101: Greatest Show On Earth debut column
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OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
NEW LINE MAKEOVER...Major changes over at New Line Cinema. In cost cutting efforts, Time Warner Inc. recently announced its Warner Bros. Entertainment studio would absorb its New Line Cinema. On top of this New Line founder Robert Shaye and his co-chief executive, Michael Lynne, are exiting. New Line, which is set to release The Hobbit in 2010 and Sex and the City (this May), will have separate development, production and marketing departments; but it will integrate those functions with its new parent division. New Line was once known known for its quirky indie films before churning out blockbusters such as the Lord of the Rings series, but initially it made a good part of its revenue and reputation via the usual MO--using Urban-flavored entertainment. And through this rise was given to such flicks as All About The Benjamins, Blade, Set It Off, Above The Rim, House Party - a vibe which we haven't seen from the studio in quite a while! Thus, could it be that if the company had remembered that diversity equals profitability, this item might read a bit differently today?
DIGGS GET A BREAK..."Day Break" fan alert. The show that many thought got yanked way too soon off ABC has found a new home of sorts on TV One. The Black-owned network will start rebroadcasting the 13-episode action thriller starring Taye Diggs on March 16. It will also air seven never-before-seen episodes. As an added marketing perk, the network is planning an interactive component. www.tvoneonline.com for "Day Break" viewers. Through blogs, games, and video, users are invited to join a force of detective to solve the murder mystery.
HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD
BIG POPPA IN THE HOUSE...The wait is over. After a nationwide search for a newcomer to play the late rapper Biggie Smalls in the highly anticipated Fox Searchlight bio-pic being executive produced by his mother, Voletta Wallace, and Sean Combs; they have found their man in Brooklyn-based rapper Jamal Woolard. This newcomer will star along side Angela Bassett (as Voletta), Derek Luke (as Diddy), Dennis “Da Menace” White for the role D-Roc (Biggie's best friend), and Anthony Mackie (as Tupac Shakur) in the George Tillman Jr. directed film. Notorious is set for release in January. A studio hasn't taken this serious an approach with a rap drama since 8 Mile. Lets see if they pull out all the bells and whistles of new and traditional media promotion when the time comes.
SMOOTH RIDE...Already this sounds like a powerhouse Hip-Hop film lineup. According to the folks over at Ruff Ryder Films; Eminem, Eve, Ludacris, and Chingy are all in talks to appear in the company's project aptly titled Ruff Ryders, which is slated for a fall 2008 release and stars raptor (our new name for a strong trend of rappers tuned actors and one, which we might add has been overlooked by the mainstream) DMX and actress Meagan Good. According to new Ruff Ryders Films president Tariq Alexander, "We currently have three major studios interested...This will be a theatrical release with great crossover appeal so we’re just going to let them fight it out." In a related note, The A-List was one of the first to pinpoint Alexander as a player-to-watch when when we covered Alexander's own The System Within and The Stick-up Kids film projects (thealistmagzine.blogspot.com/2007_09_16_archive.html).
There's a reason the media constantly refers to Senator Obama as a Rock star. Even Huckabee picked up his bass guitar to hit the stage. Maybe it all started with sax-playing Bill Clinton, but these days, entertainment and politics are intrinsically tied--for better or worse. Welcome to our new guest section on where politics and entertainment meet.
Will they or won't they? That was the swirl of on-line speculation yesterday as to whether Senator Obama and wife Michelle would attend Thursday night's Broadway premiere of entertainment doyenne Debbie Allen's produced Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. After all, well-placed sources said the secret service had even been sent to "sweep" the theater just days in advance. Of course, while the Senator's attendance would have little or no impact on his position overall as a leading Democratic Presidential Candidate but we can all but admit his possible appearance at this event and dare we say this race for the White House just may be showbiz at its best.
And certainly one would not have been able to help but also connect the dots to see that the veritiable gathering of multicultural achievement in different industries under one Broadway rough would be a very hot thought. Come on, admit it. Political players of that caliber, hue and style in attendance with such invited star power of Denzel and Jada is unprecedented. In short, Times Square would be off the hook.
In fact, according to Jack Howard, a leading political consultant on the east coast, "I felt a great sense of personal pride when I read that the Senator maybe accompanying his wife Michelle to the opening night of the exciting new production of the Broadway play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Of course some naysayers would argue that Senator Obama's time, should he have checked out the play, would be better spent at this stage of the campaign meeting and greeting voters in states that have primary elections coming up. But hey, there could well be many an undecided voter in that theater audience as well. Who knows?
While Obama may not have shown up opening night, he does play lead in his own greatest show on earth. --Clementine Clarke
LIVE PERFORMANCE REVIEW
Je’Caryous Johnson’s 3 Ways to Get A Husband, I’m Ready Production, Merriam Theatre, Philadelphia
3 Ways to Get A Husband, which is touring the country, is in line with the crowd pleasing, Black factory of shows, by the likes of David E. Talbert and the uber prolific, Tyler Perry.
In fact, the B plot involving the three homeless characters living under a bridge, played much stronger than the romantic triangle of the main plot. Billy Dee Williams, homeless and suffering from post-traumatic shock, can still convincingly captivate a woman half his age.
My only real complaint, other than the rather shoddy production value of the sets, was that there were no Playbills, only a $10 “Souvenir” Program Book, filled mostly with advertisements for other I’m Ready Productions productions. Rating: B List. – Le Anne Lindsay
Days of Wrath, directed by Celia Fox, Foxy Films (seeking distributor, repped by William Morris)
The Days of Wrath teaser reading "Wilmer Valderrama, as you have never seen him before," is correct. Valderrama, who most know from "That 70's Show," plays the part of a soul-less creature named Daniel aka Danny Boy. "Immortal till he dies," Danny Boy dreams of emulating Tony Montana from Scarface, creating a criminal empire in Los Angeles as far as he can see. To accomplish his goals, he goes against the orders of Mario, the head of the Triple 7 gang, and car jacks a rapper and rival African American gang members. Local civilians are caught in the crossfire, including Mario's mother. This car jacking gone wrong changes Mario and Danny Boy's relationship completely. Now ostracized and hunted by the Triple 7 crew, Danny Boy goes it alone wreaking havoc on innocent civilians and the rival gang.
Days of Wrath's talented cast includes Ricardo Chavira as Detective Romeros and Taye Diggs as Steve Loreto , as well as a cameo performance by Laurence Fishburne. The production values are terrific albeit with the usual examples of slow motion action while bullets are flying. The soundtrack adds an edgy flair to it all. However, the body count is high and the resounding message of the movie is revenge and hopelessness. Some might say the movie is keeping it real. This is a reflection of life on the streets and unfortunately for some, a daily reality, however, as entertainment, it leaves this reviewer empty. Rating: The B- List. --Dana Rebecca Woods