Friday, February 02, 2007

53: Omar Tyree

Welcome, Insider, you are now right on the pulse of the new version of Hollywood, A-List style
. Settle in and enjoy.... Issue # 53!


SAY IT LOUD...We received so much feedback from our story last week about the FCC and Black media (, we decided to take action. In a groundbreaking move, The A-List has created and will shepherd a petition ( to encourage the FCC to increase Black media inclusion and economic power through new initiatives, formal policy and regulations. Our goal is to see not only increased Black television ownership by at least 10% by 2010, but also regulations regarding policy on partnerships between mainstream media conglomerates and Black businesses (particularly new entrants in new media) as well as the creation of an "incubator" to help launch new media business ideas. With the $679-billion spending power of Black Americans who support media, it is now the era of balancing the investment to create a rich tapestry of diverse business inclusion, a tapestry which has made America great. No matter who you are or what ethnic background, use just one keystroke now to click on the petition ( and create not only more opportunities for yourself but more for everybody! (pass it along to a friend and then come on back and read the rest of the issue....)

SAG STROKES...While the well-produced SAG Awards raked in many ratings, there were not many surprises. Golden Globe winners--Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy, America Ferrera--continued their streak. One highlight, however, was the acceptance speech by "Grey's Anatomy" actress Chandra Wilson, who took home Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series. She was dead on with her acknowledgment that although her physical appearance as both a Black person and a woman without a model-size silhouette may go against what has for far too long been the basic accepted formula for achievement. But talent has superceded, as well it should. But alas, the conversation could not be continued backstage as Wilson nor the rest of the show's cast hit the press room after the win. Some say it was to avoid questions about Isaiah Washington, but no matter, the statement's platform was right where it needed to be: national TV.

SUNDANCE HITS & MISSES...Although there were no Hustle & Flow scenarios at this year's Sundance Festival, Urban Hollywood made a good show. Presence was felt in the number of featured flicks--Banished by Marco Williams; If I'd Known I Was Genius from Dominique Wirtschafter; and Nelson George's Life Support. Though the winning submissions and big money deals were scare. Caran Hartsfield (pictured) at least take home an emerging filmmakers award for her short Bury Me Standing. On the juror side while film critic Elvis Mitchell (taking over for rapper-turned-actor Mos Def, who dropped out), documentary editor Lewis Erskine and Haitian movie producer Raoul Peck were counted among jurors, there needed to be a balance with at least one Black female in the industry. Maybe it was a blip, but let's get it together for next year Sundance.

PHIEFER PRODUCTIONS...Actor Mekhi Phiefer has spread his creative wings. He, through his newly formed Facilitator Films production company, will executive produce This Christmas, starring Delroy Lindo, Regina King, Loretta Devine, singer Chris Brown and Idris Elba (Daddy’s Little Girls,The Wire). Shooting began Jan. 8. Could this be indicative of Phiefer riding the emerging trend of wholesome Black movies? It will be interesting to see if such movies carry crossover appeal. What Phiefer will have the guard against is that these type films don't become so sanitized that they lack flavor.

SHIP HAS SAILED...We were saddened to hear the demise might be near for "Noah's Arc" (, the black gay themed series on the MTV-owned lesbian and gay network Logo. But were weren't the only ones. There's a move to save the show. A petition ( has been circulating. It seems The A-List saw the end coming. With the folks at Logo unwilling to promote the show through publicity efforts and advertising, it was only a matter of time the plug would be pulled. There could have been much hype about the groundbreaking show. If and when another series like this receives a green light for broadcast, the actors and creators themselves will need to be proactive in getting the word out. One tip from The A-List: Hire your own publicist. On the bright side, though, there is buzz the series may be turned into a feature film. We'll keep you updated.

IT'S HER NIGHT...Shout out to PR diva and now filmmaker Ava Duvernay. Her film short, Saturday Night Life, will make its television debut in February as a part of the 2007 Showtime Black Filmmakers Showcase. "I wrote and directed Saturday Night Life this time last year as a tribute to my mother, Duvernay tells The A-List exclusively. "We quietly screened at several festivals and my producer Ellene Miles submitted to the Showtime Black Filmmaker's Showcase. We were thrilled to be accepted along with four other very cool shorts. We never expected a national television broadcast or anything of the sort as the film was an act of love more than art. An ode to great lady. But I'm happy to see it moving in the world in some small way. And, most importantly, my mom feels like a superstar." For air dates, hit

