Issue #7: Barry Michael Cooper
Ann, Lauren & Co. are giving it to ya straight, no chaser.
OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
BEAUTY & THE OSCAR...Okay, we know all the TV networks and consumer magazine outlets tell us incessantly about all the beauty preparations for the Oscars, but have you heard this? We just got the scoop on what beauty products some of the female Oscar nominees might be using that special night. A little beauty bird, told us each female Oscar hopeful received a goodie bag filled with Not Soap, Radio’s "I’m Not Here, I’m Really Walking the Red Carpet" collection of body polish, body soufflé, and more. Hollywood lovelies have been scooping up the product, especially since Oprah put in O magazine. Well some of the starlets--at least those on the Academy A-List--will be getting a few beauty products for free.
FLY FLASHY...Speaking of the Academy Awards. We just got the buzz that Terence Howard will be wearing Dolce & Gabbana. Hmmm. Lovin' Howard, but wonder if he'll be sportin' that process, which has gotta make even the strongest pimps in Chicago proud, or will he be going au natural. It's all love, T.H.
SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES...We hear BET founder Robert Johnson and new hotel magnate, will be honored by the Advertising Hall Of Fame March 14 at the Waldorf Astoria NYC as one of those (along with Coca-Cola former prez Donald Keough; Time Inc. founder, Henry Luce; and USA Today founder, Al Neuharth) who have made advertising great. Good for him, but is this an actual celebration of Johnson's media "buy" creation in BET or stellar advertising by the channel or what? Until this is clarified for us, we plead the 5th.
BANKING ON BANGKOK...If you book that ticket now, it's not too late to make it to the Bangkok International Film Festival (http://www.bangkokfilm.org/) in Thailand. Opening Feb. 17, it lasts through Feb. 27. Among the U.S. screenings this year are: Just For Kicks, a France/USA production directed by Thibault de Longeville and Lisa Leone, about, what else, sneakers; Manderlay, starring Danny Glover; Rent; and Rize, a David LaChapelle flick about clowning/Krumping. There are also several entries from South Africa, The Sudan, and Egypt. Why not go global?
CYBER STAR....Move over Dr. Phil. Just heard "The View's" Star Jones is going to be giving advice online as an AOL life coach. Yes, you read right. She's talking love, life and finding yourself. Hey, how come almost every celeb is in on the act of giving overall life advice when what they've actually really mastered is how to become celebrated in today's culture? We're cool with that. But guru status? We say the best help may just come from within--thought-provoking, insightful, historical and spiritual literature perhaps by those who really study this stuff 24-7 rather than in between takes could provide some gems. This just may be a nice balance to the new celeb trend of star power equals Solomonic wisdom. Let's keep it real, shall we?
On Feb. 22 in NYC, The Universal Zulu Nation (UZN), one of Hip Hop's original collectives, held a "state-of-emergency" community meeting to organize a plan of action to address what it sees as the lack of balance on radio stations across the country. "Our children are being brainwashed and controlled through tasteless programming on our airwaves," says UZN founder and Hip Hop legend Afrika Bambaataa. "We are going to devise a plan of action to go after program directors who deal in payola and single mindedness. We don't want to hear the same song every hour. We want variety." According to UZN spokesperson, Hip Hop photographer Ernie Paniccioli (author of Who Shot Ya?; www.whoshotya1.com), the plan of attack includes: "forming a think tank; mapping strategies to find ways to reach the TV Stations, radio and other outlets and to exert pressure on their sponsors; contacting and pressuring elected officials as well as the F.C.C.; closely monitoring the upcoming Payola investigations; and involving churches and officials of various organized religions" to help in the campaign to force radio stations to create fairer and more diverse programming. Among those involved with the Zulu Nation and the call for action are: Hip Hop activist Davey D, rap icon KRS-One, Hip Hop culture pioneer/breakdancer Crazy Legs, and the legendary Chuck D of Public Enemy.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
Screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper
Plans A Powerful Act To New Jack City
Everything changed for writer Barry Michael Cooper when he finished the last draft for the screenplay of the powerful New Jack City. The urban culture flick exploded in the theaters, essentially changed the direction of urban film and has now become a black cinema classic. Sugar Hill and Above The Rim, also penned by Cooper, came fast on its heels. Then silence from the rising star.
Well, it's about to get noisy again. Cooper has yet another groundbreaking film he's about to unleash--BLOOD ON THE WALL$. "I call it Hip Hop's first art film for the millennium," says Cooper, whose latest has been described as being in the vein of an Andy Warhol film. "It is an experimental digital film that employs a feature film narrative. It is a roman-a-clef of sorts about my life." Having directed and written BLOOD ON THE WALL$, Cooper was willing to take a few risks --not only with the story, but visually. "I wanted to shoot it like an amateurish documentary, which drives a character study about a writer by the name of 'Cooper Michaels,'" explains Cooper, who himself was an ace investigative journalist, writing for every major outlet from The Village Voice to Spin Magazine before entering filmdom.
