Friday, October 12, 2007

88: Deal Makers, Deal Breakers



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The 11th Annual American Black Film Festival
Los Angeles
October 25-28
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COMING SOON ON DVD

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Deal Makers, Deal Breakers. It's all about being in the know. Ladies and Gents, Welcome to Issue #88

OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD


ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST...The pond is getting smaller. NBC Universal just announced it will buy cable television network Oxygen Media for $925 million. According to the suits at NBC, they want to snap up the female friendly network in order to boost their own female audience and more closely link its TV and Internet businesses. Currently Oxygen is available in more than 74 million homes. NBC already has Bravo, USA, Sci-Fi, CNBC and MSNBC in its cable stable. Its online division, NBC Universal, which is majority-owned by General Electric Co., has already purchased the Oxygen's iVillage.com Internet community site for women for $600 million. While this will add even more ducats to Oxygen co-founder Oprah's pockets, it merely points to fact that giants can't do it all and that there are opportunities for nice exit strategies by those who started these channels. Only problem is: how do gifted TV entrepreneurs of color edge in to create what will be the next swoop down of buys from the media giants?

STYLIN'...Fashion, beauty, and celeb style. That's all on the menu for a new weekly series for former MTV VJ Daisy Fuentes and Jai Rodriguez over at the Style Network called "Ultimate Style." It premieres Nov. 3. Great timing for Rodriguez, whose other fab style show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" wraps up this season for good. Great to see more Latinos on the air. Now let's see if this dynamic duo can actually whip up a show that gives a fresh look to the other style-conscious programming already out there. We'll be watching.

ROC TO THE RESCUE?...Just last week we pointed out HBO's programming troubles. Critics have complained the cable network had lost its edge. Now comes the news that "Roc" star Charles S. Dutton, who directed the acclaimed HBO miniseries "The Corner," has signed an exclusive development deal with HBO to act in and direct series, movies and miniseries projects. Dutton might just be a beacon of light for HBO, though we don't really think of him as the edgiest guy in Hollywood. We'll have to see if HBO is simply trying to make a tamer version of itself or if Dutton, 56. just may have some highly creative tricks up his sleeve.

RAISING CANE...Hats off to CBS for "Cane." A sexy,edgy show that doesn't feature the usual mainstream fare? You better believe it. Sophisticated with intrigue, this has gotta be a first for network television and Latino culture. And we don't know what Rita Moreno is doing, but homegirl looks great, bringing a much-needed mature, elegant Latina flavor to light on the small screen. Jimmy Smits has only gotten better since his "LA Law" days. Script could be punched up just a bit, but hey, it's only the beginning of the season. But what's with the mysterious "Interscope Television" logo right after credits, which seems to the opportunistic record label to heavily feature its music artists into the show's fictional South Beach club? In fact, the venture must be so mysterious that no one at the parent company, Interscope Records, even knew about it and; get this, when we called publicity there they had never even heard of "Cane" even though some of their artists are appearing on the show. Holla if you hear us Jimmy Iovine. We'd like to give props but can't.

MINI MOGUL...She's one business-minded young lady. Former child actress Raven Symone has been able to stay in the mix--in front of camera and behind scenes. Example? In addition to starring in and producing one of the Disney Channel's top series ("That's So Raven"), she executive produced and starred in the the popular teen TV movie "The Cheetah Girls." Throw in all the product extensions for all her projects, and Raven has become a veritable Hollywood success. Not one to rest on her laurels, however, she is now preparing to launch a "How To" online destination for teens and tweens: Ravensymonepresents.com. Financed by MRC, it will offer "How To" tips on everything from fashion to dating. The site will also contain a digitally syndicated series aimed at providing a broad range of lifestyle content. Obviously, Raven-Symone and her reps at Endeavor are working overtime and handling their biz.



HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD

HUSH YOUR MOUTH...Some folks better cover their ears. Aaron McGruder, creator of "The Boondocks," is bucking political correctness. The new season just kicked off Oct. 8th, and McGruder plans to, as his spokesperson says, "saturate America with heavy doses of the n-word." And he'll get help from a few Hip-Hop friends: Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Ghostface Killah, Cee-lo, and Lil Wayne, Xzibit will lend their guest voices, along with actors and comedians Aisha Tyler, Tichina Arnold, Mo'Nique, Tavis Smiley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Charlie Murphy. Hate the n-word or not, it's at least refreshing to see a Black TV creative push the envelope and cause debate.


EXECUTIVE MOVES


AOL BLACK VOICES TAPS TARIQ MUHAMMAD AS DIRECTOR

Tariq Muhammad has been named director of AOL Black Voices. Muhammad will be responsible for spearheading all editorial activity for the site across all content areas including news, sports, lifestyle, entertainment, finance, education and community. He will also lead all business strategy including product launches, partnerships and site expansion. Prior to this, Muhammad served as director of interactive media for BlackEnterprise.com, responsible for the overall operation of Web site. From 1995 to 1999, he served as the publication's Technology Editor.




NEWS


GOOGLE AND YOUTUBE PARTNER

Google Inc. and YouTube have partnered to bring the worlds of online video and map-making closer together by allowing users of its Google Earth software to watch and hear YouTube videos mapped to specific locations. Google is offering a new YouTube video overlay on top of its Google Earth three-dimensional visualization software, which combines satellite images, maps, terrain and buildings of the world. By allowing YouTube creators to geographically locate their videos on a map of the world, Google enables Internet users to zoom in on locations around the planet and watch YouTube tied to that place.