Friday, November 16, 2007

93: Willie Mac


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JAPANESE IMPORT...Who would have thought a cartoon about a Black superhero with a crazy afro and dressed like a Japanese samurai would be a big hit? Well the creator, Takashi Okazaki, said he actually never thought the concept (which he came up with after watching "Soul Train") would reach beyond his college dorm room; but it's widespread appeal is about to get even greater confirmation. Spike TV has just decided to pick up the series for a second season. "Afro Samurai," which is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson and enhanced by music created by The RZA, is a bonfide hit. Seems the depiction of the adventures a Black samurai out to avenge the murder of his father by evil forces has converged with the interest of young male viewers. In fact in Japan, where fans didn't pick up on the animated TV series until some time after audiences in the U.S., "Afro Samurai" has already made it to the big screen hitting theaters last month. It goes to show that with strong multicultural collabs like this everyone--from the network, viewers, creatives-- can win.

For most people college helps prepare them for their future career, but for Willie Macc, the standout cast member on the last season of BET"s "College Hill: Virgin Islands;" it has led to a career in Hollywood. Since the show wrapped, Macc has been on a roll. According to his manager Charles Belk, Willie Macc just completed a green-screen photo shoot so that his likeness could be used for one of the lead characters in a new animated pilot for a major cable network. He's also appeared in multiple episodes of CSI, BET's 106th & Park, BET's live game show Take the Cake, as well as an episode of NBC's new series "Journeyman." And, he just wrapped a direct-to-DVD movie entitled House Arrest. Currently in post-production, Macc takes on the "Chris Tucker" role in the Friday-like comedy, directed by Ezekiel Dickson and produced by Zeke Films. He will also soon be seen in his first major studio movie, Meet the Spartan, from Fox / Regency which was filmed this past summer. Now in a new move, Macc is asking his fans if he should cut his trademark Afro. Seems some agents and casting folks have suggested he'd get more roles if he ditched the 'fro. With a knack for grabbing attention and his team working overtime, The A-List is positive Hollywood will be seeing more of Macc--regardless of his 'do.

OGs NO MORE...Some people never forget their roots And it seems Oscar winning Jamie Foxx has no problem returning to the medium that made him a star--TV. This time he'll be behind the scenes. He and long-time producing partners Marcus King and Jaime Rucker King have just inked a deal, according to Reuters, with MTV and VH1. The trio will develop reality shows under a two-year production deal. One will be "From Gs to Gents," an MTV series that aims to turn homeboys into gentlemen. We know reality shows are still all the flavor, but we'd love to see these three industry veterans produce another edgy comedy series--or even a Urban-based drama.

PUSH UPDATE...We just got word that The View's Sherri Shepherd has signed on to star in Lee Daniels' new flick Push. She'll play "Cornrow," the love interest to Lenny Kravitz, who signed on just last week.Actresses Mo'nique, Paula Patton and newcomer Gabourey "Gabbie" Sidibe round out the cast for the film based on the bestselling novel by Sapphire. Smokewood Entertainment Group is financing the indie flick. Hmmm....seems the more we learn about Push, the more intriguing it seems to get.

CHOO CHOO...The Tyler Perry train continues full steam ahead as Lionsgate has just announced it has acquired the rights to Perry's next two films entitled The Family That Preys Together and Madea Goes to Jail. Perry will, of course, direct both, and he will star in the latter. His Meet The Browns will open March 21. With Perry's last Lionsgate project, Why Did I Get Married?, opening at No. 1 last month with $21.4 million, Lionsgate knows it has a good thing in the Perry machine, but we can't help but wonder what the plan is to guard against over-saturation?

EXTENDING THE RUN...The Simmons clan believes in keeping it in the family. Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons recently announced during the Media and Money conference in New York that he and the folks behind his brother's MTV reality show, "Run’s House" (now in its third season) will make a movie based on the life of Rev. Run, the Run-DMC rapper turned preacher. Now, all they have to do is get financing and distribution. This should be interesting. The show is a hit, but will people leave the comfort of their homes to learn more about the pioneering rapper?



The movie download set-up box Vudu has announced partnerships with Paramount, Universal and Lionsgate to deliver HD titles on a video-on-demand basis. The Vudu box, which debuted in stores last month, has more than 5,000 titles in standard definition. Currently, the company says it has agreements with all the major studios and 22 other independent and international film distributors. The box, which connects to the Internet, requires no software downloads.


Celebs puckerin' up at the launch of Kissable Couture Lipgloss in Los Angeles at Fred Segal Apothia. The line, which was founded by makeup-artist-to-the stars AJ Crimson and business partner Keisha Whitaker (wife of Forest), seemed to already be a favorite of such Hollywood starlets as Tia Mowry (left with Crimson), Roshumba Williams and Christina Milan (pictured right with Whitaker, middle).