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BEHIND CLOSED DOORS...Ah media. It never ceases to be a point of major power plays due to its massive strength, no matter what the form. Here is just the latest in the never ending struggle. Recently the Rev. Jesse Jackson met with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin about Sirius Satellite Radio's planned purchase of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. Jackson urged the FCC to require XM and Sirius to lease at least 20% of their channels to minority controlled firms as a condition of the merger. The country's only two satellite radio companies are awaiting approval of their combination by the FCC and the Justice Department. However, neither the FCC nor Rainbow PUSH would comment on the meeting. Why so hush hush? Isn't the point to let the opportunity be known so that companies can note support of Jackson's idea and then later eventually bid? Or is this yet another other insiders friends only game? Good for Jackson stepping up to the plate, but is it not possible for him to ever partner with organizations such as National Association of Blacks in Broadcasting so that there can be great collective strength seated in its proper home? Now, if you recall, The A-List pointed out the lack of Black news stations and suggested a partnership with these same parties involved. The all-men's club declined to answer.
DEAL FOR DIVERSITY...Well, maybe we can get some diversity satisfaction elsewhere. Looks like ION Media Networks, Inc. (http://www.ionmedia.tv/), which owns and operates the nation's largest broadcast television station group and ION Television, just finalized a deal with African-American TV syndicator Star Media and Omnicom's OMG Entertainment & Sports unit for the creation and exhibition of African-American programming on the ION Television Network. The partnership will use the syndication marketplace and TV libraries of Warner Bros. and other major networks to program Urban and diverse content. It will air on ION Television Network. They also plan to create an original programming fund to create new African-American and diverse content to be aired on ION Television. "This is really unprecedented...there has never been an alliance like this between an African-American owned media company and a major Advertising Holding Company and Network," says Star Media's Dennis Ray. "There are currently no major Black owned media companies left in television (BET is now controlled by Viacom and TV ONE is majority owned by Comcast and Bear Stearns)...With distribution becoming almost impossible for the small, independent syndicator, establishing a relationship with a Broadcaster like ION, or some other major station group, becomes even more critical today. We are creating a whole new business model – one that greatly reduces the risk of producing first-run, original programming, and assures us success. "
GOT SCRIPT?...Many writers are taking the opportunity to finish that script or two while marking time during the strike. If you or someone you know has been doing their due diligence, you may want to holla at The Taschen Group. Seeking several films with modest budgets to partially fund. Key attachments helpful. Thrillers, crime-dramas at top of list but not mandatory. For more info, firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIVA ON THE MOVE...She calls herself the Queen of Urban Radio, now Wendy Williams, host of the popular The Wendy Williams Experience (which also aired on VH-1), has just inked a deal with the mega-radio network Westwood One for Feb. 4th debut. Williams' daily four-hour syndicated program will feature exclusive entertainment news, celebrity gossip, advice, listener phone calls, and candid interviews with special guests. The deal was part of a programming partnership with Inner City Broadcasting and Westwood One. Love her or hate her, Williams seems to know just the right business moves to make.
HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD
DIGITAL OVERLOAD...Just like record companies have become over saturated with the same type of music, so too is the digital world. It seems every Hip-Hop artist under the sun is trying to cash in on the Internet. Now, Uncle Luke (remember him?) of 2Live Crew has announced the launch of his own social networking portal. He joins the ever growing list of rap world-Web entrepreneurs, which already includes Russell Simmons' GlobalGrind, Damon Dash with BlockSavvy (http://thealistmagzine.blogspot.com/2007_11_04_archive.html), Ice Cube with his new Web TV channel, and MC Hammer's DanceJam.com. The self-described Black Hugh Hefner has created UncleLuke.tv, where users can watch, post, and download video content. The twist? No, not the x-rated videos Luke is known for, but "UncleLuke.tv will offer new artists, sports, never seen before videos and a myriad of unique content, including live streaming broadcasting," said Victor Nappe, CEO, Luke Entertainment Group. In order for Luke to win it will be about combining the hottest video with advanced technology to really create winners once the digital dust settles though.
