Photos give actress insights on past, family life, slavery

Washington -- Alfre Woodard thought that assuming the voices of slaves would be hard work until she saw their pictures -- and was reminded of home.

"It seems so long in the past," Woodard said of slavery at a launch Thursday of "Unchained Memories," an HBO documentary based on interviews in the 1930s with the last generation of slaves, as archived in the Library of Congress.

"But when I looked at (the photos) it was so familiar," the 49-year-old said. "It was my family. I never thought of them as slaves."

The Emmy Award-winning actress was born in Oklahoma to sharecroppers who were descended from slaves. She said she now realized that the "trickster" tales her parents told her as a child derived from stories of eluding slave-owners. "They were figuring out ways to get around them."

The HBO documentary, drawing from more than 2,000 interviews and 500 photographs compiled by the Federal Writers' Project from 1936 to 1938, makes its debut on HBO at 7 p.m. Monday.

Travolta flick may be pride of city

Baltimore -- A Disney movie starring John Travolta is set to begin filming in Baltimore next month.

"Ladder 49" could be the biggest feature film ever made in the city, said Baltimore movie maven Jed Dietz, head of the Maryland Film Festival and founder of the Producers Club of Maryland.

Baltimore was chosen over several other cities, including Toronto and Philadelphia, to be the primary location for the thriller. Mayor Martin O'Malley helped campaign to win the movie.

The movie, which also stars Joaquin Phoenix, is the story of a veteran firefighter who looks back over his professional life, heroic career and family life while trapped in a deadly blaze.

Russell already has directed one film in the area, last year's "Tuck Everlasting," which was shot partially in Harford County. "Red Dragon" and "Runaway Bride" also were shot in Baltimore.

Smith show coming to you live

New York -- Anna Nicole Smith isn't always a live wire on her reality TV series, but her show will be live when it returns for a second season.

A new episode of "The Anna Nicole Show" is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. March 2 on E! Entertainment Television. The show usually is a half-hour, but this live episode will run until 10:33 p.m.

The 35-year-old former Playboy playmate and Guess? jeans model, who's sometimes depicted sluggishly wandering through her daily activities, will continue looking for love through a bachelor contest.

Also this season, Smith will take acting lessons to improve her TV and movie career and will undergo hypnosis to understand herself better.

Smith appeared in the 1994 movie "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult," which earned a Razzie Award for worst new star.

Her lawyer, Howard Stern; her personal assistant, Kim Walther; and her poodle, Sugar Pie, are all back for more adventures.

"The Anna Nicole Show" made its debut in August with the highest ratings ever for an E! program, but its numbers later dipped.


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