Friday, August 10, 2007

79: Verizon

There may be a heatwave striking across the country, but things are about to get even hotter--Check out Issue. #79!


MAKING FUNNY...According to ABC, the network has just ordered a pilot for a sitcom starring Cedric the Entertainer. In the still-untitled project, Cedric plays a man who had always been his family's breadwinner--until his wife's hobby turns into a multimillion-dollar business. ABC hasn't had a Black family sitcom since "My Wife and Kids." Let's see if it actually gets picked up and if the network will pull out its promo power to duplicate its predecessor's success.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD...Sometimes good things come to those who wait. "The Boondocks" fans have been waiting since June for the second season of the animated series on The Cartoon Network. Well, it's just been announced the season premiere will now happen in Oct., nearly five months later than initially hoped. Look for some surprising twists this time around; word is a few favorite characters will make unexpected returns.

CALL FOR ENTRIES...Bill & Camille Cosby want your films. Well, actually it's for a program they sponsor--The Guy Hanks & Marvin Miller Screenwriting Program. Now in its 14th year, the program was established by Drs. Bill and Camille Cosby at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television. It will be accepting entries through Sept. 15. The 15-week Hanks-Miller Program, free for those selected, is geared toward increasing the pool of qualified African-American writers in the entertainment industry. According to their own PR, the Program has single handedly brought more successful African-American Writers into the entertainment industry than any other program of its type. Sounds impressive, no? So, get more info at

THE BODYGUARD...Talk about a remaining friends after a divorce. According to ABC, Vanessa Williams' ex-hubby, retired baller Rick Fox, will join her on "Ugly Betty" in a guest-starring role. Fox will play a bodyguard for at least two episodes--though it may be more--to Williams' character, Wilhelmina Slater. Look for the Fox episodes this fall. Should be interesting!

CW'S BFF...Having a few girlfriends can come in handy. At least for The CW, who, according to the Nielsen Ratings, was the top network in Black households last week (July 30-Aug. 5) due to the series “Girlfriends.” In fact, the network took the top three spots in African-American viewership for the period. "Girlfriends" was followed by "All of Us" and "The Game."

DANCE MACHINE...Don't ya just love it when your instincts are right? Well, The A-List told you about a film called The Rise and Fall of Miss Thang in issue #72 ( Well, not only is the tap dance movie making its Chicago premiere on Aug. 19 at the Black Harvest International Festival of Film, Video, & TV, but it is one of a growing number of Black films using the HD format.

"There are few other independent Black films on the festival circuit
right now that are HD," writer/director Stacie E. Hawkins tells us. "I chose to shoot on HD because we could not afford to shoot on film and another filmmaker told me that distributors didn't want to see films on mini-dv because the market was being flooded with them. Working with [our camera] was exciting...With HD you can look at what you just shot right away on the camera LCD screen, making things easier. And, I really like the way HD looks." With film budgets often prohibitive, HD may actually allow more filmmakers of color to get into the game.

HAVE CAMERA, WILL SHOOT...Pull out those camcorders, DXG USA, a digital camera company, has announced a "Short Shorts" contest on YouTube. Win “Funniest Video” or “Best Music Video” using a DXG camcorder or camera and you can be eligible to win various prizes, plus maximum online exposure. Entries can't be loner than one minute though. For more info about the DXG “Short Shorts” YouTube Online Video Contest, see

SPIN MASTERS...Behind every popular actor or film, there's a great publicist. And the latest issue of The Global Communicator, published by Gwendolyn Quinn and her African-American Public Relations Collective, profiles some of the best Hollywood publicists in the business. Check it out at to find out who's really pulling some of the stings behind the scenes.

JOURNALISTS IN THE JUDGMENT SEAT...The votes are in. The National Association of Black Journalists finally decided who will be given honors and who will receive "Thumbs Down" award at its 2007 conference, Aug. 8-12 in Las Vegas. NABJ's Media Monitoring Committee, which surveys news events throughout the year, selected the now-canceled "Paula Zahn Now" on CNN as one of the best news shows on the air. BET, however, is getting the Thumbs Down Award from the organization. No shockers here. But we wonder if this will have any impact on how Black journalists cover these networks.

STREAMING FOR DOLLARS....Folks tired of the current violent and reality television programming are reportedly turning to the new crop of streaming video services, according to a recent New York Times article. One fav is the Independent Film Channel, which is now streaming 22 short films called "Trapped in the Closet" by the R&B singer R. Kelly. The increase in streaming has been linked to the growing popularity of broadband Internet connections in homes. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 47% of American households have broadband connections. This naturally makes streaming possible. Plus, content makers love streaming as the content cannot be downloaded, which means greater protection of intellectual property. But the jury is still out on whether thiswill make a difference in increased Urban content.


CHANNELING BIG POPPA...The Hip-Hop community has been waiting for more news about the upcoming bio pic about the slain Notorious B.I.G. Well, his mother Volette Wallace, and two former managers, Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts, who are all producing the movie, just announced they are on the hunt to cast in unknown in the lead role. And, they are actually reaching out to the public to send in audition videos, according to The Associated Press. Getting just the right person could make or break the ambitious film. We'll keep you updated.


DreamWorks is just weeks away from passing the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office for a single year, a first for any U.S. studio. So far this year, their films have grossed roughly $980 million at the domestic box office. Most analysts expect DreamWorks will cross the $1 billion mark with the Oct. 4 release of Ben Stiller's The Heartbreak Kid. Behind DreamWorks is Warner Bros., whose tally as of this week at $929.4 million.


