NOTICE: Visit our new blog at!

Entertainment Scoop

Angela Bassett Stars In Green Lantern on June 17th!

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros

Bringing the enduringly popular superhero to the big screen for the first time, “Green Lantern” stars Ryan Reynolds (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) in the title role, under the direction of Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”).

In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan.

Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax…he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.



Campbell directs “Green Lantern” from a screenplay by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg, story by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim, based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics.

The film also stars Blake Lively (upcoming “The Town,” TV’s “Gossip Girl”) as the spirited Carol Ferris, a test pilot and the heir apparent to her father’s aviation company; Peter Sarsgaard (“An Education,” “Flightplan”) as scientist Dr. Hector Hammond; Mark Strong (“Sherlock Holmes”) as Sinestro, Jordan’s powerful mentor in the Green Lantern Corps; Jay O. Sanders (“Revolutionary Road”) as Carl Ferris, Carol’s aircraft designer dad; Temuera Morrison (“Star Wars” Episodes II and III) as Abin Sur, Jordan’s alien predecessor; Taika Waititi (TV’s “The Flight of the Conchords”) as flight navigator Tom Kalmaku, Hal’s good friend and confidante; Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett (“What’s Love Got to Do with It”) as enigmatic government scientist Amanda Waller; and Academy Award® winner Tim Robbins (“Mystic River”) as Hector’s influential father, Senator Robert Hammond.

The film is being produced by Donald De Line (“The Italian Job”) and Greg Berlanti (upcoming “Life As We Know It”). Herbert W. Gains and Andrew Haas serve as executive producers. Geoff Johns and Lucienne Papon are co-producing.

The film’s behind-the-scenes creative team is led by a number of Academy Award® winners, including director of photography Dion Beebe (“Memoirs of a Geisha”), production designer Grant Major (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), and costume designer Ngila Dickson (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), as well as Oscar®-nominated editor and longtime Campbell collaborator, Stuart Baird (“Gorillas in the Mist,” “Superman”). The film’s visual effects are being overseen by Oscar®-nominee Kent Houston (“The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen,” “Casino Royale”).

The film is currently scheduled for release in 3D and 2D on June 17, 2011. “Green Lantern” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

AOM and The “HIGH UP” will be covering the private VIP pre-screening tonight in Atlanta. Stay tuned for updates and follow us throughout the evening on Twitter @AspireOnline!


It’s Goin’ Down at the 19th Annual Southern Fried Poetry Slam

As I am typing, I can’t even contain my excitement! And after you read what is about to go down in the “A” this weekend, you will be excited too! This weekend marks the first time ever, one of the hottest poetry slams will  hit the ATL. That’s right people the 19th Annual Southern Fried Poetry Slam is in the building!

So, last night,  I hung with a few of the organizers and poets at the kick off mixer for Southern Fried Poetry Slam in Castleberry Hill, and let me just say, you all are in for a treat. One of the organizers and rock star poet, Queen Sheba, says that they are expecting about 2000 people here from all over the southern region for the slam.  And you, my friend, might want to be in that number. In Queen Sheba ’s words: “You have never seen anything like this before, and you never will again if you miss!” And this is from a person who has traveled the world and has been to tons of slams, so listen up!

Here is how it works:  36 teams will be competing to be one of the four final groups that will hit the stage on Saturday night to compete for $7,500 dollas. Nope, not a typo; I said dollas! So, starting today through Friday, each team will have to compete in at least three bouts, and the four teams out of the 36 with the highest score will be on the final stage! And I will be there, front and center to witness it all. I included a link at the bottom of this post that lists the schedule, times, places and prices for this awesome event!

So, it’s settled. I will see you there!  Also, I will be reporting live from the pink carpet, interviewing guests and performers. I want your feedback, so stop by and see me!

Learn more about the slam here!

-T. Monet is Special Correspondent for AOM and The “HIGH UP”

X-Men: First Class A Must See!


I have to, without hesitation, describe this movie as “phenomenal”.


