Issue 2: Reality TV
Welcome back. We've got hot entertainment info for ya and even co-creator pics as a special treat at the end of Issue 2.
So, let's get started:
OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
NOW YOU SEE IT...Director/actor Bill Duke g-Mailed The A-List saying "stay on the lookout for my new movie INVISIBLE in theatres coming soon and don't forget to check out our website www.INVISIBLEDL.com." It's about one man's true-life story about being on the "down low." Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing, Bill!
THE BRIDGE IS OVER...Writer Ethan Brown, who penned the book Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler has optioned the book to TV. No word on when the story, which is about the era of Queens domination in hip hop in the '80s and '90s, will hit the small screen; but we do know that former Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola is the force behind the project.
BABY MAMA DRAMA FOR FISHBURNE...This just in: Allegedly, acclaimed actor Laurence Fishburne is being sued by his former personal assistant, Kristel Crews, who claims the star fired for because she was pregnant. She's been working for Fishburne since 1999, according to reports. Crews is seeking unspecified damages and claims breach of contract, sex discrimination and wrongful termination. Stay tuned for info on this as it develops. Yikes!
REVISITING HISTORY...Insiders tell us there is another film being developed about Emmett Till, the teen who was killed in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Sure, it's nice that the subject will again be covered; but justice itself would be even sweeter for this unsolved mystery and maybe some fresh leads will be provided this time out. Frederick Zollo and Thomas Levine are teaming on the project with director Keith Beauchamp, who already created the groundbreaking documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till. We'll keep you posted on who picks up which roles in the flick.
BARRY MAYO BIDS GOODBYE
Radio industry veteran and Emmis New York senior VP/market manager, Barry Mayo announced this week that he is resigning from his power post at the radio giant in order to gain more "balance" in his life. He will exit when his contract expires on February 28. No replacement has been announced for Mayo, who helped launch NY's famed WRKS (Kiss 98.7) in '81.
AAFCA 2005 TOP FLICK LIST POINTS TO LACK OF OUTSTANDING BLACK FILMS
The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), founded by journalist Gil Robertson IV, recently issued its list of the best films of 2005 to a some controversy. Crash was selected as a "best" along with Walk The Line and Brokeback Mountain. Although Terrence Howard was named best actor and John Singleton, the producer of Hustle & Flow, was given the achievement honor, some industry members of color have taken some issue with this particular association since the films are not seen as those which represent the membership itself.
However, Robertson tells The A-List: "The AAFCA encourages our membership to support cinema works (films released in theatrically in the U.S.) created by or featuring African descended people. But we are not in the business of placing films on the top ten simply because they are directed, written by or starring black or African descended folks. The films that make our list must earn the merit that our list bestows. Trust me, careful consideration is given to every film even remotely involving a person of African descent. It is our wish that every year the film community would deliver films like Ray and Hotel Rwanda. Unfortunately, that's not the case." Robertson says he hopes black filmmakers, instead of being offended by the AAFCA's selection, would instead be inspired to create more films equaling the caliber of some of the best of what independent Hollywood is currently producing.
Television audiences can't deny their love-hate relationship with that behemoth of a genre: reality TV. However, when it comes to seeing folks warts and all, some question how this affects the already limited images of people of color on the tube. The wealth of reality TV shows has obviously created more avenues to include African-Americans on television but some question the price for such addition.
Certainly one woman who has fully utilized her 15 minutes and more is the infamous Omarosa of "Apprentice" fame. After all, where would Omarosa be if Donald Trump hadn't fired her? She has taken her normally one-trick reality stint and spun it into a career--she's appeared on countless more reality shows, commercials, TV appearances, TV shows and even landed a few acting gigs. And she's been talking up a Jerry Springer-like TV show she is soon to host. She's even trademarked Omarosa Entertainment Television. Yet the big O herself has stated in countless interviews that she believes reality TV helps reinforce negative stereotypes of Black in America.