FLAVA KING...In the Jan. 25th issue, Entertainment Weekly stated something we've known since Flavor Flav hit reality TV--that rap's most famous hype man was "the savor of VH1." First, his two-season show, "Flavor of Love," was a ratings hit. Then, its offspring, "I Love New York" had a stint as the #1 cable program among black households and had the honor of being the onlly show (among the all households) to hit the one million viewing home mark. Apparently all this success lead to the network announcing another Flav spawn entitled "Charm School," whose debut airdate is fast approaching We're thinking the show, in which Mo'Nique will take "ill behaved" "Flavor of Love" rejects and teach them the finer things in life, hit the airwaves as soon as "New York" ends. Apparently VH-1 sees it as a smart move to continue the back-to-back Flav inspired shows. Let's see how this all continues. Some may see it as the mainstream exploiting tried and true entertainment, particularly when it comes to the urban segment, but others may say its a ratings coup.



An Israeli-based start up has introduced the video ringtone for the mass market. Vringo Inc. launched its service Thursday. With the service, which is free for now, when one Vringo user calls another, the recipient not only hears the phone ring, sees a short video clip chosen by the caller. There are licensed film clips available, though users can also upload their own video. While the people behind Vringos say that currently videos can only be sent only to people on a customer's buddy list, they are considering using their platform to sell commercials.


According to an investigation by Twentieth Century Fox, as much as 50 percent of the world's pirated movies come from Canada. The investigation found that most of the illegal recording, or "camcording," is taking place in Montreal movie houses. As a result, the film industry has threatened to delay the release of new titles in the country. The movie industry has complained that the Canadian Copyright Act and the internal policies of police forces, make it difficult to crack down on movie piracy. Under the act, anyone caught copying a movie without the studio's consent can face criminal charges and jailed or fined up to $25,000. Copyright holders can also take civil action against someone who has infringed on their property.


How Omar Tyree Advanced in the Game With Only 25k

Author Omar Tyree ( got tired of Hollywood meetings that went no where. The New York Times-bestselling author and NAACP Image Award winner had heard it all. “Your books would make a great film.” “There’s a market for material like yours.” But the praises and promises never lead to a workable deal Tyree, who has penned such popular fiction as What They Want, A Do Right Man and Boss Lady. With no other opportunities theatrically, Tyree decided to bank on a digital method: DVD. And perhaps quite a shrewd move indeed particularly given the fact that urban DVD sales is the fastest growing segment of the DVD market.

“On my last trip to Hollywood in October 2006, it became very clear to me that no one is willing to finance feature films or television projects overnight. And us Black authors have been here for years and we still can't get any deals done,” says Tyree. “So it became now or never on the DVD tip to force my way in by any means necessary. I'm simply tired of waiting for scared money people to react to us.”

His first feature, now in the editing stages, is The Lure of Young Women. In the spirit of exposes such as This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Tyree has created a much-needed look at the film industry and all its trappings from an urban perspective. But it's one thing to make a movie, another is to make it a success. To that end, Tryee will be hands-on in all aspects of the film, including controlling the marketing and therefore ensuring greater success. He'll start a national screening tour in March, with expected DVD sales to kick off by May/June. To get the project off the ground, Tyree hit the guerrilla film making road. “Since I used all of my own facilities along with those of some hungry independent filmmakers, we were able to complete this first project for less than $25,000. And it looks, sounds, and feels great,” he explains.

And his plan has paid off. Tyree has finally attracted the studios. It seems the buzz about the direct-to-DVD projects has reached Hollywood. “Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and Universal are all in line to talk to me now about my film brand,” says Tyree.

While he sees then DVD route as a great alternative to getting his first feature out, his goal is to land a theatrical deal for his other books—such as his dramas Flyy Girl and Cold Blooded. “These are definitely $30-70 million big feature projects,” says Tyree. “I have huge film ideas that $25,000 can not shoot. So you have to understand the business of creativity here. Do what you can do with the budget that you have available. That's how I plan to make Hollywood take notice. I will build an empire off of well-executed ideas that do not cost a lot of money.”

Proving that there is more than one way to make it in Hollywood, Tyree is an inspiration. As he works to make his mark in DVD sales, he simply declares, "The feature film franchise begins!”

Comments, Kudos, Questions? Email:

Thank you for including our info on your site. I was so happy when I saw it there. I even got a request from a person to volunteer who read it on your blog.
Kerri Birch

Coordinator for the Film Group
Bridgetown Film Festival

I look forward to reading your weekly blog.
Julie Dash, filmmaker