Friday, September 14, 2007

84: Toronto Film Festival Disappoints

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SEXY MAMA...Hollywood was all a buzz earlier this week with the much reported news that Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson will be joining the cast of the Sex and The City film, to be distributed by New Line Cinema. Hudson will play the assistant to Sarah Jessica Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw. Guess producers must have finally understood that while they could hide under that non-diversity angle in TV land, they knew they better not come to the big screen with attitude (even though we love the girls). Thing is, JH doesn't come off as the quintessential hip NY Black chick, so we'll have to see just how the writers swing all this. Trust we'll be there at first screening!

TIFF DISAPPOINTS...We have a love-hate relationship with the Toronto International Film Festival anyway, especially since they denied us press credentials last year and we had to end up paying for our ticket. But this year, it seems that bad karma has whipped around to bite the illustrious TIFF right in the ass. Not only did the festival suffer from poor ticket sales, according to the Toronto Globe & Mail, but there was a mass "exodus of buyers" midway through the fest. One studio exec reportedly complained: "A lot of people wasted a lot of money coming up here. The available films were very disappointing. It was the weakest festival in my long memory." Here's a perfect example of what happens when you believe your own damn hype. Good riddance.

PERRY ALL THE TIME...We can dislike his entertainment, but we can't dislike the business acumen of Tyler Perry. He just keeps spinning one opportunity after another. Now, Perry has announced his own Internet TV channel. TPTV will feature Perry's own content, powered by Narrowstep's technology, telvOS. And it seems, TPTV is the first project to roll out from the recently announced partnership between Narrowstep and the William Morris Agency, which reps Perry. Now, if he could only step out of his box and and try edgier content (especially since he won't have to worry about advertisers, ratings, or media watchdogs), then TPTV might actually be something interesting to watch.

HANDLE UR BIZNESS: We just had to note that it's great to see the professor preacher Michael Eric Dyson commenting and exposing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's faux pas' during the initial hours of Katrina, but seems it's always easier to see someone else misstep on keeping their word when the mirror is not on you. Yup, The A-List is still, after repeated calls and emails, waiting for contact back from Mr. Dyson regarding initial talks in February about working together on an episode of his radio show manifesting our concept of Blacks and technology. Loving Dyson, but might this all be filed under charity begins at home? Holla if ya hear me.

OPRAH'S NOT THE ONLY ONE...Some folks talk about giving back, others actually do it. That's what British-born actor Idris Elba ("The Wire," Daddy's Little Girls), the child of a father from Sierra Leone and a mother from Ghana, is doing with a new initiative called the National Education Association (NEA), a campaign designed to strengthen relationships with the nation's African and Caribbean communities. Atlanta Falcons' Ovie Mughelli (Nigeria), Joseph Addai (Ghana) of the Indianapolis Colts, and Senegalese hip-hop group Gokh-Bi System are also invloved in the NEA effort entitled "I Love My Child." The effort is part of an overall grassroots outreach program targeting America's ethnic minority groups. "I think it is very important for us as parents to understand the public school system and know the people who are responsible for teaching our children," says Elba. "A better relationship with school administration will give the student a better future."

WRITE STUFF...Seems screenwriter/producer Antwone Fisher is taking time out of penning Training Day 2 to write the foreword for an upcoming book called Inside Out: Entertainment Thru Nonprofit Eyes. The book is by the founder/exec dir of It's Cool To Be Smart, Curtis J. Benjamin, and co-authored by Vanessa Morman, founder/exec dir of the Houston Black Film Festival. This must be one important read for Fisher to set aside a screenplay for.


STICKY BUSINESS...The commercials for Sticky Fingaz's "Blade:The Series" DVD set aren't the only thing crackin' right now for the rapper-turned-actor. His Major Independents Productions just finished post-production on his directorial debut movie A Day In The Life (Lionsgate) and he's been meeting with studiosregarding Caught On Tape, his second Hip-Hop musical for distribution, so his producing partner Keith Brown tells The A-List. Honestly, we can't wait to see either on the screen. The market is due for a hardcore Hip Hop action pic.

OUTLAW DEALMAKER...Tongues are wagging about a certain Hip Hop video-turned DVD director who is getting a shot at an upcoming urban-themed action feature, which will be produced by a major studio. But given this director's rep for creative budget maneuvering and minimal delivery, we will be watching how this one turns out from bleachers while eating popcorn fo' sho'.



Fox Business Network (FBN) has announced is poised to make its long-awaited debut for Ocober 15. Earlier this week, the corporation named FBN's four executive producers. Terry Baker, former exec producer of "Conversations With Michael Eisner," will produce weekday and weekend hours for FBN. Brian Donlon, former TV reporter at USA Today and on-air reporter at CNBC, was also hired. Longtime CNBC veteran Andrew Hoffman will oversee Dayside programming. Gary Scheier, exec producer of business news for Fox News Channel, will now head FBN's late afternoon and evening content.


The Brave One, (Warner Bros.)
Okay, peep this scenario. Timid lookin' White lady sittin' alone on a dark NY subway when all of a sudden two black dudes who look like they just stepped out of a 50 Cent video come all the way from the back of the train and pull a knife on her for no apparent reason. Little do they know that they are about to go heads up with the psycho chick from hell...

