Friday, March 10, 2006

Issue #9: Tech Toys

Welcome back. Issue #9 is set to go. Are you ready?


ALL IN THE FAMILY...Those Wayans Brothers should give a little Learning Annex course in Hollywood quick dealmaking. They have yet inked another one--Keenen Ivory, Shawn and Marlon Wayans will soon bring their humor to Nicktoons. The kids channel has picked up the brothers' first animated project, "Thugaboo." It will be a series of three specials--one that is one hour-long, two half-hour shows. "Thugaboos" will focus on nine different kids growing up in the inner city. Let's hope this stab at animated lower income issues will be more inspired than previous ones to hit the market.

COMIC CAESURA...Following protest at the NAACP due their Image Award nomination of The Boondocks, it seems Boondocks creator, Aaron McGruder, is taking a time out. He just announced a six-month hiatus from his strip, which appears in about 350 newspapers. His camp says he just needs time off. Guess what with even having Martin Luther King say "nigg*r" in the animated version of The Boondocks, the controversy can wear a person out. Keep ya head up though A.M., 'cause no matter what side of this one may be on, there is such a thing as the right of free speech in this country.

PARENTAL ADVISORY...Maryam Myika Day, actress and founder of Epiphany 3 Films, will star in The Negro Ensemble Company's Offspring for 16-performances, March 3-19 at NYC's 45th Street Theatre. But the play about race and family comes with an actual warning in its listings: "The play contains racially-charged dialogue and is intended for mature audiences only." So that means: kiddies stay home. Tix at For info, visit

CAUGHT ON TAPE....Inspired by Oprah? Maybe. Rapper Cam'ron wants to do a reality show where he catches child predators. He announced last week that he plans to release a DVD on which he will "deal with" Internet predators. He will lure the unsuspecting into thinking they are talking to a child online. Then when the person tries to engage in the unlawful behavior, they will be nabbed on camera. Only thing is, we've seen this on 20/20 type shows already and Nick Lachey is clearly a champion for this, so how is Cam'ron bringing something different? Will the DVD actually feature ghetto style beat-downs of the predators or what? Inquiring minds wanna know.

CHINGY CINEMA...Our friends over at tell us rapper Chingy is the latest on the hip hop scene to catch the acting bug, and he's already got a project in the works! The film: The System Within is written by and stars Tariq Alexander as Tony "Wise" Good, an internationally known model from the inner city who falls from grace and lands in the prison system. Co-star: singer (and former half of hip hop's old school crew the Mantronix) Bryce Wilson and Taimak, star of the 80's cult classic The Last Dragon. You know we'll be checking this out and letting you know if Chingy's got the chops or not.

REALITY GAME...Barry Bonds, former baseball star, is now getting into reality TV. The show, "Bonds On Bonds," will follow Bonds as he pursues Hank Aaron's career home run record and debut April 4 on ESPN2. Knowing Bond's heated relationship with the media, it could be interesting having a camera on him 24-7. There could be fireworks. Stay tuned.

GIRL POWER...For Woman’s "Herstory" Month Kenadie Cobbin and her HerShe Group are once again presenting a special one-night-only charity performance of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” in conjunction with the 2006 Worldwide V-Day Campaign. Celebrity actresses doing the 'Logue this year are Victoria Rowell, Vanessa Williams, Niecy Nash, Ananda Lewis, Dawnn Lewis, Denise Dowse, MC Lyte, Natalie Deselle Reid, Rebecca Gayheart, Terri J. Vaughn, Meredith Baxter, and Constance Marie. "The Vagina Monologues" will take place on March 16 at L.A.'s Wilshire Ebell Theatre. For tix, log on to Between this production and ATL one (see issue#8), there hasn't been this much putting women on a pedestal since "The DaVinci Code."

CASTING ROUNDUP...We hear Nia Long is down in Shreveport, La., filming the supernatural thriller Premonition with Sandra Bullock...Meanwhile, Hollywood's hardest hustlin' black actor, Blair Underwood, now in Madea's Family Reunion, has joined the cast of the CBS drama pilot "Company Town," about government agents who live in the same Washington 'hood. Underwood will play a workaholic FBI agent. Guess that means no time for steamy sex scenes.

MILEAGE MELTDOWN...Our Overseen & Overheard mention last issue of Damon Dash's "Ultimate Hustler" show sparked a mini-investigation. Word on the street was that the prize winner landed a leased car, which was reported earlier by Urban radio favs on Clear Channel. Here's where the car confusion comes from: To promote the reality show, BET ran a sweepstakes for viewers. And winner of that sweepstakes got a one-year lease on a 2006 Jeep Commander--just like the "Ultimate Hustler" Brian Rikuda took home for keeps. Shout out to BET for helping with the clarification!

