through the window was it hard to keep a straight face? We’re you guys able to bang it out or did it take a few takes.

Epps: Oh yes, that was a good one. We did do it a couple of times but we banged it out rather quickly. Gabi was only going to fall in through that window but so many times. [Laughs]

Malachi (OMAR EPPS) reconnects with Rachel (GABRIELLE UNION) and the rest of the family in "Almost Christmas." The new comedy from writer/director David E. Talbert and producer Will Packer tells the festive story of a beloved patriarch who asks his family for one gift this holiday season: to get along. If they can honor that wish and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another, it will be a Christmas miracle.
Malachi (OMAR EPPS) reconnects with Rachel (GABRIELLE UNION) and the rest of the family in “Almost Christmas.”

The chemistry between everyone definitely shows on-screen. How was it being on set? Did you guys play any practical jokes on each other? Any memorable moments? 

Epps: Gabi and I have known each other for years so we had that synergy throughout the whole film. Everyone was great though. There was so much respect on set. There weren’t necessarily practical jokes but we formed this camaraderie and we shared a lot of laughs. Some of the most memorable moments for me were watching the scenes I wasn’t in. Mo’Nique and J.B. are hilarious. It was great to see them do their thing.

What 5 fly things are you looking forward to receiving this Christmas?

Epps: Well I don’t really care about getting anything for Christmas. For me it’s more about getting to spend time with my family and making it special for my kids. So I’m just really looking forward to getting this family time in.

A Meyers Christmas

Hi Will. I’m a fan of your work. Absolutely loved the film. At the end everyone including myself stood up and applauded.

Packer: Wow, really. Thank you, that’s great. It means a lot.

Almost Christmas is your second holiday film. Going into it was making sure it was noticeably different from This Christmas something you always had in the back of your mind?

Packer: Not really. You know This Christmas is one of my favorite movies that I’ve made. It’s one of those movies that audiences really responded to. It shows on cable TV every year. People will hit me and go, “When are you going to do a sequel? We want another Christmas movie.” Dave sent me a script at the perfect time, but it was about a family coming together around Thanksgiving after the death of the matriarch. I called him and I said, “Dave, I love it. I’ve got one note for you. Let’s make it Christmas instead of Thanksgiving, and let’s go make this movie.” He said, “All right. I’m in.” If you’re going to make a holiday movie it has to be about the biggest holiday of all. You can avoid people all year-long, but Christmas is the one time that you’ve gotta spend time with the folks you haven’t seen since last Christmas, and that’s true for a lot of families. After that the first person I called was Gabrielle Union. I’ve known Gab for a while and we’ve done a bunch of projects together in the past. I called her up and I go, “Gee, what do you think? I think this is the one we should do. We should produce it together.” She goes, “I’m in,” and everything just started moving from there.

You mentioned immediately reaching out to Gabriel. Prior to shooting the film did you have other people in mind for the cast as well? It’s clear the cast had great chemistry it really translated on-screen. J.B. Smoove and Mo’Nique did a superb job of bringing the laughs. 

Packer: Gabi was really the anchor that helped attract the rest of the cast. Danny Glover is a legend. Everyone was great. Nicole Ari Parker, Omar Epps, Mo’Nique, J.B. SmooveKimberly Elise, Romany Malco, they all did such an amazing job. We even have these up and comers representing the younger generation with Jessie T. Usher, and D.C. Young Fly.  The cast was able to really embody these characters and tell the story of this family that I feel will definitely resonate with audiences.

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My favorite scene was the scene with everyone gathered around the table for Christmas dinner. There were so many layers and as it progressed the comedy just got bigger and bigger. The kids also really stole the show, I think. I loved them texting back and forth with all the emoji’s and how they set-up the phone so they wouldn’t miss any of the action. How was it capturing that scene? How did everything come together? Was it written that way originally or was there some improvisation?

Packer: I have to give props to Dave for making a really solid script. The smart thing that Dave did was that he allowed his actors to embody the characters in their own way and to bring their own perspective and nuances to the characters. In the specific scene I thought it was important to include the kids texting because that’s actually what would be taking place. The way that scene was shot is how you see it, that scene is continuously moving. The transition from the dining room to the kitchen and back again was flawless. It was shot that way intentionally. We didn’t shoot the dining room and cut then go to the kitchen. We wanted it to progress naturally and the end result was better than we had imagined.

