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Authors Posts by Tabari McCoy

Tabari McCoy

Tabari McCoy
Columnist - Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. An award-winning stand-up comedian who also works as the public relations director at Cincinnati Museum Center, Tabari McCoy is the creator of McCoy on Movies, a blog about movies for film fans. The blog is written by someone who also likes movies that is smart enough to know his opinion isn't always the right one but is willing to express that opinion in public. McCoy also used to review movies for his college paper and a major metropolitan publication, so that helps add to his "street cred." Contact him at You can also check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy.

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"Sex and the City 2"

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, Chris Noth, John Corbett, Jason Lewis, David Eigenberg, Evan Handler, Willie Garson, Mario Cantone and a bunch of clothes you probably can’t afford!


WRITER: Michael Patrick King with Candace Bushnell (characters) and Darren Star (series creator)


DIRECTOR: Michael Patrick King




THE PLOT: Uh, since I’m still recovering from the hangover of this movie, I think the plot (if this movie has one) goes a little something like this: Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is married to Big (Chris Noth), but married life isn’t full of bliss as she imagined as she awaits for the publication of I Do, Do I?, her latest book on her first two years of being hitched. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is now in her 50s. And she’s got all the medications to make sure she ages gracefully.


Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has a boss (Ron White – yes, Ron White!) that doesn’t respect her, so that’s making it hard on her at work despite her rekindled relationship with Steve (David Eisenberg). And Charlotte (Kristin Davis) has two crying children who only seem to respond to their new Irish nanny (Alice Eve). Given the nanny’s propensity for not wearing a bra, though, Charlotte is worried her husband Harry (Evan Handler) might stray.


However, once Samantha’s old flame Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis) surfaces, Samantha’s ways of getting what she wants surface too. Samantha’s wants result in the fab four taking what they feel is a much-needed trip to Abu Dhabi, a revelatory trip for all involved &mdsah; especially once Carrie runs into a former flame (John Corbett) when she is least expecting it.


THE TAKE: OK, let’s get this out of the way, shall we? [1] I know I’m not the film’s target audience being a heterosexual African American man; [2] I did watch some of the TV series (including the well done Paris finale) and [3] I saw the first "SATC" movie and enjoyed it more than my female friend (who shall remain nameless to protect her identity!) did and [4] a man wrote and directed this movie. Now, with all that out of the way, if you want to simply believe that this movie is going to make for a fun girl’s night out, will be great regardless of what I say and/or I have no clue what I am talking about, stop here.


Seriously, this is your last chance to turn back.


This movie more often than not is a blasé, boring exercise in excess that’s about as stylish as slapping a Coach or Dooney & Burke logo on a band-aid and considering it high couture. Having had a full 24 hours to digest what I saw and despite all its legions of fans who will likely prefer to tear my head off verbally than actually understand my points, I’m going to simply try to explain why this movie is bad (because it really, really is).


Other than the chance for our four main characters to get together, there really is no main central driving force to give the movie any heart. Sure, their respective relationships are maturing. Sadly, Carrie and Co. are not. If anything, they seem to be regressing for the most part throughout "SATC 2," coming off as spoiled; often clueless; and dare I say it, unpleasant to be around (or in this case, watch).


Yes, I know that "Sex and the City" always has been about indulgence, but the level of opulence displayed in this movie is beyond ridiculous with a real sense of entitlement coming through. Remember, ladies, bigger is not always better.


This wouldn’t be so bad if the characters seemed to be facing real problems other than superficial ones they are creating themselves. While Charlotte is fretting about a braless nanny, Miranda is upset because her boss doesn’t value her voice (welcome to the real world, sister!). Meanwhile, Samantha is fighting nature so that she can keep on having a bunch of sex, and Carrie wants "sparkle" in her and Big’s relationship. Neither she nor he takes any real time to examine what may be causing them real distress, so the movie could have looked at a couple of real relationship issues here: the problem of maintaining one’s independence while functioning as a couple, how to keep the spark in a marriage, etc. While the first movie did this, this one just opts for tired clichés like distance making the heart grow fonder.


Comedy wise, there are a few moments where the characters try and succeed to deliver on the humor, but they often are distracted with a quick cop out moment of clarity or, worse yet, a tawdry, cheap or tired one-liner, usually in the form of Samantha making some sort of sexual joke. And much like a lot of Samantha’s sexual escapades, the jokes come off tawdry and cheap.


