Saturday, July 21, 2007

76: Hot Ghetto Mess

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With the summer heat rising, things are about to get even hotter--Issue #76 is scorching!


MONEY TALKS...No wonder Home Depot and other major advertisers were quick to act when they thought some of the new BET lineup would be offensive--even before they saw an episode. It seems that if African Americans are offended by programming, they will not buy products made by the show's sponsors, or so found a new study by NiaPulse, an online publishing, research and marketing services company. According to the study, many Blacks boycott sponsors when offended by programming. Racial stereotypes and language in media programming or content have had a direct negative impact on the buying habits of most Black consumers-- especially those consumers who are middle class or affluent, the study reports. The higher the income, the more likely they are to view racially offensive images or words in the media, according to the "Controversial Talk and the Black Consumer" study. Obviously, Black viewers are letting their money do the talking.

...Being fired might have turned out to be a good thing for Isaiah Washington. As you may have read already the former "Gray's Anatomy" actor has landed a guest role for the remake of "The Bionic Woman" on NBC. But what intrigued us most was the development deal Washington has inked. He will star in a potential action drama he pitched to the network for the 2008-09 TV season. As we get more details, we will pass them on. Talk about turning lemon into lemonade.

GROWTH SPURT...Can you handle it? There maybe more BET programming on the way. In an interview with Multichannel News, BET president Debra Lee said the network may create new channels over the next year. This, of course, will employ more African Americans in the industry--which is a good thing--so let's wait and see what original programming will be in the offering.

DIVERSIFYING BRAND...Los Angeles Clippers star Elton Brand recently revealed to AP that he is branching out into film. He just co-produced Rescue Dawn, starring Christian Bale. Inspired by a true story, it is about a Navy pilot who was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War and escaped a POW camp. The $10-million Gibraltar Films movie was directed by Werner Herzog and was based on his own documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly. Brand co-founded Gibraltar with Steve Marlton, and Rescue Dawn isn't the only film in the new company's lineup. Also on the slate is Bottom's Up featuring Jason Mewes and Paris Hilton (yes, Paris). Glad to see Brand taking a different route with his film entry, instead of the all-too-typical Urban comedy. Let's see if the flicks prove to be box office hits.

POWER PLAY...If you don't think you'll ever make it to Oakland to take the "Black Panther Tour" with Black Panther Party (BPP) original member David Hilliard, there still may be a way you can get a dose of the slickest dressed political activists ever. Veteran documentary filmmaker St. Clair Bourne is working on a two-part, four-hour doc about the revolutionary organization. Bourne has been working on the project for more than three years and received initial funding for research and script development from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Independent Television Service. He's traveled from the Bay Area to Paris to interview Panther members and experts. Then with two crews, he filmed the 40th anniversary BPP Reunion, resulting in 16 hours of film. Bourne is now looking for money for additional script development and to edit a “sample reel," in order to raise funds to complete shooting and begin post-production editing.

HEADSTART...This was just too cute to ignore. Eleven-year-old Jordan Coleman has been reaching out to industry folk and celebrities to help him put together a documentary called Say It Loud, about Black boys and men, and on "how important education is and school is cool," he says. As a seasoned-actor-on-the-rise, this voiceover actor on Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. show "The Backyardigans" knows just what is needed to get his project off the ground--perseverance mixed with a little star power. And he seems to be off to a great start: He's already interviewed The Rev. Al Sharpton. "I've also been promised interviews with Randy Moss, Winky Wright and Les Brown. I am in talks with Nelly's people as well," says the enterprising young filmmaker, who is funding the documentary with his own money. "I'm using what I make doing voiceovers," he tells us. Coleman hopes to wrap his project by Thanksgiving. "I would like to show my documentary to audiences of boys next summer. I am not sure if the movie will be shown in schools or a theater...The cities I am looking at are Washington, D.C; New York City; St. Louis; Los Angeles; Houston; Atlanta; Boston; and Chicago." You can bet The A-List will keep you posted on Coleman's progress.

IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING...Although absent from the high-profile airwaves of the "Today" show for some years now, Bryant Gumbel is poised to make a kinda of comeback. He will appear on the CW in Sept. for a special produced by Associated Television International entitled "World of Giving" and about philanthropy.

CALL FOR ENTRIES...We told you about a thriving little film festival in Kansas City called the KC Jubilee (; and the founder, Fred Andrews promised bigger and better was yet to come. Well, Andrews was true to his word. Not only are they looking for short films under 30 minutes (documentary, drama, comedy, animation, or experimental work), but they have just announced visiting artists confirmed for Jubilee 2008. Among them: Paul Mezey, producer (Half Nelson, Maria Full of Grace), experimental filmmaker Chel White, and Craig Kirkwood, founder of FlickerFest, a top international shorts film festival in Australia. And, says Andrews, they really are looking to attract a diverse group of filmmakers this year. So check out:

FAMILY NEWS...We sure can pick 'em and we love it when our picks gets validated. Longtime A-List contributor Gil Robertson just got word his book Not in My Family ( was nominated for an African American Literary Award in the Best Non-Fiction category. Robertson will also be hitting the road to increase AIDS awareness at Historically Black Colleges and Universities on a special 12-campus "Let's Talk About Sex in the Age of HIV/AIDS" tour that kicks off this fall and will include celebrity involvement at each stop. Good works and good news.

SOUND THE ALARM...Stop your ringtone search. Atlanta-based Mobile Streams has announced that it's expanded the availability and functionality of its direct to consumer portal, with the introduction of intelligent retailing capabilities, making easier for you to buy. According to the company, the new site includes: mobile and web Pay Per Click search engines to continuously achieve the top bid positions, and thus maximise visitor numbers, with the lowest bid price; time-based retailing with content dynamically updated according to audience and time of day; and transparent, clear and simple click through process and post-purchase, up and cross selling.


CALL HIM PUFF DADDY...Remember the one-hit wonder rapper Afroman ("Because I Get High”)? Well he's back, this time with a film that just hit the DVD market. The rapper has completed a movie spoof of Terry McMillan’s 1995 box office hit Waiting to Exhale entitled Waiting to Inhale--about you know what. We are sure lawsuit-happy Ms. McMillan won't be amused.

DOG CATCHER...E! has snagged a deal with
Snoop Dogg for a reality show, promising to show the funnier and family friendly side of the rapper. Let's hope the producers at E! do a better job than the folks over at MTV did with the Three Six Mafia reality show for that network. "Adventures in HollyHood" certainly didn't improve the group's image--or pull in the ratings.



Google Inc. has announced it may bid at least $4.6 billion for wireless airwaves being auctioned off by the federal government. Before doing so, the company wants the Federal Communications Commission to mandate that any winners lease a certain portion of the airwaves to other companies seeking to offer high-speed Internet and other services. According to Google, such a provision will give consumers (who get high-speed Internet, or broadband, access via cable or telephone lines) a third option. But FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has previewed draft rules for the auction that did not include the wholesale provision. Google, instead, wants one-third of the airwaves being auctioned off to be offered on a wholesale basis. The FCC draft (which has not been revealed to the public) proposal still awaits a full FCC vote.

BET Networks has announced that Scott Mills has been named President and Chief Operating Officer for BET Networks. The company also appointed Michael Pickrum as Chief Financial Officer and named Denmark West to serve as President of Digital Media.

Mills, who was most recently BET Networks' CFO and President of Digital Media, will lead the company's business operations, including Advertising Sales, Content Distribution & Marketing, Legal and Business Affairs, Finance, Digital, Research, International and Administration. In his role as Chief Financial Officer, Pickrum will be responsible for managing the financial operations for BET Networks and will play a strategic role in the overall management of the company. As President of Digital Media, West will lead the company's expanding portfolio of digital brands, including, BET Mobile, BET on Demand and BET's digital download offerings, and will oversee the development and implementation of the company's global digital strategy.



