Friday, August 24, 2007

81: Funk Fest

To subscribe to The A-List, email


DIVA NOSEDIVE...Enough was enough for Tyra Banks. The Internet is abuzz with word that she has fired her manager, the one and only Benny Medina. Now, Mr. Medina has been handed his pink slip before--from Jennifer Lopez (who sued the Handprint Entertainment founder) and Brandy, to name two--but this latest hit has to sting. Medina does seem to have a nose for crossover deals for these urban ladies, so what goes wrong? Rumor from banks camp is that his diva attitude is just too much to take; after all the NY Daily News claims his personal demands include private jets and star perks. Well given the fact that The A-List reported a while back that Medina doesn't "do" email, one could only imagine what it's like in his court on a day-to-day basis.

HOMELESS HUSTLE...Playing true-life musicians is becoming a habit with Jamie Foxx. According to DreamWorks, Fox has just signed on to star in The Soloist a musical biopic. Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice ) will direct the project based on a 12-part series of articles by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez about Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a homeless musician with schizophrenia with dreams of playing at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Hmm. Samuel L. Jackson is a homeless ex-boxing champ in Resurrecting the Champ. It's great to show the triumph particularly of the Black American spirit but the danger here is not only in non-creativity of re-hashing a formula again and again but also only showing us as super humans only who can leap tragedy in a single bound. Again, with a wealth of stories depicting a variety of images, then there would be no worries but when you only get a few films a year...Also, can someone please tell us when the hell the Black woman who triumphs over all to achieve a goal is actually going to be captured, as well? Or is that asking just a bit too much.

DATE WITH DIGITAL...Slowly but surely Black media is finding its way to the digital world, even though there are a reported 20 million of us on line in the U.S. Essence, though technically not Black-owned since TimeWarner purchased it in 2005, has just announced the launch of Essence Studios that will focus on multimedia content development and distribution. Under the lead of two new exes, Jen M.R. Doman and Lesley Pinckney; charged the first project for Essence Studios will be "30 Dates in 30 Days," the industry's first interactive, online reality dating show, debuting in September on Let's hope it's more creative than the sometimes staid editorial of the magazine.

INDIE INSIGHT....Looking for a way to launch your new film project? You might want to check out the International Film Project (IFP) documentary rough cut lab, taking place Nov. 6-9 in NYC. According to Milton Tabbot, sr dir, programming, IFP, the lab is a national program connecting mentors and projects before they are submitted to festivals. "We select 10 independently produced documentaries each year that can benefit from the support and expertise of experienced film professionals. The key creative teams of these projects receive feedback from a range of professionals in editing, scoring, post delivery, outreach, marketing and publicity, sales representation and festival strategy." Get details at

SISTERS, BROTHERS...With Black colleges and frats/soros all the rage in Hollywood--what with such films as Drum Line and Stomp The Yard, it's only fitting a new Greek Apparel line has emerged. REALGREEK Apparel, designers of fashions for frats and sorority members, alumnus, and their kids, is an African-American owned company that will be opening a store in Dallas this fall. For now, the goodies--tees, and will shortly expand to leather goods and accessories, high fashion jewelry and a line of kids wear--are available on line and at the various Greek events they attend around the country. These guys are actually designing the clothes (ranging in price from $100 to $300), with the actual Greek colors--and not just placing logos on t-shirts and hats. Also, on their team is veteran fashion designer Don McKnight (J.C. Penny, Brooks Brothers, Sussex). Check out their website: Wear your pride on your sleeve...or chest!

CROSSING BORDERS...Insiders tell us that Hip-Hop legend Doug E. Fresh is hooking up with Toronto artist/entrepreneur Kama ( to put together what might just be Canada's first Hip-Hop feature film. No more details on the flick just yet, but as soon as we hear you know we'll tell ya.

FEELING THE FLAVA...Tired of the same hip hop music reporting? Well, you might want to check out, a new A-List favorite. Not only do they give you news but the editor fills it with also useful daily motivational notes and intriguing footage.

ALL THAT GLITTERS...So dear readers, has anyone out there caught The Style Network's "Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane." In all truth, we were actually going to let this just bypass us, but we caught a quick look this past weekend, and actually had our suspicions confirmed. Not another pseudo celebrity doing things like agonizing over who can help them better organize their lives while they go into melt-down about making acceptance speeches for different award presentations (probably for fear that the world may see just how lacking in eloquence and true grace they be). But the real kicker on this one is "Kimora's" house which, unless we missed this episode, clearly fails to mention that that is was titan Russell Simmons, the estranged hubby who bought it for the family after he made real money selling Def Jam to Universal and then selling Phat Farm for $140 million where she is laying up without him now. We're all supposed to ooh and ah over all the shots of the rooms and be quite impressed with how her business acumen and "taste" has amassed all this at such a young age, to boot. Ah the magic of television.

Sure, Kimora had the smarts to make the most out of all that situation but it all just leaves us wondering, just where is the home-grown, hip, intelligent, well-educated self-made female entrepreneur making bank off of any division of hip-hop culture? Is this really what we want the world to see when it comes to multicultural divas?



The Directors Guild of America has just announced it will ban studios from mailing for-consideration screeners to its members for the 60th DGA Awards. Ina released statement, the guild said, "Closer examination of the issue revealed concern among members that films sent out on DVD might have an unfair advantage over films that were not able to be sent out due to limited marketing budgets or other financial considerations." The 60th Annual DGA Awards Dinner will take place on Saturday, January 26, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

'80s Funk Fest, Greek Theatre, L.A.

Well, if you missed L.A.'s Hot 97 Jamz Summer Nights festival at the Greek Theater, you really missed something. Honestly, we aren't sure if this tribute to a lot of funk greats was the most entertaining or the lively older skool audience decked out in a variety of pimp leisure gear surely reliving their heyday.

From the word go and the Force MDs performance, headz were singing along and shaking booties much larger than when the songs first aired! The beauty of the night and the quality of the sound, just added to the overall positive vibe. And no, "CP" time here, Kidz.

The set changes and artists were made to the second, complimenting the professionalism of both the stage hands and artists. The Mary Jane Girls were nothing but fun even if the lead singer's voice is unfortunately more than a bit gone through. And Zapp couldn't be more entertaining though, sounding just like they did back in the day complete with flashy costumes and even Afro wig additions toward the end of the set. Unfortunately, Lakeside seemed to give in to too much chatter with the audience and overly drawn out buildup to the two major hits they had. So much so, they almost lost the poor crowd which, for the first time that night, actually sat down until they finally got around to belting out "Fantastic Voyage."

But of course the stars of the night were George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars. In a twist, a band member who resembles Clinton just a little came out and commanded the stage for a good two first songs in nothing but a damn diaper (pictured) under his yellow jacket, until Clinton sneaked onto the stage earlier. From then on it was nothing but a circus of key hits on stage complete with a surprise appearance by Bobby Brown actually rapping as well as Clinton's son. Ah, if only life was as simple as back in the days of funk....