If your scratching your head debating, think no further than the "Surreal Life." Who doesn't remember Flavor Flav's turn on the "Surreal Life" where he so intrigued--and some say, disgusted--America with his sexual antics with Brigitte Nielsen that they got their own reality show, "Strange Love" and was so shamefully called out as a negligent father that Chuck D issued a statement via the Associated Press to support Flav. Likewise, who hasn't hooted with shame while checking out "Being Bobby Brown," which brought unseen ratings to Bravo! at the expense of Brown's perceived "ghettoness."
But certainly there are two sides to every story. One not feeding into any negative stereotype at all is Kwame Jackson, the runner up from the second season of "The Apprentice." Jackson's on-screen time helped him to, reportedly, land a 3-billion dollar real estate deal which will contribute to the most affluent Black community in the country!
Another positive look may be the upcoming iDMC of RunDMC fame, who will appear in VH-1's new documentary series, "VH-1 Rock Docs." In a reality TV twist, the series will use a documentary format. In DMC's particular episode, viewers will follow him as he attempts to search for his birth mother after his discovery that he was adopted at age 35. "I wanted to show the process. How finding out you're adopted not only affects you, but also your adopted parents and the birth family, who may or may not want anything to do with you. It's a lot of shit to deal with and no one ever talks about it," says DMC, whose VH-1 Rock Doc will air on Feb. 25, just in time to also help to promote his solo CD.
DMC took a camera along not only on his search and reunion with his birth mother, but also into therapy sessions. "My therapist thinks I am crazy [for doing so] but I wanted this to be real. I wanted to show the real thing. [Adoption] can really mess with your head. I had thoughts of suicide. I questioned my existence, but realized being adopted was the best thing in my life. If I hadn't been, there would never have been a Run DMC." For DMC, he says that the reality show is multipurpose--to show him in a different light, to promote himself, and to be a forum to change legislation. "I also wanted to use this documentary to help in the fight to unseal birth records in states across the country," says DMC, who had to hire a PI to aide his search for his mother. "If people see how hard it is, how much red tape you have to go through but also how important it is to find your family, not only for medical reasons but to know where you came from, maybe it will help someone else."
And DMC is not the only one who is pro-Reality TV. In fact, many of those involved say they'd do it again, and again. According to Chip and Kim McAllister, winners of "The Amazing Race 5" on which they traveled 72,000 miles over 11 countries, would. "We'd love to do another TAR. We absolutely loved the experience. We had the best times of our lives. We would definitely do it again," says Chip. In fact, the fame from the show--and the $1 million booty--helped them launch a whole new career as inspirational speakers. They get paid now on the lecture circuit speaking about relationships and marriage. They even developed a TV show, "Couples--With Chip & Kim," which they are shopping.
Even BET, which took years to copy the MTV reality show standard, "The Real World" with its version called "College Hill," has been signing up reality shows left and right--though the quality of some of the shows has been called into question. The production value on "College Hill" pales somewhat in comparison to "The Real World" and Damon Dash's "Ultimate Hustler" has been said to come off a ghetto (not fabulous) version of "The Apprentice." Instead of a six-figure job, contestants buzzed about how the winner's Jeep prize is leased (not even purchased) for one year. But after taking her already filmed pre-prison reality show, "Countdown To Lockdown," around Lil' Kim, too, has wound up on BET. And this could be the winner for the network.
Still, whatever the show is about, whatever the production, at least with reality TV--for better or worse--there are more faces of color on the tube. History will tell if they become stereotypes or break them.
Actress Tracee Ellis Ross and Momentum Experience CEO Nia Hill hangin' at the Argyle on Sunset...Code Black CEO Jeff Clanagan and his Sr. VP Quincy Newell at LAX boarding a plane for Sundance...Expectant parents Angela Bassett and husband, Courtney B. Vance, paying respects to the late Lou Rawls at West Angeles Church.
Additional contributors this week include: Gil Robertson.
We're out. See ya next Friday!
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