The conference room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel was packed. Never before had so much media showed up for any BET event at a TCA (Television Critics Association) conference. Why? BET was set to address the advertising pulling out by various sponsors over a new BET show--and its corresponding website--called "Hot Ghetto Mess." Advertisers were reportedly worried about consumer backlash over the show's controversial content.

Well, says the network's President of Entertainment, Reginald Hudlin BET is sticking with the show--advertisers or not. And he says the advertisers made their decision sight unseen. "It's unfortunate
that people are making an erroneous presumption with absolutely zero information," says Hudlin. "The advertisers have not seen the show. The intent of the show is no different than what Bill Cosby is doing as he is going across the country and lecturing as he talks about the problems of the community as we need to address...We're doing programing that addresses some of the most toughest problems in our community. We're trying to be the responsible broadcasters that folks want us to be."
Jam Donaldson (pictured left with Hudlin), 34, a black lawyer from Washington, D.C. who created the Hot Ghetto Mess website in 2004, too doesn't understand the uproar. "The website was started in 2004, and it was started in response to a lot of the negative imagery that was being perpetuated through the Internet in general," she says. "And I thought how can I take these images and use them in a way to challenge what these images really mean. How can I give these images that are negative on the face a context so we can start self annalist, self examination of our community?" And, she says the show only continues her "mission." "The show has exceeded my expectations; [there] is so much more than what meets the eye, so much more than the logo, so much more than this name everyone finds so objectionable," she notes. ---words and photo by Anthony Davis



We came out to KCRW's recent love fest of "world music" celebrated at a night at The Hollywood Bowl. Though balmy and upbeat, unfortunately some of the best hypnotic vibes actually came from the pre-recorded music that served as a sexy background to a wide variety of ticket holders munching sophisticated picnic dinners. While possibly interesting separately, the mix of the three groups billed that night was not necessarily one which blended as well as most Smoothies found anywhere in Los Angeles.

Yes, of course, you'd have to have a heart of stone not to get into the afro beats of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, but after a while, the same driving mid-tempo is a bit much. Then to jump from that to what was billed as a type of Brazilian electro from Carlinhos Brown (which actually turned out to be more Brazilian pop), it was asking a bit much of the audience. While the beach ball passed around in the stands and the lighting design made for upbeat summer fun, even the sound--which is rare at the Hollywood Bowl--was up and down and all around. Cut Chemist (pictured), the headliner, soon made his way onto the stage and while the crowd was obviously hyped and the intro incredible, one can't help but think that this show was really made to be appreciated best in an altered state. Very creative though and certainly unique, we are glad we got to see this legend-in-the-making on the 1s and 2s. We can't wait to see what the rest of the season has to bring here. Maybe our hopes were just up too high for the very hip KCRW rep.

On July 18th The A-List made its way over to the ultra hip Temple Bar in Santa Monica to watch Northeast wordsmiths The Godbody do their thing. This being their first live performance in Los Angeles, they took the stage and not only mesmerized the eclectic crowd of supporters and curious Hip-Hop heads, but entertained them like seasoned pros. Dawaun Parker (Amadeus MostArt) and Tre' Guevera (Inner SeNsE), with their soulful band the GB's and back-up singer Nikki Grier spread good vibes and conscious lyrics. Their debut CD, We Are The GodBody is due out in the fall and judging fromt their performance, it should be a chart topper. --words and photo A.D.


Teen rapper Romeo pullin' double duty--as an artist and the new Youth & College Membership spokesperson during the annaul NAACP Conference in Detroit.

L.A.-based uber publicist Kenneth R. Reynolds poppin' into downtown Atlanta to celebrate the opening of entertainment attorney Mauice Bennett's new club "Trademark." Luminaries seen chowin' down at the post opening dinner included record industry exec. David Litton (with his wife Eleanor), and popular amatuer boxer Ed Coo.

Shakira, John Legend and UB-40, Rihanna, Diddy, Kelly Rowland, and Ne-Yo, as well as Nigerian acts D’Banj, Sasha and Mode – 9 performin' at the second annual THISDAY Festival in Lagos, Nigeria at the new THISDAY Events Center. The event celebrated the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.