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Clarence Avant, ‘Godfather of Black Music’ and benefactor of athletes and politicians, dies at 92

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NEW YORK — The wise manager, businessman, facilitator, and consultant Clarence Avant, who launched or shaped the careers of Quincy Jones, Bill Withers, and many others and became known as “The Godfather of Black Music,” has passed away. He was 92.

A family announcement on Monday morning stated that Avant, who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021, passed away on Sunday at his Los Angeles home.

As a name in the credits or a name behind the names, Avant’s accomplishments were visible and unnoticed. He was raised by a mentor who was a music manager named Joe Glaser and was born in a segregated hospital in North Carolina. Joe Glaser gave him two pieces of advice: never reveal how much you know and ask for as much money as possible “without stuttering.”

He made his management debut in the 1950s, working with artists including Little Willie John, Sarah Vaughan, and composer Lalo Schifrin, who created the theme song for “Mission: Impossible.” He was an early supporter of Black-owned radio stations in the 1970s, and after Berry Gordy Jr. sold the business in the 1990s, he became the head of Motown.

Additionally, he founded the labels Sussex (a cross between two Avant-garde passions: success and sex), Tabu, and the S.O.S Band, as well as working with obscure singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriquez, who would later go on to become well-known thanks to the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugarman.”

Other work was done more quietly. In 1968, Avant, who Stax CEO Al Bell had chosen to serve as a link between the entertainment and business worlds, facilitated the sale of Stax Records to Gulf and Western. He helped Michael Jackson plan his first solo tour, raised money for Bill Clinton and Obama, and advised Babyface, L.A. Reid, Narada Michael Walden, and other younger followers.

If they’re clever, everyone in this profession has visited Clarence’s desk, as Quincy Jones loved to say.

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The wise manager, businessman, facilitator, and consultant Clarence Avant has died. He was 92.

“Clarence leaves behind a devoted family and a large network of friends and colleagues who have transformed the world and will do so for a long time. The joy of his legacy lessens the pain of our loss, according to the statement made by Avant’s son Alex, daughter Nicole, and her husband, Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix.

Avant also impacted sports. He produced a primetime television special for Muhammad Ali and assisted running back Jim Brown in moving from football to acting. When Babe Ruth’s record for most home runs in a season was about to be broken by baseball legend Henry Aaron in 1974, Avant ensured that Aaron secured the kind of rich commercial deals frequently out of reach for Black athletes. He started by making a direct request to the Coca-Cola president.

Aaron would later claim to have become everything he was “because of Clarence Avant” in an interview with The Undefeated.

At an Ebony Fashion Fair in the middle of the 1960s, Avant met model Jacqueline Grey, with whom he later married. They had two kids: Nicole Avant, a former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas and, along with Sarandos, a significant Obama fundraiser, and music producer-manager Alexander Devore. In addition to being inducted into the Rock Hall, he was given two honorary Grammy Awards, an NAACP Image Award, and a BET Entrepreneur Award.

Jacqueline Avant was assassinated in their Beverly Hills home in 2021, and among those who mourned her passing were Magic Johnson and Bill Clinton. Nicole Avant would say that her mother, a well-known philanthropist, was responsible for instilling in Clarence Avant and the rest of the family “the love and passion and importance of the arts, culture, and entertainment.”

avant

The wise manager, businessman, facilitator, and consultant Clarence Avant has died. He was 92.

Clarence Avant was born in 1931 and spent his formative years in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was one of eight children raised by a single mother there, and he left high school early to come up north. He managed a lounge in Newark, New Jersey, with the assistance of a buddy from North Carolina, and soon met Glaser, whose patrons included Al Capone, Barbra Streisand, Louis Armstrong, and more. Avant was given access to locations where Black people had previously been rarely allowed, thanks to Glaser.

“Mr. Glaser would have me go with him to these dog shows,” Avant remarked to Variety in 2016. You must also consider that I was the only Black person present at the goddamn dog show. When he took me to a game at Yankee Stadium, he had 16 tickets behind the home dugout. Whenever I tried to go to the back row, he would grab me and shout, “Goddamn it, sit your ass up here with me.”

Avant and Jones were particularly close due to a lost record contract. Jones, one of the few Black executives in the business, was a vice president of Mercury Records in the early 1960s. Jimmy Smith, a jazz artist represented by Avant, had recently been signed by Mercury for $100,000. Avant set a far greater goal for Smith, closer to 500,000.

Do you consume Kool-Aid? Jones would recall telling Avant, who was negotiating with Verve Records at the time.

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The wise manager, businessman, facilitator, and consultant Clarence Avant has died. He was 92.

According to Jones, who worked with Avant on the TV show “Heart and Soul” and the motion picture “Stalingrad,” “he went and got the deal,” Billboard reported in 2006. I admired him for doing that.

