Thursday, February 21, 2008

100: Pan African Film Festival

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MINI MADEA...Boy, Tyler Perry sure can wheel and deal. The industry is currently buzzing about his latest Madea reincarnation. Seems Perry has just teamed up with animation company Exodus Film Group for the untitled series centered around--yep, Lady Madea. Perry will create, write and executive produce an undetermined number of 22-minute standalone episodes. And, of course, he will also provide the voice of Mabel "Madea" Simmons. While there is not word yet on if the project will end up on network TV, DVD (or both), we do know that Exodus is footing the bill.

A SONG IN HER HEART...Aretha Franklin may not be too happy with Beyonce these days after the Grammy war of words, but many others are praising the singer-turned-actress for the recent announcement that she will donate a portion of her fee for the upcoming Etta James bio-pic Cadillac Records, for which she not only plays the lead but is executive producing. The donation will go to recovering addicts through her family's charity, the Survivor Foundation, according to her reps.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD...Just got word that "Law & Order's" Jesse L. Martin is out and actor Anthony Anderson may be in. Seems Martin, who joined the cast in 1999 after a short-lived but memorable stint on "Alley McBeal," wants to focus on his film career. He recently signed on to play Marvin Gaye in the biopic Sexual Healing. Martin may be picking a great time to branch out; the "Law & Order" brand has been dropping in ratings the last few seasons, leaving many insiders wondering just how much longer the shows will continue.

AMERICAN GANGSTER REDUX?...The prison killing this week of infamous NYC drug dealer/convicted murderer Larry Davis, has many wondering if a planned biopic by both former Jay-Z partner Damon Dash and Mona Scott-Young, founder of the entertainment firm Monami Entertainment, will be stalled in pre-production--or now be given the green light. You may recall, Davis became famous for his shootout with several NYC police officers and manhunt that followed in 1986. Add to this the fact that Davis, all along, claimed many of the police where involved in his drug trafficking business. (In fact, his 25 years to life sentence was for a separate crime--he was found not guilty of attempted murder of the officers). Time will tell if his death (which even the prison has reported was unprovoked) will add to his mystery, and up the ante for Dash and Scott. We'll keep you posted.


CROWN HOLDER...Not much has leaked out yet about legendary female Hip-Hop heavyweight Yo-Yo's latest project, but we have the exclusive scoop for you. She has just signed on to co-host (with notable rap artist MC Serch, formerly of 3rd Bass) the new VH1 show "Miss Rap Supreme." We can tell you that it will begin airing in April and will center around the search for the next female MC. The show is, in fact, a followup to the 2007 VH-1 show "Ego Trip's The (White) Rapper Show," which was also hosted by Serch. With anticipation high for "Miss Rap Supreme," it could this be indicative of a female MC come back. Hip Hop is sorely in need right now not only of female power players but the female perspective.

KEEPS ON TICKING...Just when you thought the tube was rid of Flavor Flav, he returns with not one but two new shows. There is a new installment of "Flavor of Love" on the way, and our Canadian spies tell us he's in the country filming a new sitcom called "Under One Roof." This new little addition is about a former convict (played by Flav) who moves in with his wealthy, conservative brother and his family, and all hell breaks out. MyNetworkTV (a primetime general entertainment broadcast television network, reaching over 97% of the country) has ordered 13 episodes. Brian Roberts is directing; Danielle Quarles and Gelila Asres scripted the series. Love him or hate, Flav has a successful ratings record that just keeps the networks coming back fo' mo'.

YES HE CAN...Rapper is not only gearing up for his second Barack Obama video to followup his extremely popular "Yes We Can" called "We Are The Ones, according to MTV, but he's ready to make his film debut as a mutant in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine for 20th Century Fox. Slated for May 1, 2009, the film went into production this month in Australia with South African director Gavin Hood. is on a hot streak. Besides the Obama video mania, he also just spoke at the Mobile World Congress; was on "Larry King Live"; and then turned up with Celine Deon on her special. With now everyone jumping on the bandwagon, judging from his career thus far he'll ride the wave as long as he can.

