Friday, June 23, 2006

Issue 24: Jay Z & HP

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I'M STILL DOLEMITE...Rudy Ray Moore, aka Dolemite, was hospitalized last week in Inglewood, CA., suffering from a serious undisclosed illness. But we just got word the 80-year-old original comedy king should be heading home--just in time for a planned star-studded tribute to the comedian, singer, film actor, and film producer. Moore, best known for his 1975 film, Dolemite, and its sequel, The Human Tornado, may still have a few of his raunchy rhymes handy.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY...Don't want anyone changing your TV controls? Well, an African-American inventor based in South Florida, John Dixon and his company Biometric Access Entertainment Group (, may have just the gadget for you. According to reports, television viewers can scan their biometric image (i.e. a fingerprint) to access and control their TV set or to provide the viewer with only their desired and/or favorite stations. The future is now.

INTO AFRICA...Despite stiff competition from Nigeria's Nollywood and South Africa's production domination, the powers that be in Kenya have announced they are ready to go toe-to-toe with their fellow Africans to ensure that actually Kenya becomes the 'Hollywood of Africa." Information Minister Mutahi Kagwe told Agence France-Presse, that the mission of the newly created Kenya Film Commission is to lure in production of Hollywood films with special rates and assistance. The commission kicks a major marketing campaign in July to sell Kenya as a movie destination. But Hollywood production isn't anything new for the East Africa nation-- last year's The Constant Gardener was filmed here as was Born Free in 1966 and 1985's Out of Africa and the TV show "Survivor: Africa" was filmed at the Shaba Game Reserve. Nothing like a little competition to make for interesting new industry developments, huh?

SHHH!...We can't tell you much, but inside word is that BET is about to unveil a major hip-hop flavored show for the next season. Although the official announcement won't come to later this summer, we're told that while it's hip hop it'll have mad universal appeal.

MORE DRAMA FOR MARY J...According to the good folks over at ABC, Mary J. Blige will make a cameo appearance on one of of their top soap operas-- "One Life To Live." She will perform two songs from her The Breakthrough CD at the fictional hot spot "Club Capricorn." The episode airs July 28th. Set your TiVo.

JUDGEMENT DAY...A prestigious collective of judges have just been announced for this year's Film Life & HBO American Black Film Festival (ABFF)-- Magic Johnson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Anthony Mackie, indie filmmaker Aaron Greer, and movie critic Rene Rodriguez. Members of the 2006 ABFF Documentary Jury are Alison Palmer-Bourke, director of Original Programming, the Independent Film Channel; Jackie Glover, director, Documentary Films, (HBO); Katherine Humphries, VP, creative director, E-Morris Communications; filmmaker Shola Lynch (Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed); and actress Elise Neal. ABFF takes place July 19-23 in South Beach, Miami, so back your bikini along with your businesscards.

THE WRITING'S ON THE WALL...If you're in NYC, you might want to head over the Danny Simmons' (brother of rap mogul Russell) Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn. From June 25 to July, there will be a special show entitled "Propaganda: The Dissemination of Ideas," a group exhibition of graffiti artists and graffiti documentarians Durocia, Slang Tyrue, Ernie Panicciolo, Peter Sutherland, and Jamestop. The opening reception will be held on June 25, 3-7pm and will feature DJ Dundee spinning classic '80s in homage of the graffiti genre. There will also be live performances by Keswa and a b-boy circle hosted by Westrok. For info, visit This is just yet another validation graffiti as a fine art form--good for them!

TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY...Put in your book order now. This Life Is A Journey is look at life in show business by artistic director/choreographer/screenwriter Bruce Wallace, who has worked on everything from the cult rap classic Krush Groove to TV's "Sesame Street." The book promises to be a true tell-all. There's even a play-by-play description about an attempt on Wallace's life. PublishAmerica is releasing This Life Is A Journey in August.

BEYONCE'S PETA PROBLEM...If you haven't been under a rock, you must have seen the footage of PETA taking on singer-actress-Jay Z's-better-half Beyonce while she was dining with her mother and sister at Nobu in NYC. Cut to the chase: After the hellos, PETA started to inform B about the ills of fur making, bringing along footage of animal slayings. Oh, and they also taped the whole Nobu incident (which we too ain't sure is legal in a private establishment) and distributed it to the press. Being two non-fur wearing divas, we had to comment. Beyonce handled it gracefully, but since her new clothes line touts fur, we wonder is she even glanced at the PETA evidence. Hopefully, these two sides can gather in another setting and hash out both their points.

G-RATED SNOOP...We hear Snoop is spreading his visual wings these days, first working on an animated film entitled Blue Carpet Treatment to accompany the release of a CD of the same name. And, rumor has it he is also planning to produce a live-action movie called A Woman's Touch . We'll keep you posted as actors sign on.

FRESH AIR FILMS...Now that summer officially started this week, it's time for all the outdoor entertainment that helps make the season so great. Beginning July 5th through August, it's the 5th Annual Historic Harlem Parks Film Festival with free outdoor film screenings, music and dance performances at parks not just in Harlem, but in Brooklyn and Queens parks as well. For more info, click on / It's like a drive in, only without the cars.



The Chicago Defender has become the first black newspaper in the U.S. to implement use of Podcasts. The newspaper's executive editor, Roland Martin, announced earlier this week that the Chicago Defender has launched the Chicago Defender Inside Black America Video Podcast on Audio podcasts for the paper began in May 2005 proving such success that it led to the expansion of video podcasts. "The time has come when African Americans are emancipated from the shackles of technology," Martin said in a press statement. "For far too long we've had to play catch up in this regard, and this is something that we refuse to accept. We want to drive home the importance of African Americans using technology, and by using our tremendous platform will help us close the digital divide, and then I'm confident we will be able to do so."

