OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
DESIGNER DOCS...Here's a new fashion twist. Gucci has just teamed up with The Tribeca Film Institute to launch the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund. The Fund will offer finishing funds and post production guidance to independent filmmakers in need of finances to complete documentaries that promote social change and highlight issues missing from mainstream media. The Fund will provide grants totaling $80,000 to a minimum of three filmmakers in 2008
. Submissions open on February 5, 2008 and must be postmarked by April 11th, 2008. Additional details can be found at http://www.tribecafilminstitute.org/. Recipients will be announced in summer 2008. But this isn't the first time the designer brand has jumped into the film fray. In February 2007 Gucci announced its first documentary film grant in partnership with Ambulante Film Festival to support the work of three Mexican filmmakers.
MARRIED TO THE GAME... Leave it to The A-List to let you know about inside scoop first. Rumored hot property the upcoming tell-all Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson (www.HarlemGodfather.com), written by Mayme Johnson, the widow of famed Harlem gangster Bumpy Johnson. Seems Mayme had more than a few unkind words for Johnson's protege Frank "American Gangster" Lucas in her memoir. Now, the 93-year-old Mayme, who co-authored the book with bestselling writer Karen E. Quinones Miller (Satin Doll, Ida B.), is fielding film offers left and right. As soon as she signs on the doted line, trust The A-List will let you know.
TUNED OUT...More setbacks for Radio One, which just reported record losses for its last fiscal period. Seems the company wanted to build a $115-million project in DC called the Broadcast Center One. It would have been built atop the Shaw-Howard University Metro station and include include offices for Radio One as well as shops, 185 parking spaces and 180 apartments. But D.C. Council members have rejected a plan to give the company city owned land worth $6 million on which to build the project. The project could have additional revenue stream for the financially strapped company. City Council members balked given Radio One the land and have now asked the District and Radio One to renegotiate. The city it seems would love to have Radio One relocate back to DC--if the company buys the land. If the two parties can come together, this would surely be a boost for Radio One shareholders.
DEBATE IN COLOR...In other Radio One news, the company's chairperson and founder Cathy Hughes will moderate a presidential forum in Des Moines Saturday (Dec. 1). Senators Clinton, Obama, Dodd, former Sen. Edwards and Rep. Kucinich are set to participate in grassroots forum to be carried live on tvoneonline.com, Radio One news/talk stations and Radio One websites. Finally, a Black broadcast outlet steps up to take a lead in hosting a presidential debate, particularly since the Black vote is supposedly so crucial. Seems like Radio One/TV One has beaten BET to the punch on the news front--once again.
A AS IN AFRICA...It's about time the American TV scene became more diverse. The Africa Channel just announced a deal with Time Warner Cable that will now the network partner with Time Warner systems serving more than 13 million households around the U.S. Currently, the Africa Channel offers more than 1,600 hours of original and first-run English language programming from the continent, including news and information, travel, and lifestyle, music, feature films, soaps, talk, reality and special events. Now, if the media conglomerates would make such deals with African-American content makers then television would truly be a multicultural medium, wouldn't it?
DOING IT ALL...Age ain't nothing but a number it seems to actress Rita Moreno, who has too many credits to count. Not only is she on the critically acclaimed TV show "Cane," but she is now hot and heavy in negotiations for the film 4Chosen, where if she signs on she'll play opposite Laurence Fishburn, Billy Zane, Ne-Yo, and Danny Aiello. Although it seems the storyline is under wraps at the moment, it's gotta be interesting just from this mix of casting alone. We'll keep you posted.
HI P HOP HOLLYWOOD
AND IT DON'T STOP...This should be interesting. MTV in the Middle East. The network just launched MTV Arabia, which features 60% international music and 40% Arabic music, along with local adaptations of the network's popular non-music reality shows. Of course, the pop-culture channel will take a more conservative approach to bare skin, particularly that of women, and feature less profanity; but the hot ticket, as usual, seems to be Hip Hop. Debut programming even featured a pre-taped performance show featuring featuring rapper/actor Ludacris, multiplatinum recording artist star Akon, Lebanese rapper Karl Wolf and the Emirates underground Hip-Hop band Desert Heat. And, the first flagship show for MTV Arabia will be "Hip HopNa," which means "Our Hip Hop" in English, featuring Saudi Arabian rapper Qusai Khidr. On the American Idolesque show, Khidr will audition the best local rap acts in seven different Middle Eastern cities; the winner from each city will have the chance to record a track for a compilation CD produced by popular producer Fred Wreck (50 Cent, Snoop Dogg). MTV Arabia also will broadcast an Arabic version of "Pimp My Ride." Obviously, Hip Hop transcends culture and language. It would be interesting to see what Urban US execs/companies are being utilized as consultants and collaborators, especially since MTV is once again is making bank off Black content.
GOOGLE TO EXPAND MOBILE REACH
Google Inc has announced that the company would bid on coveted airwaves to launch a U.S. wireless network to compete against AT&T and Verizon. According to the Internet leader in a statement, it was prepared to move forward alone rather than rely on partners in bidding in the Federal Communications Commission-run auction of 700-megahertz wireless spectrum due to begin on January 24. Those still expected to bid include AT&T Inc and Verizon. According to industry experts, Google and other Internet companies view the wireless spectrum as a way to create more open competition for mobile services and devices than existing networks.
Rapper/Actor Sticky Fingaz (posin' with actor Kel Mitchell, left), who gave out turkeys in Conn. for Thanksgiving as well as recently presented at the Nova Awards, took time out to celebrate his birthday last month at Hollywood hotspot Spider Club. In the house: actor Erik Palladino ("ER"), Nelson Lee ("Blade"), Darius Love, screenwriter Geoff Johns, songwriter/actor Ess Man, among others.