Tichina Arnold Says "The Lena Baker Story" Brings Tears
Feb 25, 2008
Tichina Arnold reports work has been completed on her "The Lena Baker Story" -- the wrenching saga of the first African American woman to be executed in Georgia -- and that meetings have begun with potential distributors. "People come away from seeing it in tears. It's a great thing for the filmmaker, Ralph Wilcox, a great project. I really want people to come around and see it and be changed," says the actress currently seen as Chris Rock's feisty mom on "Everybody Hates Chris."
Baker was sentenced to die in the electric chair in 1944, after killing the employer who had made her his sex slave and held her against her will -- a sentence deemed "a legal lynching" in 2005. It's a story that gives one pause in this 2008 Black History month and in what's bound to go down as a banner year in African American history. "Sometimes, you hate to say it, but some people are just born without chances. That situation, she could just not get out of it. So many women and men find themselves stuck in situations they're not afforded opportunities to get out of," Tichina adds. "But as horrible as her story was, it was meaningful to me and inspired me."
Baker's last words were: "I have nothing against anyone. … I'm ready to meet my God. I have a very strong conscience." Peter Coyote plays the employer, a part Tichina says that "a lot of actors were wary of playing. He did an amazing job. We worked very well together."
Meanwhile, Arnold reports the "Everybody Hates Chris" team is gearing up for production of their fourth season in early April. "Thank God for that. We've still got things to do, people to make laugh," she says.
MORE REAL: Ready or not, Bravo launches its "The Real Housewives of New York City" "docuseries" March 4. Jill Zarin, who's not only a key figure in the show but enlisted some of her well-heeled pals to join in as well, admits, "I don't know if I'd have been lured in by that name. The production company came to me about a show they were developing called 'Manhattan Moms' about socialites living the glamorous life in New York while juggling the demands of family. Then, in January, they changed the name. I think the new name will draw more viewers, so from that vantage point I'm happy."
Zarin says her friends' response to the skein was "very mixed. I would say 50 percent passed and said they were not interested. Or secretly they were interested but their husbands were not. Quite a few met with producers and did a demo tape. Some weren't selected probably because their backgrounds were too similar, and the producers were interested in varied backgrounds."
MOTIVATED: Valerie Waugaman -- that's Siren to fans of NBC's "American Gladiators" -- tells us she makes reading favorite motivational quotes as much a part of her everyday routine as her daily workouts. The quotes seem to be working. Waugaman has sideline careers as motivational speaker and as a restaurateur. She and her fiance own the Cleveland healthy foods restaurant Octane Cafe. And now, she says, they're laying plans to sponsor athletic events. Plus, "We're actually working on food delivery for pro athletes, producing foods for the Cleveland Browns and other teams in the future, meals that will make it easy to stay on track in training with plenty of energy."
With reports by Stephanie DuBois and Emily Feimster.
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