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Much like the Faces of 2021, there are always entertainers of note to be on the look-out for in the new year or those who made great waves throughout the current year who will, undoubtedly, be big stars in the new year.

The new faces of 2022 appear below in no particular order:

Amber Ruffin – The comedian is the host of The Amber Ruffin Show – the only Black woman with a late-night show currently on the air. The late-night show airs on Peacock (the NBC streaming service) breaks away from the typical structure, focusing on topical sketches instead of guests. Additionally, she and her sister Lacey Lamar co-authored the book ‘You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism,’ which landed on the New York Times best-seller list.

Louis Partridge – Louis made waves playing Tewkesbury in the Netflix movie Enola Holmes alongside Stranger Things alum Millie Bobby Brown; and he will reprise that role in the sequel that is in post-production right now. He will play Peter Pan in the upcoming box office movie The Lost Girls; Sid Vicious in the upcoming mini-series called Pistol; and he will play Tristan in the upcoming fantasy romance film called Ferryman, adapted from the best-selling young adult trilogy by Claire McFall.

Leslie Grace – Leslie made her film debut in the Lin-Manuel Miranda box office adaptation of his Broadway play In the Heights that came out in theatres this summer; and she landed the title role, following a competitive search, of Barbara Gordon in the upcoming box office film Batgirl. She is also a three-time Latin Grammy nominee, having started her singer-songwriting career when she was 16.

Emilia Jones – The 19-year-old London born actress was part of the cast of the Nickelodeon mystery series House of Anubis back in 2011 and even appeared in an episode of Doctor Who in 2013, but it was her star-making role as the only hearing person in her deaf family in the Apple TV+ movie CODA – which also stars Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant – that turned heads. In fact, she spent 9 months learning American Sign Language, took singing lessons and learned how to operate a professional fishing trawler for the part. She is also the middle child in the Netflix series Locke & Key and will star in Cat Person, the psychological thriller box office movie.

Alex Tarrant – Alex has appeared in the New Zealand original series Filthy Rich (FOX made an American version that lasted for less than one full season in 2020); the Cook Islands-based mystery series Tatau; and the New Zealand-based medical primetime soap opera Shortland Street. He also appeared in the New Zealand-based family drama 800 Words (that aired here in the states on UPtv). He is now the new guy on the latest franchise series NCIS: Hawai’i and he is part of the ensemble cast of the upcoming Amazon series The Lord of the Rings that will be set thousand of years before the events in the J.R.R. Tolkien novels.

Xolo Maridueña – He has played Miguel Diaz for three seasons in Cobra Kai, the small screen adaptation of the original Karate Kid movies that started out on YouTube before moving over to Netflix, becoming a hit series in its own right. The 4th season of the show will debut on December 31. He completed high school and two years of credits at a city college while working on the show too. Also, a chance meeting at Sundance with director Angel Manuel Soto, led Xolo to landing the lead in Blue Beetle, DC’s first Latino superhero movie.

Danielle Deadwyler – Danielle has appeared in episodes of Greenleaf, Watchmen and P-Valley, but it was her role in the ensemble cast of the Netflix film The Harder They Fall – that featured Regina King, Idris Elba, LaKeith Steinfield, Damon Wayans, Jr., Zazie Beetz, Jonathan Majors and Edi Gathegi – that turned heads. She will next be seen in the close-to-home HBO Max series Station Eleven (about survivors of a devastating flu) and she will play Emmet Till’s mother in the upcoming film Till.

Jaden Michael – Jaden is only 18, but he has appeared in multiple roles in critically acclaimed series and films alongside a lengthy list of A-List actors like Michelle Williams, Viola Davis and Ellen Burnstryn (just to name a few). But it was when director/producer Ava DuVernay selected him to play a young Colin Kaepernick in the Netflix series Colin in Black & White that launched him into the stratosphere. He will also appear in the lead role in the Amazon pilot of Shelter based on the Harlan Coben book.

Moses Ingram – This newcomer actress earned an Emmy nomination for her role in the much-buzzed about Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit; starred as Lady Macduff in The Tragedy of Macbeth alongside Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand and will next be seen in the box office movie Ambulance that stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza Gonzalez. In addition to all of that, she is part of the cast of the upcoming Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Saniyya Sidney – The 15-year-old has an impressive resume appearing in the box office movies Hidden Figures, starring as one of the daughters of Taraji P. Henson’s Katherine Johnson; and Fences with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. She was part of the cast of the short-lived FOX drama The Passage before starring as the young Venus Williams in the box office movie King Richard and she will next be seen as Sasha Obama in the Showtime series The First Lady.

Alexis Lauder – Alexis has appeared in a handful of episodes of The Originals and HBO’s Watchmen; and she had a small role in Black Panther and was part of the cast of the box office film Harriet. This year she appeared in the Amazon sci-fi flick The Tomorrow War that starred Christ Pratt, and she starred opposite Frank Grillo and Gerard Butler in the box office movie Copshop. Next she will be seen in the Amazon series The Terminal List, once again starring alongside Chris Pratt.

Simone Ashley – Simone is a British up-and-comer who has guest starred in episodes of Broadchurch, C.B. Strike and Casualty as well as a bit part in the box office film Detective Pikachu before appearing in a recurring role in the Netflix series Sex Education. Her next role will put her on the map, as she will play a very pivotal role in the second season of the Netflix period piece drama Bridgerton.

Fabien Frankel – He made his film debut in the holiday movie Last Christmas that starred Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. He was going to appear as Theo Sipowicz in the NYPD Blue reboot that didn’t actually happen, but then he went on to star in four episodes of the 8-episode mini-series The Serpent. He will next be seen in the highly-anticipated Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon that is set to debut on HBO Max.

Max Harwood – Among his theatre work is Rent, Point Of View, The Christmas and Spring Awakening, but it was his debut film role in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, which is a film adaptation of the musical about a teenager from Sheffield, England who wants to be a drag queen that turned heads. He will next be seen in the modern fairytale box office film The Loneliest Boy in the World and the movie Magpie that will star Downton Abbey (the movie and its sequel) Tuppence Middleton.

Are there any actors or actresses who you think are the faces to watch in 2021? Please share.

TOMORROW: Closing Out 2021

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The following list highlights the actors and actresses on TV and on the big screen who really caught viewers’ attention throughout the year.

They appear in no particular order:

Top Row: Reign and Jenna; Middle Row: Sarah, Shannon and Sophia
Bottom Row: Helena, Erana and Mia

1.  The Wilds – The Wilds debuted on Amazon Prime on December 11, 2020, with all 10 episodes of the debut season airing that day. The series left off with quite a killer cliffhanger, though. There will be a second season of this compelling and complicated drama about teenage girls from radically different backgrounds, who find themselves stranded on a remote island, unaware they’ve just become the subjects of an elaborate social experiment [not to be confused with the recently introduced Showtime drama Yellowjackets, which debuted on November 14 of this year].

The 8 actresses in The Wilds include:

San Diego native Sophia Ali (Grey’s Anatomy) as Fatin Jadmani; Australian born Shannon Berry (Syfy’s Hunters) as Dot Campbell; relative newcomer and New York native Jenna Clause as Martha Blackburn; the Bold and the Beautiful alum Reign Edwards as Rachel Reid; Sydney-born newcomer Mia Healey as Shelby Goodkind; relative newcomer Helena Howard (Quibi’s Don’t Look Deeper); New Zealand native Erana James (NZ’s comedy Golden Boy) as Toni Shalifoe and American newcomer Sarah Pidgeon as Leah Rilke.

Besides season two of The Wilds coming up at some point in 2022, Sophia will appear in the Tom Holland-Mark Wahlberg box office movie Uncharted; Shannon appeared in the Australian movie Slant alongside Aussie legend Sigrid Thornton and Reign has had an ongoing recurring role in the FX drama Snowfall.