As he progressed in the entertainment business, Avant became increasingly politically involved. He was the executive producer of “Save the Children,” a 1973 documentary about a musical fundraiser for the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “Operation PUSH.” He was an early supporter of Tom Bradley, the first Black mayor of Los Angeles. When the civil rights activist Andrew Young was running for Congress in Georgia three years prior, he called him.

“He asked, “You’re running for Congress in Georgia?” Later, Young spoke to CNN. If you’re insane enough to run, then I’m crazy enough to help you, he declared.

Young had never met Avant, who volunteered to organize a charity event with Isaac Hayes and other performers at the Atlanta baseball stadium.

When advertisements for the performance started popping up all over town a month later, Young had forgotten about their talk.

Young estimated that 30,000 people attended despite the torrential downpour. And he never gave us a bill, either.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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‘Hawaii Five-0’ Fan Favorite And Former UFC Fighter Taylor Wily Dies At 56

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Los Angeles — Taylor Wily, a former sumo wrestler best known for his role as confidential informant Kamekona Tupuola on “Hawaii Five-0” and “Magnum P.I,” died on Friday, according to a friend and a “Hawaii Five-0” producer. He was 56.

“Hawaii Five-0” executive producer Peter M. Lenkov announced his death to The Associated Press and posted numerous condolences to the actor on Instagram, adding, “I am devastated. “Heartbroken” was the caption for a photo of the two.

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Wily

‘Hawaii Five-0’ Fan Favorite And Former UFC Fighter Taylor Wily Dies At 56

KITV 4 in Honolulu was the first to report Taylor’s death on Thursday. Additional data concerning the cause are unknown. Lina Girl Langi, a TV and radio personality, said on the show “Island Life Live” that she broke the news “with a heavy heart,” because Wily was a friend.

Taylor’s longtime friend and partner, Lenkov, uploaded a second post later on Thursday with a video montage of images and clips with him. He commented, “You charmed me into making you a regular on the show and my life.” You were a family member. I’ll miss you every day, brother.”

In an extra statement to the AP, Lenkov said it was difficult to characterize Wily’s “special” qualities and praised the actor’s abilities.

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Wily AP News image

‘Hawaii Five-0’ Fan Favorite And Former UFC Fighter Taylor Wily Dies At 56

“Even though a lot of his ‘Hawaii Five-0’ and ‘Magnum’ scenes featured his comedy skills, he was also an incredible dramatic actor,” Lenvok pointed out. “I wrote a script for him a few years ago and hoped to cast him in my next production. I wanted to keep him near, both as a friend and as an artist. I’m devastated that I won’t get the opportunity.

Taylor played Kamekona on “Hawaii Five-0” from 2010 to 2020 and became a fan favorite. He reprised his role in the reboot of “Magnum P.I.” and had a noteworthy performance as a hotel worker in the 2008 comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

‘Hawaii Five-0’ Fan Favorite And Former UFC Fighter Taylor Wily Dies At 56

Before becoming an actor, Taylor, born Teila Tuli, was a well-known sumo wrestler and UFC 1 competitor. In 1993, he became the first knockout victim in UFC history after opponent Gerard Gordeau’s kick knocked a tooth out of Wily’s mouth, ending the bout in 26 seconds.

Wily is survived by his wife, Halona, and two children.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Jeff Bezos Is Under Fire At The Washington Post As Patience Wears Thin Among Staffers

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Jeff Bezos | CNN Image

When will Jeff Bezos confront the crisis in his newsroom?

The Washington Post’s owner and Amazon millionaire has yet to take any meaningful action to address concerns at his newspaper, which continues in disarray while explosive reports are published on a daily basis, calling the outlet’s new publisher, Will Lewis, into severe question.

Staffers at The Post are losing patience with Bezos, whose only response to the Lewis disaster so far has been to send a 138-word, single-paragraph memo from his Mediterranean yachting vacation to a few leaders at The Post, assuring them that he wants standards to remain “very high.” That is the root of the problem, according to The Post staff. They, too, want standards to stay “very high” and are concerned that Lewis constitutes an active threat to that common goal.

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Jeff Bezos | Variety Image

Jeff Bezos Is Under Fire At The Washington Post As Patience Wears Thin Among Staffers

More drama occurred Friday when Lewis said that Robert Winnett, whom he had identified as the paper’s incoming editor, would not be coming to manage the Post. This comes after The Post published a 3,000-word front-page exposé this week, revealing that Winnett had previously utilized documents from a self-described “thief” for reporting.