What does fly mean to you?

Packer: To me fly means being unapologetically you. Fly means standing by your convictions and making your own path. Fly is about setting your sights on something and never wavering from accomplishing it.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Packer: I love the holidays. I love family movies. My immediate family is small. I have one sister, and I grew up with both my parents. Family was always very important. The holidays were the time when all the extended family would get together. I did grow up in the South. I grew up with a great sense of culture and tradition and all of that. So I’m just really looking forward to the time off and getting to spend that time with family. Work keeps me really busy so it’s nice to get a break and get that quality time in.

Almost Christmas opens in theaters Friday Nov. 11. Watch the trailer below and don’t miss out on a film destined to be a staple family Christmas movie for year’s to come. 

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Entertainment

Watch As A Family Tries To Get In The Christmas Spirit In The New Trailer For The Holiday Comedy ‘Almost Christmas’

The holidays are usually reserved for joy and the opportunity for the family to all come together for a good time. Unfortunately for one family it just means they have to tolerate each other without killing each other.

 

Almost Christmas (2016)

In the new comedy Almost Christmas from writer/director David E.Talbert (Baggage Claim) and Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like A Man series & This Christmas) we meet a family who’s reeling from the loss of a beloved patriarch. Her last wish was hoping her family can get along for five-days under the same roof, making it a true Christmas Miracle.

A Meyers Christmas

Almost Christmas boasts an all-star cast featuring Kimberly Elise, Danny Glover, John Michael Higgins, Romany Malco, Mo’Nique, JB Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Omar Epps, Nicole Ari Parker, Jessie T. Usher and DC Young Fly .

Almost Christmas (2016)

Peep the hilarious new trailer for Almost Christmas below:

Almost Christmas is in theaters November 11th, 2016!

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PHOTOS: Universal Pictures

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New Promotional Video For Independence Day: Resurgence Highlights How The World Rebuilt After War of 1996

Cast of ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ Remembers War of 1996 [Video]

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Entertainment Fly Reviews

Fly Review: Barbershop: The Next Cut

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It’s time to head back to Calvin’s for a fresh-cut and hilarious banter in BarberShop: The Next Cut. Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve and Anthony Anderson return along with newcomers to the franchise Common, Nicki Minaj, Regina Hall, J.B. Smoove, Margot Bingham and Lamorne Morris.

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Rashad, Eddie and Calvin VIa: Warner Brothers

It’s been 10 plus years since we last visited the iconic barbershop located on the South Side of Chicago. The once male dominated sanctuary is now a unisex salon headed by Angie (Regina Hall) who is Calvin’s business partner. Calvin’s motley crew of barbers consist of old man Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), Rashad (Common), Jerrod (Lamorne Morris), Raja (Utkarsh Ambudkar), Terri (Eve) and man of many occupations One-Stop (JB Smoove).

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Angie leads of a group of feisty hair technicians, Draya (Nicki Minaj), and Bree (Margot Bingham). The new dynamic in the shop makes for some interesting banter between the opposite sexes as they comically debate topics such as Obama, Instagram Ho’s, and today’s vernacular such as term “on fleek” which Eddie makes light of.

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Things also do get serious in the Malcolm D.Lee directed film when the topics of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and other recent issues affecting black communities are brought up. Calvin’s is now in the safe-haven of the neighborhood thanks to a new political measure introduced and backed by former Barber now politician Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas) to help counteract all of the gang violence going on in the neighborhood. Jimmy’s idea isn’t met with the acceptance he would like leading to the barbers coming up with the idea to for the barbershop to become a safe-zone for 48hrs initiating a truce between rival gangs. Anyone who visits the shop during that time gets free haircuts or their hair did. Jerrod gets a hashtag going on Twitter to help spread the word about the ceasefire and helps get things in motion.

