Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines. It's Issue #37.
OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
MADAME MEDIA...She's at it again. Oprah is expanding her Harpo Productions empire with a new television development group headed by Ellen Rakieten, who has been the executive producer for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" for the past three seasons, and Harriet Seitler, former director of creative services and program development, who has worked on the show since 1995. It's great to see Oprah succeed, but how about another sista or brother heading a division like this--or even an urban show. The first project slated is a syndicated show by food guru Rachel Ray, which we all cannot help but notice the overbeaming face in the billboards around town. In other OW news, it has been reported that the TV magnet is suing to stop a fan in his attempt to get Oprah to run for president. Seems, The White House isn't a move she wants to make.
BLOW & THE BLOODS...Rap pioneer Kurtis Blow (photo, right), who also holds things down as a host on Sirius Satellite Radio on Channel 43 as well as a preacher in his Harlem Hip Hop Church, has co-produced a ratings hit for Showtime Exposure. The documentary, Slippin': Ten Years With The Bloods, explores the notorious street gang. The film follows five members of the The Bloods over the course of 10 years. And on its first showing, the film ranked at #2 for the week and drew 290,000 viewers. On Showtime On Demand, its debut was the 6th most-watched non-adult title. Wonder if the Crips are tuning in? BRANDY, STRAIGHT UP...Well, sometimes we wonder why actors wind up on these reality shows. At other times, it's quite obvious. A stint on "America's Got Talent" has paid off for singer/actress Brandy big time. Having made less than ripples with that last album, homegirl had almost all but disappeared. Now, the former "Moesha" star just inked a new TV comeback deal--with "Girlfriends" creator Mara Brock Akil (photo, right) no less. Akil is developing an as-yet-untitled project for Brandy that will center around a “young New Yorker” who “moves to Los Angeles to work as an entertainment editor.” Not a fresh idea, but urban TV needs a boost. Maybe a shot of Brandy might be the ticket. CALL FOR ENTRIES...Filmmakers of color take note. Tribeca All Access (TAA), the Tribeca Film Institute's program that fosters relationships between U.S.-based filmmakers of color and the film industry, is calling in entries for 2007. Submit feature-length narrative and documentary film projects and you may be one of the 30 selected to participate in the 2007 program. Under the program, the TAA will arrange about 500 meetings for participants with representatives of over 100 film industry companies and organizations during the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. These one-on-one meetings, scheduled to take place from April 25th-29th. Also, one filmmaker in each entry category will be awarded the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award, which comes with a prize of $10,000 for narrative and documentary and $5,000 for screenplay only. To apply, visit http://www.tribecafilminstitute.org/
. The deadline is Dec. 15. You may get an early Christmas present.
AOL HABLO ESPANOL...Some of the big entertainment tech news this week is the announcement that AOL Latino wants to become the Internet home for Latinos, and for Hispanic Heritage Month they are pulling out all the stops. See the happenings at http://tuvida.aol.com/especiales/hispanic-heritage-month/. As part of this initiative, the site will run exclusive interviews from today's hottest Hispanic talent from Mario Lopez ("Dancing with the Stars") and Judy Reyes ("Scrubs") to Amaury Nolasco ("Prison Break") and Carlos Mencia, Comedy Central host. AOL also just completed the "AOL Latino 2006 Hispanic Cyberstudy," which found that there are more than 16 million U.S. Hispanics online. And 77% have access to broadband. Thanks for finally catching up to what we all knew many moons ago, Mainstream. Let's see what AOL does for Black History Month.
SHEDDING LIGHT...There's a growing buzz about a documentary called American Blackout (www.americanblackout.org), about the disfranchisement of black voters in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Directed by Ian Inaba and co-produced by Haitian-American filmmaker Jean-Philippe Boucicaut, the film has been slowing making its way around the country in community screenings and just this month opened at The Magic Johnson Theatres in L.A. Harking back to the chitlin circuit days, American Blackout might be a rediscovered way to market non-mainstream urban films--one market at a time.