To be honest, I was apprehensive about seeing this movie because the X-Men movie franchise has let me down so much over the years.  The quality of the past X-movies has been in steady decline leading up to the penultimate disaster that is “Wolverine-Origins.” Growing up with the X-Men cartoon and comics, I had to give the new Xmovie a chance.  Surprisingly, I was totally blown away.  As a prequel to the other movies in the X-franchise, we are offered a chance to see how many of the characters like Magneto and Charles Xavier (played by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy) became the heroes and villains they were destined to be.  I was on the edge of my seat for much of the movie out of sheer excitement. Matthew Vaughn, the director, did a spectacular job telling the story of this group of people born different from “normal” humans, discovering who they are as individuals as they figure our where their species fits in a world that fears and hates them. Between intense character development and well-crafted battles, there was not a dull moment in this movie.

X-men First Class is cast to perfection in both the characters who were chosen to be featured in the movie and the actors who were cast to portray them.  Fassbender and McAvoy are very accomplished and respected stars in Europe and they gave new humanity to the characters of Magneto and Xavier effectively blurring the line between good and evil.  There were many moments in the movie that I found myself unsure which path I would take to achieve acceptance…the pacifist idealistic approach of Xavier or the more aggressive stance of Magneto. Zoe Kravitz (the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet) made her big screen debut as the sultry Angel Salvadore.  There were also some really cool cameos that will leave X-Men fans salivating.

This movie had every component of an instant classic. A great cast of talented actors, a gripping storyline with a deeper moral lesson imbedded underneath the epically timed fight scenes and grandiose FX.  As I type this I am making plans to spend another$10 to see “X-Men First Class” again, and that’s saying a lot when you consider steep gas prices and the recession. Go see this movie; it will leave you satisfied more than you have ever been…okay maybe not but still go see it! BEST SUMMER MOVIE SO FAR!!

-Michael Barlow for The “HIGH UP”

Hangover II Makes the Cut!

There is only one word I can use to describe this movie…amped!!

When I learned that Warner Bros was making a sequel to “The Hangover” I was both excited and nervous. I was excited because I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie and all of the craziness of the Bachelor night antics. I was nervous because I just did not see how the sequel was going to measure up to the first. Then I learned that the movie was set in Thailand and I immediately knew our “Wolfpack” friends were in for a ride of epic proportion.

Having spent 7 months living in Thailand myself, I know from personal experience that EVERY moment is exponentially multiplied in “The Land of Smiles.” The fun you have is amped up, the danger you are in is amped, the emotions you feel are amped…being in Bangkok is like being on narcotics. I must say The Hangover 2 did not disappoint in showcasing the Thailand experience.  It was like the first movie but on a whole other level.

The ensemble cast of characters calling themselves the “Wolfpack” (Zack Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha) reprised their roles to perfection.  I laughed from beginning to end from a balanced blend of situational humor and zany lines from Galifianakis’ mentally stunted character Alan.  The situations the guys found themselves were so bizarre and unbelievable that I couldn’t help but envy the night of partying they had.  The cast was joined by “Crystal”, a talented, chain-smoking monkey. It is always a winning formula as long as you include a super talented animal. Ironically, This monkey added some extra realism to the movie. Thanks to the Hangover 2 I now want a pet monkey…as long as it is as awesome as Crystal.

All in all, The Hangover 2 was a step above the first. In fact, there were parts of the movie that I felt they almost went past the line of humor and believability. However, they did an awesome job of controlling the storyline and portrayals of the characters to deliver an excitingly funny adventure amped up on a near lethal dose of what I call “Bangkok spice!”

Two thumbs up and all my other fingers too! See what my fellow ATLiens had to say…


-Michael Barlow for The “HIGH UP”. Video by Justin Patten.

AOM Slated to Cover the VIP Pre-Screening for The Hangover 2 on May 24th

Aspire Online Magazine’s Michael Barlow will be in the building on May 24th for the private VIP pre-screening and after party for The Hangover Part II hosted by comedian, actor and radio personality Rickey Smiley. VIP guests will include Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Warrick Dunn, Lisa Wu Hartwell and many others. Stay tuned for exclusive footage and Michael’s candid review of one of the most highly anticipated films of the summer!