Photo Credit: Gari Askew II

2.  Thuso Mbedu – The South African actress has appeared in a handful or so dramas and soap operas in her home country, being nominated for an International Emmy. But in her international debut in the role of Cora Randall in the Amazon Prime historial limited series The Underground Railroad, which debuted in May of this year, that put her on the map. In fact, she earned a Hollywood Critics Association Award for TV Breakout Star. She will next be seen in the box office movie The Woman King alongside Viola Davis, John Boyega and Lashana Lynch, who has appeared in No Time to Die and Captain Marvel.

3.  Ariana DeBose – Ariana is having a very BIG year! She appeared in the 2020 taped version of Hamilton that aired on Disney+ and was in Netflix’s musical The Prom (alongside the likes of Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and James Corden). She then appeared in the Apple TV+ musical comedy Schmigadoon! opposite Keegan-Michael Key, Cecily Strong and Kristin Chenoweth; and is playing Anita (the role that won Rita Moreno an Oscar) in the latest adaptation of West Side Story. She got her start in So You Think You Can Dance, and appeared on the stage in Bring It On: The Musical; Motown: The Musical; Pippin; A Bronx Tale and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.

4.  Rege-Jean Page – The London native appeared in the BBC series Waterloo Road, the 2016 adaptation of Roots and the short-lived legal drama For the People before turning heads and becoming an international sensation in the Netflix period drama Brigderton where he played the Duke of Hastings. Granted the fact that he will not appear in the second season of the worldwid phenomenon, he has been cast in Paramount’s movie adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons and he will also appear in The Gray Man, Netflix’s biggest-budgeted film to date.

Abigial (Left) and Emily (Right)

5.  Abigail Barrow and Emily Bear – Speaking of Bridgerton, Abigail and Emily became social media sensations because of this streaming series. Abigail, a well-known social media singer-songwriter and performer, and Emily, a talented former child prodigy with an impressive arts-heavy resume, joined forces to create The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical. This duo has been interviewed everywhere, has garnered fans from all over the world (including a LOT of Broadway performers and cast members from the show) and they recently signed with the talent agency CAA (Creative Artists Agency).

6.  Simone Recasner – The Los Angeles native (whose father is also an actor) had the breakout role of 2021, playing single mom Gabby Lewis on the FOX reality show within a drama The Big Leap. The show has received a lot of buzz this TV season, albeit low ratings. While the FOX series is her first BIG professional gig, she has been acting since she was a kid, making her stage debut in the New York play Ain’t No Mo’ at the Public, the dream theatre where she wanted to work since walking past the building while attending school nearby.

7.  Simu Liu – The chiseled Chinese actor, who grew up in Ontario and was briefly an accountant at, of all places Deloitte & Touche, appeared in the popular CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) sitcom Kim’s Convenience as well as blink-and-you-would-miss him spots in Nikita, Warehouse 13, Beauty and the Beast, Dark Matter and Orphan Black as well as guest starring roles in Fresh Off the Boat, the TV version of Taken and The Expanse. But it was his title role in the highly-touted box office Marvel flick Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that put him on the map. He will next appear alongside Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo in One True Loves and in Arthur the King alongside Mark Wahlberg.

Who are some of the faces from this year who caught your attention either on television, in music or in film? Please share.

TOMORROW: New Faces of 2022

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Every year there are lots of awards shows, some important, some just fun and numerous just plain silly or nonsensical, but the list featured below – despite the continued pandemic – showcases just some of the top winners over the course of 2021.

But first, let’s salute Ruth E. Carter, the first Black costume designer who, in February, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He costuming has been featured in the box office movies Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Black Panther, Amistad, What’s Love Got To Do With It and Coming 2 America [just to name a few].

CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS (January)

Best Animated Movie – Soul (Disney+)
Best Superhero Movie – The Old Guard (Netflix)
Best Action Series – Vikings (History)
Best Actor, Action Series – Daveed Diggs, Snowpiercer (TNT)
Best Actress, Action Series – Angela Bassett, 9-1-1 (FOX)
Best Actor, Horror Series – Jensen Ackles, Supernatural (The CW)
Best Actress, Horror Series – Jurnee Smollett, Lovecraft Country (HBO)
Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series – The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Best Villain in a Series – Anthony Starr, The Boys (Amazon)

THE GOTHAM AWARDS (January)

Best Feature – Nomadland
Best Actor – Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Best Actress – Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth
Breakthrough Actor – Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami…

GOLDEN GLOBES (February)

Best Actress, Motion Picture – Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Best Director, Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Best TV Series, Drama – The Crown (Netflix)
Best Limited TV Series – The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
Best Actor TV Series – Josh O’Connor, The Crown (Netflix)
Best Actress TV Series – Emma Corrin, The Crown (Netflix)
Best Actor, Supporting Role, Motion Picture – Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS (March)

Best Supporting Actress, TV Drama – Gillian Anderson, The Crown (Netflix)
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Michael K. Williams, Lovecraft Country (HBO)

Best Acting Ensemble – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Best Movie Made for TV – Hamilton (Disney+)
Best Actor – Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Best Actress – Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

GRAMMY AWARDS (March)

Record of the Year – Everything I Wanted, Billie Eilish
Album of the Year – folklore, Taylor Swift
Best New Artist – Megan Thee Stallion
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance – Rain On Me, Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande
Best Pop Solo Performance – Watermelon Sugar, Harry Styles
Best Pop Vocal Album – Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa
Best R&B Album – Bigger Love, John Legend
Best Country Song – Crowded Table, The Highwomen
Best Musical Theater Album – Jagged Little Pill

NAACP IMAGE AWARDS (March)

Social Justice Impact – Stacey Abrams
Outstanding Actor, TV Drama – Regé-Jean Page, Bridgerton (Netflix)
Outstanding Independent Motion Picture – The Banker” (Apple TV+)
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Motion Picture – Madalen Mills, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
Outstanding Actor, TV Comedy – Anthony Anderson, Black-ish (ABC)
Outstanding Actress, TV Movie, Limited–Series or Dramatic Special – Octavia Spencer, Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (Netflix)
Outstanding Female Artist – Beyoncé, Black Parade
Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration – Chloe x Halle, Wonder What She Thinks Of Me
Outstanding Writing, TV Comedy – Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You, Ego Death (HBO)

SAG AWARDS (April)

Outstanding Supporting Actress – Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari
Outstanding Performance, Ensemble Cast, TV Comedy – Schitt’s Creek
Outstanding Actor in TV Movie or Mini-Series – Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True

BAFTA (April)

Leading Actress – Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Leading Actor – Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Outstanding British Film – Promising Young Woman
Outstanding Screenplay – Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell

FILM INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS (April)

Best Actor, New Scripted Series – Amit Rahav, Unorthodox
Best Actress, New Scripted Series – Shira Haas, Unorthodox
Robert Altman Award – One Night in Miami
Best Supporting Female – Yuh-jung Youn, Minari

RAZZIE AWARDS (April)

Worst Picture – Absolute Proof
Worst Actress – Kate Hudson – Music
Worst Director – Sia, Music
Worst Screenplay – 365 Days

OSCARS (April)

Best Actor – Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Best Actress – Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Best Picture – Nomadland
Best Original Song – “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah [Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas]
Best Director – Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Best Support Actor – Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Best Original Screenplay – Promising Young Woman by Emerald Fennell

MTV MUSIC AND TV AWARDS (May)

Best Show – WandaVision (Disney+)
Best Movie – To All the Boys: Always and Forever (Netflix)
Best Musical Moment – “Edge of Great” from Julie and the Phantoms (Netflix)
Best Villain – Kathryn Hahn, WandaVision (Disney+)
Best Duo – Falcon & Winter Soldier [Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan], The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)
Breakthrough Performance – Rege-Jean Page, Bridgerton (Netflix)
Elizabeth Olsen, WandaVision (Disney+)

BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS (May)

Top Artist – The Weeknd
Top Female Artist – Taylor Swift
Top Duo/Group – BTS
Top R&B Female Artist – Doja Cat
Top Country Female Artist – Gabby Barrett
Top Christian Album – Carrie Underwood, My Gift
Top Rock Song – “Bang!” by AJR

DAYTIME EMMY AWARDS (June)

Outstanding Drama Series – General Hospital (ABC)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series – Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series – Maurice Benard, General Hospital (ABC)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – Marla Adams, The Young and the Restless (CBS)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Max Gail, General Hospital (ABC)
Younger Performer in a Drama Series – Victoria Konefal, Days of Our Lives (NBC)
Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show – The Kelly Clarkson Show (NBC)

BET AWARDS (June)

Album of the Year – “Heaux Tales” by Jazmine Sullivan
Best Female R&B / Pop Artis – H.E.R.
Best Group – Silk Sonic
Best Female Hip Hop Artist – Megan Thee Stallion
Video Director of the Year – Bruno Mars And Florent Déchard
Best Movie – Judas And The Black Messiah
Best Actress – Andra Day
Best Actor – Chadwick Boseman
Youngstars Award – Marsai Martin

HOLLYWOOD CRITICS ASSOCIATION TV AWARDS (August)

Best Broadcast Network Series, Drama – New Amsterdam (NBC)
Best Streaming Series, Drama – The Mandalorian (Disne+)
Best Cable Series, Comedy – Resident Alien (Syfy)
Best Broadcast Network or Cable Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Live-Action Television Movie – Mare of Easttown (HBO)
Best Streaming Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Live-Action Television Movie – WandaVision (Disney+)
Best Actor in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Drama – Billy Porter, Pose (FX)
Best Actor in a Streaming Series, Drama – Josh O’Connor, The Crown (Netflix)
Best Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Drama – Mj Rodriguez, Pose (FX)
Best Actress in a Streaming Series, Drama – Emma Corrin, The Crown”(Netflix)
Best Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Television Movie – Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Series, Drama – Rupert Grint, Servant (Apple TV+)
Best Supporting Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Drama – Tatiana Maslany, Perry Mason (HBO)
Best Supporting Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Comedy – Mary Steenburgen, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (NBC)
Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Television Movie – Evan Peters, Mare of Easttown (HBO)

Special Honorary Awards:
Legacy Award – Cobra Kai (Netflix)
Spotlight Award – Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (NBC)
Impact Award – New Amsterdam (NBC)
Pop Culture Icon Award – Tom Ellis, Lucifer (Netflix)

CREATIVE ARTS EMMYS (September)

Television Movie – Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square (Netflix)
Outstanding Stunt Performance AND Stunt Coordination – The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics – WandaVision (Disney+)
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music – The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
Outstanding Casting For A Drama Series – The Crown (Netflix)
Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes – WandaVision (Disney+)
Outstanding Period And/Or Character Hairstyling – Bridgerton (Netflix)

TELEVISION CRITICS ASSOCIATION (September)

Individual Achievement In Drama – Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You (HBO)
Individual Achievement In Comedy – Jean Smart, Hacks (HBO Max)
Outstanding Achievement In Youth Programming – The Baby-Sitters Club (Netflix)

EMMY AWARDS (September)

Limited Series – The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
Drama Series – The Crown (Netflix)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie – Ewan McGregor, Halston (Netflix)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie – Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown (HBO)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Tobias Menzies, The Crown (Netflix)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie – Julianne Nicholson, Mare Of Easttown (HBO)

TONY AWARDS (September)

Best Musical – Moulin Rouge: The Musical
Best Play – The Inheritance
Best Revival of a Play – A Soldier’s Play
Best Book of a Musical – Jagged Little Pill, Diablo Cody
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play – Andrew Burnap, The Inheritance
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play – Mary-Louise Parker, The Sound Inside
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – Aaron Tveit, Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical – Adrienne Warren, Tina – The Tina Turner Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play – David Alan Grier, A Soldier’s Play
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical – Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill

AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS (November)

Artist of the Year – BTX
New Artist of the Year – Olivia Rodrigo
Favorite Male Pop Artist – Ed Sheeran
Favorite Female Pop Artist – Taylor Swift
Favorite Male Country Artist – Luke Bryan
Favorite Female Country Artist – Carrie Underwood
Favorite R&B Song – “Leave The Door Open” by Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak)

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS (December)

The Movie of 2021 – Black Widow
The Comedy Movie of 2021 – Free Guy
The Action Movie of 2021 – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The Drama Movie of 2021 – Cruella
The Female Movie Star of 2021 – Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow)
The Comedy Movie Star of 2021 – Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise)
The Action Movie Star of 2021 – Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)
The Comedy Show of 2021 – Never Have I Ever
The Male TV Star of 2021 – Tom Hiddleston (Loki)
The Drama TV Star of 2021 – Chase Stokes (Outer Banks)
The Comedy TV Star of 2021 – Selena Gomez (Only Murders in the Building)
The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show of 2021 – Lucifer
The Female Artist of 2021 – Adele
The Song of 2021 – “Butter” (BTS)
The New Artist of 2021 – Olivia Rodrigo

BLACK FILM CRITICS AWARDS (December)

Best Picture – King Richard
Actor – Will Smith (King Richard)
Actress – Tessa Thompson (Passing)
Supporting Actress – Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)
Ensemble – The Harder They Fall

Congratulations to all of the above winners (and the countless others who won awards) this year. Are any of the above your favorites? Do you think there was an actor or actress who was overlooked this year? Please share your thoughts.

TOMORROW: Condolences

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Music has always been an important part of my life ever since I was a child listening to music while sitting in the middle of my big brothers’ shared bedroom on the their old 1970’s turntable then listening to my big boom box and later the Walkman I had in the 1980’s all the way through to my iPod in the 2000’s to now my Pandora and Spotify accounts.

I wake up to music every morning rather than a buzzing alarm; and then I go to bed with music on my phone [again, thank you Pandora!]. Music may not mean to everyone what it means to me, but it does play a crucial part in television, Broadway, theatres and the box office.

The following are my choices for top performers for 2021:

Female Artist of the Year: H.E.R.

H.E.R. (born Gabriella Wilson) was my choice for The Jimi Hendrix-Alicia Keyes Combo, aka Best R&B performer, last year. This time around she is the Female Artist of the Year as throughout 2021, she performed “America the Beautiful during the pre-game festivities for Super Bowl LV; she co-wrote, co-composed and co-produced the song “Fight for You” for the movie Judas and the Black Messiah, which won Best Original Song for the 2020-2021 Academy Awards; her single “Damage” topped the R&B radio charts; and her debut album ‘Back of My Mind’ was released in the summer. Additionally, she will make her feature film debut in the upcoming adaptation of The Color Purple in the role of Squeak.

Here is the video for “Fight for You”:

She is Back! (The Most Welcome Return): Adele

Adele has been a top performer since her debut studio album entitled “19” [the age she was when the album was released] came out in 2008 and garnered her Grammy Award for Best New Artist. She followed that up with a new album entitled “21” two years later; that album became the world’s best-selling album of the 21st century. Her next album “25” came four years later; and the lead single “Hello” became the first song in the US to sell over one million digital copies within a week of its release. Five years later, her new album “30” was released in November 2021. A week after her new single “Easy on Me” was released, it surged to number one on the Hot 100, becoming her 5th chart-topping single. The album has since become the biggest album debut of 2021; and she recently performed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for the first time on American TV. And, starting in January 2022 she will have a Vegas residency at Caesar’s Palace; Weekends With Adele will find the singer performing two shows every weekend from January through April.