Frustrations and concerns are so severe at the outlet that two of the institution’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists have chosen to come out publicly, pushing for a change in leadership, an unprecedented move at the venerable newspaper. David Maraniss, an associate editor at The Post for nearly 50 years, said he doesn’t “know a single person at the Post who thinks the current situation with the publisher and the supposed new editor can stand.” Scott Higham, who has been with The Post for over two decades, concurred and urged for Lewis’ dismissal.

“Will Lewis needs to step down for the good of The Post and the public,” Higham posted on Facebook. “He has lost the newsroom and will never win it back.”

To summarise, Maraniss and Higham express what many in the newsroom believe. In meetings with more than a dozen people inside and close to The Post this week, it became evident that Lewis, in his brief six months on the job, has completely alienated personnel and now confronts insurmountable odds in regaining the employee base he hopes to lead. Whether or not he has strong business ideas is irrelevant. He has lost the respect of his staff. And any successful leader will tell you that without the credibility to lead, it is impossible to accomplish anything, let alone perform a Herculean company revolution.

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Jeff Bezos | CNN Image

Jeff Bezos Is Under Fire At The Washington Post As Patience Wears Thin Among Staffers

Bezos’ spokeswoman did not reply to demands for comment on Thursday. But certainly, the millionaire realizes the grave predicament that has gripped The Post. And it’s hard to imagine he truly feels his brief memo to The Post’s leadership was sufficient to quell the worries that have sparked the extraordinary outrage at the newspaper. In fact, it’s worth noting that Bezos has not expressed support for Lewis recently, providing him options as he assesses the deteriorating situation and decides how to stop the bleeding.

Staff at The Post are eagerly awaiting Bezos’ action. Since Lewis’s fury flared earlier this month, CNN employees have repeatedly warned the outlet that the ongoing turmoil has diverted attention away from the newsroom’s essential job. With a high-stakes election just months away, it is far from ideal to have the attention of one of the country’s leading news organizations diverted by internal strife.

It’s “a massive distraction,” one Postie told me Thursday, adding that The Guardian’s eye-catching story accusing Lewis of allegedly advising then-U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “clean up” his phone amid the so-called “Partygate” controversies is “the talk of the newsroom.” (Both Lewis and Johnson refuted the story.)

“I don’t think the mood will change until something else changes,” the employee explained.

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Jeff Bezos | CNBC Image

Jeff Bezos Is Under Fire At The Washington Post As Patience Wears Thin Among Staffers

In Bezos’ absence, reports questioning Lewis’ ethical integrity continue to emerge. According to the Financial Times, Lewis “retains links” to a public relations agency that advises powerful corporate and political figures on negotiating difficult circumstances. While the FT reported that Lewis had sold his ownership part in the company, it also stated that the firm had “continued to distribute regular emails from Lewis,” producing “confusion among people in contact with the agency.”

While the FT’s Thursday story lacked the weight of other news outlets’ recent reports, it did raise new questions about Lewis’ past and entanglements.

Meanwhile, as The Post and other sources, including The New York Times, continue to investigate Lewis’ past, many more concerns will arise. And as the inquiries continue, those at The Post will undoubtedly have one in particular for Bezos: What are your plans for restoring your newspaper’s reputation and status?

SOURCE – (CNN)

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Donald Sutherland, The Towering Actor Whose Career Spanned ‘M.A.S.H.’ To ‘Hunger Games,’ Dies At 88

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NEW YORK — Donald Sutherland, a famous film and television actor whose work ranged from “M.A.S.H.” to “The Hunger Games,” has died. He was 88.

The actor’s son, Kiefer Sutherland, confirmed his father’s death Thursday. No other information was immediately provided.

“I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film,” Kiefer Sutherland stated on X. “Never intimidated by a part, whether good, awful, or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and you can’t ask for more.”

The tall and gaunt Canadian actor with a charming or wicked grin was recognized for oddball characters like Hawkeye Pierce in Robert Altman’s “M.A.S.H.,” the hippy tank commander in “Kelly’s Heroes,” and the stoned professor in “Animal House.”

Before starting a long career as a respected character actor, Sutherland exemplified 1970s cinema’s unconventional, anti-establishment style.

Over the years, Sutherland demonstrated his versatility in more conventional but unconventional roles like Robert Redford’s “Ordinary People” and Oliver Stone’s “JFK.” More recently, he appeared in the “Hunger Games” movies. He never retired and worked frequently till his death. “Made Up, But Still True,” a memoir, was scheduled to be released in November.

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Sutherland | AP News Image

Donald Sutherland, The Towering Actor Whose Career Spanned ‘M.A.S.H.’ To ‘Hunger Games,’ Dies At 88

“I enjoy working. In 1998, Sutherland told Charlie Rose, “I passionately love to work.” “I adore seeing my hand fit into the glove of another figure. I get a great sense of freedom; time seems to halt. I’m not as crazy as I used to be, but I’m still slightly insane.”

