Ringin' bells and trimmin' trees but still bangin' out the heat electronically. Issue 48OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
BIG APPLE ANTICS...We didn't need a crystal ball to tell us, Miss New York of Flavor Flav's VH-1 show "Flavor of Love" would get her own show. Well, true to our ESP, the network has announced the two-time Flavor loser, aka Tiffany Pollard Patterson, will have her own show called "I Love New York" where she selects a bachelor for herself from a pool of 20 men. Helping her out will be her "drama mama," Sister Patterson. It'll premiere January 8. While bachelorette shows don't typically pull in the same ratings as bachelor shows, we have a feeling Patterson, who once declared she was "no backseat bitch," will have viewers tuning in.
OGs ON DEMAND...In a tech-forward move BET just started making some of its programming available through Apple's Web portal iTunes for $1.99 per episode. Already in the iTunes catalog are "American Gangster," "Beef: The Series," "The Christies: Committed," "DMX: Soul of a Man," and "BET Comic View." A smart move for BET, whose young African-American viewership is, as countless studies have shown, very high-tech savvy. Already heating up cyberspace is the grab for "American Gangster." Guess when you gotta have your OGs, you gotta have 'em.
CELEBRITY IDOL...Speaking of new shows, a network insider has told us A&E Biography is gearing up for one called "Stars & Idols," where celebs meet their idols. There'll be two half-hour specials. No word on any of the participating stars or even an air date. When we get that scoop, we'll pass it on. But we we're hoping they pull in some truly fascinating folks and not the usual suspects. Wouldn't it be interesting to see who a filmmaker like Spike Lee or actor Jeffrey Wright would love to meet and talk with.
SYLER SAGA...Hot on the lips of industry insiders this past week was the seemingly untimely firing of "The Early Show" co-anchor Rene Syler. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, CBS told Syler, 43, the show was "was going in a different direction," one that did not include her. And the same time, it was publicly revealed Syler is suffering from breast cancer and will undergo a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy next month. Syler, however, told the paper that she didn't think her medical condition factored in her ouster. In fact, she had been working on a first-person piece about her upcoming surgery. Regardless of CBS's reasoning, it seems the network is missing out on an opportunity to intimately explore an issue, breast cancer, that concerns its core morning audience--women. DEDICATED TO DOCS...If you haven't already heard, AOL has launched True Stories
(http://movies.aol.com/truestories), a new website dedicated to documentary films, featuring independent titles and new projects prior to theatrical release. The titles will be available to stream free on demand, with ads, or as pay-per-download to own for prices ranging from $1.99 to $14.99. This seems like a win-win for new filmmakers as well as filmmakers of color as it provides an opportunity to build an audience for sometimes controversial and/or non mainstream subject matter before the films hit theaters.
N UPDATE...Last week, we reported on an upcoming star-studded event called Abolish The N Word (http://www.abolishthenword.com/), well organizers have told us they have rescheduled the event for January 9th in L.A. and January 14th in New York at the Laugh Factory. We'll let you know what celebs turn out to support the word-banning movement. Now, if we could get a celebrity backed effort to fully address the R word--racism. URBAN DVD DRAMA...While the event was marred by reports of A-Listers being denied access or mistreated by the venue (NY's Club Avalon), the organizers of the first-ever, Sohh.com-sponsored The Urban DVD Awards want to get the word out that next year will be better and issued an apology, according to pr diva Jackie O. Asare. The event was hosted by HOT 97.1 radio personalities DJ Enuff and Dee Vazquez with DJ Self on the turntables, and performers included Saigon, Tru Life, Maino, Stack Bundles, Red Café, Jae Millz, Grafh, J-Hood, Uncle Murder, Consequence, Stimuli and Gillie The Kid. Meanwhile, there was some celebration for the 3,000 who attended and the winners, which included All Access DVD who won The Best Commercial DVD Award; The Peoples Choice Award (The Most Extreme DVD) was won by Underground Riders; Maino got The Most Consistent Artist On A DVD Award; and the Best DVD Documentary went to Kirk Fraser for The Life Of Rayful Edmund. For a full rundown of winners, hit www.myspace.com/theurbandvdawards.com. Let's hope next year will be smooth sailing, 'cause the urban DVD market need to finally get some mass media exposure.
SPIKE SESSIONS...Spike Lee is going to rack up some air miles. But we hope he doesn't get too jetlagged. First, he'll be at in NY at Virgin Records on Union Square signing When The Levees Broke DVDs at 8pm. Then the next day, Dec. 20th, he's 3,000 miles away in L.A. for a signing session at Borders in Westwood at 7:30PM. While he hope the DVD sells well, it would have been great if the critically acclaimed TV documentary was given a nod by the Golden Globes.
TECH DRUG..."Crackberry" is about to live up to its nickname even more now. Hold onto your hats because BlackBerry is now offering tantalizing new addons. The company has announced the release of all Real Dice mobile multiplayer games and the Real Dice World social gaming community for RIM BlackBerry devices. Among the goodies to keep you glued to your BlackBerry: poker, sudoku, chess, backgammon and mahjong, chat, messaging, tournaments and rankings. Wow. We think those "BlackBerry anonymous" groups might fill up real soon.