Here is the video for “Easy on Me”:

New Artist of the Year: Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo is a teen phenom singer-songwriter and actress, who got her start at the ripe young age of 13 in the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark for which she starred for three years. She then moved on to be part of the ensemble cast of the Disney+ mockumentary series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. She signed with Interscope and Geffen Records in 2020 and her debut single “Drivers License” was released in 2021, which quickly topped the charts. Her debut studio album ‘Sour’ received critical acclaim and has earned her 7 Grammy nominations. She had three consecutive number 1 songs, making her the first artist ever to accomplish this feat and ‘Sour’ broke Spotify’s global records for biggest opening week by a female artist ever.

Here is the video for “Driver’s License”:

Best Musical Theater Duo: Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear

Abigail Barlow, 23, and Emily Bear, 20, are the new “It girl” millennials, making waves thanks to their much-buzzed about concept album ‘The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’ they created together. Abigail is a singer, cover artist and TikTok Star while Emily is child piano prodigy, who has gone on to become a composer, songwriter and singer.

After bingeing the Netflix series Bridgerton (like the millions of other viewers) at the end of 2020, Abigail knew it was meant for the stage. She wrote the beginning of two songs, put them up at TikTok and the response was astonishing, which included responses by cast members of the series and countless Broadway stars. Abigail reached out to Emily, her writing partner for the previous year and a half, and they finished those two songs and quickly began working on translating the period piece drama into a musical, prolifically composing, orchestrating and producing 15 original songs in 6 weeks, in real time, live on Instagram and sharing them on TikTok. They have since made countless appearances on TV, podcasts and even performed on the stage at the Kennedy Center at 50 alongside Glee alum Darren Criss. Their concept album has also earned them a 2022 Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album.

You can listen to all of the songs (15 in total) from “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” here [make sure to use the pull down menu to the right of the video to listen to each song]:

Top Rock Song: “Bang!” by AJR

The song “Bang!” by the American indie pop trio AJR is composed of multi-instrumentalist brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan Met may have been released in February of 2020, but it became their highest-charting song, peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 by January of 2021. The trio have been nominated for Favorie Pop Duo/Group by the American Music Awards, Top Duo/Group and Top Rock Artist by the Billboard Music Awards and Alternative Rock Artist of the Year by the iHeartRadio Music Awards. The single “Bang!” won for Top Rock Song” at this year’s Billboard Music Awards.

Here is the video for “Bang!”:

Favorite (but Over-Hyped) Pop Group: BTS

The Korean pop group BTS was formed back in 2010 but they didn’t debut until 2013. They originally started as a hip hop group, but their music style has evolved over the years. The septet consists of members Jin, Suga, J-Hope RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook. They co-write and co-produce much of their own music. Their hit single “Dynamite” came out last summer, and this year’s hit summer single “Butter” became THE song of the summer.

Here is the video for “Butter”:

Music for Real Life: Nurse Lori Marie Key

The 29-year-old Michigan nurse, Lori Marie Key, who worked in a COVID unit, was captured on video during a daily huddle for a shift change belting out the somber song “Amazing Grace” on the floor of St. Mary Mercy Hospital at the height of the pandemic last April. That song brought a moment of relief and teary smiles to the faces of her co-workers; and, of course, the video went viral.

Because of that exposure, Key was invited to perform the song at a memorial, held at the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool that was augmented with 400 lights to represent the (then) 4000,000 American lives lost to COVID-19, which was ahead of the Inauguration of then President-elect Joe Biden

You can see the original video of Lori Marie Key signing “Amazing Grace” at St. Mary Mercy Hospital that went viral below:

And here Key sings “Amazing Grace” at the COVID Memorial on January 19:

Favorite New R&B Duo: Silk Sonic

Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, who was Mars’s opening act in 2017, have joined together to form the new R&B Duo Silk Sonic. They released their debut single “Leave the Door Open” in March of this year and their debut album ‘An Evening with Silk Sonic’ was released in November. The duo made their TV debut at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards and performed at the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards. They went on to win Best Group at the BET Awards 2021 and they won Favorite R&B Song at the American Music Awards. Their musical style is very reminiscent of 1960’s/1970’s funk-retro.

Here is the video to “Leave the Door Open”:

Top Male R&B Artist: Jon Batiste

Jon Batiste is a veteran jazz keyboardist, who is also the musical director of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, is considered a musical genius and just so happens to be a member of one of New Orleans’ legendary musical dynasties. He served as a co-composer alongside Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the 2020 animated movie Soul, earning an Oscar as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. His 5th solo studio album ‘WE ARE’ came out in March of this year on Verve Records; and his live EP ‘Live at Electric Lady’ was released exclusively to Spotify this summer. He has earned an impressive 11 nominations (more than any other artist) for the 2022 Grammy Awards; eight for ‘WE ARE’ and three for Soul.

Here is the video for his single “Freedom”:

Best Duo Performance: Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan

Country star Eric Church, who has been on the music scene since 2006, and R&B singer-songwriter Jazmine Sullivan, who has received 15 Grammy nominations [tying Bjork as the female artist with the most Grammy nominations without winning] ,joined forces at Super Bowl LV this past February to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” According to one review (https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/ct-ent-super-bowl-national-anthem-eric-church-review-20210208-yhjrzxtjf5cvpcj2wjnz6q35je-story.html) they “blended their vocals beautifully to create a memorable, enjoyable rendition” of the National Anthem.

Check out the video of Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan at the Super Bowl via YouTube here.

Top Country Artist: Gabby Barrett and Mickey Guyton {Tie}

Pennsylvania native Gabby Barrett competed in the 16th season of American Idol in 2018 at the age of 18, coming in third place. This led her to signing a deal with Warner Music Nashville, with her debut single “I Hope” being released in July of 2019, which came from her debut studio album ‘Goldmine.’ This single went on to become an international crossover hit for Gabby, but it took a wild two-year journey to get there. As of this summer, the single had become the biggest song of 2021, dominating country radio.

Here is the video for “I Hope”:

Texas native Mickey Guyton has been part of the music world since 2011, but has been singing since she was a little girl. She did audition for American Idol, but was cut just before the live shows for the top 24. Last year, she made an impression on the world of country music by being the first black woman to ever perform solo at the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards. Her debut studio album ‘Remember Her Name’ came out this September, and that album includes the single “All American,” which is a unifying anthem that Guyton says “embodies everything that makes America special.”

Here is the video for “All American”:

What singer or band has been your “go-to” music during the pandemic? Which singles were the stand-outs for you this year? What song did you get sick of hearing on the radio? What was the top album in your opinion? Please share your thoughts on the music of 2021 below.

TOMORROW: Box Office Standings

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The new Netflix film A Week Away will debut online on March 26.

The musical movie follows Will Hawkins (Kevin Quinn from the Hallmark Channel movie A Christmas Love Story), whose reckless behavior puts him in a precarious situation. Ultimately, Will chooses to attend Camp “Aweegaway” rather than go to a detention center, and it turns out to be a life-changing experience. While at camp, Will meets fellow camper Avery (Bailee Madison from the Good Witch franchise), and love begins to bloom as the teens discover they have more in common than expected.

Here is a trailer for A Week Away:

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The following industry personalities passed away in 2020 and heartfelt condolences are extended to their families, friends and fans.

But first let’s take a moment of silence for the over 280,000 Americans who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus as well as the more than 7,000 essential workers across the world who have lost their lives to the pandemic.