Now, I’m sure at this point some of you are saying, "Well, isn’t the fashion at least good?" In two words, not really. I’m no Anna Wintour, but I know bad when I see it — and if Tim Gunn hadn’t made his misplaced cameo at Anthony’s and Stanford’s wedding and stuck around to see some of the outfits, he would likely agree. (Don’t get me started on that whole sequence. My gay friend that attended the preview screening found it offensive. I just thought it was ridiculously excessive for the sake of it, but I’m sure others will disagree.) Not to be a mean girl (get the joke?), but there’s nothing "fetch" about anything they are wearing, especially when another cameo makes fun of the fact that one of the characters is too old to be wearing what she is wearing!


The gay wedding sequence (and since all the characters both straight and gay kept calling it a "gay wedding" for comedy’s sake, I’m calling it that, too) is the least of the film’s offensive concerns. That (dis)honor would go to the movie’s handling of the culture clash that happens once the girls arrive in the Middle East.


In case you’re wondering with my first name, I am not Muslim, not that that should matter. However, King and company better hope the folks over at New Line Cinema (the film’s distributor) have a really good PR department or they might be in for a devil of a time fending off criticism for the depictions of the Middle East and Muslim culture, despite Miranda’s repeated attempts to prevent it and the kindness Carrie shows to her butler (Raza Jaffrey) at the girls’ hotel. There is one specific scene I would like to discuss to illustrate my point, but that’s a MAJOR spoiler, and I don’t do spoilers.


So let’s recap: Is "Sex and the City 2" lacking in heart, emotion, story and humor and at the same time heavy on the ridiculous (even for these characters) and length (its 2 hours and 20 minutes feel even longer watching it), as it fails to break any new ground or advance the characters in any fashion we haven’t seen before? Yes — and that should make you say "no" when it comes time to decide whether or not to purchase a ticket to see it.


This movie is especially the chick flick version of "Ocean’s Twelve/Thirteen." The original stuck to its core, whereas this one loses its way by falling for the old "bigger and bolder" formula and failing miserably at every turn.


In chatting via Facebook with another female friend of mine about how I was struggling to eloquently explain why this movie was bad, she said something poetic: "Hasn’t ‘Sex and the City’ run its course? It was great, but must it go on and on?"


No. It really must not. Like a lot of good things in life, this one has run its course.











Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema

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"Shrek The Final Chapter"

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Kathy Griffin, Antonio Banderas, Lake Bell, Craig Robinson, Kristen Schaal, Meredith Vieira and Walt Dohrn


WRITER: Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke


DIRECTOR: Mike Mitchell




THE PLOT: Ever since he became familiar with all the people and places of Far, Far Away, Shrek (voiced once again by Mike Myers) has never quite been able to adjust to his new life as ogre/husband to Princess Fiona (the returning Cameron Diaz). Like Donkey (the venerable voice of Eddie Murphy), Shrek is married with children and life is good — and repetitive. It’s all a bit much for Shrek, which leads to an outburst at his kids’ first birthday party.


Enter: Rumpelstiltskin (voiced by relative newcomer Walt Dohrn) — Far, Far Away’s ultimate opportunist.


Rumpelstiltskin, you see, is a deal maker, and back when Princess Fiona was locked in the tower and the true nature of her "curse" was unknown, her parents (voiced by John Cleese and Julie Andrews) almost signed away their kingdom to him to break that curse. Being so close and yet so far away at the same time from getting what he wants, ol’ Rumpel wasn’t too happy with how that all went down.


But back to Shrek: Shrek just wishes he could go back to the way things were and be a regular feared-by-villagers ogre who can play in his swamp again. Rumpelstiltskin can make that happen for him for a day — all he has to do is give up a day of his life in exchange.


What Shrek doesn’t foresee, however, is how one day can forever change not only his life, but the lives of all those around him, too.


THE TAKE: The "Shrek" film cannon goes sort of like this: first film, great; second film, arguably better; third film, wow, that’s a terrible drop off in quality! Apparently the fine folks at DreamWorks must have realized this and said, "What can we do to take the bad taste of ‘Shrek the Third’ out of our mouths and those of the collective public yet let them know at the same time we won’t keep milking this franchise anymore than we already did with that film?"


The result of that hypothetical question is "Shrek the Final Chapter" (a.k.a. "Shrek Forever After). "The Final Chapter" does what it sets out to do, which is to deliver 90 minutes of entertainment — no more, no less. The 3D aspect works well when used. (Unless the cut I saw at the advance screening wasn’t finished, I swear someone forgot to animate the last 60 minutes — save for the credits — in 3D.) The 3D truly does add to the overall experience of the film, unlike some other recent releases. (I’m looking at you, "Clash of the Titans"!)


