Issue 1: Cannes Goes Hip Hop
OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
DVD DIVERSITY...Once upon a time, black and latino audiences were, well, almost forgotten by Hollywood. Now, not only is the industry wooing this movie-going crowd in hopes of bigger box office numbers, but they are also implementing special DVD marketing to target this demographic. According to press statements by Ken Graffeo, senior VP of marketing at Universal Studios Home Video, "While Caucasians purchased an average of 8.8 DVDs during the past six months, Latino Americans purchased an average of 13.1 DVDs, and African-Americans purchased an average of 12.8 DVDs during that same time frame." To take advantage of these growing markets, studios such as Universal have multicultural marketing divisions that now target specific DVD advertising on more minority outlets, such as BET and Univision. And no wonder, by all reports, Latinos have a purchasing power of $700 billion, espected to reach a trillion by 2010. And African-Americans spent some $650 billion annually and that will increase in four years to $850-plus billion. Cha-Ching.
REEL AWARDS...Well, as the awards season kicks into high gear, of course headz will be watching to see if the nods include a diverse bunch. To help keep the scales balanced, The 7th Annual Black Reel Awards hosted by the Foundation for the Advancement of African-Americans in Film (FAAAF) have recently announced their nominations. And there's no surprise here. Terrence Howard tops the list--receiving three, count 'em three nominations: Best Actor (Hustle & Flow), Best Supporting Actor (Crash) and Best Supporting Actor, TV (Lackawanna Blues). Whew. What a year. If you can get there, the winners' envelopes will be opened Feb. 18 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Congrats, Terrence!
CONNECTING THE DOTS...Believe or not, legendary B-baller Kareem Abdul Jabbar is about to try his hand at another form of entertainment: filmmaking. He is producing a documentary about three elements quite dear to his heart: basketball, jazz and hip hop. Insiders say he is planning to demonstrate commonalities between each of these typically dominated African-American culture points. We'll keep you posted on notables to be included in the upcoming flick and who will distribute the project.
DIGITAL DIVA...A-List co-founder Lauren Coleman and owner of hip-hop multimedia communications company PunchMedia, has just inked a hot deal with IODA (Independent Online Distribution Alliance), the leading digital distribution company for global independent music and visual properties. Under this new partnership, Punch is one of the first to offer independent hip-hop artists, labels and visual production companies the ability to access the most powerful digital retail outlets today: itunes, emusic and Rhapsody as well as cable and satellite on-demand outlets. The new division for this venture will be entitled Empire Audio (TM) and Empire Visual Entertainment (TM). She's already signed up hip hop knowns such as mega record producer Shareef Scott of Directorz, Inc., who is transitioning to film and is in talks with such artists as Raekwon of Wu-Tang fame to create special series, insider looks and more. For further info on this or pitches, please email email@example.com.
Cannes Goes Hip Hop
We don’t like to toot our own horn (yeah, we do), but we have to admit the year is really starting off well for our Lauren Coleman. In addition to the aforementioned deal, she and her company are now the official bridge between Hip Hop Hollywood and The Cannes Film Festival--the most prestigious annual film marketplace on the planet.
The Festival’s International Critics' Week (aka SIC or "Semaine Internationale de la Critique") will join forces with Coleman’s hip hop multimedia communications company, Punch Media, to attract a greater influx of diverse films for potential 2006 jury selection. In this groundbreaking move, SIC, (the Festival strain responsible for spotting new talent while the main portion focuses on established creatives) is now working to extend outreach and attract greater hip hop-themed/urban films among its submissions of all genres to better meets its goals of diversity in selection, particularly from the U.S. market. Coleman and her company will generate awareness regarding this portion of the Cannes Film Festival among new U.S. filmmakers while actively seeking hot hip hop/urban films for possible jury selection for SIC.
Thankfully, this will help introduce hip hop/urban films to a global marketplace, allowing them a chance to break the stereotype that black films don't appeal to international audiences.
“It is a great opportunity for all parties involved,” says Coleman. “SIC is always looking for well-crafted stories which have not yet necessarily been told, so there is a wealth of possibility in hip hop-themed cinema. I now have the power to do something that no other festival can really do: bring the possibility of a global spotlight right onto the right hip hop-themed projects. This is about being worldwide and running with the best! My main goal is to use this to opportunity to give light to hip hop filmmakers and film producers out there so their creativity can be heard above all the Hollywood static."
"We are very happy to partner with Lauren and her company," adds Christophe Le Parc, General Coordinator of SIC. "We are really looking forward to this particular portion of the U.S. market understanding how we function within the Festival and what a terrific opportunity this is."
Filmmakers--of features, shorts, documentaries--have got to hurry, though. The submission deadline is March 31, 2006. The International Critics' Week of the Cannes Film Festival will take place May 17 - 28, 2006 in Cannes, France. For submission information, filmmakers should contact 310-280-3245.
Actress Joy Bryant shopping at Whole Foods on Fairfax in L.A... R&B singer-of-the-moment Keyshia Coles jumping out of a chauffeur driven '06 Range Rover to make a quick run into Best Buy on lower Broadway in New York, complete with doggie in tow...Randy Jackson, Kimberly Elise, Aisha Tyler, Kevin Frazier, “that hunky” (our tipster's comment) James Pickens Jr., and, of course, the NAACP's Vic Bulluck at the 7:15AM NAACP Image Awards announcements at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills...Mystery man. What film director (who lives in New York when not making deals in Hollywood) stays at the Wyford Executive Suites at the Ovation in Toronto when filming in the TO? You can probably spot him in the Ovation's private theatre, bowling alley or billiards room. We can't tell you who. Victor Oh, Manager of Operations of Wyford Executive Suites, has sworn us to secrecy.
We're out. See ya on Fridays from now on....
' If you would like to be deleted from The A-List, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, but why be on the b-list looking in?