We also need to pay due respects to those who were lost in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash that took the 42-year-old basketball legend’s life in addition to his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and the following other victims:

Payton Chester, 13, and Sarah Chester, 45
Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Keri Altobelli, 46 and John Altobelli, 56
Christina Mauser, 38
Ara Zobayan (the pilot), 50

The celebrities we have lost this year (in alphabetical order):

Raymond Allen (Actor, “Sanford and Son”)

Orson Bean (Veteran Actor, “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman)
David Bellisario (Producer, NCIS)
Royana Black (Actress, “Raising Miranda”)
Honor Blackman (Actress, Bond Girl Pussy Galore in “Goldfinger”)
Steve Bing (American Businessman, Philanthropist, Film Producer and Elizabeth Hurley’s Ex-Husband)
William Blinn (Screenwriter, “Brian’s Song” and “Roots”)
Mark Blum (Actor, “Desperately Seeking Susan”)
Chadwick Boseman (Actor, “Black Panther”)
Gregory Tyree Boyce (Actor, “Twilight” movie)
Wilford Brimley (Veteran Actor, “Our House” and “Cocoon”)
Lou Brock (Baseball Hall of Famer)
Timothy Brown (MASH Star and Former NFL Star)
Jeremy Bulloch (Original Boba Fett “Star Wars” Films)
Edd Byrnes (Actor, “77 Sunsent Strip”)

Herman Cain (Business Executive and Former Presidential Candidate)
John Callahan (Actor, “All My Children”)
Earl Cameron (One of the first major Black Actors in British Cinema)
Brent Carver (Broadway Star, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”)
Marge Champion (Golden Age TV Dancer, Model for Disney’s Snow White) [She was 101]
Lynn Cohen (Actress, “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”)
Daisy Coleman (Star, Netflix Documentary “Audrie & Daisy”)
Sean Connery (Veteran Actor, James Bond films, starting with “Dr. No” in 1962 through “Diamonds Are Forever” in 1971)
Robert Conrad (Actor, “The Wild Wild West” and “Black Sheep Squadron”)
Nick Cordero (Broadway Star)
Leanza Cornett (Miss America 1993)
Norm Crosby (Comedian known for his frequent malapropism)
Ben Cross (Actor, “Chariots of Fire”)

Abby Dalton (Actress, “Falcon Crest”)
Charlie Daniels (Violinist and Man Behind the Hit Song ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia’)
Mac Davis (Singer, Actor and TV Variety Show Host)
Spencer Davis (1960’s singer, ‘Gimme Some Lovin’)
Olivia de Havilland (Veteran Actress, “Gone With the Wind”)
Brian Dennehy (Veteran Actor, “First Blood” and “Cocoon”)
Chi Chi DeVayne (RuPaul’s Drag Race Alum)
Tommy DeVito (A Founding Member of The Four Seasons)
Dena Dietrich (Character Actress, Face of Mother Nature in Chiffon Margarine TV Commercial campaign)
Joe Diffie (Singer and Guitarist)
David Dinkins (Former Mayor of New York City)
Kevin Dobson (Actor, “Knots Landing”)
Kirk Douglas (Veteran Actor and Screen Legend)
Shirley Douglas (Mother of Actor Keifer Sutherland)
Hugh Downs (Legendary Broadcaster)
Ja’Net DuBois (Actress, “Good Times” and Singer/Co-Writer of The Jeffersons theme song)

Edward S. Feldman (Oscar-Nominated Producer, “Witness”)
Conchata Ferrell (Actress, “Two and a Half Men” and “Mystic Pizza”)
Caroline Flack (Former Love Island host)
Rhonda Fleming (Queen of Technicolor, “Spellbound” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court)
D.C. Fontana (Writer, “Star Trek”)
Wayne Fontana (Pop Singer from the band The Mindbenders)
Robert Forster (Actor, “Jackie Brown” and “Mulholland Drive”)

Phyllis George (American Businesswoman, Actress and Sportscaster)
Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Supreme Court Justice and Gender Equality Advocate)
Mary Pat Gleason (Character Actress and Writer, “Guiding Light”)
Leonard Goldberg (Producer, “Charlie’s Angels,” “T.J. Hooker,” “Fantasy Island “and “Blue Bloods”)
Terry Goodkind (Author, ‘The Sword of Truth’ – the book on which the series “Legend of the Seeker” was based)
Charles Gordon (Oscar-Nominated Producer, “Field of Dreams” and “Die Hard”)
Galyn Gorg (Actress, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”)
Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac founder and guitarist)
Winston Groom (Author, ‘Forrest Gump’)
Cady Groves (Country Singer) [She was only 30]

Andre Harrell (Uptown Records Founder)
Charlie Hauck (Writer and Producer, “Maude” and “Frasier”)
Richard Herd (Veteran Actor, “The China Syndrome”)
Frederick “Toots” Hibbert (Jamaican Singer and Songwriter)
Ian Holm (Veteran Actor, “The Lord of the Rings” franchise)
Roy Horn (Legendary Illusionist)
Silvio Horta (Creator of Ugly Betty)
Jan Howard (Country Icon)
Brian Howe (Lead Singer of Bad Company)

Grant Imahara (American Electrical Engineer, Roboticist, TV Host and Actor)

Katherine Johnson (Legendary Mathematician “Hidden Figures”) [She was 101]
Rafer Johnson (Olympian, American Decathlete and Film Actor)
Jay Johnstone (Baseball Player on the Los Angeles Dodgers and TV Sports Announcer)
Terry Jones (Creator and Actor, “Monty Python”)

Hugh Keays-Byrne (Actor, Villain Toecutter in Mad Max and Villain Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road)
Lynn Kellogg-Simpers (Original Sheila in the 1968 Broadway production of “Hair”)
Tom Kennedy (Game Show Host, “Name That Tune”)
Benjamin Keough (Grandson of Elvis Presley, Son of Lisa Marie Presley)
Hal Ketchum (Country Music Artist)
Irrfan Khan (Actor, “Jurassic World”)
Stan Kirsch (Actor, “Highlander”)
Shirley Knight (Actress, “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” and “Sweet Bird of Youth”)
Larry Kramer (Playwright and Activist)

David Lander (Actor, Squiggy from “Laverne & Shirley”)
Don Larsen (Former New York Yankees Baseball Player)
John le Carre (Renowned Spy Novelist)
James Charles Lehrer (Journalist, Novelist, Screenwriter and Playwright)
John Lewis (Congressman)
Lil Mario (Rapper)
James Lipton (TV Host, “Inside the Actors Studio”)
Tommy “Tiny” Lister (Former Professional Wrestler and actor, “Friday” and “The Fifth Element”)
Little Richard (Legendary Musician and Singer)
Sam Lloyd (Character Actor, “Scrubs”)
Michael Londsdale (French Actor, “Moonraker” and “The Day of the Jackal”)
Trini Lopez (Singer, Guitarist and Actor, “The Dirty Dozen”)
Rebecca Luker (Tony-nominated actress, “Mary Poppins,” “Show Boat” and “Music Man”)
Vera Lynn (British Singer, ‘We’ll Meet Again’)

Diego Maradona (Argentine Soccer Great-Manager and World Cup Winner)
Nikki McKibbin (Third Place, American Idol Season 1)
Terrence McNally (Theater Playwright)
Alan Merrill (Legendary Songwriter)
Clark Middleton (Actor, “The Blacklist” and “Twin Peaks”)
Ian Mitchell (Bay City Rollers, Bassist)
Ennio Morricone (Award-Winning Italian Composer)

Kellye Nakahara (Actress, “MASH)”
Johnny Nash (Singer, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’)
Fred “Curly” Neal (Former Harlem Globetrotter Member)
Claudette Nevins (Actress, “Sleeping With the Enemy” and “Melrose Place”)
Margaret Nolan (“Goldfinger” Model and Actress, “A Hard Day’s Night”)

David Olney (Folk singer)
K.T. Oslin (Grammy Award Winning Country Singer and Songwriter)
Ken Osmond (Actor, “Leave It to Beaver”)

