As we kick off October, The A-List misses not one beat. Welcome back. Here's Issue #87
OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
IN THE MIX...The great thing about Hollywood is that there is always something or someone new on the scene. We just recently dubbed "one to watch" in exec Dedra Tate. Many know her from running things over at Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit Entertainment, but what you may not know is that she has been quietly working behind the scenes in Hollywood to build a burgeoning empire. Having launched her own entertainment firm, Unlimited Contacts, Inc, as well as continuing to partner with Latifah and Flavor Unit co-owner Shakim on special projects; she is off to a running start. Tate is currently in the throws of producing BET's upcoming Hip-Hop drama "Wifey" (under Flavor Unit Television), and just executive produced a new film critics are buzzing about--Blackout. The Jerry LaMothe-directed film unfolds a chain of events in a forgotten Brooklyn neighborhood during the blackout of 2003. The tense drama stars Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale, Ali) and Zoe Saldana (Guess Who, Temptation), among others. Blackout, which has been making the festival rounds, has sparked interest at a number of studios. Keep it here for additional deal info.
DECLARING OURSELVES...Hurray for television writing legend Norman Lear for his recent event bringing awareness to his "Declare Yourself" campaign, which encourages young people to vote. We are happy to note that Mr. Lear is a reader of The A-List; but given that, we are disappointed that we received no press release about any of the impending fabulousness last week and its plans for diverse outreach beyond the ubiquitous Nick Cannon. Holla if you hear us Mr. Lear. We'd love to support.
GLOBAL VIEW...The world, as they say, is getting smaller. But why is it that the U.S. mainstream still seems to control the lion's share of global entertainment? Well, a just-announced $19-million initiative may help level the playing field a bit. The fund aims to promote documentaries by independent filmmakers from all over the world, according to the ITVS International, a unit of the U.S. federally mandated Independent Television Service. The initiate, the Global Perspectives Project (GPP), will finance work by foreign filmmakers to be shown on American television and arrange distribution of American-made independent movies abroad. So far, GPP has already commissioned 54 programs from international producers representing 41 countries, with a goal to double that by 2010. The Independent Television Service, which was was formed by Congress in 1991 to highlight independent voices.
LATINA POWER...Just as the country celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month America Ferrera has been dubbed the "Hispanic Woman of the Year" by the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard magazines. The Emmy-winning star of "Ugly Betty" tops the publications' list of the 25 most powerful Hispanic women in film, television and music. But might mogul-in-the-making Selma Hayek and maybe even J.Lo have a bone to pick with that? And who are HR and Billboard to position themselves as sole authorities on this matter anyway?
HOME ALONE?...Here's yet more indication that HBO is just not the power programmer it used to be. Hint to channel for improvement: possibly adding a little flavor to what seems to be a suffocatingly mainstream slant. Having recently received the network's line up, we are hard pressed to find anything hot and multicultural. Save maybe for "The Wire," which will return in Jan. '08 and special documentary on Africa manned by George Clooney called "Sand and Sorrow" airing Dec. 5th. But while we're at it, not sure if everyone here is aware or not that there is still a wee bit of work to be done here on the domestic front in terms of equality before Hollywood adds yet one more Africa project to its list. But hey, there's room for all, it would just be a breath of fresh air to see more Don Cheadle types narrating and helping to spread the message for a change.
HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD
WHERE MY LADIES AT?...BET may be ramping up for its annual Hip Hop Awards but we are shocked to see that there is not one female artist, video director, "hustler," or any other category holder anywhere at all on the final nominees ballot we recently received. With all the hub-bub about women and Hip Hop lately, we find this really hard to believe--especially after the network's recent townhall "Hip Hop Vs. America" coupled with the recent Congressional Hearing. Further, with all the female hip hop consumers and execs holding it down behind the scenes, it just makes the whole thing all that more unbelieveable. Or is this all just par for the course now? Ah, just another indicator of how conscious effort on outreach and acknowledgment could help expand the hip hop entertainment reserve by leaps and bounds.
TAKING A SPIN...Speaking of Hip Hop awards show though, VH1 has just added veteran female DJ Spinderella as host of the "VH1 HIPHOP HONORS" red carpet arrivals and backstage exclusives. The show airs Oct. 8, and we can't wait to hear just what Spin will ask the likes of Anopp Dogg, Missy Elliot, Ice T, and Whodini.
BIG LIFE...Could it be that the producers of the upcoming bio pic on the life and murder of the Notorious B.I.G. have changed their minds about rolling with an unknown from outside the acting ranks for the lead role? Maybe. Rapper Beanie Sigel has just confirmed that to MTV that he just recently auditioned for the part in the highly anticipated untitled Fox Searchlight flick. No word on if he's still in the running, or if the studio and producers want to stick to their original plan. Of course, we'll let you know.
GAIL HUGGINS PORTER MOVES TO EBONY/JET ENTERTAINMENT
Gail Huggins Porter has been appointed director of the EBONY/JET Entertainment Group. Porter is an attorney with more than 15 years in the music and broadcast fields in positions such as motion picture literary agent for International Creative Management, vice president of video production for Def Jam and LaFace Records and senior vice president for Cathage Motion Pictures Inc./Baby Blue Productions. Most recently, she served as producer of the film adaptation of the stage play For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf, slated to be directed by Nzingha Stewart.
The Ebony/Jet Entertainment Group will oversee branded entertainment content through developing original and/or acquiring content to be distributed through theatrical, broadcast, cable and digital platforms including Video On Demand (VOD) and mobile.
SUNDANCE TIME WARNER PARTNER ON PROJECT
The Sundance Institute has just announced it will partner with Time Warner to create the Time Warner Storytelling Advancement Fund. The four-year program will develop independent film and theater artists who participate in the Institute's core programs, and provide $5,000 grants to filmmakers. The fund will also provide professional development and residency support for its fellows. Director Patricia Benoit (the immigrant family story Haiti Cherie) and playwright Tracey Scott Wilson (The Good Negro, a civil rights drama) are the inaugural fellows.
Paula Abdul (right) checkin' out some goodies from GRAFFITTI.COM, which offers intimate apparel, bath and beauty products, loungewear, swimwear and the trendiest hard-to-find under things that celebs like Abdul and Tyra Banks are snappin' up.
Fashionistas were stylin' and profilin' at the SoHo show boutique Te Casan where Bre Scullarck from "America's Next Top Model" and the Victoria Agency celebrated its newly signed Hollywood fashion stylist, Mary Lafayette with a private shopping event. And added perk: Twenty percent of the total sales were donated to the American Cancer Society. Celebs like R&B princess Ashanti (pictured far left) showed support, for the event, which was sponsored by Giant Magazine, Kyotofu, Cibu, White Diamond Vodka, Smooth Movements' Luxury Car Service and Red Bull.