TV ONE FASTEST GROWING CABLE NETWORK
According to a recent Target Market News report, three-year-old TV One is the fastest-growing cable network in the United States by percentage, according to Nielsen Media Research estimates. The network's subscriber base increased by 39% in 2006, for a total of 33.8 million households. TV One, which is owned by a consortium of primary investors black-owned Radio One, Comcast, DirecTV and several investment groups, was created as an adult alternative to BET. While TV One is heavy with such reruns as "Amen," "227," "Good Times," and "Martin," it also includes original programming, including "Bill Bellamy's Who's Got Jokes?" BET is still the most popular network targeting African-Americans, with more than 83 million households, according to Nielsen. Black Family Channel, another competitor, is in over 16 million homes.
ONE ON ONE WITH SAG DIVERSITY EXEC: ANGEL RIVERA
It's not a small task. In fact, helping create diversity in film and TV might actually be called daunting. But that's what Angel Rivera sets out to do every day as the National Director of the Department of Affirmative Action and Diversity at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
During his tenure SAG has reported an overall increase in the share of roles for Asian Americans and performers of Latino descent. Rivera has also been successful in securing outside grants for SAG totaling over $400,000. When Rivera recently spoke to the African American Film Critic's Association, The A-List was given an exclusive.
Q: What is your mission?A: "My office protects the interests of the federally protected groups--women, members 40 and above, people with disabilities and members of all racial/ethnic groups...One of the ways I protect their interest is by coordinating talent showcases with the major networks...Right now we are in the middle of one with CBS. They are doing a diversity comedy showcase where we helped them with the audition process...We also maintain the Diversity Special Skills and Talent Bank, a database of our members that includes special skills, like which members can fly a helicopter or speak Swahili. My office also create talent directories and we are in the process of creating a talent directory of stunt performers of color. Not so long ago Queen Lafitah was doing a film where she was snowboarding and there was a stunt involved. The contract specified that her stunt performer also be African American. In cases like this the casting office for that film would call my office. We meet with the networks on a regular basis to talk about how we can help them with their casting issues. My office also issues what is called the Casting Data Report, which reports ethnic and gender numbers for all film and TV.Q: TV seems to lag behind when it comes to employing minorities. Do you think will that change?A: "While TV tends to lag behind film in terms of representing different points of views, the reality is that bulk of the work that goes to our members of color is in television. ABC took a position a couple of years ago to promote diversity through their programming and in their casting and as a result they are beating out all the other networks in ratings. They did it with a core group of programs all of which promote diversity such as "Greys Anatomy, "Lost," "Desperate Housewives," and now we have "Ugly Betty" and "The George Lopez Show."Q: Can you ageism, sexism and racism in Hollywood? A: "[It's a ] slow change. We recently helped produce a documentary called Invisible Women, a look into this whole issue of gender, race and age and how it affects your employability. The truth is that for women, in particular after they hit 40 find a work decrease, and if you're a woman of color over 40 the opportunities are less and less...Things have gotten better for women in the last three years and we have reported record percentage for women over 40, but there is still a lot of work to be done."Q: What about stereotyping?A: "We don't have much influence with the materials...Everybody knows that a tiny percentage of writers are people of color and that's the problem there. So number one, we need more writers and it's great these networks are creating more writing programs. People of color need to do their part as well. There are films that are made by people of us still presenting characters in a stereotypical light. Take Soul Plane, for example. You can turn on the Spanish language channel and see stereotypes. We are not doing ourselves any favors and we are not helping our cause by producing projects that stereotype our own people."Q: Now when you mention the idea of producing and directing programs/workshops is this something SAG can take on in the future? A: "Not really. We don't represent writers and all we can do is work with our fellow guilds. [But] one of the things we are doing is that we have a $100,000 grant from the Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund. They gave us a grant to help promote diversity in film and television by sponsoring screenings and putting together panel discussions and Q&As around the country of projects we think promote diversity...We did a screening of The Unit and had Dennis Haysbert as our guest speaker in Washington, DC with Howard University. We have this grant till the end of April 2007 and it's called 'An Evening with Diversity from Script to Screen.'" Q: What's your vision for the future?A: "In the future my hope is that people won't really need my department to pressure people to have diversity. I would like to see a situation where people are cast based on their abilities and not gender or age or race. We are going to create in January an online casting service, which will expand our members' ability to audition for job opportunities."Q: Is affirmative action the answer to racial inequality [in the industry]?A: "No. I think there are many tools that can be used to ensure fair and balance representation, as well as equal access to employment opportunities. The answer to racial inequality is to educate people about diversity that exist within our society."
--Gil RobertsonSPOTTEDVivica A. Fox and NY Giants Antonio Pierce partin' at the Her Game 2 & Jolie Magazine holiday soiree at Wish 26 in NYC.SHOUT OUT TO GIL ROBERTSON, WHO'S ALWAYS ON POINT.