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

“The Hangover Part II” is director Todd Phillips’ follow-up to 2009’s smash hit “The Hangover,” which became the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all-time and also won the Golden Globe for Best Film – Comedy or Musical.

Reprising their roles from “The Hangover,” Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha star in the film.  Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor, and Mike Tyson also return to the cast, and are joined by Oscar® nominee Paul Giamatti.

InThe Hangover Part II”, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel to exotic Thailand for Stu’s wedding.  After the unforgettable bachelor party in Las Vegas, Stu is taking no chances and has opted for a safe, subdued pre-wedding brunch.  However, things don’t always go as planned.  What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens in Bangkok can’t even be imagined.

Phillips once again directs from a screenplay he co-wrote with Craig Mazin (“Scary Movie 4”) and Scot Armstrong (“Old School”).  Phillips also produced the film under his Green Hat Films banner, together with Dan Goldberg (“The Hangover,” “Due Date”).  Thomas Tull, Scott Budnick, Chris Bender and J.C. Spink are the executive producers, with David A. Siegel and Jeffrey Wetzel serving as co-producers.

Collaborating with Phillips behind the scenes are director of photography Lawrence Sher, production designer Bill Brzeski, costume designer Louise Mingenbach, editors Debra Neil-Fisher and Mike Sale, and composer Christophe Beck.

Slated for a May 26, 2011 release, “The Hangover Part II” is a presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures, and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

No Thumbs For ‘Thor’


The word to describe this movie is “unsatisfying”.

About 5 years ago Marvel Comics began working towards filming The Avengers movie.  While this production is still a couple years off, they have been releasing movies focusing on each individual team member, i.e. “Iron Man”, “Hulk”, and this summer “Captain America”. Though I am not an Avengers fan I am an avid fan of Super Hero movies.  Needless to say I was excited about what Hollywood would do with Thor “The god of thunder”, despite not being a fan.  I even paid extra to watch it in 3D…I was sorely let down. Even though Chris Hemsworth, the actor who played Thor, was slightly reminiscent of my favorite post-mortem actor Heath Ledger, his acting capabilities fell flat. Natalie Portman didn’t fair much better as his leading lady. In fact, while watching her in this role I realized she has never been a very impressive actress. Like many actresses, her beauty is her key to success and the reason most guys watch her movies.  Likewise, I am sure many women will be lining up to see 6ft, 6 inch, blonde haired, blue eyed Chris Hemsworth play Thor for no other reason than to see him with his shirt off. Hey, it pays the bills.

Not everything was terrible about this movie, though. The graphics were impeccable. There were many huge fight scenes with lots of explosions. I mean what do you expect from a movie about “The god of Thunder”? So, if you are in the mood for earth shattering fight scenes with hellacious explosions coupled with below average acting by strategically placed eye candy we call ‘actors’, then by all means pay the $15 or whatever it is to watch THOR. But me…I need a number to call to get my money back!! I’m just sayin’…

-Michael Barlow for The “High Up”

‘Something Borrowed’ Gets Two Thumbs Up


I’d have to describe this move as “unconventional”.

First of all I just have to say I love Kate Hudson! She is an incredibly versatile actress with a very elegant quirkiness. She is Absolutely adorable.  Okay I’m done with my Kate rant.

Ok so I went to see this movie with my mom and sisters for Mother’s day. To be honest I had no idea what this movie was about nor was I particularly excited to watch it. But its Mother’s Day and my Mom wanted to watch it and I love her so I did…I know I am an incredible son!

At first glance this movie seemed like your typical “boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy starts dating girl’s best friend” kind of movies. Upon further observation you will find that’s exactly what this movie was, but with a twist. I called this movie unconventional because unlike most romantic comedies where the guy and girl get together in the end, Ginnifer Goodwin and Colin Egglesfield’s characters (Rachel & Dex) keep hooking up throughout the movie even though he is engaged to her best friend.  Ginnifer Goodwin did a believable job playing the weak timid friend who you just wanted to shake because she never stood up for herself and she always let her more overbearing friend Darcey (played by Kate Hudson) take whatever she wanted from her…including Dex.  Just thinking about it gets me frustrated at her…and she isn’t even real.