After enjoying the success of "Madea's Family Reunion" capturing the #1 box office spot two weeks in a row, actor/director Tyler Perry, has decided to enter the world of television. He has just signed a deal with an independent distributor to sell his original comedy series ''House of Payne'' in first-run syndication. ''House of Payne'' is a family based situation comedy. Perry will direct, executive produce and write--but will even act in the piece. For the venture he partnered with independent distributor Debmar-Mercury instead of a studio or network in order to maintain creative control, according to a press statement. The first 10 test episodes of "Payne" will be available to stations in select markets for spring/summer. Additional episodes will go into national distribution in fall 2007. His reps expect to possibly talk with Fox, Tribune, Viacom, and Sinclair. The TV deal was also packaged by agency William Morris, which represents Perry. Debmar-Mercury co-president Ira Bernstein said in a press statement, "With few network sitcoms available for off-network syndication, we believe there will be a huge pent-up demand for a quality family comedy from stations. It's the first original first run sitcom in almost 15 years."

Hollywood Grills...Of course the talk this past week was dominated by 3-6 Mafia's win at the Oscars. And while Kathleen Bird-York is probably still trying to pick her jaw up off the Kodak Theatre floor as she shamefully gasped at the rap group's win, we here are all just a little more impressed with the voting member of AMPAS. While Sid Ganis' heavy-handed trumpeting dissing technology like DVDs did not show the marketing genius he is supposed to be, the Oscars did show that there just may be some more forward thinking people in that academy than that of NARAS. While we're still left reeling about Mariah's passover there, here came 3-6 Mafia's win in a sea of tuxedos! We weren't really surprised. As we mentioned last week (see issue#8), hip hop was sure to make its presence known at the Oscars, so score yet another one for The A-List. One thing we can say for sure is that hip hop is not only here to stay but breaking down more and more artistic barriers each day. Let us understand though that we didn't need this win to be any more validated. We validate ourselves. But let us also say, it's cool to see that no matter how "gully" it gets, there is a place for everything! Congrats. Holla back.



Face it. To be make moves in today's new tech world, you have to be connected. Figuratively, and literally. Here is a sampling of some of the favorite tech toys of Urban Hollywood--both execs and creatives-- use to make their world go 'round.

FAMILY FIRST, DEAL SECOND: "I would say I would be hard up without my mobile. I need to stay in contact with loved ones. [But recently] I got a call from an editor who had heard about a novella I wrote a year ago. The guy is really interested, and it was a time sensitive matter. Was I interested? I knew I was a ways from home to respond on my home PC, so I emailed from my Yahoo mobile device on my fone, and now we're in discussions for a serious book deal. So I really enjoy the fact that I can handle that kind of business on the go, with my mobile."
Barry Michael Cooper
New Jack City, Sugar Hill, Above The Rim, Blood on the Wall$

NEVER ALONE: "My Sidekick. I even use it to book DJs interviews for the show while on the move."
Tracy Bachmann
Associate Producer
"Straight From The Streets"/Direct Effects MTV

TECH ADDICTION: "I'm a Blackberry addict, for sure. My Blackberry makes it possible to balance work and family. I mainly use it for work-related issues. In my position I'm not only developing new ideas but also doing 'current,' which is overseeing the day-to-day production and creative elements of the shows either currently on air or about to launch. I'm often involved in creative decision making on rough cuts or internal promotion situations that can occur whether I'm at my desk, at lunch, on my way home, or even the middle of the night. I'm also addicted to TiVo. What do I TiVo? I'm a reality TV junkie. I also TiVo the dramas I love. Here's a short list of what's on my Tivo right now: 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Boston Legal,' 'Knight School,' 'Flavor of Love,' 'Beauty and the Geek,' 'Boondocks,' 'ER,' and a ton of other reality shows."
Robyn Lattaker-Johnson
VP, Development
Black Entertainment Television

MAC, AND ONLY MAC: "Trio. Not Blackberry. Because Blackberry isn't Mac compatible and I love my Mac. Trio is."
Dr. Todd Boyd
Professor, USC School of Cinema-Television/Author
Young Black Rich and Famous: The Rise of the NBA, The Hip Hop Invasion and the Transformation of American Culture

BUCKING THE TECH TREND: "I'm not into tech tools. In fact, I can live WITHOUT them all. I'm hooked on life, love and the pursuit of spiritual balance--not overpriced gadgets that will be outdated in three months.
Mary E. Glynn
Film/TV Producer/Owner of Liv 'N Lov Productions

Variety, sure. But all powerplayers. It's just a matter of personal style. But one thing we can be sure of, just as soon as you've become comfortable with whatever you are using, there will probably be another more complex, more sophisticated and yet fly-er model. And that's what makes all this stuff just so much fun to have.


