Reuben Cannon and his lovely wife attended the private screening of executive producer Queen Latifah’s HBO movie “Bessie” in which Latifah also starred as Smith. The screening was very well attended and HBO really knows how to throw a VIP private screening exactly the way it should be done.
When I walked into Atlanta’s Rialto Center for the Arts, the step and repeat was perfect enough in length where all the media reps had no problems aligning themselves and getting the proper photos. The snacks were endless: popcorn, warm pretzels, starbursts, cookies, granola bars, and all the official movie junk food. The best part is that everything was absolutely unlimited and complimentary. Upstairs, at the entrance to the main theater there were barrels and barrels of drinks. All sorts of Coca-Coca products and guess what? All complimentary and in abundance. I haven’t had free popcorn offered at a movie premiere since I went to the NYC private screening of Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls.
Now, let’s move on to the movie screening. The movie opened with Tika Sumpter and Queen Latifah displaying …. now wouldn’t you like to know? You must check out the film on May 16 when it premieres on HBO.
The primary focus of the film was on the tumultuous life and struggles of blues singer Bessie Smith; as she transformed from a starving artist (literally during her childhood) to “the Empress of the Blues.” The thirst was real. Amid all her battles there were definitely triumphs that led to Smith becoming one of the most successful blues recording artists of the 1920s.
Not only did she pave the way for Black singers, she was an LGBTQ pioneer who was not ashamed of her bisexuality on or off the stage. It’s funny because in the movie, there wasn’t much flack depicted as to where her lifestyle was judged or a problem.
As for Mo’Nique and her acting skills. Three words will describe her superb portrayal of Ma Rainey: She did that!
The night ended with the most elegant after-party at the Midtown Ritz Carlton. The cast and limited guests were treated to a five-course dinner and dessert and great company. And, of course, open bar — all compliments of HBO, my new favorite channel.
Please support this film executive produced by Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere. “Bessie” is excellent and I can’t wait for the May 16 premiere. I’m more excited I have one month left of HBO on my Comcast cable plan, so I will definitely catch the movie.