Whereas Shrek as a character (both in the movie and for the audience) is a bit long in the tooth, the film works overall as it delves further into the key emotional aspect of the series, his inability to appreciate what other people add to his life. That, in turn, allows the other main characters to crack-wise as Shrek finds himself in peril in the alternate universe of Far, Far Away (it’ll make sense once you see the film), providing for a few LOL moments via pop culture references and well-crafted gags. The film still has heart, but it sticks to the simplicity of a common romantic comedy staple: A guy who doesn’t realize what he has till it’s gone.


The film’s true winner, however, may be the one you won’t come to the theater expecting, as Rumpelstiltskin is really the film’s driving force. Antonio Banderas provides an excellent turn as a flabbier version of Puss in Boots as does Craig Robinson as an ogre chef (he really needed more lines!), but Walt Dohrn provides one of the best performances in recent voice acting history as Rumpelstiltskin. His work proves that big names or those with big talent in live action pictures aren’t automatically the best choices for animation. Dohrn’s energy gives his character a nice mix of motivated evil, cowardly villain and light-hearted fun akin to Freddy Krueger (not the new one, the old one played by Robert Englund) minus all the gratuitous violence. I’m talking about an animated movie here!


Think of it this way: While the fine folks at Pixar (who will likely prove this point with their upcoming "Toy Story 3") always seem to find a way to take their characters in new, unexpected and evolving directions, "Shrek The Final Chapter" simply closes out a story that, while not attempting to break new ground, simply provides a nice ending with a few laughs, a few tears — and a chance to more than likely sell a few more DVDs and ogre ears!



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"Letters to Juliet"

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, Gael García Bernal, Christopher Egan, Milena Vukotic, Lidia Biondi, Marina Massironi, Luisa Ranieri and about 6 minutes of Oliver Platt


WRITER: Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan


DIRECTOR: Gary Winick




THE PLOT: "Letters to Juliet" stars the wide-eyed Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, a fact-checker who works under her boss (Oliver Platt) at The New Yorker. Sophie wants to be more than a fact-checker, though, as she longs to be a writer.


For the meantime, however, she will just have to settle for being the fiancé of Victor (Gael García Bernal), an aspiring restaurateur whose love of food and wine rivals that for his love of Sophie. Set to soon be married, the couple decides to take a trip to Verona, Italy, as a pre-honeymoon. (In this economy? Only in the movies!) Arriving in town, Sophie is instantly enthralled once she comes across the "Secretaries of Juliet," a group of ladies who collect letters written by women to William Shakespeare’s famous fictional character seeking romantic advice. (Yes, it’s a real group!)


Sophie — who has plenty of time to herself while Victor scurries along the Italian countryside — decides to spend her time answering some letters of her own. Finding a very old letter in a very unexpected place (semi-spoiler alert!), Sophie writes its sender back, which results in Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) showing up in Verona with her driver/grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan). While Claire is hoping to track down her long lost love Lorenzo some 50 years later, Charlie, is not quite so optimistic.


And once Sophie decides to tag along on the journey to write about the adventure, none of their lives may ever be the same again.


THE TAKE: First off, I know one thing about this movie: It will single-handedly cause an increase in airline tickets to Verona, Italy. The cinematography is beautiful and the romantic nature of the area will be a boon for travel agents. I must, however, follow that up with the fact that the movie offers everything like sappy music, outcomes and situations that seem highly implausible in a movie where the situations are supposed to take place within realistic settings, men who always say the most perfect romantic thing and know when to do it despite earlier scenes where they could NOT have been more clueless about their behavior and humor that at times is very sitcom standard in nature versus truly hilarious.


All those things aside, "Juliet" delivers what it sets out to offer: a light-hearted romance with a bit of comedy that will make you smile. There’s nothing particularly dynamic about the film. The acting is palatable, particularly in Regrave’s case, as she brings a nice light-hearted touch to a role that demands one for the film to work on any level. Her performance is inspired enough to carry the film. (I also predict that I won’t be the only one who wonders if Egan will match Heath Ledger’s talent since he already is a British doppelgänger for him physically.) In short, if you are in the market for a movie that’s cute, unoffensive and easy on the senses, you will meet"Letters to Juliet" with a welcome reception — unless you have a lot of testosterone in your system, that is!












Photographer: Joe Johnson

Copyright © Summit Entertainment, LLC.