With this cast you are sure to get a lot of laughs but there is a very poignant lesson about self-worth and taking risks in love that are woven throughout.  I give this movie 2 thumbs up because it was just a nice surprise of a film. It’s a great date movie or, in my case, Mother’s day gift. :)

-Michael Barlow for The “High Up”

‘Water For Elephants’ Recap


The word to describe this movie is “lacking”.

As a kid I was always excited when the circus came to town because there was something “otherworldly” about the firebreathers, the trapeze artists, magicians, and exotic animals that filled the big tent.

“Water For Elephants” made that childhood excitement rush back as it explored the early days of what is now becoming a lost commodity: THE traveling circus.   While the premise of it was both exciting and original, the movie itself was innately slow-paced. The “turn of the century” setting was very reminiscent of James Cameron’s Titanic but without believable actors or an epic music score.  Robert Pattinson’s character in this movie might as well have been his more glittery Twilight role.  It is as if he can only portray Edward Cullen: cold, reserved and flat. It was disappointing because I was really hoping he would give a breakout performance, proving the many naysayers wrong.  Reese Witherspoon didn’t fair much better.  While she was more entertaining to watch than Pattinson, her performance was surprisingly lacking.  In fact, the most memorable performance came from the elephant, Rosie.  From the moment she arrived on screen you knew she was the star of this movie.  With her highly intelligent feats and the natural majesty of an elephant, she kept my attention. I believe she should be the first animal to get an Oscar nomination.   She was the movie’s savior, in my opinion.

I give this movie 2 and a half stars but to Rosie, the scene stealing elephant, I give barrels and barrels of corn or grass or whatever it is that elephants like to eat.

-Michael Barlow for “The HIGH UP”

Scream 4: The Weigh In


The word to describe this movie would have to be “nostalgic.”

While I am not a fan of gory horror movies, I am a child of the 90’s and like most of my friends, was captivated by the genius of the SCREAM movies. There was a certain edginess to how the trilogy played out the “formula” of a horror movie.  The first two flicks were a huge success while the 3rd fell flat with its ridiculous plot and subpar character additions…

Ten years later Scream 4, directed by Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven, absolutely redeemed the trilogy and brought back those same goosebumps I got from the first film as I clinched my seat hoping my favorite characters would survive the most recent reign of terror by the mysterious “Ghostface” on the people of Westboro.

Neve Campbell reprises her role as our heroine “Sydney Prescott” as if she were born for the part and David Arquette and ex-wife Courtney Cox jump back into the roles of “Dewey Riley & Gale Weathers” without missing a beat.  It was like being reunited with old friends.  To add some “New Millennium” flare to the flick the cast is joined by hot young stars like Hayden Panettiere, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Rory Culkin, and Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric Roberts and Niece of Julia Roberts).

This movie has enough twists and turns to keep you jumping out of your seat and the right amount of its trademark predictability to keep you guessing who it is behind the infamous mask this time.  And the ending is sure to surprise both new and loyal fans of the Scream movies.  I am usually great at figuring out who the killer is before the movie is over and this time…I HAD NO IDEA!!!!

If you aren’t old enough to be familiar with the previous movies I would encourage you to watch them before you see this one or the brevity of it WILL be lost to you.  Overall I give this move 2 thumbs up and both my Big toes too!!

-Michael Barlow for “The HIGH UP”

The Game Is On!

While I am not the biggest fan of prime time television, I must say that producers Mara Brock Akil and Kelsey Grammer got my attention when they introduced one of the most popular comedy drama series since ‘A Different World’. When The Game first premiered back in 2006 I only ‘heard’ people talking about the characters around the water cooler at the office and while we were sweating it out at the gym. And I would often see people discussing certain “highly emotional and intense” episodes all over Facebook but I still didn’t know (or care) what all of the buzz was about. I would ask myself “Who is this Derwin guy and why can’t he and Melanie get it together? And why does Kelly allow her chauvinistic husband to push her around?” I have to admit that I became a fan of the show ‘post production’ and am happy to see that BET is proudly broadcasting the highly anticipated fourth season. Since the show went into syndication almost two years ago, I am now up to speed on all the characters (and their problems) and hope that the new season will clear up a few unanswered questions. Fans of the beloved cast already know to tune in on January 11th

Tell us your favorite character from ‘The Game’ at Hot Topic of the Day.