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Jalen and Calvin VIa: Warner Brothers

The main story in the film revolves around Calvin and his son Jalen (Michael Rainy Jr.) and Calvin doing whatever it takes to keep his son out of trouble. Jalen becomes friends with Kenny who is the son Rashad and the two get involved with a local gang ran by Yummy (Tyga) don’t ask us why a gang leader’s name is Yummy. Calvin and his wife can’t believe their son’s recent behavior is of his own accord after Jalen gets in trouble at school. Calvin immediately feels that Jalen’s behavior is the direct result of hanging out with Kenny who is a known troublemaker and recently moved in with his dad Rashad and step-mom Terri. Calvin’s accusations lead to a rift between him and Rashad, Calvin fearing for his son’s life decides to look for a shop in a safer neighborhood leaving the rest of his employees to figure  it out for themselves.

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Draya, Terri and Rashad VIa: Warner Brothers

Rashad is also dealing with some family issues as well. Terri is now a celebrity stylist and her work keeps her very busy and keeps her from being home with Rashad.

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The tension between the two is noticed by Draya who looks step in and make things interesting for Rashad. This sets up an interesting dynamic between the two leading ladies of hip-hop in the film.

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Thanks to writers Kenya Barrish (black-ish) and Tracy Oliver, The Next Cut perfectly blends laugh out loud moments with serious tones. We do wish Nicki’s character was bit more stronger but she does make the most of her screen-time when she gets it. Regina Hall does a masterful job as Calvin’s business partner and shines when things get serious in the film. Common and Cube work well together in the film and of course Cedric shines as Eddie supplying much of the films comic relief.

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Barbershop: The Next Cut is the perfect film for the family to go see as a whole or great option for date night.

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Barbershop: The Next Cut is in theaters now!

3 out 4

 

 

 

 

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Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart & More Star In The Upcoming Movie Top Five Co-Produced By Jay Z, Questlove and Kanye West [Movie Trailer]

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Chris Rock  leads an all-star cast in the upcoming film Top Five, which is also co-produced by Jay Z,  Questlove and Kanye West.

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In Case You Missed It: BET Hip Hop Awards 2013 Cyphers

bet-hiphop-awards-600x324Missed the 2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards last night? Well the SFPL got you covered, the night included performances from top hip-hop acts Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, Kendrick Lamar, Diddy, 2 Chainz, Bone Thugs and Harmony, Meek Mill, French Montana and many more. The highlight of the Hip-Hop Awards have to be the highly anticipated cyphers though. Kendrick Lamar and the TDE crew cypher has been the talk of the Internets since the awards initial taping. Lil’ Kim, Action Bronson, Rapsody, Slaughterhouse, Jon Conner, A$AP Mob and The Real Husbands of Hollywood cast participated in this years edition of the cyphers. DJ Premier supplied the beats to this years participants. Kendrick Lamar reigned supreme as he took home 5 awards, his competition Drake took home 4 awards. Other winners on the night  included Jay Z, J.Cole, Benny Boom, Mike Will Made It, Big Sean, Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky, DJ Drama and Worldstar Hip-Hop (side eye). Checkout the videos below and leave your thoughts on who brought it this year and of course who should just give rapping up all together.

The Cyphers

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FLY LIGHTS

Fly-LIGHTs: “Real Husbands Of Hollywood” Hits 106th & Park & SFPL Attends the Premiere Screening and RHOH and ‘Second Generation Wayans’…

106 & Park, January 15, 2013. (photo: John Ricard / BET)

On, Tuesday, January 15, the hosts of “106 & PARK” kicked off a new season and welcomed Kevin Hart, Robin Thicke and J. B. Smoove from “Real Husbands of Hollywood” to their brand new set to discuss televisions “fakest” reality show.

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Stuff Fly People Like

NEW DVD/MOVIE: FRANKENHOOD

HILARIOUS.

Eddie Murphy’s older brother Charley leads an all-star cast of comics, including DeRay Davis and J.B. Smoove, in the direct-to-DVD horror comedy Frankenhood. Loosely modeled after the classic horror yarn Frankenstein, the movie follows two morgue attendents who dream of leaving their dead-end jobs by winning the grandprize in the local 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Since they’re short a player, they decide to build the ultimate B-baller out of spare body parts lying around the morgue. Watch an exclusive clip from Frankenhood below and check out the full film when it arrives on DVD next Tuesday, May 5.

[Source]

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