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"Iron Man 2"


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, John Slattery, Clark Gregg, Scarlett Johansson, Jon Favreau, Samuel L. Jackson and Garry Shandling


WRITER: Justin Theroux (screenplay), Stan Lee (comic book upon which the films are based)


DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau




THE PLOT: Picking up six months after the events depicted in the original $300 million-plus box office smash released back in 2008, "Iron Man 2" finds billionaire reformed weapons manufacturer Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) enjoying all of the fame and fortune that comes with being Iron Man, a.k.a. the force that (in his mind, anyway) has brought world peace. Unfortunately for Tony, the U.S. Government — led by the aptly named Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) — wants the "weapon" that is Iron Man in their property. Weapon maker Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who has picked up Tony’s old contract with the government, would like his would-be rival out of the picture completely. And keeping both the government and Tony happy means loads of trouble for James "Rhodey" Rhodes (now played by Don Cheadle after Terrence Howard got the boot for the sequel).


While Tony is all too pleased to let his right-hand woman Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow); personal driver Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau); and new legal assistant, the mysterious and alluring Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) take care of all the business affairs, there is a personal matter he is keeping all to himself: The toxicity of his blood caused by the palladium source in his chest, for the very thing that is keeping him alive is also killing him. (Such a tragic catch-22, isn’t it?)


But there’s something — or someone, rather — that’s also got his eyes on killing Tony. That would be Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), son of Anton Vanko — a former Russian technology expert who defected to the U.S. only to work under Tony’s father (got all that?). Seems like one son’s father wasn’t quite so good to the other son’s father, and because of that, one son is ready to make the other son pay for his father’s misdeeds …


So the question remains: Can Iron Man save the world again? Maybe — but only if Tony Stark is able to save himself first?


THE TAKE: The first "Iron Man" felt special for several reasons. 1) few people, if any outside of the studio had many expectations for the film given his "lower stature" (quote marks used as that is debatable among longstanding fans of Stan Lee’s "Batman"-like millionaire hero) in the comic book canon. 2) Robert Downey, Jr. was still in the "respected but not a megastar" stage of his career comeback, and 3) it was the first film in the series, so no one had a firm idea of what the cast and crew were going to give them.


Fast forward two years and $318 million-plus domestic box office later, and "Iron Man 2" has a lot of challenges facing it. For as "The Dark Knight" proved, if you do it right, the superhero sequel can be big business both critically and financially. So how does "2" stack up to the original? Well enough, even if a bit of the magic from the first is lacking for all of the aforementioned reasons.


Downey is his usual solid self back in the role of Stark, slightly expanding upon the characteristics (both positive and negative) that make Tony Stark more than just a Bruce Wayne clone. Paltrow (who I admittedly have never been much of a fan of) does a great job (I was going to redeem myself) as Pepper, the always frazzled woman who is also the only one who can reel Tony in temporarily when he gets ahead of himself.


Likewise, Cheadle will have many fans saying "Terrence who?" with his turn as Rhodes while Rourke is equally solid as Vanko, though he almost feels a bit hamstrung by certain elements of the "we have to make this a bigger situation" storyline penned by Theroux. You get just enough of Vanko to make you realize why he’s doing what he’s doing, but you never get the full sense of what he might do and what he might want to do beyond destroying Tony (i.e. what might be his next big move) that would further enhance his character. While Rourke has gone on record with Entertainment Weekly recently as saying he wanted to "humanize" Vanko, he (and the film) may have been better served going the Heath Ledger-route and removing all human elements from his character.


The big winner — performance wise — is the under-appreciated Rockwell as Hammer (who is basically a non-competent, anti-Tony Stark who desperately wants to be him). For while his character is a pretty stock one in both movies and comic books, Rockwell’s performance adds a great comedic element to the film. Johansson is also worth mentioning in her role, as she does something that is often tricky for female characters in testosterone-driven cinema: play a character with a sly sense of sexiness that is also convincing as a strong, believable ass-kicker without giving in to either extreme.


The film’s flaws/problems/concerns (use whatever word you choose) notwithstanding, more often than not, "2" delivers on what it intends: a fun two-hour romp with lively characters and intriguing action sequences that also helps further establish The Avengers (comic book fans will know what this means; if you don’t, hit up the Marvel Universe Web site now and get to reading!) movie down the line. Sure, some of the action, to quote what Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson character says at the very end of the film, "I think we found it" — "it" being the first hit movie of the summer.