Alan Parker (Director, “Fame” and “Midnight Express”)
Neil Peart (Rush, Drummer)
Regis Philbin (Legendary TV Talk Show Host)
Bonnie Pointer (From The Pointer Sisters)
Peggy Pope (Character Actress, “Bewitched” and “The Last Starfighter”)
John Prine (Folk Singer and Songwriter)
Mary Pratt (Trailblazing Baseball Player, Last Living Player on the First Roster for the Rockford Peaches)
Kelly Preston (Actress, “What A Girl Wants” and Wife of John Travolta)
Charley Pride (Country Music Superstar and First Black Member of the Country Music Hall of Fame)
David Prowse (Actor who played Darth Vader, “Star Wars”)

Sushant Singh Rajput (Bollywood star)
Elsa Raven (Veteran Character Actress, “Back to the Future” and “Titanic”)
Helen Reddy (Legendary Singer, Grammy Winner, Variety Show Lead and Emblem of Feminism)
Sumner Redstone (American Businessman)
Harold Reid (Bass Singer, Statler Brothers)
Carl Reiner (Legendary Comedian, Actor and Director)
Ann Reinking (Ton Winner and Star of Broadway’s “Chicago”)
Diana Rigg (Legendary Actress, “Avengers” and “Game of Thrones”)
Naya Rivera (Actress-Singer, “Glee”)
David Roback (Legendary Guitarist and Co-Founder of Band Mazzy Star)
Cliff Robinson (Former NBA Player)
Kenny Rogers (Famed Country Singer and Actor)
Larry Rosen (Producer, “The Partridge Family”)
Joe Ruby (Co-Creator, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You”)

Reni Santoni (Actor, “Dirty Harry” and “Seinfeld”)
John Saxon (Veteran Actor, “Enter the Dragon” and “The Appaloosa”)
Gale Sayers (Former Football Player, Chicago Bears)
Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne Member and Songwriter)
David Schramm (Actor, “Wings”)
Esther Scott (Veteran Actress, “Boyz in the Hood” and Voice Actor)
Joel Schumacher (Director, “Batman Forever”)
Ashina Sei (Asian Actress, “Silk”) [She was only 36]
John Sessions (Comedian and Actor, “Outlander”)
Lynn Shelton (Director, “Humpday” and “Your Sister’s Sister”)
Fred Silverman (Executive NBC and CBS)
Jean Kennedy Smith (Former U.S. Ambassador)
Herb Solow (Producer who sold “Star Trek” to NBC)
Phyllis Somerville (Veteran Actress, “Little Children” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”)
Ken Spears (Co-Creator, “Scooby-Doo”)
Caroll Edwin Spinney (Cartoonist, Author, Speaker and Puppeteer, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street”)
Jerry Stiller (Legendary Comedian and Actor)

Yuko Takeuchi (Japanese Actress, “The Ring”) [She was 40]
Kurt Thomas (Olympic Gymnast)
Danny Tidwell (Dancer, “So You Think You Can Dance”)
Alex Trebek (Jeopardy Game Show Host)

Eddie Van Halen (Legendary Guitarist, Rock Group Van Halen)
Max von Sydow (Veteran Actor, “The Seventh Seal,” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”)

Lyle Waggoner (Actor, “Wonder Woman”)
Jerry Jeff Walker (Singer and Songwriter, ‘Mr. Bojangels’)
Nikita Pearl Waligwa (star of Disney’s “Queen of Katwe”) [She was only 15]
Dawn Wells (Actress, “Gilligan’s Island”)
Leslie West (Singer and Guitarist from rock group Mountain known for ‘Mississippi Queen’)
Stuart Whitman (Veteran Actor, “The Longest Day” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still”)
Fred Willard (Legendary Comedian and Actor)
Logan Williams (Canadian Actor) [He was only 16]
Bruce Williamson (Singer, The Temptations)
Mel Winkler (Actor, Voice Actor, Stage Performer and Dancer)
Bill Withers (Singer-Songwriter and Musician, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’)
Betty Wright (Grammy-Winning Soul Singer)
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Author, ‘Prozac Nation’)

Chuck Yeager (First Pilot to Break the Sound Barrier)

NOTE: This list, in no way, covers all the industry talent who passed away this year. Again, condolences are extended to one and all.

Out of respect, please take a moment of silence.

TOMORROW: TV Ratings

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Every year there are lots of awards shows, some important, some just fun and numerous just plain silly or nonsensical, but the following list – despite the pandemic – is just some of the top winners over the course of this year:

GOLDEN GLOBES (January)

Best Motion Picture, Drama – 1917
Best Actress, Drama – Renee Zellweger in Judy
Best Actress, Musical/Comedy – Awkwafina in The Farewell
Best Actor, Musical/Comedy – Taron Egerton in Rocketman
Best Motion Picture, Animated – Missing Link
Best Actress, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for TV – Michelle Williams in Fosse/Verdon
Best Actress, Drama – Olivia Colman in The Crown
Best TV Series, Drama – Succession (HBO)

CRITIC’S CHOICE (January)

Best Director – Sam Mendes, 1917 and Bong Joon Ho, Parasite
Best Adapted Screenplay – Greta Gerwig, Little Women
Best Hair and Makeup – Bombshell
Best Action Movie – Avengers: Endgame
Best Actress, Drama – Regina King in Watchmen
Best Supporting Actor, Drama – Billy Crudup in The Morning Show
Best Comedy Series – Fleabag (Amazon)
Best Supporting Actress, Comedy – Alex Borstein in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Best Support Actress, Limited Series or Made for TV Movie – Toni Collette in Unbelievable

SAG AWARDS (January)

Outstanding Male Actor, Drama – Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones
Outstanding Male Actor, TV Movie or Mini-Series – Sam Rockwell in Fosse/Verdon
Outstanding Ensemble in Comedy – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Outstanding Female Actor, Drama – Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show

GRAMMY AWARDS (January)

Best New Artist – Billie Eilish
Best Country Duo/Group – Dan & Shay
Best Pop Solo Performance – Lizzo
Best Rock Performance – Gary Clark Jr.
Best Rock Album – Cage the Elephant
Best Music Film – Homecoming

OSCARS (February)

Best Picture – Parasite
Best Original Song – “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman
Best Makeup and Hair – Bombshell
Best Sound Editing – Ford v Ferrari
Best Costume Design – Jacqueline Durran for Little Women
Best Animated Feature – Toy Story 4

BANFF WORLD MEDIA FESTIVAL (June)

Grand Jury Prize Winner – Fleabag
Drama Series – Gentleman Jack (BBC)
Sci-Fi and Genre Based Series – His Dark Material (HBO)

VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS (August)

Video of the Year – “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd
Best New Artist – Doja Cat
Artist of the Year – Lady Gaga
Best Collaboration – “Rain On Me” by Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande
Best Rock Album – “Orphans” by Coldplay

TELEVISION CRITICS ASSOCIATION (September)

Individual Achievement, Drama – Regina King in Watchmen
Outstanding Achievement, Drama – Succession (HBO)
Career Achievement Honoree – Alex Trebek
Heritage Award – Star Trek (CBS)

GOLD DERBY TV AWARDS (September)

Performer of the Year – Reese Witherspoon
Breakthrough Performer of the Year – Paul Mescal
Drama Actress – Laura Linney in Ozark
Drama Actor – Sam Heughan in Outlander
Supporting Actress, Drama – Helena Bonham Carter in The Crown
Comedy Guest Actress – Maya Rudolph in The Good Place
TV Movie – Bad Education
Supporting Actor, Limited Series/Movie – Jim Parsons in Hollywood

ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS (September)

Entertainer of the Year – Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood
Female Artist of the Year – Maren Morris
Male Artist of the Year – Luke Combs
Group of the Year – Old Dominion
Songwriter of the Year – Hillary Lindsey

EMMY AWARDS (September)

