Life Support is Queen Latifah’s war cry against the so-far-losing battle fought by people of color against HIV. Plus the dirt on the homophobic movie rating system, Jennifer Aniston goes lesbian, the execution of Wanda Jean, and more.
Oh, how we love Queen Latifah. She can serve up a Hip-Hop refrain with luster like the dirtiest ol’ bastard, yet simultaneously inspire sistahs to new heights with the magnificence of Oprah.
Latifah’s 1994 Grammy-winning “U-N-I-T-Y” rallied women of color in particular to higher awareness. Seventeen years later, Life Support is her war cry against the so-far-losing battle fought by people of color in general against HIV.
In it, the Queen plays Ana Wallace, a now-clean and sober facilitator of a women’s HIV support group. A considerable departure from her 2002 Oscar-nominated role as Chicago‘s prison matron Mama Morton, Latifah’s portrayal of the HIV-positive mother of two struggling to hold her family—and her own life—together is realistic and exhausting.
The scenes depicting her support group are shot in a highly educational, semi-docu, almost improvised form, conversationally and casually addressing safe-sex procedures, methods of transmission, down-low issues, and how to approach testing. Inspired by a true story, the movie also gently yet firmly shares the alarming statistics without being preachy, including the sorry fact that of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV and AIDS, approximately 500,000 are African-American.
Jamie Foxx, Latifah, and a slew of others share executive production credit on Life Support, which is directed by Nelson George and co-written with Jim McKay and Hannah Weyer. It also stars Anna Deavere Smith, Wendell Pierce, Evan Ross (who plays a gay HIV-positive teenager), Rachel Nicks, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Gloria Reuben, Tony Rock, and Tracee Ellis Ross (daughter of Diana Ross).
Debuts March 10, 7 p.m. on HBO, with repeats throughout the month. Details: www.hbo.com.
Lesbian P.I.s get the MPAA
In This Film Is Not Yet Rated, gay filmmakers Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), John Waters (A Dirty Shame), Jamie Babbit (But I’m a Cheerleader), and others speak candidly about the inconsistencies (to put it mildly) imposed on films by the Motion Picture Association of America’s film ratings system. Plan on getting angry.
FYI: Private eyes hired to uncover the secrets of the MPAA were domestic partners Becky Altringer and Cheryl Howell, who are also on-camera participants in this film directed by Kirby Dick. Airs March 31 on the Independent Film Channel (www.ifc.com).
Jennifer Aniston goes lesbian!
Together again, former Friends Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox get chummy on Dirt, CC’s hot new FX series about the tabloids. Aniston plays a rival editor — and married lesbian with children! — in the March 27 season finale. Nothing dirty about that.
The Execution of Wanda Jean
This ain’t no musical. Produced by Home Box Office, Inc., this documentary follows Wanda Jean Allen in the three months prior to her execution for slaying her girlfriend in the parking lot of a police station, despite her defense of lifelong mental retardation and brain damage. Airs March 29, 9 p.m., and March 30, 1 a.m. on A&E (www.aetv.com).
The Way Out
Produced in association with David Duchovny and Mythgarden, the production company run by the very out Chad Allen and Robert Gant, and others, this film focuses on what happens to a gay man after he loses his partner of 53 years.
It’s already been a good year for Allen. His Shock to the System: A Donald Strachey Mystery, which also airs on here!, recently garnered a nomination for the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications’ Vision Award. The Way Out is now in development. Details: www.heretv.com.
To amuse those of us who prefer watching exercise as opposed to actually exercising, Jackie Warner and the buff gang return to Bravo for a second season. Expect hilarity in episode 2: comedian Kathy Griffin gets the once-over. Airs Tuesday, March 20, 10 p.m., and returns to its regular time slot the following Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Bravo (www.bravotv.com).
Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
My, how time flies when you’re exposing cons, charlatans, and idiocy in general. Back for a fifth season, the not-so-magical boys focus on obesity, Wal-Mart, Satanic conspiracy, and more. Sounds like another night on CBN, doesn’t it?
Premieres March 22, 9 p.m., on Showtime (www.sho.net).