Industrial Light & Magic / Marvel 2010 MVLFFLLC. Trademark and copyright 2010 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

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"The Back-up Plan"


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin, Michaela Watkins, Tom Bosley, Linda Lavin, Anthony Anderson, Noureen DeWulf and Eric Christian Olsen


WRITER: Kate Angelo






They’re standing in a room full of cheese — Hmm… How fitting considering how bad this movie is. Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) stares deep into the eyes of Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) in CBS Films’ new romantic comedy "The Back-up Plan."


THE PLOT: Set in New York City (because 90 percent of movies have to be set in either L.A. or New York apparently), "The Back-up Plan" tells the tale of Zoe, a successful pet shop owner, where her younger co-workers (Noreen DeWulf and Eric Christian Olsen) do whatever it is they do. She has just one little problem: She wants a baby NOW and doesn’t want to have to wait on a husband to get one.


So, being a woman of action with a plan (hence the title), Zoe decides to head to a specialist (Robert Klein) to get inseminated even though she’s not sure it will take. Attempting to catch a cab after leaving the clinic, she literally bumps into Stan, also attempting to catch a cab. Skip ahead, and Zoe and Stan are getting along famously … Until Zoe gets a piece of news via her pet dog Nutsy — who gets MORE than his fair share of screen time — that looks to complicate things with Stan.


Anyone wanna guess what that news might be?


THE TAKE: Ladies, I’m not going to pull any punches with you about "The Back-up Plan", a.k.a. the bad romantic comedy Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston apparently didn’t have time to make. There are literally — LITERALLY! — only three reasons to drag this man to your film (perish the thought of you and a friend going to see this yourselves with hope in your hearts of it being worthwhile): [1] You enjoy arguments [2] You feel compelled to make him suffer for some horrible crime perpetrated against your person and/or [3] You really, really want to break up with him but need a reason for him to do the breaking up so that you don’t feel bad about breaking his heart if you said what you’ve been wanting to for days/weeks/months/years.


Now before you say ‘"Wait a minute, Tabari, if that is your real name You don’t get it. This is not a guy’s movie. This is a movie for women." First, I take offense to that as I, despite my prejudices going into a film whatever they may be, give every film a chance to surprise me, sometimes pleasantly as in the case of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (a wonderful French/American biopic/drama I highly recommend seeing at least once in your lifetime). Second, anticipating your skepticism, I was sure to bring — or as it turned out, drag — along a female friend who enjoys traditional "girlie" things, and she could not wait to escape the theater and return to life as she previously knew it before she wasted 90-plus minutes watching "The Back-up Plan."


Why is it so insufferable, you ask? There are plenty of easy things one can pick apart, such as the repeatedly bad attempts at humor (there are maybe three genuine laughs in the film, tops, four if you count an EXTENDED birthing scene that goes where "Knocked Up" did a few years ago). How about the non-compelling performances of the supporting cast  save for Anthony Anderson as Stan’s would-be relationship/parenting mentor, Klein as the most-leveled headed person in the whole film doing his best with tired material (and that’s a compliment to Klein), and Watkins’ occasional stab as the sarcastic best friend (which she does well at times and not-so-much at others). The younger, hipper characters of Olsen and DeWulf don’t add much to the affair other than a pair of pretty faces.


The major problem, however, is the one that pains me most  Lopez. I know many people hate on her singing (which I admittedly don’t mind so much). "The Back-up Plan," however, does her no favors in terms of acting creditability. I mean, her portrayal of Zoe is so downright silly at times that it’s impossible to feel anything — distaste, sympathy, empathy, etc.  real for her character. She never transcends Zoe from "movie character" to "person." O’Loughlin, who proves that a good six-pack can get you a leading role, only fares slightly better as he at least makes you feel something (whatever that may be may vary by person) for the haphazard Stan who is either too smart for his character or too dumb for what he is supposed to be, based upon the circumstances in which the audience first meets him.


Of course, Poul’s "here comes the joke/drama" camera-work, which doesn’t do anything for Angelo’s paint-by-numbers, sappy happy script do the leads no favors, either. The characters’ relationship feels artificial, as do 99 percent of the events that lead them to every twist and turn in their relationship, almost like you’re watching a movie about a romantic comedy than a romantic comedy itself.


The film has a "been there, seen this" vibe to it from the opening scene and fails to provide any compelling (there’s that word again!) reason to invest in it, financially or emotionally. In other words, unless you are the type that needs no brain stimulation as long as there’s a happy ending, this might be a film that’s best to skip or watch on DVD when you’re up for a bad movie night by yourself.


