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Ben Vereen

Ben Vereen goes back to his roots

Ben Vereen goes back to his roots

In the much buzzed-about film "Top Five," opening in South Florida theaters this weekend, director and star Chris Rock plays a comedian who wants to become a serious actor and change public perception about his one career-defining role. Rock's star-laden ensemble cast includes one member who thinks differently.

"I care deeply about Chicken George. I wouldn't be where I am without him. I wouldn't be Ben Vereen," the accomplished song-and-dance man says of his most widely seen role.

Every so often, something happens that transforms popular culture, changes the dialogue we have about race and forces society to ask itself new questions. Nearly 40 years ago, Ben...