Back for installment two on our mobile content expose. We knew you couldn't stay away. So sit back, relax and get ready for the spotlight on...


Your mobile company for life? Well, that's what the folks at Verizon Wireless are aiming for. "We want to be there when life changes," says Ken Muche (pictured), Verizon Wireless spokesperson. "We want to be there when the industry changes."

But while other mobile companies are looking at the broad spectrum--trying to make your phone do everything under the sun, from create films to answer calls--Verizon Wireless has narrowed in on music content. "[For us] it's music," says Muche. "Although videos are popular, I think the pricing for music is something people are more accustomed to. A video is priced from $2.99 to $4.99. A song from our website is .99 cents."

But what about content specifically for the Urban market? Though Muche says Verizon Wireless does outreach to multi-cultural partners, the company depends on an in-house team to steer them in the right direction. "We have a marketing department and in that marketing department you have a multicultural marketing team," he explains. "Jill Rueckert-Lopez leads our Multicultural Marketing team at corporate. There are different leaves of the company, so for example in Corporate Headquarters you have the Multicultural Marketing team responsible for an entire Ariel/geography like the western states. Then, you have 'regions,' for example southern California. Each region has a marketing/sales operations team as well. We do have a multicultural marketing team at each real level of the company to address our consumers on that issue."

Still, we wondered just how large the multicultural division is. Verizon plays it close to the vest with that answer. "Although that's proprietary information, I can say that we have several employees at our headquarters, area and regional levels of our company that work to addresses the wireless needs of our diverse customers," says Muche. So far, that division has only inked a deals it seems with a limited number of Urban partners, mainly on the music front. "We have full music/song downloads, music videos, ringtones, ring back tones and video clips from BET Networks," explains Muche.

So what is Verizon Wireless looking for as far as multicultural content? "What we've found with our multimedia V CAST content is that there is a great demand for a variety," notes Muche. "Delivering content that appeals to a wide range of ages and demographics within the multicultural market is very important--whether it’s a variety of sports content, a multitude of music genres or bilingual cartoons and videos, consumers want content that fits their lifestyle and their life at the moment they turn on their cell phone. So, although music content, for example, skews younger, there are plenty of adults and older consumers in the multicultural market that are interested in music, as well, so our library of more than two million songs includes music that appeals to them also." But it still begs the question of exactly when and how large deals such as those for Christian content and Latin content will actually take place for the Urban market--and that is what The A-List has been saying for quite a while now.

Determining the content for what Verizon Wireless will offer its customers is a lengthy one. "We take a look at a lot of different factors," offers Muche. "A lot of the content you see on your phone, those contracts are negotiated at the national levels. So the multicultural team at corporate is involved in that decision making...We want to be the leaders in this business and that means not just having the big stars but the up-and-coming people too." But just who that is, from some of our own adventures, is anyone's guess.

For those interested in venturing into the Verizon Wireless arena, Muche suggests a few steps. "One of the first steps for individuals to take would be to become familiar with our Supplier Diversity Program through our consumer website:"

Within that, you'll find a link to their Supplier Diversity Resource Referral Guide: "The next step is to register their firm with us as a minority owned business at:

diversity_supplier_registration_login," adds Muche. "Our Supplier Diversity Program leaders and our Multicultural Marketing team (both at corporate) proactively reach out to minority owned businesses. The Supplier Diversity Program, in particular, also actively participates in national conferences organized by and for minority owned businesses." Obviously, Verizon Wireless is making an effort to be inclusive, but let's see how it actually manifests in increased Urban content. --Anthony Davis


Verizon has a good number of phones offering a variety of multimedia applications and functions, from their chocolate phones to their LG V-Cast music phone VX8700.

The LG V-Cast is a razor phone that usually is the most popular among consumers, but it also is the most valuable for damages. So that's a major downer with the phone. Also, the battery life on the phone is not the best. It tends to last a fair amount of time when you only use it for the phone, but as soon as you use it to view and download video or music, the battery life fades away like sand. Accessing the web is as easy as 1-2-3. However, finding some of the navigation to get to certain areas of the web can be a little challenging. Not to mention you have to take into consideration the size of the screen, which is moderately decent--but everyone wants a screen as big as the i-Phone right now.

The phone is Bluetooth capable, which adds great flexibility while multitasking, and the phone's sound quality is pretty impressive. Usually, the louder you set the volume, the more distorted the sound becomes. Not so with the LG V-Cast phone. The sound is just as clear and crisp as it would be in a pair of stereo speakers.
The video quality on the phone is also pretty good, as well as the general two megapixals for regular still photos. It's easy to send these pictures and videos without getting confused or lost. The movie/TV content to download and view are decent, as you have a variety of programs to choose from--YouTube videos, programing from ABC, etc.

Overall, the LG V-Cast phone is a handy multimedia device for the entertainment professional. --A.D.


Dante Basco ("Entourage"), Bubba Smith, Leonard Earl Howze (Barbershop), Caryn Ward, and Kavan Reece makin' the scene at the wrap party for Shedrack Anderson's new thriller Blood River held at a private bar in Hollywood and presented by Casalnova Prosecco.

Left: Shedrack posin' with Thela Brown ("Flavor of Love," "Charm School").