Friday, July 27, 2007

77: On Your Mind

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As compelling as rehab is to Lindsay Lohan. Ladies and Gents...The A-List. Issue #77


MAKING WHOOPI...Well, it's finally over. ABC has at last found replace Rosie O'Donnell and Star Jones on "The View." And it's not one but two Black women coming on board. Actress/comedian Sherri Shepherd (left) has been on regularly and is in final talks. Now word is, as you might just have heard, Whoopi Goldberg--if she and ABC agree on money and terms--will also sit at the table. This should be interesting!

FACE TO FACE...Although the presence of African Americans in broadcasting ownership positions seems to be like Bush's search for Bin Laden, the number Black faces in front of the camera is growing, at least according to a new survey by the Radio-Television News Directors Association ( The study found that minorities comprised 21.5% of total local television news staffs in 2006, compared to 22.2% in 2005. And get this: Asian Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic journalists decreased slightly, while African Americans increased from 9.5% to 10.1% of the workforce. Now, if we can get those numbers in the boardrooms and corner offices to change, we'll be in business.

THE NEW IT GIRL...If we said it once, we've...The A-List can sure spot talent. Young filmmaker Kiri Davis (, whom we profiled way back in Issue #51 (, was selected as the winner of the Cosmo Girl Take Action Hollywood Contest for her eyeopening film about Black girls and self image, A Girl Like Me. Apparently, the judges agreed with our early assessment--choosing Davis, who starts Howard University this fall, unanimously. Don't be surprised if one day down the line, Davis picks up a best directors award from Oscar.

SHAPING UP...We're used to seeing her on TV or in films like Baby Boy, but did you know A.J. Johnson ( has a thriving side business as well. She's been a fitness trainer for several years with her own fitness/wellness programs (The AJ Way...No Excuses, Work It With AJ). Now she's jumped into the weight lose products biz with ALLI weight controlled products. While some of Hollywood may be on the destruction path, this insider is making sure healthy living comes first.

FILMMAKING BY MOONLIGHT...Sometimes societal issues hit so close to home, you just have to stop and comment. We hear award-winning indie CNN producer Tonia Grady ( is producing a documentary called MAN-UP: The Exploration of a Fatherless Nation, which will explores children growing up without fathers. Steve Harvey has already signed on to be a part of the ground-breaking project. According to Grady, a single mom, the film grew out of her own personal triumphs and struggles heading up a household. In fact, far too many children are in the same situation as Grady's offspring. An estimated 24.7 million children (36.3%) live absent of their biological father.

STARS IN YOUR EYES...Like watching a good movie under the stars? Well, if you happen to be in Harlem this summer you can do just that--for free! And the organizers have decided to add education to entertainment for each event for the 2007 Imagenation Outdoor Film & Music Festival. The next screening (Aug. 3), of Every Mother's Child, will also include a townhall meeting against police brutality and dedication to NYC police shooting victim Sean Bell. Location: The Great Lawn in St Nicholas Park. For movies, dates and times, visit

THE DRESSER...A-List contributor Dana Rebecca Woods just tipped us about a new musical called Blues In The Night ( starring Freda Payne, Carol Woods, Maurice Hines and Paulette Ivory opening Aug. 15 at San Francisco's Post Theater. The play, which was conceived and directed by TV director, film producer and artistic director of the renowned Pasadena Playhouse Sheldon Epps, has already had a successful London and Broadway run over the years. This West Coast stop will be an eight-week run. And just how did we get all this insider info? Woods just happens to be the costume designer. Can we pick 'em or what.

GLOBAL VIEW...We have often wondered why more African films haven't gotten global distribution. Well, we're wondering no more--at least about a new Kenyan flick called Malooned. The film, which strangely is about two people people stuck in a bathroom, has secured a deal for international release. But don't expect potty humor from Malooned. The film is actually a romantic drama about two people from different tribes who have to resolve their prejudices when they become locked in a washroom. The film, which has won two awards at the Zanzibar film festival, was inspired by a true story. Bob Nyanja produced Malooned for less than a third of the $2.5M deal inked with Pretty Pictures International. Obviously, if new diverse stories are brought to light, moviegoers will constantly fascinated by human imagination.

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT...Come rain or shine. That's what the folks at the African Film Festival's ( free Summer Outdoor Screening Series are saying. Every Wed. and Thurs. you can catch a free flick at Harlem Meer in Central Park--sometimes with a live performance (African dancers, singers, DJs) thrown in. Sounds like a cool way to pass a hot summer night in New York. Among the film goodies: Marco Williams' Banished, the South African film Forgiveness, and Mama Put, a Nigerian gem.