AOL RED TO RELEASE FIRST DIRECT-TO-DOWNLOAD MAINSTREAM TEEN FLICK
Beginning October 31, Incubus, a new full-length horror film, becomes the first "direct-to-download" film premiering exclusively on AOL RED, the online home for teens at http://www.b-red.com/. The film, a psychological thriller starring Tara Reid as one of six teens on the run from a crazed killer with the power to control their dreams, will be available for download for 30 days. Incubus can be purchased for a fee of $7.99 or rented for a 5-day period for just $3.49. With just one click, viewers can begin watching the film immediately after the download begins. Incubus co-producer Sherman Sall said in a statement, "Movie fans are clearly seeking an alternative to the traditional in-theater experience. We think the Internet will emerge as a viable distribution method for new films, and we're very happy to be at the forefront of this movement." Timed to the release of Incubus, AOL RED also announced its Scary Movie Contest, challenging fans to submit their own homemade scary movies. The finalists will be posted online and site visitors will be asked to vote for their favorite. The filmmaker receiving the most votes will be the winner. Information regarding the contest as well as additional exclusive Incubus content including the trailer, artwork, and an interview with Tara Reid will be found at http://www.b-red.com/.
HELIO AND KARGO PARTNER TO OFFER MOBILE CONTENT
Kargo, a leading North American mobile media company, just announced that it has joined with Helio, a new mobile service for young consumers, to deliver Kargo's original mobile content on Helio's service. Kargo's celebrity voicetones –including those of Flavor Flav, Fatman Scoop, The WuTang and others. Kargo will also exclusively feature on Helio a number of celebrity tattoo designs from Scott Campbell of Saved Tattoo in New York which will be distributed, along with its library of mobile magazines, images, ringtones and games. Kargo is the only mobile content company currently allowed to offer Bob Marley music and images in the North American-market. Kargo has developed its own proprietary applications, including Red Carpet (celebrity news and photos), Game Day (comprehensive sports coverage), and FEVER (one of the leading mobile content portals in the U.S., with more than 1,000,000 unique shoppers to date. The company has developed and delivered mobile entertainment applications for brand partners such as US Weekly, Premiere, TV Guide,Star, Weekly World News, Vibe, SPIN, e, and carrier partners, including Cingular Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Alltel, and Cricket Wirealess.
TIA MOWRY GETS GAME ON THE SMALL SCREENRemember those the "It" TV twins, of The WB fame? Tia and Tamera Mowry? During their 15 minutes it seemed they were our own version of the Olsen Twins (minus the multi-million deals, of course). They were seemingly everywhere when their hit show "Sister, Sister" was on air. In fact, the program was an urban family staple and enjoyed a five-year run.
Well, wonder no more what has happened to the two-some after the bright lights of past fame. One of the sister--Tia--has found her way back to the small screen, on the CW Network, with a new sitcom called “The Game” and is about to set it off again The now-grownup Tia stars as Melanie Barnett, whose boyfriend "Darwin" is a professional NFL player, and convincingly delivers the angst and depth of a woman in the midst of a contemporary relationship. "'The sitcom is basically about relationships between important women and the special men in their lives and the men happen to be NFL football players. So you’re looking at the dynamics between the powerful women playing the game and the NFL football players," says Mowry. "What captured my interest was that I really identified with my character Melanie. In the sense that she was a strong-willed independent woman, but also she would do anything that would make her boyfriend happier and make the relationship work. That is how I am in person. I am very independent. She goes to med school in the show and I went to college and she’s very educated, she’s very smart and I consider myself a very intellectual person and she also has heart and charm and that is what I loved about her character. She’s open to new things and learning new things to make her relationship with her boyfriend work because she loves him."
