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FLY Interviews Videos

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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Music

Nas and Erykah Badu Ready for Theater Debut of ‘The Land’, Drop “This Bitter Land” [New Music]

Nas and Erykah Badu have linked up for a brooding new record titled “This Bitter Land.” Off of the soundtrack for the upcoming theatrical release of The Land which the duo not only contribute music for, but Nas is an executive producer and Badu stars in the film.

Delivering a standout performance clearly channeling her inner Nina Simone, Badu’s voice staggers and sweeps over the beautiful stringed instruments. Enter Nas with an acerbic verse, offering a deep reflection of his youth and the struggles one encounters when striving for success.

The Land and the accompanying soundtrack will be in theaters and available on July 29. The film tells the story of a group of teenage skateboarders in Cleveland with a dreams of going pro. The four friends however find themselves caught up in a dangerous drug deal that could jeopardize all of their futures. Machine Gun KellyMoises Arias, and The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams also star. The film’s soundtrack features other hip-hop legends including Pusha T,  Kanye West, French Montana, and more. The soundtrack is currently available for pre-order.

Listen to Nas and Badu’s powerful collaboration below. You can also watch the trailer for The Land in theaters this Friday.

 

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Entertainment

First Look: Universal Pictures’ STEVE JOBS

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Selected as the Centerpiece feature of the 53rd annual New York Film Festival on Saturday, October 3rd, STEVE JOBS takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter.

Check out the new poster above and the official trailer below:

steve jobs | in theaters october 9

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |Tumblr | #SteveJobsMovie

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Entertainment

The FLY-REVIEW: “The Wedding Ringer”

 

 

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We got an exclusive first-look at the upcoming comedy movie The Wedding Ringer! Take a quick look at our recap and let us know what you think! Check it out below…

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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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Music

Jennifer Hudson ft. Forrest Whitaker, Luke James & Jacob Latimore – “Be Grateful” (Black Nativity Soundtrack) [SFPL Tunes]

With the approach of the late Langston Hughes‘ compelling Christmas story, ‘Black Nativity’, catch a quick glimpse of what musical sounds will be offered in the movie debut. Jennifer Hudson sings the Walter Hawkins classic “Be Grateful” with the help of actor Forrest Whitaker, Jacob Latimore and Luke James. The Walter Hawkins remake serves as the first single from the motion picture soundtrack of Black Nativity. Check out the official track below…

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SFPL Tunes: Jeremih – “Ex – To – See”

Jeremih releases another tune entitled “Ex – To – See” where he speaks seductively about another companion. Expect his new project Thumpy Johnson to be released soon; where Diddy (his new manager) will executive produce the album in its entirety.

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New Movie: The Wolverine (Trailer)

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Well comic book nerds the summer movie season is almost upon us and with it comes the plethora of comic book films.  Fan favorite  Wolverine will make his return to the big screen in The Wolverine. Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the  popular X-Man in the James Mangold directed spinoff from 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine film. The Wolverine picks up where X-Men: The Last Stand  left off, Logan aka Wolverine is back to his nomadic ways and is still reeling from the loss of Jean Grey but as usual his past always seems to catch up with him. An old friend from Japan is looking for the indestructible mutant an sends his daughter to find him. Once she does she lures Logan to Japan to meet the man he saved years ago and he promises to make him human again. Apparently from the looks of things in the trailer not everything is all good as Wolverine’s crutch his healing factor is jacked up. Wolverine is going to have to fend off his foes and be conscious that he ‘s not the indestructible guy he used to be. Also spotted in the trailer one of his famous foes from the comic book lore the Silver Samurai very dope. Dive into the trailer below.

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Fly Reviews

FLY Review: The Sapphires

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Starring: Chris O’Dowd , Jessica Mauboy, Deborah Mailman, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell. Written By: Tony Briggs and Keith Thompson. Directed By: Wayne Blair. Runtime 103 mins. In theaters March 22nd 2013.

As I walked into the Dolby 24 screening room I can admit I knew nothing about the film The Sapphires. I was completely aware it was a film based around  music . Little did I know I would leave learning about a whole country’s horrid past and the story of four Aboriginal girls who had a dream and lived it for a brief moment. 

The Sapphires tells the story of four Aboriginal (Indigenous Australians) girls who lived during what would be considered a black  eye in Australia’s history.  In the movie’s opening scene we see the girls at a very young age, they show off their singing talents to their parents and people in their mission (indigenous settlement). Their performance was interrupted when two government cars roll up on the settlement to take away the children.  The children are told to go hide and are led by Gail (Deborah Mailman) but to no avail poor Gail witnesses her cousin and best friend Kay ( Sheri Sebbens) being taking away. Kay was a victim of what they called the “Stolen Generation” where Aboriginal children who looked “white” were taken away to be assimilated into white society.

Flash forward to 1968 the Vietnam War is raging on and the Civil Rights movement is in full swing in the states. The girls have grown into young teenagers now and are led by big sister Gail. The three sisters Gail, Julie and Cynthia are excited about a talent show in town and gearing up to participate. The younger of the three Julie (Jessica Mauyboy) is informed by mom and big sister she can’t go because she has a son and she’s the little sister. Gail and Cynthia make it just in time to perform in front of not so favorable white crowd  little did they know Julie snuck out and surprises them and joins the act. Their performance catches the eye and ear of a struggling talent scout Dave Lovelace (Chris O’Dowd). 

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Dave becomes the girls manager and agrees to help them get into Sapphire form by introducing them to soul music.  They also reunite with Kay who’s was taken away earlier in the film. Gail is not too pleased to see her cousin who has been assimilated or in some cases brainwashed to believe she’s above her Aboriginal roots. They head to Vietnam a group of misguided girls but slowly come together as they perform for the American troops. 

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The Sapphires is more than just a “feel good” movie  it’s a history lesson with a musical soundtrack. Me being an African American can appreciate this film cause there is such a strong correlation with my ancestors struggle. I didn’t know much about the struggle of the Aboriginal but walked out of that theater with knowledge of them and what they had to endure. I was intrigued to learn more about them and why they were treated as such. I was also very impressed by Jessica Mauboy and her amazing voice and acting skills she is a rockstar in Australia and I can see her star shinning brightly here.  The cast was amazing and did a great job of telling the story of these four girls and their determination to live out their dreams. This film is definitely worth seeing when it hits theaters and definitely should be embraced by the black community. 

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The Sapphires gets a huge #WELIKE from Team SFPL!

Stay Fly!

Shoutout: 135th Agency/Saptosa/The Weinstein Company

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Movie Trailers: The Hangover 3

The Wolfpack is back! Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) return where all the drama started Las Vegas in the third installment in The Hangover franchise. Looks like the gang is all here except Alan’s dad who apparently passed away in what is rumored to be the last film in The Hangover series. The film seems to be following the route of its previous two predecessors with the trio being shot at, chased and picking up wild exotic animals. There was no sign of Phil and Stu being drugged by Alan but im not going to rule that out. Checkout the hilarious trailer for The Hangover III below.