Friday, October 26, 2007

90: Things We Lost In The Fire


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NEXT UP...Kevin Wilmott may just be Hollywood's best kept secret. The professor-turned-screenwriter-turned-director recently finished principal photography on his latest feature indie film, The Only Good Indian, starring Native American actor Wes Studi (Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, Last of the Mohicans). Actor James McDaniel ("NYPD Blue") is the executive producer. Studi portrays an early 1900s era Cherokee bounty hunter hired to return an escapee from an Indian boarding school. Haven't heard of Willmott yet? Well, he wrote and directed the highly acclaimed independent feature CSA: Confederate States of America, which premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in 2004 and Ninth Street, which starred Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes. He has written scripts for Oliver Stone, NBC, 20th Century Fox and Columbia Tri-Star. According to Willmott's spokesperson, Scott Richardson, the filmmaker will soon be shopping around for a distributor for Good Indian. Heads up everyone, given his experience this could just be one to watch.

FASTER THAN THE CONCORDE WAS...The L.A. Times might be richer--for the moment--than The A-List, but we're faster. Although The Times just recently covered the global potential of Tyler Perry projects ("Tyler Perry aims to go over well abroad"), all this was something The A-List not only knew but noted within just last Friday's issue in our "talk back" to the recent Hollywood Reporter piece on Black films. Are we patting ourselves on the back? You bet. Note to Times: when looking for further insight on the comings and goings of urban Hollywood and film, look no further than us for quotes and insight. We're the prettiest girls at that dance, for sure.

eWOMEN...On the heels of the announcement of their sale to NBC, we hear has a hot new show featuring Kim Coles ("The Geena Davis Show," "Living Single") as co-host, along with "The Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic and ex-Apprentice candidate Ereka Vetrini. Filming in Chicago, "In The Loop" ( is an interactive lifestyle show for women which launched mid-Sept. and features celeb interviews as well as segements on finances, fashion, and health. Twice Emmy winning producer Marlaine Selip (Donahue, Joan Rivers, Montel Williams, John Walsh and Jane Pauley's talk shows) is producer; supervising producer is 30-year TV veteran Cindy Patrasso, who has worked at ESPN, NBC, CBS and ABC Sports. Viewers can interact by text messaging the hosts, emailing in topics and competing in the show's online games. As then number of women online surpasses that of males using the Internet, according to eMarketer, Coles could have a hit show on her hands.

LAUGH TRACK...Malcolm D. Lee (Roll Bounce, Best Man) is busy wrapping up his latest film, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, for Universal Pictures for which a couple of hilarious trailers have already hit the small screen. As you probably know, the comedy unites James Earl Jones and Martin Lawrence as father and son who returns to his provincial home/family after becoming a big talk show star. These two powerhouses share the screen with an all-star cast (Joy Bryant, Michael Clarke Duncan, Mike Epps, Mo'Nique) . Lee also wrote the screenplay. With the slate of new Black films readying for the screen, could it be that this one will take Urban comedies to the next level. Look for it Feb. 8, 2008.

FREEZE FRAME...Prolific documentary filmmaker St. Clair Borne just sent notice that the subject of his latest project, veteran civil rights photographer Ernest Withers, 85, has died. Remember Withers' famous 1968 photo of striking Black sanitation workers calling signs reading "I Am A Man" on the picket line?Well, it's that strong image and its aftermath which prompted this project. Borne still plans to push ahead with the endeavor, tentatively entitled Ernest Withers, Photographer: A Life in Black and White and slated for release Sept. 2008. "It's always sad when someone does and especially tragic when a Black artist concerned with recording our history makes the transition," says Borne. The film is being produced through Chamba Media Works with veteran Hip Hop media/art maven Bill Adler as co-producer.


Gary Bernstein named president of programming for Syndication One

Radio One and REACH Media have just tapped syndication visionary Gary Bernstein to run Syndication One, home to such programming as "The Yolanda Adams Morning Show," "The Al Sharpton Show," "CoCo Brother's Spirit of Hip Hop" program, among others. Bernstein will work to expand REACH Media and Radio One's syndication infrastructure through analog and digital cross platform content. For 10 years, Bernstein headed Superadio Networks, following more than a decade as an ad executive in the Boston radio market. Bernstein established successful brands currently in syndication including: "The Wendy Williams Experience," "The Russ Parr Morning Show," and "The Baka Boyz Mastermix."


THE WAY OF THE WU...We hear the Wu Tang's The Rza is in the throws of composing music for a new film directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (Munich) called Babylon AD, starring Vin Diesel. Word is the Rza will working with a slew of classical composers as well as Hip Hop producers, so the film's music should be as hot as the action thriller's plot. In the Feb. 2008 release, veteran-turned-mercenary Thoorop (Diesel) takes the high-risk job of escorting a woman from Russia to China. Little does he know that she is host to an organism that a cult wants to harvest in order to produce a genetically modified Messiah. Canal+/Twentieth Century Fox will distribute.



XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. just reported third-quarter losses as sales through retail outlets slowed and the company faced increased costs related to its planned acquisition by smaller rival Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. XM has a loss of $145.4 million, versus a loss of $85.5 million a year ago. On an up note, the company increased its subscriber based by 10 percent, adding 286,000 new net subscribers.

Things We Lost In The Fire, DreamWorks SKG

So The A-List i rocked up to the British Film Festival's UK premiere for Things We Lost In The Fire and what a pleasant surprise it was! Halle Berry looked stunning with her pregnant glowing halo--picture perfect, gracious, funny and HEAVILY GUARDED.
She attended along side producer, Sam Mendes (American Beauty)--sans Benicio del Toro, as he's filming multiple Chez Gurvera flicks in Mexico at the moment--but the real star of the evening was the director Susanne Bier. This was the first time the Belgium-born talent shot a film in English, and she didn't miss a beat! The film stars Berry who is married to David Duchovny ("The X-Files"). They have two kids and an all around BEAUTIFUL life. But Duchovny has an old friend (ex-lawyer, del Toro) who is smack in the middle of a life crisis--he is a full-on heroin addict. Needless to say, Berry doesn't approve of her husband's continued friendship with del Turo, but they've been friends since second grade and Duchovny just wont give up on him. Cut to when it all goes up in smoke--Duchovny is shot and killed one night while returning home with ice cream for the family. Berry and her children then slip into a deeply sad fight to find their way out of hell. Berry's need to be close to anything her husband loved, finds her seeking out del Toro--for comfort, to help him...and then it all gets complicated.

The entire film is set in sadness but del Toro has such amazing moments of humor that you barely describe the antics. It's just those crazy things that your insane uncle might do that cracks you up!
Director Bier is brilliant at taking a simple story and making it real and severely honest--leaving you feeling quite attached to all the characters. Even those who aren't fans of Berry will even think she delivers quite a performance in this film. But on the back hand side of that compliment--she tends to relish rolls that have her crazed and/or crying her eyes out. Probably why Cat Woman and even her character Jinx in Die Another Day were so bad. Never the less, this was by far a more Oscar-worthy performance, but we'd bet on just an Oscar nomination for this one. Yeah, this is a definite must see but be prepared because it's not a straight-forward, feel-good, Saturday night at the movies. Hmmmm, and we're still wondering why it didn't open well in America. Rating: B+ List. --Melissa Ross


Filmmaker John Singleton; actors Gabrielle Union, Essence Atkins and Michael Clarke Duncan; entertainment industry insiders Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Steven Temple, and Karl Planner were among the presenters at the Closing Night ceremony for the 2007 Turks & Caicos Film Festival.