As Hollywood diversity issues heat up, the voice of new Black Hollywood is giving it to you straight with no chaser. But before you take a taste of The A-List, click here to make your voice heard: www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/463150484. Now to...Issue # 60
HIS PROVOCATIVE?...Despite countless news stories about Bobby Brown and his new reality show, "Dating Bobby Brown," it seems the former R&B singer might still be going stag. Though the rumor mill has him getting cozy with Bravo--former home to "Being Bobby Brown"--the network says there's no such deal in the works. Others report the deal is being inked with the CW. But they too say, no way. Now it seems the soon-to-be-bachelor is still shopping the project, which we're sure he hopes will bring him the same renewed fame Flavor Flav enjoyed with VH-1's successful "Flavor of Love." If Brown does find a network for a new show, it could spell a career revival for the crooner. After all, reality shows--love 'em or hate 'em--are proven to be good comeback moves.
UP, UP & AWAY...Remember we told you about a new A-List discovery called "The Black Superheroes"? Well, the cartoon is now one of the top rated on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB7DlcDto4Y), creator Jerry Craft tells us. Seems like this falls into the category of another "we told you so" for The A-List. Now if Craft lands a deal via his YouTube success, once again the power of the Internet will be proven. Say, wonder if we get a commission?
RETURN OF DOLEMITE...You can't keep a man like Rudy Ray Moore down for long. Although his illness was widely covered not long ago, the comedian is back with his famous "blaxploitation" character Dolemite. Director Bill Fishman recently bought the remake rights and will direct the film. Moore will exec direct. In the new flick, Dolemite "joins forces with a squad of kung-fu fighting females to regain control of his nightclub." Fishman's Fallout Entertainment is currently casting the film, and we hear he is in talks with Snoop Dogg to appear. Shooting is slated for fall, and may head to New Orleans. Could this usher in another wave of '70s remakes? If the box office booms, it will.
SCHOOL'S IN SESSION...Fresh from his Wild Hogs run, word is Martin Lawrence will play Raven-Symone's father in College Road Trip, a comedy for Walt Disney Pictures. College will begin filming June or July with Roger Kumble directing. It seems inevitable that once funny folk like Eddie Murphy, Martin, Chris Rock reach a certain age and Hollywood level they turn to the family friendly daddy role. What's next, Dave Chappelle in a remake of "Father Knows Best"?
OUT OF SERVICE...Everyone is getting into the act of calling out media exclusionary tactics--even the gospel crowd. Neo Gospel man Kirk Franklin has just sent out an open letter concerning DirecTV's removal of the Gospel Music Channel from its lineup. Considering Gospel is big business--with both Black and White audiences--we wondered why the network was aiming to do so. But DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer had not seen the letter--so The A-List sent it to him. But he says, " The channel was taken down for a variety of business reasons. We're not at liberty to disclose what those reasons are given that all internal business discussions are private." We will keep you abreast as to if Franklin's call to fellow artists, industry folk and DirecTV subscribers causes them to rethink the move.
SHOW ME THE MONEY...BET just got a budget boost from its parent company, Viacom Inc. The cash injection will help BET increase original programming by 30 percent to 50 percent this year. You already know of one of the new additions--Queen Latifah's "Wifey" (whose pilot also included Terrence Howard)--but there will be nine more original offerings to be developed. But that ain't all, BET has also unveiled a home-entertainment division and new digital strategy. At presstime, BET's President of Entertainment Reginald Hudlin had not responded to our email request for comment.
CLOSING RANKS...Here's our take on all the hoo-ha over the news that NBC Universal and News Corp. have joined forces with several major Internet companies to distribute TV shows, video clips and movies online as a way to compete with YouTube. OK. We get that they want to protect their copyright material, but can old dogs learn new tech tricks? Wouldn't partnerships with new media players--who do what they do the best--be more in order? No matter what the Zuckers and Chernins of the world do, what they don't seem to understand is that they will always be one-step behind because the new offerings that draw 18-34-year olds are hardly ever created by the older, white male gatekeepers of media--and that is always cause for celebration! By the way, the new network will launch this summer.
HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD
PASSPORT TO HIP HOP...An award-winning documentary about Hip Hop in Kenya is hitting the DVD market. Hip-hop Colony, distributed by U.S.-based Image Entertainment, was produced/directed by Michael Wanguhu and written by Russell Kenya. The DVD includes footage of the film's Kenya premiere as well as interviews and performances by top Kenyan rappers. With an array of hip-hop film fest awards and being screen at such institutions for higher learning as Harvard University, we'll see if rap outside of the birthplace of hip hop really translates into sales.
BK IN THE HOUSE...Be on the look out for a new hip-hop drama called "Da Stuy," set in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Ghetto Eyez Filmworks and Quiet Elegance have been screening parts of the six-parter around NYC (through the Sundance Institute at Brooklyn Academy of Music) in hopes of landing a deal. Written, directed and executive produced by Joseph C. Grant, Jr. Jones tells The A-List he's now on the hunt for a TV deal.
SMOKE AND MIRRORS IN TV'S NEW DIVERSITY INITIATIVES
You don't have to be a TV junkie to realize that there seems to be a diminishing presence of African Americans on TV, particularly African-American woman. Just a couple of years ago, ABC was positioning itself as the leader for a more "diverse" network. It had shows like "Lost," which started out with an array of folks of color. But that's changed. L. Scott Caldwell who played the cancer-surviving character Rose has all but vanished this season as well as killing off another supporting black actress--April Grace who played Bea Klugh--by shooting her in the heart in the show's episode "Enter 77." Not to mention Latina actress Michelle Rodriguez, who played Ana-Lucia Cortez, being killed off as well in episode "Two For The Road."
But not to be outdone, NBC's "Heroes" also shot its lone black female character, played by Tawny Cypress (pictured, left) by a "unintended" gun wound to the heart.
Maybe "24" started off this killing field, when they did away with not one but two Black actresses in one scene. During season three, Julia Milliken (portrayed by Gina Torres) shot and killed the president's wife Sherry Palmer (Penny Johnson) then turned the gun on herself, committing suicide.
Is this a trend? Window dressing and then spring cleaning? While it does seem the sisters are starting to get more non-stereotypical roles, now they're lacking the prime-time minutes.
We'll see what happens over the course of the summer months and next season. --Anthony Davis
The A List caught up with SIFF Managing Director Christine Fawcett-Shapiro to learn more about SIFF. (Pictured: SIFF Artistic Director Owen Shapiro, Fawcett-Shapiro, and James Earl Jones at last year's festival.)
SHOUT OUT TO THE A-LIST POSSE: GIL ROBERTSON, ANTHONY DAVIS, LE ANNE LINDSAY, BRITTANY HUTSON, JOSHUA THOMAS.