LADIES ONLINE...A few issues ago we observed the flood of Hip Hop online ventures, but there's a new one to now add to that mix which targets a much overlooked group--females. The new, coming from 4Control Media (the folks behind the Hip Hop news site is a lifestyle and social networking website targeting females ages 12-24. The site will include entertainment, fashion, career and relationship categories, along with a full social networking platform including user blogs, photo galleries, user-generated video, chat and bulletin boards. With, according to research by Pew/Internet & American Life Project, some 35% of teen girls bloggers (compared to 20% boys), this is a smart, all be it overdue, move.

Disney Online announced it has created a studio to focus on its growing commitment to virtual worlds as well as games and online social communities. The new group, Disney Online Studios, will include several of Disney Online's teams, including the creators of XD and the company's virtual-reality studio that was responsible for Disney's Toontown Online and Pirates of the Caribbean Online. Disney Online this week also announced a new online world, Pixie Hollow, based on Disney's Fairies franchise, which Yanover said was part of an effort to begin offering virtual worlds aimed at fans of specific Disney franchises.

Radio One, Inc. has announced that Peter D. Thompson has assumed the role of Chief Financial Officer, reporting to Alfred C. Liggins, III, the firms CEO. Thompson previously served as a consultant for Radio One in 2006 with certain strategic initiatives and most recently joining the senior executive team last fall as Executive Vice President of Business Development. In that most recent position he focused on business diversification strategy, including our Internet initiative and potential acquisitions and also participated in the 2008 budget process, monitored our covenant compliance and participated in the year end close process. Thompson brings over 20 years of financial experience to Radio One, both as a public accountant and with the 13 years spent at Universal Music in the United Kingdom, five of them as CFO of this enterprise.

Pan African Film Festival

Well, this year's Pan African Film Fest in Los Angeles has come to and end with an eclectic slew of films from known and unknown filmmakers from around the world. The A-List was in attendance front and center.

In all, there were 151 short films, features, foreign language films and documentaries this year, way too many for The A-List to cover. They ranged in topics from chasing dreams, the importance of family, friendship, survival and triumph of the human spirit to name a few. We did check out a few of them and had much to say, but later on that.

The festival began with a Gala Opening Night celebration at the Magic Johnson Crenshaw Theaters on Feb. 7th followed by a Night of Tribute to various community and entertainment luminaries on Feb. 9th. This event was hosted by Isaiah Washington and Jimmy Jean-Louis. Della Reese received the Lifetime Achievement Award, Bernard Parks (former LAPD chief) received the Community Service Award, and filmmaker Charles Burnett received the Pioneer Award.

Trying to broaden the fest's appeal, the organizers this year added a bunch on semi-film related events, such as: a free Saturday Children's fest showing family theme films, as well as storytellers and guest readers Ja'Net DuBois ("Good Times") and Alexandra Rose Reiger (Akeelah and the Bee); student fest showcasing shorts; Spoken Word Fest; fashion show; special screenings for senior citizens; and a comedy night hosted by J. Anthony Brown.

Two movies we'd like to mention are Of Boys and Men directed by Carl Seaton, and Gordon Glass written and directed by Omar Benson Miller.

Of Boys and Men, starring Robert Townsend, Angela Bassett and Victoria Rowell, is a tale seen through the eyes of the youngest son and how his father (Townsend) and family deal with the sudden death of his mother (Bassett). This powerful drama was engaging, entertaining, well written and directed. Kudos to the lighting crew as they did an excellent job. However, there was a speed bump during the film that ended up as a fatal crash for us. Seems Miller figured that throwing in the mix a side story of one of one of male character's being molested would be a bright ideal. Instead, it completely ruined the continuity. But still a good movie.

Gordon Glass follows a segment of Gordon's life as he moves from Atlanta to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. Gordon stays focused on his goal while working a job as a security clerk, living with extended family, finding love and being a mentor to two neighborhood kids. Gordon's innocent view of the world makes the character likable and endearing. The movie also has a great supporting cast ranging from members of the filmmaker's family (who also worked behind the camera) to Noel G, Tamara Taylor, Marcuis Harris, and newcomer Adrienne Muller. But could this story of a Black character with universal themes of family, friends, and the pursuit of happiness be distributed, marketed and digested by the mainstream? Possibly. But unlikely given the still prevalent queasiness with Hollywood's acceptance of Black films, especially when they don't have a "name" behind them (i.e.: Tyler Perry). But still, there are many avenues available for films such as Gordon Glass, a decent film showing yet another aspect of Black life here in America.

