Issue #6: Female Directors
HIP HOP SOLDIER....It's official, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Samuel L. Jackson have signed onto a new film about Iraqi war veterans called Home of the Brave. The independently financed, $12-million flick will begin shooting in Morocco in March. But hopefully, 50 will get better acting reviews than he did for his biopic, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. Guess Jackson got over his playa hatting of rappers turned actors.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT?....Last week, Oprah Winfrey signed a three-year, $55-million deal with XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. to launch a new radio channel. Starting in September, "Oprah & Friends," will air programming on fitness, health and self-improvement topics as well as a weekly radio show with Winfrey and her bestest friend Gayle King. Sounds great, but Oprah didn't great anyway near the reported $600-million, five-year deal that Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. inked with shock jock Howard Stern. And XM, itself, signed an 11-year, $650 million deal for Major League Baseball. Hmm...Well, Oprah doesn't desperately need the money, we guess. Maybe it's just a case of reality setting in at the company. Right after she inked her deal, company director, Pierce Roberts, resigned from the board because he saw "a significant chance of a crisis on the horizon" and was "troubled" about XM's direction, according to press statements. Maybe they're hoping for some Oprah ratings magic and already working to tame that spending madness.
TV TOUCHDOWN?...He may not be loved on the football field, but TV execs are lovin' him right now. The producers of "Trading Spaces" have signed bad boy football player Terrell Owens to his own reality show. According to the folks at Banyan Productions, the show is still untitled and unsold. Given what has already taken place in Owens' life recently, an insider look at all the emotion and antics behind the scenes may just prove interesting.
POWER MOVES...Shon Gables, News Anchor CBS 2 This Morning (NYC) will be Mistress of Ceremonies for The Network Journal Magazine's 8th Annual 25 Influential Black Women in Business Awards, March 16 at Marriott New York Marquis. Tickets start at $175. Game recognize game. Visit www.tnj.com.
Director Millicent Shelton, whose Ride came out in 1998, has been working in television as of late, directing multiple episodes of "The Bernie Mac Show" and most recently an episode of "Everybody Hates Chris" (which aired Feb. 9th). She considers the break into television, rather than the film world, as her biggest career highlight to date. "There aren't many African-American females directing episodic TV," she says. "It took me three years to finally get a foot in the door." But still she hasn't left film behind. "I am currently shopping an urban slasher/horror feature film script," says Shelton, who has found more opportunities in the last five years. "The ABC/DGA program gave me an opportunity through their seasoned directors program that lead me to breaking into the [television] industry," she explains. "As they say, you need to get that first one. Then John Ridley, executive producer on 'Barbershop' for Showtime gave me my first official episode. He simply took a chance and believed in me. The episode turned out great."
Julie Dash (www.geechee.tv) also has been working in other realms, including the Internet and mobile phone delivery. "I have found less opportunities in Hollywood in the last five years," says Dash, who is currently working on an original screenplay, a feature film project for a major African-American women's organization, "but there are more opportunities in the wider field of multimedia and film production," she notes. "For instance: directing a movie for the National Underground Railroad's Museum in Cincinnati, designing an African-American pavilion for another major theme park company, writing for Internet and graphic novel projects." Dash, who is also attached to a major motion picture called Crispus Attucks and Making Angels, an independent film, says broadening her scope has increased opportunities. "Diversification is the advise I would give. I love designing writing and conjuring up images and concepts for cell phones, Internet sites; it goes back to my roots in grassroots, independent film making," says Dash.
While making it in Hollywood is tough, many women feel a change is going to come. "At the moment the industry is definitely run by white men," says Mabry. "But I think as we continue to use the festival circuit and continue to make our films, we will one day be more prominent and people will actually realize that there is an abundant amount of Black female filmmakers out there trying to tell our stories."
Shelton hopes others like her break into TV. "I would like to see more Black female filmmakers directing television single camera comedies and one-hour dramas, particularly the dramas," says Shelton. "My hope is that they move up the ranks and become director/producers on TV shows in a position to employ more diverse directors. I also hope that there are more Black female feature film directors with successful theatrical releases. The reality is the road is tough but I believe all theses goals are attainable if we persist...it just might take a while."
But these celluloid dreams may be a reality sooner than later. "In the future I think Hollywood will have no choice but to seriously take a look at these projects. More and more films are being produced by us and the demographic who spend money in the theatres is African American. We consume more statistically--we are not afraid to spend the dollar. Eventually our presence in Hollywood will be known," says Day.
Dash agrees. "I think the future looks great. We are the new kids on the block. We have a lot to say and the whole world is listening." And hopefully watching.
THE A-LIST SOUP
Love the blog! You’re doing your thing.
Gail Higgins Porter
Welcome back. I always look forward to reading the latest buzz!
BG GROUP LLC
This is FABULOUS! Please keep it coming; and thanks for keeping us all so well informed.
President/Founder of RedMEDIA
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Congratulations on the relaunch of The A-List. It looks good.
Production and Financing Diva
Sorry kidz, no "spotted" info for ya this week. Catch it next week with all the regular scoop. We're out!