Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me. During his 20 year recording career, Teddy Pendergrass had five consecutive platinum albums, headlined legendary ‘for ladies only’ shows and was considered ‘the Black Elvis’. But in the pantheon of all time great soul/R&B singers, he is, at best, glossed over, at worse, forgotten. Now, nearly 10 years after his death, Teddy Pendergrass’ life, career and legacy gets a much deserved spotlight in this Showtime documentary from director/producer Olivia Lichtenstein and Executive Produced by Pendergrass’ former manager Shep Gordon (Supermench). It shows how he went from singing in church and playing drums in local bands, to turning Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes from fledging local act to a national sensations – all by the time he turned 21. The film also covers the details behind his departure from the Blue Notes and how he was able to launch a massively solo career without the benefit of having a ‘crossover’ hit. Finally, the doc covers the car crash that left him paralyzed from the waist down, his three year absence from the public eye and his emotional return to the stage at Live Aid in Philadelphia. Lichtenstein keeps the pace moving steadily with an array of archival clips, rare concert footage and remembrances from those who were directly in Pendergrass’ inner circle. There’s also, of course, a ton of great classic songs from the entire Pendergrass canon. It’s a long overdue salute to one of the soul/R&B’s greatest ambassadors. Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me premieres this Friday at 9pm Eastern on Showtime. You can also go to www.sho.com for more information.
ReMastered: Sam Cooke. Merging the emotion of gospel with the energy of R&B, Sam Cooke laid the template to what we now called Soul Music. In addition to having a string of hits, Cooke was also was building a career off-stage, developing and producing the next wave of gospel, R&B and Soul acts, starting a label, and becoming more active in the American Civil Rights Movement. When Cooke was shot to death at the Hacienda Motel in December 1964, a narrative as to what happened was quickly established, and, despite the calls for an extensive investigation, never disputed. The latest episode of the Netflix series looks back at Cooke’s musical legacy, his increasing political stances, his friendships with Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali and explores all of the angles as to what happened on that fateful night in Los Angeles. It also calls into question why the political side of Cooke has all but been whitewashed from history. A thoughtful, probing look back at one of music’s all-time greats. ReMastered: Sam Cooke premieres this Friday on Netflix.
Trigger Warning with Killer Mike. Hip hop artist and activist Killer Mike hosts this new Netflix docu-series that attempts to tackle a variety of topics important to the black community including wealth distribution, unemployment, religion, sex, gang culture and capitalism. But the Run The Jewels co-founder takes an entirely different tact in approaching this issues in ways that are humorous, controversial, but always thought provoking. If you only know Killer Mike, from his work with Run The Jewels or his appearances on shows such as Real Time With Bill Maher, be prepared to see an entirely different side. Trigger Warning with Killer Mike is available now on Netflix.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? For those who missed Morgan Neville’s heart-warming salute to Mister Rogers Neighborhood host Fred Rogers in theaters, it will make its broadcast premiere on HBO. It traces Rogers’ Pennsylvania roots, and how his faith, love for children, and his distaste of how children’s programming was presented at that time, helped shaped the program that delighted kids for over 30 years. Neville also points out that while the show was warm look at community and pivotal childhood moments, it also tackled adult topics such as war, racism, terrorism and divorce, in a way that still retained Rogers’ overall show vision. His testimony before the Senate committee advocating for more funding for public broadcasting is as riveting now than it was back in 1969. With a ton of show clips, interviews and remembrances from family, friends, cast members and contemporaries, Neville has put together the ultimate tribute to a man, who, by example, encouraged us to show love for one another. Won’t You Be My Neighbor airs Saturday, February 9th at 8pm Eastern on HBO. You can also go to www.mrrogersmovie.com or www.hbo.com for more information.
New York City. Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving. The first major U.S. exhibition in ten years devoted to the iconic Mexican artist will be coming to New York’s Brooklyn Museum. In addition to some of her most celebrated paintings, drawings and photographs, it will also feature Kahlo’s clothing, jewelry, corsets and other personal possessions that were recovered in 2004. This exhibit blew away audiences during its run in London, so make sure you get your spot early. It’s an outstanding look back at one of the art world’s true iconoclasts. Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving will be at The Brooklyn Museum through May 12th. You can also go to www.brooklynmuseum.org for tickets and additional information.
In The Dugout with Jackie Robinson. To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s birth, The Museum Of The City Of New York will be presenting this exhibition featuring Robinson’s historic stint with The Brooklyn Dodgers. It will include 30 images that he took for Look Magazine, memorabilia, and footage of the Robinson family – most of which have never been seen. It gives a glimpse of how the media perceived Robinson at the time he was making baseball – and American history, In The Dugout with Jackie Robinson will be at The Museum Of The City Of New York through September 15th. You can also go to www.mcny.org for tickets and additional information.
The Goldblum Variations. With his unique diction, insightful wit and oddball charisma, Jeff Goldblum has carved himself out a solid career for over 40 years. Now Quad Cinema will present a three week retrospective that will cover the many roles he’s played during his long and distinguished career. It will include blockbuster films such as Jurassic Park, Independence Day, The Big Chill; alongside cult classics such Deep Cover, The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai, The Fly, Earth Girls Are Easy, Into The Night (which had an early starring role for Michelle Pfeiffer) and much more. A cool tribute to a true Hollywood original. Goldblum The Goldblum Variations will be at Quad Cinema February 8th through the 28th. You can also go to www.quadcinema.com for tickets, a complete rundown of films and additional information.