The film’s lead characters finally fall for each other in a room full of cheese (see the picture above)  and that is much more telling of the film’s quality factor than I’m sure its cast and crew intended. Those reasons will make "The Back-up Plan" cause you to look for an escape plan ASAP. If Nutsy were really man’s best friend, he would agree.






Photos courtesy of CBS Films. All rights reserved.


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Cincy Chic: How did you get your start at the Cincinnati Museum Center, one of the Queen City’s most prominent landmarks?


Tabari McCoy, director of public relations of the Cincinnati Museum Center: My journey to Cincinnati Museum Center arose out of an unexpected situation but one that unfortunately has become quite common in the last year: I, along with the rest of my former CiN Weekly colleagues, found myself in need of a new job after being informed my then employer would no longer be needing our services.


Instead of feeling sorry for myself and allowing myself to be down about the situation, I immediately began the process of looking for a new career opportunity, focusing my efforts in the field of marketing and public relations. Long story short, I utilized the connections I made during my journalism career to reach out to everyone who might be willing to help me. As cliché as it might sound, networking with and being good to other people paid off soon (but not soon enough!) thereafter, and now, I am part of an organization that is one of the top museums in the country.


Cincy Chic: This is our Decade in Review issue, so what have been some major milestones for the Museum Center in the last 10 years?


McCoy: Looking back over the course of the last 10 years, Cincinnati Museum Center has achieved several major milestones, the biggest being the most recent in the Institute for Museums and Library Service naming us as a winner of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The award is the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries that, in their words, "make extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental and social contributions." Seeing how only five museums in the country (and 10 institutions total) received the award this year, the significance of the award is not lost on us.


2008 was also significant for it marked two significant anniversaries: The 75th anniversary of Union Terminal as well as the 10th anniversary of the Duke Energy Children’s Museum. For this building to be here for nearly a century and still going strong is a pretty significant achievement.


When the Duke Energy Children’s Museum moved here, I doubt anyone could have foreseen how popular it would become now. There’s not a day when I’m here that I don’t see swarms of excited children moving about, checking out its exhibits, interactive displays and learning through play. That also makes me more appreciative of the energy and dedication parents have when it comes to keeping track of them! …


… But even if you look back earlier in the decade, you can see how Cincinnati Museum Center has been a vital place for the community. That became clear when the "Civil Unrest in Cincinnati: Voices of Our Community" exhibit opened in July of 2001. That exhibit was put together in just 90 days following a series of events that attracted nationwide attention, and [the exhibit] ended up winning an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. To be able to provide a place of dialogue at a time when so many were hurting showcases what makes us such an important part of the community.


Speaking of the community, I’d be more than a bit remiss if I didn’t thank all of the Hamilton County voters who showed their support for Cincinnati Museum Center by passing Issue 6 this November. The public was gracious enough to support us in our initial 2004 levy. When the time came for them to decide whether or not they would renew their support of us, despite tough economic times, nearly 70 percent of them saw the value of Cincinnati Museum Center and said "yes."


Cincy Chic: 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the Museum Center, so what can visitors expect to come in the next 20 years?


McCoy: The public should expect for Cincinnati Museum Center to continue to serve as a home for educational and entertaining exhibits, programs, lectures and events. Those are the tenets of what we do, and I can’t foresee them changing, although we will always look for different methods and ways to best do that. Seeing how Forbes Traveler ranks Cincinnati Museum Center as the 17th most visited museum in the country with more than 1.3 million guests each year, I think that’s worked out pretty well!


That being said, one thing they can look forward to is seeing several restored areas of Union Terminal which have, to this point in time, not been open to the public. These areas are being restored with funding from the aforementioned 2004 levy and will, once completed, add to both the mystique and functionality of one of Cincinnati’s iconic buildings.


Ultimately, we would hope to be able to fully restore Union Terminal to its original glory so future generations will be able to enjoy the building as others have for 75 years and counting.


Cincy Chic: Outside of the Museum Center, what significant changes around the Tri-State have you witnessed in the last decade?


McCoy: From the opening of Newport on the Levee and Great American Ball Park to the renovation of the University of Cincinnati’s main campus and Fountain Square, the shopper/man who doesn’t cook/sports fan in me has thoroughly enjoyed the expansion of entertainment options throughout the Tri-State area.


I also think we have become more of a diverse community — or at least a community that acknowledges its diverse segments. I see this as a positive for Cincinnati. It is my hope others do as well.


Cincy Chic: When you set aside your work, how do you like to have fun?


