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February 09, 1990 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-09
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& 0

Bette Midler and Trini Alvarado as:
Stella Claire and Jenny share a
mother-daughter relationship in
the new John Erman film, Stella


From Nigerian royalty to
American riches, LSA senior
Charles Okezie says he's a real-
life version of Eddie Murphy's
character in the box office hit,
"Coming to America."
"Eddie Murphy's character
came over to discover a new
world, a new way of living and so
did I," Okezie said.
The son of a Nigerian king
from the province of Umuahia,
Okezie and his family traded their
royal social status for a new life in
America, immigrating in 1976.
Okezie was instantly swept up by
pop music culture. '
Thirteen years later, with a
down-payment to the tune of
$35,000, Okezie invested in
turntables, speakers, and
keyboards, creating a music
entertainment service called P.C.
"It stands for Prince Charles
Productions," he said, describing
the service as "disc jockey
entertainment, with stereo
systems and professional DJs."
"Ever since I was a little kid
and first came to the States, I
liked the beat of American
music," Okezie said, although he
admitted to being ashamed of his
first musical fetish:
"Disco," he said. "I mean, it
was OK then... It was 'the thing.'
But then it was rap, house,
technopop, hiphop..."
Listing musical genres of the
decade, Okezie said, "Hiphouse
is where it's at now."
According to Okezie, hiphouse
is "rap synchronized with house
music." He added, "P.C.
Productions plays everything,
except country. And disco."
Inspiration for P.C. Productions
was coerced. Discord from irate
neighbors and a dwindling bank
account spurred Okezie's leap
onto the entrepreneurial
"Me and the fellas would be
throwing parties all the time," he
explained. "Man, we'd have
everything - DJs, speakers, I
mean top sound systems.
"But it got expensive, and

things got destroyed; so we
figured, jeesh! We could rent a
place and throw a party there in
our name."
Okezie, who worked at Ann
Arbor's Nectarine Ballroom as a
bouncer, approached its
management last July, asking to
rent the dance floor for an
Extending a special privilege to
their employee, the management
of the Nectarine Ballroom
allowed Okezie to distribute
invitations for a party there in his

name. They also offered him a
percentage of the profits from the
night's cover charges.
"We were like, whoa! We
didn't think we'd getpaid to
bring people in," said Okezie,
adding, "We knew we could pack
the place."
"And," he said, with his slight
accent, "We did."
While P.C. Productions started
off serving just the Washtenaw
area, it now entertains at college
and high-school functions in
Detroit, Kalamazoo, Lansing; and

other cities throughout southern
and central Michigan.
"I have DJs in each of these
cities or nearby," Okezie
explained. "I provide them with
audio equipment - everything
necessary for the particular
LSA junior Ricky "24K" Wade
is Okezie's "right hand man,"
providing P.C. Productions with
his DJ expertise because he
"likes to mix."
"Rick is a mixologist. That's a
real term!" said Okezie. "It's the

art of mixing two different types
of music on different turn tables
and getting them o sound like
the same song."
"Making music mixes for P.C.
Productions helps to sharpen up
my DJ and mixing skills," said
Wade, who hopes his
involvement with P.C.
Productions will crescendo to a
full-blown career in radio
Both students have high hopes
for the future. Okezie plans to go
to law school and Wade wants to
eventually own a TV station,
radio station, and a newspaper.
While music mixing makes
profits, Okezie admits that his
entrepreneurial pursuits don't
mix well with academics.
"It's tough," he admitted and
regretted having little time for
homework. "We still do well, but
it's a lot harder to do both."
"And it's risky, financially," he
added. "Every function you do,
you're in the red - all the time.
You can lose a lot of money."e
Asked how he afforded the
project's initial expenditures,
Okezie laughed and said, "My
father's a physician."
"Right now, we're in the
expansion stage," said Okezie,
who says that Detroit functions
are more lucrative than parties in
other areas. "We've grossed
$78,000 since last July and we
expect to have grossed $112,000
by the summer."
What advice does Okezie have
for aspiring entrepreneurs at the
"Be organized," he said. "If
you're organized you can take on
both academics and business and
be successful."
"Eddie Murphy's character and
I were both pleased with what we
experienced in America - and
we like challenges," Okezie said.
"We made the most of new
by Ruth Littmann

Stella's 'poor
on content,
rich -in sap
"It's a great life, if you don't
weaken," says Bette Midler's
Stella Claire. This might have
been a good motto for the film
itself, except that Stella has little
strength to begin with. Stella tells
us, however, that strength comes
from "a little extra pocket
change." Too bad I spent mine
on the popcorn.
Originally, Barbara Stanwyck

starred as
the society-
Stella Dallas
in the1937
King Vidor
version. Her
story has
updated for
modern times, making Stella a
struggling single parent. She now
is the mother caught between
doing what is best for her.
daughter, and what is best for
herself. Though Stella could have
been a worthwhile remake, this
one shows that sometimes
originals are best left alone.
Stella opens in 1969 with our
heroine perfoming a mock strip-
tease to the delight of the locals
she serves at the Watertown bar.
This act also attracts Cornell Med
student Stephen Dallas (Stephen
Collins), who would obviously
rather study Stella than his
schoolbooks. When the inevitable
stork arrives, Stella turns down
Dallas' half-hearted marriage
proposal, and decides to raise the
child herself.
Trini Alvarado plays daughter
Jenny who, when not dressing
like Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice,
enjoys eating strawberry ice

cream in Manhattan with her rich
papa. Her character might have
made a statement about torn
loyalty between her separated
parents. Instead, Jenny gets lost
in clich6d circumstances like
fighting the mean boyfriend's
efforts to go up her shirt. Or, the
wanna-be heart-wrenching,
to-Dad's-for-Christmas scene. She
and Bette share a nauseating
accent (the director must believe
that all poor people in New York
talk like this), and also a genuine
enjoyment of throwing food all
over the kitchen.
Admirable performances are
turned in by Stephen Collins as
the warm and generous father,
and Marsha Mason as his wealthy
love interest. Eileen Brennan,
best remembered as Goldie
H awn's nasty drill seargeant in
Private Benjamin, is hilarious as
the stiff, meddling townswoman.
John Goodman of TV's Roseanne
can't be on target all the time, and
this is the flick where he missed..
His bulk and mussed hairstyle
make up for his lack of dimension
as Stella's poor, alcoholic lover/
However, this is Midler's
movie, and she just isn't

play f
that s
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choosing well-scripted roles. With
20 percent of American adults
illiterate, this.film is likely to
inspire Donahue and Oprah
episodes where they present their
own real-life Stanleys.
Unfortunately, unlike other
"cause" movies such as last year's
Rainman, this film too often
seems like a public-service TV
showing at Briarwood and Showcase


Princes Charles and Nwabueze Okezie pose with some of the
sound equipment in their apartment

Iris (Jane
an intimal
and stude
and Iris

by Brent Edwards





FePruarf 9,1990

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