Chicago Defender staff writers and editors will now generate and conduct interviews and place then in video format. The first Chicago Defender Inside Black Video Podcast features Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The Chicago Defender is hoping to be on the cusp of a new way of communicating for African Americans. A 2006 Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that African Americans lead the nation in terms of access broadband technology, which allows for data to be transmitted online at a faster rate. Broadband purchases increased 40% overall in 2005, but for African Americans it was a 121% jump.


According to Daily Variety, Apple Computer Inc. is in talks with several Hollywood studios to offer movie downloads on its iTunes Music Store Website. A deal, says Variety, is expected soon with iTunes offering film downloads by the end of 2006--though pricing points still need to be hashed out. It is believed Apple's Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs wants a flat $9.99 per movie, while studio executives want a range of prices that run from discount titles up to $19.99 for newer releases. Many studios already offer movies online at websites like Movielink and CinemaNow. Warner Bros., for example, recently inked a deal to make movies available via BitTorrent.



Hip hop and branding. It's a strange animal sometimes. Certain companies cannot run fast enough from it. We've seen it happen before with outfits that liken themselves to "quality." It happened with outdoor brand Timberland, and most recently with the high-priced champagne Cristal. No matter. Because wise corporations embrace a variety of segments, realizing that exclusion is never good for the image nor the bottom line for annual reports. After all, as rap mogul Russell Simmons recently put it, "Hip Hop offers some of the best brand builders in the world." And it's why, for example, companies such as Chrysler sold more 300's in just a few months than projected for a year, simply by aligning with hip hop. And it looks like the mighty Hewlett-Packard, hiply known now as just "HP" is about to enter this same stratosphere.

Certainly, inclusive of a variety of individuals as well, the most recent HP campaign is for many the most recognized for its inclusion of Shawn Carter, also known as the multiplatinum hip hop force Jay-Z (see image, left). By now many have seen the new campaign, which seeks to reinforce to the consumer that the "computer is personal again" but never looking so sexy than by its alignment with the rapper/mogul. Undeniably creative, this particular commercial spot not only hits the youth market right where it lives while providing hip hop the high-tech spotlight it deserves.

"We sought to work with Jay-Z because he's interesting and compelling," explains HP's precise and driven Worldwide VP of Marketing Communications for the Personal Systems Group. David Roman (pictured, right) who along with the company's ad agency, developed the campaign and oversees it. "And we selected him because we knew (HP) was poorly represented within the younger generation. We were looking for ways to make the HP experience a better one for the many different audiences we have," Roman continues. So it seems Shawn nicely fit the bill. "Once we selected him, we conducted in depth interviews and then decided which points were most compelling but also which would be surprising for the audience. In this case, adding the fact that he plays chess on-line. Then, we wrote and polished the script and then the recording session."

But the real key here is how technology and Jay come together so beautifully. "Well, when we showed Jay-Z the animatics, he loved it. And he also loved the fact that we decided to show no face so that the audience can truly get to know him from a different perspective," explains Roman. In fact, this angle seems to work flawlessly. One can't help but stop for a moment when it airs, becoming a bit hypnotized my the images. "The computer over time has lost its magic appeal," says Roman. "However, more and more of your life is on the devices so it's about focusing on what is actually on the computer and how it helps our customers rather than just the item itself. We aim to position HP as a brand that is relevant to ones lifestyle. And Jay-Z certainly helps us to reach those who aspire to that of his. We've taken someone who is an achiever and enabling the audience to get to know him just from his computer." And it works.

The campaign will also be rolling out worldwide in the coming months and Jay's spot is one that will be included in that global reach. Look for other celebs from the hip-hop world to be included as well as the campaign develops. According to Roman, producer/artist Pharell Williams will also be involved in this selective orbit. Additional notables will include spots focusing on TV producer Mark Burnett and mogul Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks and HDNet).

Looks like it's definitely time to see the computer as sexy. And it looks like hip hop has added a definite unique spice, as usual. The ads and behind-the-scenes online extras are available in the "Viewing Room" at


"Real Talk" is a new rotating section that will bring you interesting, funny, and unbelievable quotes from those in Hollywood.

David Shore, creator of the hit TV show "House," recently told columnist Vinay Menon of the Toronto Star: "[Diversity at the networks] unfortunately, to some extent it's more of a checklist item.. But you do have to check off that item in casting, on your writing, and production staff."


Jazsmin Lewis ("Barbershop"), Danielle Nicolet ("Second Time Around"), Victor Williams ("King of Queens"), and James Lesure ("Vegas") leavin' TV land to party at an Elite Magazine bash at the Spider Club in L.A.

Radio One Chairwoman, Cathy Hughes; Mitsy Wilson, Sr. VP Fox Entertainment Group Diversity Development; style diva Dionne Perroneau; comedian Sheryl Underwood; and political insider Jeff Logan workin' the room at Tom Joyner's "Welcome to L.A." reception held at the California African American Museum.


BET Interactive is looking for an interactive enthusiast that can head up our PM group to support Ad Sales. This person will be responsible for the management of campaigns (from receiving signed IOs to campaign completion.) We're looking for someone that is willing to get their hands dirty - developing policies and procedures to streamline the workflow. We're looking for someone in the NY area that has:

  • 3-4 years experience working in interactive media.

  • 5 years of account planning/strategic planning experience in an advertising agency environment.

  • Prior management/supervisory experience a must.

  • Knowledge of building micro-sites, sponsorships and other advertising programs.

  • Extremely detailed oriented, with the ability to manage many tasks at once.

  • Excellent verbal, written and presentation skills.

  • Experience working in a fast paced, constantly evolving, team environment.

  • Proficient in Excel, Word and PowerPoint. BA/BS or equivalent.

If you're interested, please send your resume to .