41:Ghostface,Tech Watch,BFI Film Fest
Fat-free but fortifying...Issue #41.
OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
GRADUATION DAY COMES EARLY...Insiders over at the Cartoon Network gmailed to remind us about " Class of 3 000," the new cartoon co-created and co-executive produced by Andre "3000" Benjamin of the rap group Outkast. They tell us the premiere "throwdown" held Oct 18, in Atlanta at the Fox Theater was a star-studded, rousing success with performances by Chris Brown and UNK. Now let's see if the series follows up. The 30-minute animated comedy is about a superstar who gives up fame and fortune to teach music at his old school. Benjamin provides music and voices for the series, which will debut on Cartoon Network Nov. 3.
NBC UNIVERSAL ANNOUNCES JOB CUTS; READIES FOR DIGITAL WORLD
NBC Universal last week announced a comprehensive restructuring plan called "NBCU 2.0" that will cut 700 jobs and save $750 million annually in an effort to remake the company in the digital world. According to plans, the company will move most high-cost scripted NBC dramas and sitcoms away from the 8 p.m. hour, relying more on in-house production studio and merging booking, news gathering and technical operations in the company's large news division on both coasts. MSNBC will move from New Jersey to NBC News headquarters in Manhattan. This fall, fewer than half of the new series NBC has introduced have come from its in-house studio, including "Heroes." In a press statement by NBC Universal Television Group CEO Jeff Zucker said, "There's no question that owning as much of our content as possible is something that we talk a lot about because it allows you to exploit that material better through other platforms, but you can't cut yourself off from great programming, which comes from so many different places." Added NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly, "You're going to see more of a commitment to it on our part. Although we've had success in unscripted programming with 'The Apprentice' and 'Deal or No Deal,' we've probably dedicated less of our budget toward that compared to some of our competitors."
GHOSTFACE: DOWN & DIRTY IN SOUF LONDON
My mate hipped me to the news of the impromptu show that Ghostface would be doing in London. It wasn't listed anywhere--no TimeOut, no Ticket Master--just a one-off in daily free sheet, The Metro!
We coped tix for the 7:30pm, Sat. show held in Souf London at The Cornet--a down and dirty venue in the hood, incredibly fitting for a raw dude like Ghost.
The venue was tight with a killer sound system for the little, hole-in-the-wall spot. Ghost pimped limped on stage and held it down. He did several songs from the Wu collection, "Iron Man," "Bulletproof Wallets," "Supreme Clientele" and also tracks from his latest CD Fishscale. However, we were a bit pissed that he raced through anthem track "Be Easy" and didn't even do my fav track , "Kilo"! Although, he did give ample instruction to the lighting crew on how to do their job and had his crew chastise the audience for standing in their B-Boy stance not really showing any love. But you see that's the thing about Yanks coming this side with no knowledge. The English don't get excited for anything. That's just how they are and it's not cause they've got lots of 'tude but because they don't want to look out of control.
Regardless, it was a good and grimey night--with Souf London representin' properly. --Melissa Ross
FILMS GALORE AT THE BFI 50th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL
So, the 50th London Film Festival kicked off here last Wednesday with one hell of a film – Forest Whitaker's The Last King of Scotland. Whitaker plays Uganda's infamous dictator, Idi Amin.
During Amin's rise to power, he invites a young, still wet-behind-the-ears doctor to be his personal physician. The doctor, Nicholas Garrigan, is a Scot played by James McAvoy – a frustrated graduate who wants to escape his boringly posh family in search of finding adventure some where on the globe. He literally spins his globe and swears to travel wherever his finger lands – so much for our hero being the intentional do-gooder. So it's early 1970 and Nicholas lands in a medical camp outside the capital city, Kampala, but suddenly finds himself called to aid Amin after the charismatic tyrant's car hits a cow. But as Nicholas sets Amin's wrist, he's unable to stand the sound of the cow wailing in pain so he impulsively grabs the General's pistol, impatiently marches over and fires two bullets into the suffering cows head. Amin, shocked at the young man's arrogance, almost starts to chastise him thinking he's British (English) but when Nicholas proudly reveals, "NO, I'M SCOTTISH" with his football jersey hidden under his shirt, Amin lights-up with laughter. "OH! Why didn't you say so? The Scots are very good people. If I were not already Ugandan, I would definitely be Scottish!"
The roller coaster ride for young Nicholas climbs as high a promotion to Amin's number one advisor but then it's ALL down hill from there as horrors are revealed. But even in the face of a madman, Nicholas seems to throw caution to the wind--dude has THE NERVE to knock-up Amin's third wife played by Kerry Washington. He catches a good punishment for it though (grown men in the theatre had to cover their eyes for that scene).
Don't get me wrong Amin was a wicked dictator but he did do some great things for Uganda as Mr. Whitaker stated during the 'Screen Talk' Q&A/ interview held with Tim Marlow, Exhibition Director of White Cube (the hottest gallery in London at the moment). Whitaker discovered that Amin did bring some change to Uganda, introduced the arts. By "continually searching for Amin through the shooting the film," Whitaker delivers a terrifying and captivating performance. Kerry Washington is stunning and gripping on screen as always and, there's even a surprise stand out performance from Gillian Anderson. It takes some time to realize it's the ex-X-Files agent but it's her. McAvoy more than holds his own opposite Whitaker and is definitely one to watch.
As our talk with Mr. Whitaker came to a close, I managed to score the last question. I asked, "In the spirit of The Last King… if you weren't already Forest Whitaker, which actor would you be?" The sweet and charming thespian leaned back and softly answered, "From when I was a boy there was this one actor I saw doing stuff I'd never seen before…" That man of course was Sidney Poitier.
BFI 50th London Film Festival is on through November 2… stay tuned.