Supporting Actress, Drama – Julia Garner in Ozark
Lead Actress, Drama – Zendaya in Euphoria
Lead Actor, Drama – Jeremy Strong in Succession
Supporting Actress, Limited Series or Movie – Uzo Aduba in Mrs. America
Supporting Actor, Limited Series or Movie – Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Watchmen
Lead Actor, Limited Series or Movie – Mark Ruffalo in I Know This Much Is True

BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS (October)

Top Artist – Post Malone
Fan Voted Achievement Award – Harry Styles
Top New Artist – Billie Eilish
Top Duo/Group – Jonas Brothers
Top Touring Artist – Pink
Top Country Female Artist – Maren Morris
Top Rock Artist – Panic at the Disco
Top Christian Artist – Lauren Daigle
Top Soundtrack – Frozen II
Top Rock Song – “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” by Panic At The Disco

CMA AWARDS (November)

Entertainer of the Year – Eric Church
Vocal Group of the Year – Old Dominion
Music Video of the Year – “Bluebird” by Miranda Lambert
New Artist of the Year – Morgan Wallen

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS (November)

The Movie of 2020 – Bad Boys for Life
The Comedy Movie of 2020 – The Kissing Booth 2
The Action Movie of 2020 – Mulan
The Drama Movie of 2020 – Hamilton
The Family Movie of 2020 – Onward
The Drama Movie Star of 2020 – Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
The Comedy Movie Star of 2020 – Joey King, The Kissing Booth 2
The Action Movie Star of 2020 – Chris Hemsworth, Extraction
The Show of 2020 – Grey’s Anatomy
The Drama Show of 2020 – Riverdale
The Comedy Show of 2020 – Never Have I Ever
The Male TV Star of 2020 – Cole Sprouse, Riverdale
The Drama TV Star of 2020 – Mandy Moore, This Is Us
The Bingeworthy Show of 2020 – Outer Banks
The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show of 2020 – Wynonna Earp
The New Artist of 2020 -Doja Cat

AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS (November)

Artist of the Year – Taylor Swift
New Artist of the Year – Doja Cat
Collaboration of the Year – Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber
Favorite Album – Harry Styles, “Fine Line
Favorite Song: Pop/Rock – Dua Lipa, “Don’t Start Now”
Favorite Male Artist – Kane Brown
Favorite Song: Country – Maren Morris, “The Bones” AND Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber, “10,000 Hours”
Favorite Male Artist: Soul/R&B – The Weeknd
Favorite Artist: Alternative Rock – Twenty One Pilots
Favorite Artist: Adult Contemporary – Jonas Brothers
Favorite Artist: Contemporary Inspirational – Lauren Daigle
Favorite Artist: Electronic Dance Music – Lady Gaga
Favorite Soundtrack – Birds of Prey: The Album

Congratulations to all of the above winners (and the countless others who won awards) this year. Are any of the above your favorites? Do you think there was an actor or actress who was overlooked this year? Please share your thoughts.

TOMORROW: Condolences

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With all that has been happening this year because of the pandemic, music has certainly played an even more important role in people’s lives (or at least I want to believe it has) because EVERYONE has been spending a great deal more time at home.

I hope that you have found time to enjoy music throughout the year especially if it helped to alleviate tension, fear and stress.

You may not agree with my selections for this year, but these are just some of the standouts for 2020:

Top Female Singer of the Year – Maren Morris

Here is the video for her hit single “The Bones”:

Top Male Singer of the Year – The Weeknd

Here is the audio for his hit single “Blinding Light”:

Best Summer Song: “Watermelon Sugar” from Harry Styles

Here is the audio to that song:

Breaking that Glass Ceiling: Mickey Guyton performing at the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards [she became the first black woman ever to perform solo at the ceremony]

Here is her live performance of “What Are You Gonna Tell Her” [with Keith Urban on piano]

Favorite Song of the Pandemic: “Break My Heart” by Dua Lipa

Here is a video for that single:

Best Duet and Best ‘Get Up and Dance’ Single: “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande

Here is the video for this single:

Welcome Back: The Chicks (nee The Dixie Chicks)

Here is the video for their latest single “Gaslighter”:

NOTE: According to Thrillist, this song is a “much-needed anthem of righteous catharsis,” and kudos go to Natalie Maines, Martie Erwin Maguire, and Emily Strayer for sticking to their guns. They were (unfairly) shamed by conservatives back in 2003 when they spoke out against George Bush and the Iraq War, but they were merely speaking their minds, not putting up with bulls*it, and given what’s happening in 2020, I have to commend and admire them for what they did.

The Only Justin Bieber Song That Can Be Tolerated: “10,000 Hours” by Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber

Here is the audio for that single:

How Did He Get Bypassed for a Grammy Nomination for Best New Artist?: Lewis Capaldi

Here is the video for his single “Before You Go”:

Super Group of the Year: The Highwomen (comprising Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile and Amanda Shires)

Here is the video for their single “Crowded Table”:

The “Let It Go” of 2020: “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II sung by Idina Menzel and AURORA

Here is the video for that song:

What Is That Earworm? (Song That Sticks In Your Brain): “Moral of the Story” by Ashe

Here is the lyric video for that song:

The Jimi Hendrix-Alicia Keyes Combo (Best R&B Performer) – H.E.R.

H.E.R. (born Gabriella Wilson) is a talented singer-songwriter with mad piano and guitar skills, who was nominated for five Grammy Awards in 2019 – winning Best R&B Album of the Year – as well as being nominated for five Grammy Awards this year. She made an impression performing a cover version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” for the In Memoriam segment on the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards and was also featured in December’s televised “Time Person of the Year” presentation.

Here is the video of her performance on the Emmy Awards:

Terrific Cover Version of a Song Used in a Series Finale: “Carry On Wayward Son” by Neoni [the sister duo of Caitlin and Sidney]

Here is Neoni’s video:

What singer or band has been your “go-to” music during the pandemic? Which singles were the stand-outs for you this year? What song did you get sick of hearing on the radio? What was the top album in your opinion? Please share your thoughts on the music of 2020 below.

TOMORROW: The Big Screen

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Rueben’s Ramblings is celebrating its 10th Anniversary!!

In honor of that I decided to highlight some of the big events that took place during each year of the past 10 years.

Today’s salute is focused on 2013:

Some memorable shows that debuted during that year included:

* The Americans – This FX drama hit the small screen in May, starring former Felicity star Keri Russell and Brothers & Sisters alum Matthew Rhys as an average American couple with kids who were anything but. They were actually embedded Russian agents at the height of the Cold War. The show was heralded by critics for its writing, characters and acting, but it didn’t win any Emmys until its last season on the air while receiving two Peabody Awards, which is a rarity.

* Orphan Black – This innovative series debuted on BBC America in March, and featured talented actress Tatiana Maslany not only in the lead role of Sarah Manning, but during the show’s five season run, she appeared in at least 13 different versions of herself: same face, but different name, different upbringing, different life. It was a ground-breaking show that will never be replicated.

* Sleepy Hollow – The FOX drama debuted in September with the most outlandish tagline: Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers. The show shouldn’t have worked (and after season one, it really didn’t), but its debut season made the most implausible story work, and had people looking forward to hearing Ichabod call Abbie Mills – leftenant.

* Orange Is the New Black – The comedy-drama debuted in the summer of 2013, becoming the most watched series on Netflix and won three Emmy Awards for its first season. The show was widely acclaimed by critics and fans alike and was praised for “humanizing prisoners and for its depiction of race, sexuality and gender and body types.

Some of the shows that came to an end in 2013 were:

* Nikita – The CW remake came to an end in December of that year after four seasons on the air; and the leads, Nikita and Michael, even got to have a happy ending: they ended up married (they eloped), spending their life together on an island, but going on one last mission as you can see in this video clip:

You can also read my salute to the show.