Coming to the “Stage”… Lauryn Hill!

The intriguing singer, songwriter and former actress who more than a decade ago took hip hop by storm while sweeping 5 Grammys for her unforgettable lyrical masterpiece The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, is gracing fans with her presence as she kicks off a 17 city tour on December 27th. Ms. Hill will be performing at Center Stage Theater on January 14th in Atlanta. Tickets went on sale today and are rumored to be sold out. Not surprising. My crew is already scrambling to see if we can land an exclusive interview…we’ll keep you posted! Now, my favorite musical collaboration of all time has to be ‘Nothing Even Matters’ with Lauryn and D’Angelo. This song is super sexy, raw and an undeniable classic. Every time I hear it I reflect upon my freshman year at Tennessee State University. Those were the days! All I can say is “welcome back Lauryn. We hope you’re here to stay.” :)

-N. Renee

Tell us your favorite musical collaboration of all time at Hot Topic of the Day.

Charitable Event Raises Money While Touching Lives

Saturday, December 4th was a big day for Steve Edwards, Founder of the International House of Fedoras. Mr. Edwards coordinated a beautiful fashion show and album release not just to showcase the great talent coming out of Birmingham, Alabama, but to raise funds for causes that are near and dear to his heart. He appropriately titled the event ‘Touching Lives With the Runway’. Beneficiaries of Steve’s tireless efforts included the Lupus Organization, Homeless Veterans and Kidney Cancer Research. The event was held at Old Car Heaven which houses classic car favorites and a bar/ lounge area to suit anyone looking for a great spot to hang and relax.

Shaundra Performing

Supporters of the cause enjoyed a dinner buffet while listening to Shaundra T. Smith perform songs off of her new album titled ‘Worth Repeating’. High Quality Organics (HqO) Skin Care donated men’s and women’s gift bags to several surprised guests. The models ripped the runway with designs by YODE, International House of Fedoras (IHOF), Mak Designs and MOJO Jeans. Make-up artist Shelly Theus had the models looking glamorous and a team of photographers were there to capture it all. Aspire Online Magazine had the opportunity to debut our print edition featuring Shaundra. Congratulations to Steve and his crew on a job well done!

View the photo gallery at ATL

Movie of the Year! Tyler Perry’s ‘For Colored Girls’

As I entered the theatre the atmosphere was eclectic! The energy in the room was full of excitement with the anticipation of yet another Tyler Perry film.  I stared in sheer amazement as I watched a few hundred women of color walk through the theatre corridor. A vast sea of beautifully colored hues in different shapes and sizes representing the African American Woman.  At that moment I was proud to be among what we call “sister hood”. We walked in the theatre chatting with one another as if we’d known each other for years. I haven’t felt that type of connection in a long time. As I was walking to my seat a “sister” stated “you better get your tissue ready you’re going to need it. “ I thought, Oh no! Not more of the ‘Black Woman’s drama’.  We live through various forms of drama every day; surely I didn’t just spend $10.50 to watch it. But this was different.

For 2 hours we had to confront the demons that plague our past, present and future. These demons had names. They’re called rape, abuse, neglect, lewdness, disappointment and shame.  These are the demons the black woman endures on a daily basis; yet her smooth skin, full lips and ample hips help mask the scar that’s been hidden for centuries in her very core.

This film should be seen by women of all ages, races and creeds. As for men, I would say this is a movie they may not want to see but need to see. Spiritually speaking; in all thy getting, get an understanding.  Anything you don’t understand, you may have a tendency to misuse.

The A’List cast was outstanding. Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad , Anika Noni Rose, Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine and Kimberly Elise all provided Oscar worthy performances.

“Somebody tried to walk away with all your stuff; Now it’s your time to get it back! If you haven’t already, you must see this movie today!

Valerie Welch, Associate Editor

Aspire Online Magazine



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers