Sunday, September 24, 2006

38 From Tha Hip



SURVIVOR SEGREGATION SINKS...The media is all abuzz with the news about the abrupt end to the racially divided "Survivor." It only took two episodes for the TV show to cease its social experiment and integrate the contestants on Cook Island. While the folks behind the show have yet to issue a statement, one can only speculate that the exit of major sponsors--such as GM and Coca-Cola (accounting for an ad revenue lose of $26 million)--and viewers (the episodes had the lowest ratings since the show's debut year), and the outcry from such organizations as the NAACP, that CBS and creator Mark Burnett decided to quit the concept before they got voted off the island.

COVERING THE QUEEN...We had to make mention of rapper/actress Queen Latifah gracing the cover of the September 35th issue of Newsweek along with Telemundo newshound Maria Celeste Arraras and Google VP Marissa Mayer for the feature article, "Women & Leadership: The Next Generation," which spotlights 20 powerful women. While Latifah has bridged the hip hop Hollywood gap seamlessly--though we have to question some of those slightly forgettable roles--we are looking forward to the Queen flexing some royal muscle through her production deals and then some.

Samuel L. Jackson, 57, has inked a two-year deal with New Line Cinema. Jackson, who thankfully doesn't plan on starring in all the projects, is setting up shop with a new office for his yet unnamed production company. Although this deal was announced earlier by such outlets as The Hollywood Reporter, we wondered: After the flop of Snakes on A Plane, how did this deal came about, although Jackson can reel 'em in--pun intended--at any time. We wish him luck, and will be watching to see what actual business develops from this opportunity and how it employs multimedia platforms.

FILMS ON TOUR...NYC film marketing, distribution and production company, and producers of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), Film Life gmailed to tell us about the launch of "ABFF ON TOUR" that will showcase the best films from the past 2006 ABFF. With Film Life pulling in such major sponsors as Wal-Mart and Blockbuster, it would seem that major retailers are finding urban films to be profitable. For this ABFF event, Elise Neal (Hustle & Flow, "All of Us") will serve as the national spokesperson. Among the films to be shown are My Brother, directed by Anthony Lover and starring Vanessa L. Williams and Nashawn Kearse; Miles From Home, directed by Ty Hodges, and starring Hodges and Meagan Good; and Gettin' Grown, directed by Aaron Greer and starring Isaiah Matthew. Directors and cast will be on hand at some screenings for Q&A sessions. For information, visit

BYE, BYE BOONDOCKS--SORT OF...After basking in a six-month hiatus, syndicated cartoonist Aaron McGruder has announed the end of his six-year-old strip "The Boondocks," which ran in 300-plus newspapers. But don't dispair, the late-night animated "The Boondocks" show on the Cartoon Network was just renewed for another season and the first-season DVD is out--plus a film is apparently in the plans. Looks like it's merely a shift in platforms for this brother, and we wish him well. After reading about the decision in such outlets as EUR, we can only speculate that McGruder will find Hollywood more lucrative--and maybe less criticism--than the staid world of print media.

PRISON PRODUCTIONS...We're sure Lil' Kim thought she had put behind the now infamous 2001 Hot 97 Radio shootout that led to her prison stint. But now her still-imprisoned ex-manager, Damion "D Roc" Butler, is releasing a documentary called Conspiracy: 10 Years Later, about the incident. According to, April Maiya will direct. Butler, who pleaded guilty to being one of the shooters, is serving an 10-year sentence. Next obstacle, find a home for the D Roc doc.

CALL FOR ENTRIES...The Women's International Film Festival South Florida (WIFF) is seeking films for their second annual festival, March 29-April 1, 2007. Entries will be accepted into two main categories: US Fem-Cinema, for women from or living in the U.S., and World She-view, for foreign female filmmakers. Filmmakers may enter feature length (70 minutes or longer), narrative/dramatic films or feature length docs as well as dramatic shorts and short documentaries (49 minutes or less). More than $3,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded. The event also includes workshops, panels, and parties. Submit films through the website at by November 30, 2006. With women representing only 5-7% of filmmakers, any boost is a bonus.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN...MTV just announced it has signed Oscar-winning rap group Three 6 Mafia to a reality show called "Adventures in Hollyhood" to start airing in 2007. According to the folks at MTV, it will follow the group and their entourage as they travel from Memphis to L.A. Smacks of "Beverly Hillbillies" meets the 'hood--could be quite interesting if done right.

THE ITALIAN JOB...As part of the partnership between the Rome Film Fest (October 13 - 21, 2006) and the Tribeca Film Festival, several films from the 2006 Tribeca Fest will screen in Rome (with the reverse happening in 2007). Among those flicks selected are: The Yacoubian Building (Omaret Yacoubian), directed by Marwan Hamed, written by Wahid Hamed (Egypt), Tribeca winner Best New Narrative Filmmaker; Akeelah and the Bee, directed and written by Doug Atchison (USA); and Just Like the Son, directed and written by Morgan J. Freeman (USA). So if you're jetting to Rome, check out

GETTING TO KNOW YOU...Theatre director Mark E. Swinton's U Don't Know Me The Musical will hit the road after a run at the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Auditorium, September 30th-October 8th. Because of its positive message about black foster care, the play has attracted big name vocal support--from Cedric The Entertainer and Halle Berry to Bruce Willis and Angela Bassett. With hip hop legend (and adoptee) DMC just getting an award for his work with foster kids, with actress (and former foster child) Victoria Rowell heading a foster care charity and TV Judge Glenda Hatchett now the spokesperson for a major foster care program, it seems Hollywood has adopted this as a pet issue to tackle.

WORTHY CAUSE...There may be a Star Jones sighting on Oct. 1st at the 2006 MAXIMIZE Fashion Show & Fundraising Gala, to take place at the The Highlands Hollywood. The former "View" co-host is one of the invited celebs, along with Blair Underwood, Nicole Ari Parker, and Regina King. Sheryl Lee Ralph and Wendy Raquel Robinson are among the honorees and, Vanessa Williams, Kenny Lattimore and Chanté Moore will host. MAXIMIZE 2006 ( will showcase up-and-coming and established African-American clothing designers. The fundraiser, catered by Wolfgang Puck, will raise money to help mentor African-American girls in self-development, college preparation, financial literacy and community service.

GOOD TIMES FLASHBACK...Ask any black man in his 30's if he remembers Thelma from " Good Times," and you'll probably get an ear-to-ear grin. Well, the actress, BernNadette Stanis (, has been touring the country to support her two new books, Situations 101 about relationships and book of sensual poetry entitled, For Men Only. Good for her for being able to take advantage of the sexy vibe even this many years after the show's first run. And between this and her inclusion on the recent BET Awards, it seems we can look for Stanis to be easing her way back into the spotlight.

BILLIONAIRE BANKING...BET founder Robert L. Johnson, who just pledged to facilitate a minimum of $30 million of direct investments in the African nation of Liberia, just launched Urban Trust Bank in the DC area to build offer diversified financial services. Hey, if he can help us all become billionaires like himself, then sign us up!

MEN, MONEY & GOLD DIGGERS--OH MY!...Carl Payne ("Martin"), Robin Givens, Miguel Nunez (Juwanna Mann), Terri Vaughn ("Steve Harvey Show") and Chico Benymon ("Half and Half") are touring nationwide in the play Men, Money and Gold Diggers. Producers Je'Caryous Johnson and Gary Guidry of I'm Ready Productions ( tell us the show will run through Nov. 19th. Considering the subject matter, we don't know if Broadway is ready for this one yet.

UTA WANTS A BITE...Wu-Tang Clan's the Rza is being sued by United Talent Agency (UTA) over his work on the soundtrack to the movie Blade: Trinity. According to the suit, The Rza was paid $430,000 and the agency, who also recently sued Blade actor Wesley Snipes, wants its 10 percent. We'll keep you informed as this story unfolds.


AOL has been named the winner of the Corporate Leader Award for Diversity Achievement, given by District Two of the American Advertising Federation (AAF). District Two encompasses New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Washington. The award recognizes companies that are making significant strides toward a diverse advertising industry and is one of the premier honors for multicultural marketing initiatives. According to AAF District Two, AOL was recognized for: Its multiple bilingual and multi-cultural services, including AOL Latino,, and AOL Black Voices. Said Mike Kelly, President, AOL Media Networks, "AOL's programming and marketing efforts reflect the company's business goal of building diversity and inclusion into our core values and brand recognition. For us, this isn't just about doing what's right–it's about making smart business decisions that ultimately make us a much stronger company that better reflects the diverse audiences we serve."


Univision Communications Inc. shareholders has just approved selling the Spanish-language broadcaster to a private investor group for $12.3 billion. Univision, the dominate force in the U.S. Hispanic media market with its three television networks (Univision, TeleFutura and Galavision), more than two-dozen television stations, a recorded music division, Internet portal and Spanish-language radio stations. According to the company, the deal priced at $36.25 a share in cash was approved by more than 80 percent of the shares that voted. Univision said the investment group, which includes adison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Saban Capital Group, would assume $1.4 billion in Univision debt. While the deal still needs regulatory approval, it is expected to close next spring.

Despite the overwhelming approval, some shareholders, however, have filed separate lawsuits against the company and its board of directors, seeking to block the sale on grounds the board failed to obtain a fair price for the company. The lawsuits came after bids by rival investor group led by Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa SA was rejected.



The Prince Music Theater has always been dedicated to producing new multi-cultural Music Theater in Philadelphia. The word of mouth and marketing for many of their shows doesn't always reach their targeted audience to create hits. But, they continue to offer diverse theater like From Tha Hip, which opens their 2006 Season. Running from Sept 19-Oct. 1.

Conceived and choreographed by Clyde Evans, Jr. and directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, the piece sets about to trace the origins of Hip-Hop and its affect on a young boy from Trinidad who comes to the United States unable to find common ground with his peers until he discovers his love of Hip-Hop dance.

Unfortunately, neither of these agendas is met: the story is weak; the dialog is corny; the tracing of the roots of Hip-Hop is barely explored. However, some of the story is narrated by a strong trio that goes by the name, Subliminal Orphans. These rapper/poet/singers gave credence to the only true Hip-Hip presence in the show. And the dancing is phenomenal! Evan's own dance company, Chosen, features a multi-racial, multi-body type cast of dancers with unstoppable energy and a great sense of humor about their talent. The audience is given many opportunities to enjoy scenes of Poppin', Lockin'and Breakin' with some Beyonce, Janet, Pussy Cat Dolls type moves thrown in!

The afterparty was aptly sponsored by Red Bull--these dancers were wound up like toys, they came right off the stage and started performing with no stop in sight.

Based on The A-List review rating scale: a) Don't miss it; b) Worth staying out after work; c) Go if you've got a free ticket; and d) Don't bother--From Tha Hip gets a B. --Le Anne Lindsay


Nas, Beyonce, Chris Martin--and Gwyneth Paltrow!--All Join Jigga Man

I'm still catching my breath from my experience of Jay-Z's show at Royal Albert Hall this week!

FIRST THE HISTORY: Since opening in 1871, Royal Albert Hall has played host to a multitude of events and legendary figures... operas, philharmonics but NEVER a Hip Hop concert! So when Jigga took the stage, all knew it was going to be a momentous night.

THE CROWD: Average age 25ish; 85% white; 75% male; 20% hustlers; 10% public school ballers (yuppie types).

I hadn't intended on buying orchestra seats, but I'm so glad I did. The stage was maybe 4-5 feet off the ground so when I (already 5'10") stood on my seat, I was pretty much eye-to-eye with Jay from the 5th row! We'll get back to this.

THE OPENING: With such a classical backdrop it was only fitting that Jay had a FULL orchestra manned by pretty, young things (accept for the eight thugged-out boys in the brass section and the South East Asian bongo and sitar players)--all led by super hot Maestro, Rosa. With the orchestra in full swing and lights blazing, the man of the night stepped out to "What More Can I Say"! The crowd went wild at the coming of J-HOVA right before them!

Jay bulldozed into one more song solo before acknowledging the crowd and the significance of the Hall... but he made it clear that, "We came to PARTY! So let's GO!" At which point, out comes his wingman Memphis Bleek, who supported his boss throughout the show.

Whew! Deep breath now as the tag team takes us on an exhausting journey through some of Jigga Man's top tunes. But just when you were thinking, 'dang lemme sit for just a minute to catch my breath,' they hit you with another legend! Yup, Jigga and MB exit and NAS struts out to "Made You Look"!! The roof's hinges POP! Nas did two songs and then was joined by Jay in a wonderful moment of real solidarity (my Lord, they HUGGED each other TWICE). An earth-shattering blip in history for true-blue Hip Hop fans who remember the--hold your hand over your mouth in disbelief -- lyrics in "Take Over" off The Blueprint album! Wow, how a little time changed all, I guess. And yes, Jay performed that tune as well.

BEYONCE: We already had a whiff of the possible surprise guests, including an appearance by B. I'm not a huge fan, but she did a great job. She sang two songs ("Crazy In Love" and "De Ja Vu") and wasn't over the top. Excluding the outfit, she looked FLAWLESS. The women cheered and the men salivated.

THE MARTINS: THEN things really got interesting. Cold Play's Chris Martin shyly and unannounced accompanied Jay on piano for "Dead Presidents II" At the end of the song, Chris abruptly jumps up, gives a wave and pretty much runs off stage. He comes back later to sing on another song–I couldn't tell you which one for the life of me. I can, however, tell you about the show-stopping performance of one particular young lady. HOLD ON TO YOUR KEY BOARDS FOR THIS ONE!!!!

Jay and Memphis slow things down with the tune, "Song Cry." While they're doing their thing, the camera pans to a simple looking blonde girl (hair pulled back, in a black dress…) who is repetitively singing the melody of the tune parallel to the audience (so we only see her profile) -- two basic but fairly difficult notes. The strength of her voice, not to mention passion with which she's singing, has much of the audience wondering who it is. She sang with the intensity of Bjork and vocals of Sinead O'Connor! It wasn't until the end, as the young lady was leaving the stage (slipped off the stage I might add), that Jay asked the crowd to sing happy birthday to his girl GWYNETH PALTROW!!! Jaws hit the ground collectively! It was amazing and quite a moment to remember for everyone I'm sure. Hats off to Mrs. Martin!

CLOSING: After a touching tribute to fallen icons of Hip Hop (Biggie, Tupac, Aliyah, Left Eye, Big L and Jam Master J), they moved into the home stretch. Jay took all restraints off and came with it hard for my fav tune, "Ain't No Nigga" (feat. Foxy Brown)....then, "Change Clothes" and finally his encore to the tune of "Encore." THAT DOME ROOF BLEW CLEAR OFF!!!

Jay then took the time to turn up the lights and recognize audience members… He singled out heads who rocked hard for the full 2-plus hours. When he came to the crowd down the middle, you know your girl, wearing her "MADE IN BROOKLYN" T-shirt from Brooklyn Industries stood up on her chair, screaming, "CROWN HEIGHTS BABY!" Yes, I know, 33 acting like 3, but when a bit of home comes overseas in such a way – BROOKLYN STANDS UP!

Jay returned the love with, "I see you Brooklyn, I see you!" -- made my night (sniff, sniff). A lot has changed for Jay but all in all, our boy from the Marcy projects has done good! Rating: A--Melissa Ross



I was excited when we got the invite to the Janet Jackson record release party for the CD 20 Y.O. in NYC at the "in" club Room Service, hosted by Ciroc Vodka and Fiji Water. Even though we were initially only given red carpet coverage, I couldn't wait to head out to check out the singer/actress's new look, and all the celebs that would be walking the walk. Well, the event wasn't as star-studded as I imagined. But instead of being on the sidelines, we were actually let inside the venue. Mostly packed with press, I did peep out Ludacris, Natalie Cole, and Rev. Al Shaprton (go figure). Finally, out came Janet (dressed in black jacket and black pants) with in tow. She stayed in the VIP section where she chopped it up with folks there. Then, she left. While the lady of the night didn't party much, seems she might have something else to celebrate. Many were buzzing about the huge canary diamond ring on her left hand. A gift from Dupri? Maybe. Although Janet slipped out early, the party actually didn't wind down, however, until about 4 am. We, of course, stayed to enjoy the music and mingle. --Jaleesa Brown


LisaRaye, Jasmine Guy were joined by Atlanta VIPS Evelyn Mims, Kelley Jackson, Imara Canady and others at the Sun Trust Center in Atlanta to celebrate the upcoming Turks and Caicos Film Festival. DC insider William Little chillin' on the beach at the Marriott Resort in Curacao.

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