What I have just described is the trailer from the new movie, The Brave One, which opens in theaters today. The plot of the film: Erica Bain (played by Jodi Foster) and her fiance are out walking "Sluggo," their dog, when some bad dudes kill the man and kidnaps the dog. This naturally drives Foster's character over the edge and she transforms herself into...drum roll please..."Bad News" Bain, hardcore vigilante and defender of the defenseless...Dum Dum Dum!!!

"It was one thing to kill my man but when you mess with the dog...Prepare to meet your maker, Buster!

What is bothersome about the film is not the plot per se, after all anyone who has the nerve to shoot someone's significant other and kidnap the pooch deserves a beatdown. But what gets our goat is the not so subtle racial overtones in the previews. Another case of anti-Black male propaganda by Hollywood. While this is nothing new, what is never discussed is the socio-political ramification of Black male bashing in the media. The filmmaker (Neil Jordan), of course, adds a Black male character (played by Terrence Howard) to make a show at an attempt of balance.

Have you ever wondered why after all the ill stuff that has happened to black people over the centuries that you rarely see a black vigilante movie striking back at white folks? This is because the movie makers know, full well, the power they posses to shape public opinion. So don't ever expect to see a movie about one day when Rosa Parks gets tired of being told to sit in the back of the bus, and decides to start blastin' fools with her pistol.

When Bernard Goetz put holes in some black teens on a NY subway years ago or Soon Ja Du murdered 15 year old Latasha Harlins in a Korean grocery store in L.A. more recently, were they reacting to real threats or imagined threats based largely on media images?

And the tables, when turned, might not be taken so off-the-cuff. For example, what if there was a movie about an evil slum lord and the first man shown in the preview just happened to be wearing a yarmulke? Or if the next release by Warner Brothers was a flick about child molesters with a cameo appearance by "Father Flanagan?." Would Jews and Catholics be wrong to be a little miffed? Only black folks have to write a doctoral thesis defending why they are P.O.'d; other cultures' concerns are taken at face value. You know , they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but to a young black man facing prison, a movie picture is worth a 20 year bid.

Either way, as a result of their very real actions one Black teen lay paralyzed and the other dead.--Min. Paul Scott (



Okay, so who was brave enough to struggle through CBS' "Fashion Rocks," last Friday? Alright, hands down.

We didn't think this sounded like things were quite in sync (see The A-List issue #83), but it was
even more disappointing than anticipated. Just what top ad sales dude at the network or genius producer was behind this marketing ploy gone awry? Sure, we like branded content just as much as the next guy, but has anyone told these people that in order for it to be successful, it to be both entertaining and believable?

Case in point: Not only were some of the performances lackluster and a bit awkward (read: Fergie trying desperately to hold her own and look cool along side Aerosmith); there were less than five minutes of actual fashion/catwalking in a two-hour program? And what's with the fact that there was not one, interview with a designer of color or artist behind any number of hot selling lines today?

And wow - lookey here, an awkward Chevy SUV magically glides onto the stage for no real reason during the Martina McBride segment, then Mary J performs (and homegirl has taken some lessons --not one false note, Go Mary!), then voila a Chey commerical featuring Mary J. What a coinky dink.

Then Revlon ads, Jessica Alba, a current Revlon girl, walks on as a presenter
(what perfect timing that she also has a film releasing). Then the most blatant plug of the year: A concocted backstage shot of a clearly not a pro makeup artist singing the praises of Revlon make-up as he applies one dab of mascara while saying "those lashes are EXTREME." Cut to closeup on a box with the Revlon logo from which he is "working." Product placement gone bersurk.

So the thing is, were the "creatives" behind this out to lunch or is it just assumed we, the viewer, are? If these brands really wanted organic exposure, wouldn't it have been more interesting to, say, somehow, weave a stylish mini-docu on the effects of beauty on music over the years with Revlon seamlessly placed inside the piece?

Ah, but who are we to say? We're sure at the end of the day, all got what they wanted no matter how Frankenstein-esque: numbers and visibility. Damn originality. But could all this slapped together "advertainemnt" just point yet again to the steady decline of the "Empire"? Maybe, maybe not; but you best believe China's rising creative class would not be caught dead behind such a weak sales pitch.

We'd Like To Know...

1) why Jamie Foxx overcompensates during each award show presentation for which he is called. Enough, already, no?

2) why cute-as-a-button Chris Brown was the hottest performance at this year's MTV Video Music Awards?

3) why Alicia Keys insists on stuffing her ample hips into too-tight pants during her past few TV performances?

4) why performing in suites is a good idea for an awards show?

At the Rolling Stone sponsored Star Lounge beauty, style and gifting suite during the VMAs weekend at Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel & Casino: Kevin Federline's ex Shar Jackson (center) was spotted getting her vitamins and re-energizing for the entire party filled-VMA weekend with a glass of Airborne while rocking a tell all T-shirt that read “I’m Shar Jackson Bitch!” Could she be making fun of Britney’s comeback song “Gimme More” where she says, “I’m Britney Bitch!” Photo credit:
Seth Swartzman/Wire Image

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