OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
PLAYA HATER?....Director George Tillman Jr. may be gearing up for the release next week of Notorious, but his mind is already on his next production. He is producing Phenom, a film directed by David Anspaugh, best known for directing episodic TV. The film stars Vanessa Williams, Chris Brown, and Henry Simmons. In the State Street production, the media discovers a new hotshot NBA player (Brown) is the illegitimate son of an aging NBA star. While it sounds like a story ripped from the pages Karl Malone's life, it's not, and that means the acting--and game scenes, are going to have to be riveting to pull a success out of this been there, done that plot.
A DASH OF SPICE...It seems TV foodie Rachel Ray is following in the footsteps of her boss, Oprah Winfrey, and is going into producing. She just announced her Watch Entertainment will produce a new show for the Food Network staring Latino cookbook author Daisy Martinez (pictured left). The weekly "Viva Daisy!" will have a six-week run and will be the network's second show to focused on Latino foods, joining Ingrid Hoffman's "Simply Delicioso." It's about time the Food Network spiced things up with a show sure to pull in ratings, considering the number of Latino TV viewers is the fasting growing segment.
DIGITAL DELAY...The Obama transition team has asked for a delay in the switch to digital. The incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested that Congress consider a delay "until a plan is in place to minimize the number of consumers who will lose TV signals, particularly by fixing the flaws in the federal coupon program created to offset the cost of this transition." A delay would be perfect timing, as the National Telecommunications & Information Administration just this week announced that it had run out of funding for its program to distribute government subsidies for DTV-to-analog converter boxes. Because of his new applications would have to be put on a waiting list unless the funding cap were raised or the Antideficiency Act (ADA) rule preventing it from spending money it expected to be freed up by expired coupons was waived. The switch in digital was long in coming, you'd think the government would be well prepared. Hopefully a delay is approved to make the transition as easy as possible for consumer, otherwise no one will be tuning in.
DYNAMIC DUO...With their new production, "True Beauty," already declared a TV hit, reps for Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher say the two are definitely planning future co-productions. The new ABC reality show features women and men living together in a Los Angeles mansion under the impression that they are competing in a beauty pageant-like reality competition series in which they will be judged solely on their physical beauty. But they are actually being judged on their "inner beauty"--sort of "Punked" meets "Next Top Model." It will be interesting to see what Banks and Kutcher dream up next.
A FIGHTING CHANCE...Being that the recent slew of mixed martial arts/street fight films have bombed at the box office, it seems Rogue Pictures is taking no chances. The company is creating a major online presence for Fighting, starring Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard. Rogue just entered a promotion deal with MySpace for the April 2009 release. With the MMA world trying to attract African-American fans, there could be some intersting promotional opportunities for Rogue with Fighting.
PIMPS OUT?...Reports out of Oakland is that city officials are fuming over the new Hughes Brothers' project, an HBO dramatic series called "Gentlemen of Leisure." Members of the Oakland City Council are saying they may not approve a film permit for the production. "Gentlemen," written by Evan Reilly ("Rescue Me") and executive produced by Interscope Records Chairman Jimmy Iovine and Polly Anthony for Interscope's TV unit, follows the life of a legendary Oakland pimp. The city is worried about scaring away tourist, while the Hughes are hoping to make a comeback with the gritty tale.
DR. WHO MYSTERY...Speaking of goings on over the pond, it seems the BBC has withdrawn actor Paterson Joseph as the next Dr. Who. Joseph would have been the first Black actor to play the long-running role (see The A-List http://thealistmagzine.blogspot.com/2008/11/bob-johnson-planning-new-tv.html). After initially tauting Joseph in the role, the BBC just publicized that little-known White actor Matt Smith will take on the part. Wanting to get to the bottom of this switcheroo, The A-List contacted the BBC. The only response we could get was "We don't comment on our casting process." With all the publicity the BBC garnered from the speculation of Joseph in the role, the network missed a prime opportunity to diversify and pull in new viewers.