Though it may take a while for viewers to put aside her squeaky clean teeny bopper image from “Sister, Sister,” Mowry says she wanted a very adult role. "The character that I played on “Sister, Sister” was that of a child so basically I played a child. Now I am a woman so I am now taking on woman roles. One thing that is different for me in this role is that she lives with her boyfriend, which is different than in “Sister, Sister” and she’s also very strong willed. So if she’s upset she feels free to get upset, you know what I mean?," she explains. "And of course there are more kissing scenes. Nothing outlandish and nothing too ridiculous that people are gonna be like ‘OH MY GOD.’ What it is, is just reality. What you would see a normal 22-year-old woman do. They are in love. They fall in love and you will see that. They are constantly trying to find themselves and she makes mistakes and she’s normal just like everybody else."
And despite her successful track record on TV, she even had to convince the folks behind "The Game" she could handle a more mature role, despite having a run on "Strong Medicine" as one of the lead doctors. "I had to prove that I could play this role because a lot of people are only used to seeing me as a 14 year old and they didn’t know that I could handle a more mature role, but what people don’t understand is that I am who I am and I am woman now," she says. "This show is not your slapstick kind of comedy; it’s a show that has a lot of heart and realism. You are going to see her cry, you are going to see her get upset and you are going to see her fall in love and you are going to see her kiss. A lot of people aren’t used to seeing me like that on television. They didn’t think I could portray that lifestyle, but I had experienced it in life so I will definitely be able to portray it in a character because I am a woman now and I have experienced it in life."
And Tia isn't the only Mowry coming back, her brother, Taj, who himself had a hit TV show a while back, is in the sequel to Ice Cube's Are we There Yet? Says Tia, "As long as the Mowrys are kicking it and we are out there doing what we like to do then it’s all good." --A-List Exclusive Interview Conducted by Samantha Ofole For The Robertson Treatment (www.robertsontreatment.com)
PRE-DIDDY RECORD LAUNCH IN PHILADELPHIA
Actor. Fashion Man. Music Mogul--and once again, artist. P-Diddy is putting all his other roles aside to hit the spotlight again. So when a friend tipped me off that Sean “P Diddy” Combs would be doing an invited guests only radio interview with Philly station 100.3 The Beat I was there. The interview was taped, September 18th and will broadcast October 16th, the day before the long time in the coming, new release Press Play hits stores.
Most of the invited guests were fans who won tickets to “Behind The Beats with Diddy” by calling into the station and being lucky caller #, they weren’t told where the interview/party was to take place until just hours before P. Diddy was to arrive. The unconventional venue hosting this event was The Prince Music Theater in Center City Philadelphia. Ticket winners were ushered into the theater’s elevator, which opened up to an intimate cabaret space. Complete with small candlelit tables, a stage and a bar (cash, not open) The DJs kept trying to get the crowd revved up before Diddy’s arrival, but the atmosphere seemed to keep everybody chill. Probably a good thing considering no metal detector was present.
Guests not only got to hear cuts from the new CD: "Tell Me" featuring Christina Aguilera, Diddy Rock featuring Timbaland, Twista & Shawna and "Makin It Hard" featuring Mary J, but they got to ask questions like, Any wedding plans? None yet. But if and when that day comes, Diddy wants his wedding to be big, but real. Other questions ranged from why Bad Boy artist, Cassie was pushed out in front, ahead of fellow artist, Sheri Dennis, who seems more seasoned? And what can we expect from his next MTV reality show featuring Dance Competitions? Some he answered, others he didn't. But when asked about the fight with a London producer over the name “Diddy,” he responded “The name thing isn’t all that serious to me, call me what you want, just call me something nice." Let's see what they call him TV hitmaker when the new TV show airs. --Contributor Le Anne Lindsay
SHOUT OUT TO LE ANNE LINDSAY COVERING THE SCENE IN PHILLIE, MR. HOLLYWOOD GIL ROBERTSON IV, AND NEW CONTRIBUTOR SAMANTHA OFOLE.