The fest left us confident that we can and are creating the varied images and experiences that exist in our diverse communities worldwide. --Anthony Davis



Premiering with its first issue back in February of 1988, the Los Angeles-based Urban Network Magazine, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Originally, launched as a trade publication, servicing the Urban radio, music retail and record company landscapes, Urban Network has expanded its brand both as a print magazine and integrated website to target the consumer and music/entertainment industry enthusiast.

The Urban Network is once again proud to announce its return to the Newport Beach Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach, California-the site of the 18th Annual Urban Network Entertainment-Marketing Summit. This year's conference, March 26-29, 2008, promises to be bigger and better than ever.

The Summit will feature an array of seminars discussing such issues as the Music Industry's New Business Models, the State of Urban Radio, Operating a Successful Independent Label, Effectively Marketing Your Music Thru Social Networks, Radio Alternatives for the Indie Artist (i.e. Cable, Satellite and Internet), and a New Media Digital Panel & Breakout Sessions. Starbucks Entertainment president, Kenneth Lombard, is signed on to be a keynote speaker.

The Urban Network Entertainment-Marketing Summit will continue its tradition of celebrating the genre of Gospel Music on Thursday, March 27, including some of the best independent and inspirational talent on the scene.

Ruthless Records, EMI-Capitol Music Group, Warner Elektra Atlantic Distribution and SESAC are hosting showcases throughout the four-day event-highlighting many of their respective top recording artists and songwriters.

The Hip-Hop community will take part in a Hip-Hop Laws of Success panel and Mix-show DJ seminar on Friday, March 28-while indie and unsigned artists will perform at the Annual Independent Music Festival, Saturday, March 29-capping off with an Urban Network 20th Anniversary Gala & Awards celebration Saturday evening, honoring the Dynamic Duos of Music: producer/songwriters Gamble& Huff, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and brothers Brian & Eddie Holland.

"To be around for 20 years-especially in today's unpredictable marketplace-is a milestone to be celebrated, "says Miller London, Urban Network's President & CEO. "We at the Urban Network are very grateful to the industry and to those who have given their ongoing support; and, we look forward to you all joining us for our Summit in Newport Beach. I suggest you register for your Hotel rooms as well as your Conference registration, immediately; as we have a lot of great surprises in store at this year's Summit. This is an event you certainly won't want to miss."

For more information, an updated schedule of events, panelists, speakers, performers at the Urban Network Entertainment-Marketing Summit, and registration, continue to visit Press/Sponsorship inquiries: David Mitchell
Sponsorship inquiries: Arthur Mitchell

Actress Kimberly Elise posin' with actor Willi Willis at the Pan African prem
iere of Of Men and Boys while actress Victoria Rowell was hangin'' with the cast. (Photos by Anthony Davis)

Writer/director Omar Benson Miller and actor Michael Ealy strikin'a pose at the Pan African premiere of Miller's film, Gordon Glass. (Photo by Anthony Davis)

Actress and recording artist Christina Milian stoppin' by the Hero III: Legends of Rock Pre Grammy Party to Benefit VH1 Save The Music at BOULEVARD3 (photo courtesy of Brad Howe)

MC Lyte and Yo-Yo hookin' up for their Let Your Light Shine Youth Foundation, which held it's 2nd Annual Super Party on Super Bowl Sunday at B.B. Kings Blues Club in Universal City. The event opened with a surprise performance by Joyce Tolbert, from the 1990s female R&B group the Good Girls. The fundraiser also featured a comedy set by Def Comedy Jam comedian Big Rome and celebrity guests Kellita Smith ("The Bernie Mac Show", Roll Bounce) and Niecy Nash ("Clean House," "Reno 911"). The foundation benefits Southern California youth via year-round events.