Donald McNichol Sutherland was born in St. John, New Brunswick, the son of a salesperson and a math teacher. He was up in Nova Scotia and was a disc jockey with his radio station by age 14.

“When I was 13 or 14, I really thought everything I felt was wrong and dangerous, and that God was going to kill me for it,” said Sutherland to The New York Times in 1981. “My father always said, ‘Keep your mouth shut, Donnie, and maybe people will think you have character.'”

Sutherland began as an engineering student at the University of Toronto but switched to English and began acting in school plays. While studying in Toronto, he met an aspiring actress named Lois Hardwick. They married in 1959 and divorced seven years later.

Sutherland graduated in 1956 and studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Sutherland began performing in West End shows and on British television. He bounced around after moving to Los Angeles until a series of war films altered his path.

His first American picture was “The Dirty Dozen” (1967), in which he played Vernon Pinkley, an officer mimicking psychotic. In 1970, the World War II drama “Kelly’s Heroes” and “M.A.S.H.,” an acclaimed smash hit, were released, catapulting Sutherland to fame.

“There is more challenge in character roles,” Sutherland told The Washington Post in 1970. “There is longevity. A good character actor can portray a distinct face in each film without boring the audience.”

If Sutherland had gotten his way, Altman would have been sacked from “M.A.S.H.” He and co-star Elliott Gould were dissatisfied with the director’s unconventional, improvisational approach and lobbied to have him changed. But the picture outperformed everyone’s expectations, and Sutherland personally resonated with its anti-war message. Sutherland, actress Jane Fonda, and others created the Free Theater Associates in 1971 after being outspokenly opposed to the Vietnam War. In 1973, they performed in venues near military facilities in Southeast Asia after being banned by the Army for their political ideas.

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Sutherland | AP News Image

Donald Sutherland, The Towering Actor Whose Career Spanned ‘M.A.S.H.’ To ‘Hunger Games,’ Dies At 88

Sutherland’s career as a leading man peaked in the 1970s, when he starred in pictures by the greatest directors of the day, even if they didn’t always perform their best work with him. Sutherland, who repeatedly stated that he regarded himself at the service of a director’s vision, collaborated with Federico Fellini (1976’s “Fellini’s Casanova”), Bernardo Bertolucci (1976’s “1900”), Claude Chabrol (1978’s “Blood Relatives”), and John Schlesinger (1975’s “The Day of the Locust”).

One of his most memorable performances was as a detective in Alan Pakula’s “Klute” (1971). He met Fonda while filming “Klute,” they had a three-year relationship that began after his second marriage to actor Shirley Douglas ended. He married Douglas in 1966 and divorced in 1971.

In 1966, Sutherland and Douglas welcomed twins Rachel and Kiefer, named after Warren Kiefer, the writer of Sutherland’s first film, “Castle of the Living Dead.”

In 1974, the actor began living with actress Francine Racette, with whom he remained ever since. They had three children: Roeg, born in 1974 and named after filmmaker Nicolas Roeg (“Don’t Look Now”); Rossif, born in 1978 and named after director Frederick Rossif; and Angus Redford, born in 1979 and named after Robert Redford.

To some astonishment, Redford cast Sutherland as the father in his directorial debut, 1980’s “Ordinary People.” Redford’s drama about a gorgeous suburban family shattered by tragedy received four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The academy neglected Sutherland for the majority of his career. He was never nominated, but he received an honorary Oscar in 2017. He did, however, win an Emmy in 1995 for the television film “Citizen X” and was nominated for seven Golden Globes (including for his roles in “M.A.S.H.” and “Ordinary People”), winning two — again for “Citizen X” and for the 2003 television film “Path to War.”

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Sutherland | AP News Image

Donald Sutherland, The Towering Actor Whose Career Spanned ‘M.A.S.H.’ To ‘Hunger Games,’ Dies At 88

“Ordinary People” also signaled a transition in Sutherland’s career toward more mature and, in some cases, less eccentric characters.

However, his New York stage debut in 1981 was a disaster. He played Humbert Humbert in Edward Albee’s version of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” which received harsh reviews and closed after only a dozen performances.

A slump ensued in the 1980s, owing to flops such as the 1981 satire “Gas” and the 1984 comedy “Crackers.”

Sutherland, however, persisted in his efforts. He has a brief but noteworthy appearance in Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” (1991). He returned to play a grandpa for Redford in his 1993 film “Six Degrees of Separation.” He played Bill Bowerman, a track coach, in the 1998 film Without Limits.

Sutherland has worked more on television over the last decade, most notably in HBO’s “Path to War,” when he played President Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford. It was an appropriate, albeit ironic, bookend to a career began by “M.A.S.H.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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