McCoy: Well, anyone who knows me knows that, while I strive to do my job well and make work a priority in my life, I do not define myself through my job, so fun and having plenty of it is something I definitely enjoy. If I am not in the office, you are likely to find me in one of two places: A comedy club watching, or preferably performing, stand-up (feel free to check out my Web site !) or a movie theater, most likely checking out an advance screening of a film for my movie blog, And on a related note, I would really appreciate it if people would stop texting during movies, but that’s another story for another day.


I also own a constantly growing collection of sports memorabilia, which Home & Garden Television (HGTV for those in the know) showcased a little of when I was featured on the show "Property Virgins." My episode (entitled "No Laughing Matter") has been re-run so often that I am apparently quite popular with their audience. I wish I had signed a contract so I would get a residual check each time it aired!


I have essentially run out of display space for the collection, and given the number of magazines or books I may be reading at any one time, I will likely be doing some spring cleaning shortly!


Cincy Chic: What do you love most about Cincinnati?


McCoy: I’m a native Cincinnatian. This is my hometown. For all of its flaws and foibles – I think the Mark Twain quote about Cincinnati is quite well known locally! – it’s still the best place for me. It’s got big-city amenities without some of the nuances of big city life. It’s got great collegiate and professional sports; arts and entertainment; is centrally located; and all things considered, the weather isn’t too bad. I’d rather dig out of snow than deal with tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes on a regular basis!


Photographer: Linda Palacios

Model: Tabari McCoy

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    With Nick and Drew Lachey from 98 Degrees and funk legend Bootsy Collins (who now enjoys his own restaurant) all hailing from the Queen City, Cincinnati has raised some fine, popular and well-known musicians. One of the greatest periods in Cincinnati’s musical history, however, was from the 1950s through the ’70s.


    This period marked a golden era for Cincinnati’s recording industry. "There were literally hundreds of record labels in the ’50s to the ’70s," says Jim Blase, owner of Shake it Records, located at 4156 Hamilton Avenue in Northside, Ohio.


    Before this musical rush, however, Cincinnati acquired much of its music identity with migrants from the South. At the early part of the century, droves of people were traveling north to work their way into a metropolitan area with manufacturing jobs, Blase says. What made Cincinnati a target destination for these job seekers was the fact that it was the first major city that they hit in the Midwest (with Chicago and other major cities being further north), Blase says.


    052509QFACT_instory.gif They were coming to work, and they brought their music with them. So while Cincinnati celebrated the Reds, the new residents were singing the blues. And the local recording industry picked up on the musical trend.


    One of the most famous recording companies in Cincinnati was King Records, and owner Syd Nathan embraced the blues and R & B trends in the industry as well as the country and bluegrass flavor of Appalachia. "They would take what was popular and make themselves popular," Blase says. Started in the mid 1940s, this recording company was the only King fit for the Queen City.


    With King Records, Nathan incorporated the popular music as he experimented with innovative ideas, including the integration of white and black musicians into the other race’s music. White musicians recorded blues and R &B music, while the black musicians recorded country and "hillbilly" music.


    Nathan also dabbled with white and black musicians playing with each other to produce a new sound and political statement. While these musical crossovers might seem normal in present day, in the days of King Records these concepts were risky with the segregation and sentiments at the time, but Nathan’s risks proved unique and exciting at the same time.


    Under the parent company of King Records, Nathan began other record labels, including Federal Records. The most famous artist to sign and record with Federal Records is none other than Mr. James Brown, one of the first musicians ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Other than Brown, King Records and Federal Records have included the Stanley Brothers, Wynonie Harris, Little Willie Harris. Throughout his time with Federal Records, Nathan and Brown had differing opinions on more than one occasion, and Brown went as far as to record some of his songs with other record labels.


    In addition to King Records and its subsidiary companies, Cincinnati-based Fraternity Records proved to be a prominent company in the Queen City recording industry, particularly in the late 1950s and all through the ’60s, Blase says. In its beginnings, founder Harry Carlson operated Fraternity Records out of a hotel room, but that start led to the record company’s success as America’s oldest continuously operating independent record label, says Shad O’Shea, former recording artist with and later owner of Fraternity Records.


    Many artists who worked with Fraternity Records worked with the company to get their start and moved on when they got big. So Jackie DeShannon, who sang "What the World Needs Now is Love" (featured in "My Best Friend’s Wedding" and "Forrest Gump"), recorded with Fraternity Records before she got her big break.