Dave Chappelle's Block Party (Rogue Pictures/Focus Features)

Where to begin, what to say, how to express the sheer bliss I experienced watching Mr. Chappelle's 'Block Party'!!! And yes, it's MR. Chappelle because what he put on film was extraordinary--not because he's a huge comedian who was offered and walked away from one of the largest artist deals in U.S. cable history, but because he gave a sh*t enough to make the project happen.

But back to the movie. Set in my beloved Brooklyn, which is a living character by itself-- BedSty STAND UP!--Chappelle spotlighted the energy, warmth, and humanity of two communities (BK and Yellow Springs, Ohio--his hometown). AND THE MUSIC, simply fantastic! This is the hip hop I know and love; the hip hop that I'd want the world to know and love. Highlights on the music tip included Mos Def and Talib Kewli, Dead Prez', and finally, Ms. Lauren Hill. When she took the stage to close the show, and strummed our pain with her God is my witness, audience members got down on both knees begging her to come back. She transcended the screen looking like an angel sent to save hip hop. But the film is all praise and glory--it is reality. We also got a slightly, too up-close and personal view of the size Jill Scott's ego. And finally, got to see what the hell is under Erykah Badu's headpiece.

I was probably moved that much more by this movie and the music after having laboured through some of the black media's disapproving comments of 3-6 Mafia and their Oscar win, how their win set blacks back 50 years. But whatever tainted my judgement when seeing Dave Chappelle's Blockparty, I am happy to know there is one person out there--Mr. Chappelle--who not only gets hip hop but loves and respects it. And after seeing Block Party, maybe you will too. Director: Michel Gondry. Link: Sounds like this film's an A.--Melissa Ross


We would be totally remiss if we didn't not cover the passing of Gordon Parks Jr. But instead of dwelling on his death, we want to highlight his amazing life. He didn't just exist; he created work that in the end helped everyone. For sure, all black cinema appearing after his contributions stand on his shoulders.

To say Parks was a Renaissance man is an understatement. He surpassed that description, breaking color barriers seamlessly and gracefully at the same time. When it was unheard of for a "colored" person to work in a major capacity for a major media outlet, he thrived as a freelance fashion photographer for Vogue and then a lensman for the prestigious Life in 1948. The fact that Gordon Parks was a photographer for Life seemed natural. He captured unforgettable images all across the globe, and his work about poverty in the United States will be everlasting.

When he became Hollywood's first major black director with The Learning Tree, again it seemed only fitting. It was something he just did--no big show, no breast-beating about his breakthrough. The Learning Tree, based on an autobiographical novel, was among the first 25 American movies to be placed on the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. And his Shaft has often been imitated but never duplicated. Shaft's Big Score came in 1972, the same year his son Gordon Jr. directed Superfly.

Parks' additional film credits include The Super Cops, 1974; Leadbelly, 1976; and Solomon Northup's Odyssey, a 1984 TV movie.

On top of his visual exploits, Parks also composed music, wrote poetry, authored novels, and even wrote a ballet entitled Martin, about the life of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Parks was born November 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, Kan. He died on March 7, 2006 at the age of 93 in NYC.

Rest in peace!!!


Actress Jacqeline Flemming, Serena and Venus Williams, Victoria Rowell, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alonzo Brown, Len Burnett, Vibe editor Mimi Vladez, managers Ken Burns and Kenneth Crear, tech executive Jerald Carrington and Debbie Turner partyin' at Queen Latifah's Pre-Oscar bash at Republic Restaurant in West Hollywood.

The South African cast of Umoja stayin' at the Town Inn Suites ( in Downtown Toronto during the play's run in TO before heading to NYC.

Questions, Comments, Kudos? Hit us up at

The A List is hot!! Kudos on this great webzine/blog.
Renee Foster
Renegade PR

Big Up to A-List contributor Gil Robertson IV, who's also president of the African American Film Critics Association. He made the correct Oscar picks in last week's issue (#8). Hope you placed your bets!

Shout Out to wicked new contributor Melissa Ross in from London to write her review.