* Burn Notice – After 7 seasons on the USA Network, this action drama came to an end in September with one very big series finale. Mama Bear Maddie sacrificed herself to save Michael; Michael and Fiona’s deaths were faked with Jesse and Sam seemingly prepared to take on the mantel held by Michael and his team previously while Michael and Fi were in a cabin safe and sound with Michael’s nephew.

* The Glades – This was the little cop show on A&E that should have been renewed, especially given it was in its fourth season and the final episode was to include the much anticipated wedding of leads Jim and Callie; but instead of getting to the church on time, Jim was shot by an unknown assailant, bleeding out in his home with no one the wiser as the finale came to an end. This was the worst kind of cliffhanger to leave for fans, but made all the more worse because the network cancelled the show AFTER this finale aired.

Among the top TV moments that year included the following:

Tony and Ziva finally kiss on NCIS. It only took 8 seasons of will they/won’t they and did they/didn’t they on the long-running CBS crime series for all that bottled up chemistry to finally lead to a kiss.

You can watch that scene below:

Richard Castle proposed to Kate Beckett on Castle. It may have taken five years for it to happen, but for fans of the show and of the TV couple, it was a moment long worth waiting for.

Here is the video of both the proposal that aired in the season finale in May of that year followed by Kate’s (albeit awkward) answer in the season premiere that fall:

Also in 2013, Castle celebrated its 100th episode – a big milestone for any show; and the same thing happened for the USA Network series Psych.

Another milestone in TV history, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Make sure to check out the video below of when 11 meet 10:

Before the massacre happened

Another big moment on TV was the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones otherwise known as “The Rains of Castamere.” For those countless viewers who (like me) were unaware of this story from the book, watching this massacre play out was literally and figuratively gut-wrenching, especially given the relentless amount of death depicted all throughout this show’s run.

Also for the fans of the long-running thriller Supernatural, it was so much fun to see fan favorite Felicia Day show up as Charlie Bradbury, who would play an important role in the lives of the brothers Winchester.

A big announcement was made on March 13 by Veronica Mars series creator Rob Thomas. A Kickstarter campaign took place with the goal of raising 2 million dollars to create a box office film that would continue the cult classic/fan favorite TV series. The devoted fans rallied together that culminated in 5.7 million dollars to make the film a reality.

In movie news, the #1 box office film was Iron Man 3, but it was the animated movie Frozen that took the world by storm. One movie that might not have been a box office hit – it only earned 5.3 million – but Joss Whedon (the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and the director of Marvel’s The Avengers) released a modern-day take of William Shakespeare’s classic tale of Much Ado About Nothing. Two of the worst movies, however, were Grown Ups and R.I.P.D.

Just as in years past, I selected an interesting group of people who were the faces of that year and those faces that people should be on the look-out for in the coming year.

Among those I selected in 2013 included: Aaron Tveit, Luke Mitchell, Emily Bett Rickards, Tom Mison, Lupita Nyong’o, Sam Heughan, Lily James and Alicia Vikander.

The Faces of 2013

The New Faces of 2014

COMING SOON: Salute to 2014

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Much like the Faces of 2019, there are always entertainers of note to be on the look-out for in the new year or those who made great waves throughout the current year who will, undoubtedly, be big stars in the new year. The new faces of 2019 appear below in no particular order:

[Photo Credit: Adam Whitehead]

1. Esme Creed-Miles – The almost 20-year-old British actress raced onto the scene in the Amazon streaming series Hanna, based on the box office movie of the same name. Esme played the leadrole, starring alongside The Killing co-stars Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos. Hanna was given a second season renewal, and is expected to air sometime in 2020 on Amazon.

[Photo Credit: Hulu Press]

2. Brec Bassinger – Brec is a Texas native actress, who will star as Courtney Whitmore – aka Stargirl – in the upcoming DC Universe streaming service series based on the DC Comics character. Brec had the lead role in the Nickelodeon series Bella and the Bulldogs and appeared in that network’s School of Rock series.

[Photo Credit: Cinespression]

3. Freya Allan – The 18-year-old U.K. newcomer landed the role of Princess Ciri in the Netflix fantasy series The Witcher, based on the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, which debuted on December 20. She will next be seen in the box office film Gunpowder Milkshake, playing Young Eve, who will be played as an adult by Karen Gillan (Doctor Who and the new Jumanji franchise).

[Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Essence]

4. Halle Bailey – The talented Atlanta teenager got her start alongside her sister in the R&B duo Chloe x Halle when they were 13 and 11 respectively. They posted covers of pop songs on YouTube, which caught the eye of Beyonce, who signed them to her management company. Halle had a recurring role in the popular comedy grown-ish, but it was her landing the lead role in the upcoming live-action movie The Little Mermaid, in the title role of Ariel, that helped land her on this list.

[Photo Credit: Syfy]

5. Jodie Turner-Smith – The statesque British model turned actress got her start in a bit role in True Blood, but her first big break came in the TNT post-apocalyptic series The Last Ship. She followed that up with a role in the Syfy series Nightflyers and the Cinemax series Jett. Her role in this fall’s box office film Queen & Slim alongside Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya.

[Photo Credit: Steve Mack/Alamy]

6. Asante Blackk – Earlier this year, Asante, the nephew of actress Samira Wiley from Orange Is the New Black and The Handmaid’s Tale, made his debut in the gripping Netflix mini-series When They See Us, based on the 1989 Central Park jogger case, playing Kevin Richardson as a teen; a role that earned him an Emmy nominations, making him one of the youngest nominees in its history before landing the role of Malik Hodges in season four of NBC’s This Is Us.

[Photo Credit: Disney]

7. Crystal Yifei Liu – The Chinese-American actress, dancer, singer and model has quite a resume in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and South-East Asia, ranging from TV shows, having one of her songs chosen as the ending theme for the anime series Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z to numerous box office films. But it will be her lead role in the live-action adaptation of Mulan, set to air in early 2020, that will turn heads.

[Photo Credit: Neil Hall/Reuters]

8. Jessie Buckley – The Irish singer and actress appeared in the acclaimed HBO mini-series Chernobyl in May and June and then in the box office movie Judy that came out in October. She also got a lot of attention from her lead role in the indie film Wild Rose. She previously appeared in the BBC adaptation of War and Peace, FX’s Taboo and BBC’s The Woman in White. She has 5 projects in the works, which includes Doolittle, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Misbehaviour, starring Keira Knightley and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

[Photo Credit: Gersh/Hollywood Reporter]

9. Haley Lu Richardson – Haley starred alongside Riverdale actor Cole Sprouse in the touching, but heartbreaking, box office movie Five Feet Apart, directed by Jane the Virgin actor Justin Baldoni, and starred alongside Downton Abbey alum Elizabeth McGovern in the period piece movie The Chaperone. She also previously appeared in the short-lived dramas Ravenswood and Recovery Road.

[Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas]

10. Kelvin Harrison, Jr. – Kelvin has appeared in movies The Birth of a Nation and Mudbound as well as the TV series Shots Fired, but it was his lead role in the Octavia Spencer-led movie Luce that turned heads. He has since appeared in the film Waves, alongside Sterling K. Brown, and the EPIX TV series Godfather of Harlem. He will soon be seen in the box office films The Photograph and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

[Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]

11. Beanie Feldstein – The younger sister of actor Jonah Hill, Beanie caught a lot of attention for her role as Molly in the breakout hit movie Booksmart and will be seen playing Monica Lewinsky next year in the anthology series American Crime Story. She also appeared in the box office movies Lady Bird and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.

[Photo Credit: Andre Uspenski]

12. Francesca Hayward – The Nigerian-born ballerina was raised in Britain and is now a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet in London. She has appeared in the lead role in productions of The Nutcracker, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle (just to name a few). She has the featured role of Victoria in the Tom Hooper directed film Cats.

Are there any actors or actresses who you think are the faces to watch in 2019? Please share.

TOMORROW: Closing Out 2019

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