In BLOOD ON THE WALL$, Michaels goes from a hot-shot reporter to a big-time Hollywood writer and producer only to fall victim to the preys of Hollywood--"drugs, women, parties, and more drugs." If it sounds like it was life inspired, it was--to a point. Cooper admits to getting tangled in Hollywood's web with drama, high styling, hard partying and more. The film's story is a familiar one--toast of the town one day, riding high with a hot TV series called "Filthy" centered around the famed Dr. Dre and rapper Kurupt, then it was as if Michaels Cooper fell off a cliff. But while these types of stories are abundant, you'll live it first hand through the flick. With BLOOD ON THE WALL$, Cooper takes you inside the thrill ride of a hot Black screenwriter in Hollywood, to the depths of despair.
While the film chronicles the main character's struggles and battles to regain his fame and fortune--from the flashy glamour of Hollywood to the gritty, dangerous underworld--it is also an artistic triumph for Cooper. "Naturally, BLOOD ON THE WALL$ is a much different film from New Jack City, Sugar Hill, and Above The Rim for one, because I wrote, directed, shot, edited, and produced this film, which I call a Groovy Home Moovy. I had a vision in my head of how I wanted my first directorial effort to be for the past decade, and I had to leave Hollywood--or Hollywon't as I like to call it--to make it happen," says Cooper. "I wanted BLOOD ON THE WALL$ to be really personal, reflective, and almost a visual essay. In order to do that, I had to be completely hands on, from start to finish. And I NEVER would've gotten this movie greenlit, let alone made, had I waited for some studio to finance it. I wanted this film to have the getdown of Andy Warhol's experimental 'Factory Cinema'; I wanted to to have the 'you are there' personal getdown of American indie pioneers William Greaves and John Cassavetes; and I wanted it to have the muscular narrative getdown of Bertolucci's The Conformist and Louis Malle's Elevator To The Gallows."
Cooper is hoping BLOOD ON THE WALL$ inspires more experimental Hip Hop films. "[It] will be the experimental Hip Hop digital film that launches what I'm calling The Digima Age: where a film shot with $350 Fuji Fine shot camera and edited on a home PC can make an audience appreciate it as much as a multimillion dollar movie financed by a studio," says Cooper, who is now far away from the Hollywood hoopla living in Baltimore, Maryland.
Cooper is currently entering 104-minute BLOOD ON THE WALL$ in a variety of film festivals. "I would like to win at least one. I think it will create a buzz as a really hip art house film, and then I will get on my grind in regards to a distribution deal," he says. "It premiered last July at the prestigious American Black Film Festival and it got a great response from the audience at tenting the World Cinema Showcase." And like New Jack City, Cooper is once again on track to make film history utilizing an instinct that has clearly not failed him in the past. "Both George Jackson and I knew that [New Jack], the story, and the character of Nino Brown was so new and exciting, and that crack was retrofitting the real estate, psyche, and politic of America in such a cataclysmic fashion, that we knew it would be serve as footnote, watermark, and cautionary tale to future generations who were curious about life in this country in the late '80s and early '90s. So we had an idea," says Cooper. "But ideas don't have the same resonance as real life. So to that end, I am still overwhelmed. Many people have said it has the same staying power as Gordon Parks, Jr.'s Superfly. And that's a major complement, because that film is a masterpiece."
After his admittedly dubious Hollywood exit, BLOOD ON THE WALL$ might just be Barry Michael Cooper's phoenix from the ashes. "My departure [from Hollywood] wasn't completely voluntary, but that's another story for another time," reveals Cooper. With talent on the rise once again like this, you can believe we'll have another visit with Cooper for ya where that info and more will be shared. You heard in The A-List here, first.
Pink Panther's Beyonce and boyfriend Jay Z huddlin' at the All-Star game in Houston.
Urban Hollywood heavies--Evan Hainey, Charles King, Nina Shaw, Deborah Langford and Larkin Arnold--at the Madea Family Reunion premiere in Los Angeles congratulating one of the film producer's Ruben Canon.
Jamie Foxx delivering impromptu versions of "Extravagnza," "Unpredictable," "I've Got a Woman" plus an intro to "Gold-Digga" during his private bash during NBA All-Star weekend.
Gabrielle Union, Vivica Fox, Regina King, Alex Thomas, Nick Canon, Bow Wow, Carmello Anthony, Ludacris, Nelly, Ciara and Kenya Moore partyin'--and playin'--also at the NBA All-Star games over the weekend.
Actress Idris Elba, mega producer Stan Lathan and director/screenwriter Craig Ross Jr. checkin' out the flicks at the Pan African Film Festival in L.A.
Showtime VP Pearlena Igbokwe, producer Sheri James, music artist Qiana Conley, Max Gousse, actor Dorian Gregory and man-about-town Norwood Young seen out hangin' at the Seat Filler premiere party at the Highlands in Hollywood.
THE A-LIST SOUP
Love The A-List!!! Look forward to each issue. Keep up the great work!
So Much Moore Communications NYC
Gotta give a big A-List shout out to contributor Gil L. Robertson IV.
See ya next week!