    Singer Bobby Bare also got his start with Fraternity Records. His song "All-American Boy" quickly reached No. 2, and he went on to record more than a dozen No. 1 records, O’Shea says. Similarly, a nine-member group named The Casinos struck some luck with what would be one of the biggest songs released by Fraternity Records. Their song, "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye," a song written by John D. Loudermilk, reached No. 6 on the charts.


    Loudermilk had attempted to get the song on the charts with other recording artists, but it wasn’t until The Casinos took hold of it that it really took off. Since staying in the top 10 for more than 10 weeks, this song has been re-performed by country greats like Andy Williams and Neil McCoy, but it started off with The Casinos at Fraternity Records.


    Other No. 2 spots reached by Fraternity Records artists include "Ivory Tower" by Cathy Carr and "So Rare" by Jimmy Dorsey.


    Today’s musical world cannot compare to the industry it used to be. "The Web and the Internet have just totally changed how you market music," Blase says, and these changes have impacted the recording industry in Cincinnati and elsewhere. There are still recording companies in the Tri-State area, but their inner workings and the way they relate to the national and international music markets have gone through a complete transformation.


    In fact, as the music industry becomes more and more homogenized with the powerhouse media conglomerates, many areas have lost their regional touch to what has been a specific genre or a couple genres of music that have contributed to the local culture. And places like New Orleans, La., have fought hard to maintain their musical culture.


    For more information about the history of the Cincinnati music scene, look at the Shake it Records Web site. Also, pay attention to their "Links" section because it provides links to several musically historical sites that are specifically about or geared toward Cincinnatians and their city.

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    Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, so you have no excuse to sit at home in sweats. Throw on your party dress, grab your sweetie and head off to these Valentine’s-inspired events around the Queen City. From dinner and dancing to laughing and romancing, this list has something for everyone.


    Bar Louie will take your breath away with its “Top Gun”-themed Valentine’s Day party. As the staff wears aviator costumes and flight jackets, enjoy some drink specials. “Ice Man” drinks (with Smirnoff Ice) are $3, “Maverick” (Mavetinis) are $4, and “Goose” drinks (with Grey Goose) are $5. Also, enjoy an order of sliders for $5. Blast back to the past starting at 5 p.m.


    After enjoying Maverick and Goose, get your laugh on at Shadowbox Cabaret to witness the performers “Bringing Sexy Back.” The sketch comedy club is offering a special Valentine’s Day package for $60 a person at the 7:30 p.m. performance. The package includes a flower for each lady; a banquet of appetizers, dinner and dessert; and admission to the show. If you’d rather grab dinner somewhere else, regular-priced tickets ($30) are also available for the 7:30 p.m. showing.


    If “Top Gun” and Shadowbox don’t do it for you, check out Below Zero Lounge and support the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus as they perform “That’s Amore,” a cabaret of love songs. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $60 a couple and $35 for individuals, which includes appetizers and champagne. (A cash bar will also be available.) Stick around after the show to boogie down with a DJ.


    And if the “boogie down” part interests you most, you might want to head to “Dance into Romance,” a dinner dance fundraiser at Receptions in Eastgate. Tickets are $30 per person in advance and $35 the night of the event, and proceeds benefit the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The ticket includes a 7 p.m. dinner and dancing from 8 p.m. until midnight to the sounds of the Cincy Rockers.


    For more information or to make reservations, visit or call (513) 787-7084.


    For a more intimate, romantic dinner, Brown Dog Cafe’s “Valentine’s Day Four Course Dinner” has what you’re looking for. For $50 a person (not including tax or gratuity) you can enjoy an amuse-bouche and four courses at a restaurant that “has been voted one of the most intimate places to have Valentine’s dinner,” Chef and Owner Shawn McCoy says. “It’s a quaint little restaurant.” Their regular dessert menu will also be available for an additional price.


    Happy hour will start off the night at 4 p.m. with appetizers and half-priced drinks. Open seating will begin at 4:30 p.m., and last seating will be at 10 p.m. Call (513) 794-110 for more information or to make reservations.


    Don’t have a beau? Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the New Edgecliff Theatre’s “Singles Awareness Weekend.” The Thursday, Friday and Saturday night performances treat audiences to two one-act performances, “pairing the traditional with the experimental,” says Devon Campailla, managing director of New Edgecliff Theatre.


    Each performance begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are from $12 to $20. For more information, visit the Web site or call (888) 588-0137.


    So whether a romantic dinner fits your fancy or a barrel of laughs is what you desire, make your Valentine of ’09 an enjoyable affair.


    Photographer: Neysa Ruhl Photography
    Models: Joe and Kirsten Busam
    Location: The McAlpin