MASS MEDIA...Contrary to popular belief, African Americans not only like to be informed, but are the largest users of media, according to a new study. According to, a Media Day Analysis conducted The Media Audit and found that African Americans spend more time than the general population in overall media usage. The study, which looked at time spent with radio, television, newspaper, billboards, and the Internet on an average day, indicated that African Americans spend 692 minutes per day, compared to 608 minutes for the general population. And, we use radio and television the most. Internet usages comes in third for Blacks, with African Americans typically spending 117 minutes daily online. So why are we getting the crappy end of the advertising dollars stick!


WU TIME...It's amazing this took so long. The DVD documentary about groundbreaking hip hop crew The Wu Tang Clan is finally completed. The Wu: The Story Of The Wu-Tang Clan, directed and narrated by Gerald "Gee Bee" Barclay, includes video, interviews and never-before seen footage. But we still have to wait a bit longer--no details have been released on when the DVD will hit shelves.


Sony Pictures has just announced it has returned to profit in Sony Corp.'s fiscal first quarter. The conglom's net profits increased 105% to $540 million between in the quarter ended June 30 on sales up 13% at $16 billion. Sony Pictures counts the success of Spider-Man 3 as well as growing ad sales at international TV channels for its 13% ($1.93 billion) revenue boost.


Got something you want to get off your chest? Well, send it on over for our new section "On Your Mind." This will let A-List readers say what's on their minds. Email us at (We reserve the right to edit.)

Here's what Jasmyne A. Cannick had to say about BET's new show "We Can Do Better" (aka "Hot Ghetto Mess")

I have been unable to wrap my head around the notion that putting our ignorance on blast for the world to see is somehow a good thing.

It may be good for a struggling network trying to stay "in touch" and "relevant" to its community, it may be good for the network executives at Viacom who are looking at their bottom line, and it's probably great for the advertisers who are looking to market to the folks who would tune into a show like this, but that's about it.

A blog is one thing, but to turn it into a show is a completely different situation and by it being on one of the "Black" stations, it's almost as if we are cosigning the show ourselves, saying, "Yeah, that's us." Name change or not, "A Hot Ghetto Mess" aka "We Got To Do Better" is going to take us back several decades of hard-fought battles for respect. Once these images are broadcast on national television, that's the image of Black people for everyone everywhere.

Are you ready? When a white gay man dressed up in drag and blackface and began impersonating Southern Black women, we immediately went on the defensive, including myself. How dare he? Who does he think he is? However, should we rethink our position on Charles Knipps aka Shirley Q. Liquor?

Here's a dose of reality for you: BET can and will do more damage to Blacks in 30 minutes than Knipps could ever do in any of his shows...Blacks are being used to boost the ratings of a network and create financial wealth for its advertisers. Us on the receiving, we gets nothing but the embarrassment of being Black.

After we finish laughing at each other so hard that it hurts, are we then supposed to be inspired to do better for ourselves? All this show is going to do is further put out there that Blacks are ignorant because when it's all said and done, we'll all be lumped into one dumb ass category. Don't think other races aren't going to tune in just to get a good laugh at us. I wonder who will be laughing harder, them or us...Yeah, it may be funny, but in reality, this is the effect years of slavery, coupled with Jim Crow, backward thinking and teaching, and self-hatred has after manifesting itself in poor communities with people who just don't know any better.

Now ask yourself, is that really funny? If you want to really know what A Hot Ghetto Mess is, I'll tell you. "A Hot Ghetto Mess" is when you have communities of poor people of any color that can't find employment at a living wage, or affordable housing, they have relatively no access to decent health care, and a school system that is not educating their children and preparing them for the future. "A Hot Ghetto Mess" is when you have people killing each other over a color, calling each other niggas and bitches, and then try to justify it to you. Now that's what you call "A Hot Ghetto Mess."

But this isn't bash BET hour, after all BET is only trying to reach its targeted audience with the shows that it thinks will connect to them and raise their ratings. If more than just a couple of us had watched the BET Nightly News, it might still be on the air...Unfortunately, whether you believe it or not, it starts and ends with us and the reality is, this show will probably be the networks saving grace and that in and of itself is enough to make you depressed and throws you into the awful reality that we could do better, but we won't. --Jasmyne A. Cannick, L.A., is a nationally syndicated race, culture, and social issues journalist and critic. Courtesy of The Robertson Treatment.

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Great site and I can't believe I hadn't seen it before. I just graduated from the MFA screenwriting program at the UCLA Film School, so reading your blog is wonderful. Keep up the great work!!
Lawrence C. Ross, Jr.