SPARE CHANGE...Seems 50 Cent is using some of his Vitamin Water profits to jump into the film business. The rapper/entrepreneur announced at Sundance that he has formed an unnamed film company with movie producer Randell Emmett (Shottas, The Amityville Horror, Home of the Brave) and entertainment manager Chris Lighty. Not a bad idea, but this needs to be more successful than any box office attempts 50's ever had or else it might be best to throw in the towel when it comes to film. With the number of super successful power players 50 comes in contact with, Emmett (whose films haven't hit lately) and Lighty must have something exciting up their sleeves.
SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL LOG
It was that time of year again. When the stars and Hollywood power players bundle up and head to Utah for the annual Sundance Film Festival. This year, Keith "KB" Brown (pictured right with Sticky Fingaz), General Manager of Major Independents (production company Sticky Fingaz founded) headed down to do some business. While he was there he sent back exclusive reports for The A-List.
Monday, Jan 21: BLACK HOUSE, JOHN LEGEND & ASSASSINS
What a busy day it was. Black House was the place to be today! BET utilized the space for their show "Access Granted" and there were two buzzworthy panels which received quite a bit of attention. The first was entitled "Black To The Future: Hollywood's Next Generation" (pictured left). Panelists included Meagan Good (Stomp The Yard), Sticky ("Blade: The Series", Next Friday), Ty Hodges ("Even Stevens," "Miles From Home"), Jimmy-Jean Louis ("Heroes"), Andre Royo ("The Wire") and Lee Thompson Young ("Smallville"). Major issues, such as stereotypical roles, independent filmmaking, making connections, were discussed.
Next up was a panel entitled "Brothas, Hip Hop & Hollywood," which included director Benny Boom (Next Day Air), multi-platinum recording artist Chamillionaire, Inny Clemons (producer, Next Day Air) and Sticky. The panel explored Hip Hop's role in pop culture, in particular the film industry. The "N Word" was a hot button issue, as was imaging of women and how to appeal to a youthful audience in a positive way.
Black House later hosted a networking cocktail reception where the drinks and biz cards were flowing. Despite the cold and snow, we made our way over to check out The Yari Film Group premiere of Assassination of a High School President, starring Bruce Willis and Mischa Barton. An after party featured Nick Cannon--get this--on DJ Duty. Gifting Suites were in full effect, with celebs nabbing everything from Boost Mobile phones to skin care products. John Legend hosted a private charity dinner for his "Show Me Foundation," whose goal it is to end world poverty. He performed an intimate set of his hits for such attendees as Tracy Edmonds, Sticky, and Josh Groban. The evening's hottest party was at a nightclub called Tao, with performances by Keri Hilson and One Republic. Boxing champ Zab Juda, Chris Lightly, Sticky, Meagan Good and Tommy Davidson were all in the house. The party then moved to a private mansion party hosted by Lighty which went into the wee hours of the morning. Whew. What a day. What a night.
Tuesday, Jan 22: MUSIC & MOVIES
Black House was the talk of the town after the sizzling hot panels on Monday. Today, they hosted a director's roundtable discussion and a session with famed film critic Elvis Mitchell and Timothy Greenfield Sanders, who later premiered their HBO Films documentary, The Black List. The swag continued to flow, with the Fred Segal and CUUR gifting suites being among the most popular. HBO hosted a wonderful party in conjunction with Black House. Grammy nominee Victor Duplaix DJ'd the night away while Maurice Jamal, Carol Ann Shine, Sticky, Tommy Davidson and Mitchell mingled with a diverse, lively crowd. Tao was the nightclub to be at once again, with a live performance by Timbaland. John Salley, Lil' Jon and Miguel Nunez were all in the house.
The networking and deal-making on the Urban side was irreplaceable. To have so many like-minded individuals in one place was monumental and the panels were a HUGE success. The biggest buzz for Black film came from A Good Day To Be Black and Sexy and The Black List. Utah was definitely "snowy" (pun intended), but Black House became the homebase for Black filmmakers, actors, musicians and their supporters. Next year it will grown even larger!
America's Next Top Model Anchal lookin' good and celebratin' her b'day with friends and celebs like Wale Ogunleye of the Chicago Bears at hot Miami Beach spot The Forge.