Friday, April 18, 2008

ISSUE #104

To join The A-List,
email us TODAY for
your free "membership"

Are you headed from LA
to the DNC convention in Denver?
Looking for a place to stay?
Contact thealistmag@gmail.comor register here
for perfect housing opportunity for
female attendee.

ON A MISSION...Ever since Alicia Keys launched her production company, Big Pita Lil Pita Productions (as reported previously by The A-List), she's been busy finding projects. For her latest, she headed to Africa via the organization Keep A Child Alive to help capture on film the plight of children affected by HIV/AIDS. The result is Alicia in Africa: Journey to the Motherland, directed by South African-born/Brooklyn-based filmmaker Earle Sebastian (Red, Hot & Cool: Stolen Moments; Inner City Blues, The Life of Marvin Gaye). Keys will donate all proceeds to aid Keep A Child Alive's efforts.

"As a South African filmmaker, how can I not get involved with Alicia In Africa?," asks Sebastian (pictured left). "The work that Alicia Keys and Keep A Child Alive are doing is of the utmost importance to me. Here in the west, people just don't get it. Its as simple as this: pretty much my whole generation has been wiped out by a treatable, preventable disease." While the film is not slated for a theatrical release of festivals, Sebastian says the goal is for everyday people to pass on the film link-- to one another. "I want people to see the truth of what is happening in Africa and I want people to know that Alicia is absolutely 100% a true Ambassador of this cause."

LAST STOP?...It seems The Soul Train Awards may have finally run out of steam. Reuters Life is reporting that the awards, which was to celebrate 22 years, has been canceled without explanation. So let us try and fill in the blanks: The long-running Don Cornelius Production has lost its Urban luster--and its television distributor, Tribune Entertainment, which dropped its syndication business when the company went private in 2007. Last year's award show couldn't even attract many of the winners or A-List talent--such as Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, and John Legend--all of whom opted out. Which all just goes to show what happens when a legacy brand does not consistently work to expand into the new media times and maintain its relevancy. Shame.

...Like his politics or not, but former U.S. congressman J.C. Watts Jr., has accomplished something so many
others seemed to fail at doing--inking a deal to bring a Black news network to the air. He just announced creation of Black Television News Channel (BTNC). Set to launch in 2009, the network will be distributed on the airwaves by Comcast Cable. According to reports, BTNC will provide original news programming with a distinctively African-American perspective. No word if it will carry Watt's conservative Republican outlook, but BTNC will be the first cable service to offer 24-hour news targeted to African-Americans. Hats off to Watts.

BODY COUNT...Count Gary Dourdan as the latest "CSI" victim. Seem the actor was itching to get out of his role, according to TV Guide, and CBS was more than willing to oblige. His contract expires next month--and apparently so will his character quite possible on the May 15th season finale.

STUDIO SHAKEUP...We saw the writing on the wall after the announcement six weeks ago that New Line Cinema would be folded into Time Warner's Warner Bros division. Now comes the announcement that Time Warner will begin laying off most of the employees at its New Line. In all, some 450 employees in between New York and Los Angeles will get pink slips; only about 40-50 staffers will remain at New Line in its new life as a genre label. But fear not, this downsizing could actually create the perfect opportunity for New Line/Time Warner to spread its diversity wings even further because there will probably be a need for outsourcing from marketing services on up and down so this could still prove to be an economic gain for some in Hollywood, after all.

FAST & FURIOUS...Michelle Rodriguez isn't letting a little community service get in her way. She has a bunch of projects crowding her plate, including the fourth installment of The Fast &The Furious. But Rodriguez, who just wrapped the James Cameron thriller Avatar, is also expanding her reach by not only acting but also co-producing the film Trópico de Sangre. The movie, written and directed by newcomer Juan Delancer, is based on the Dominican Republic's historic Mirabal sisters who were assassinated in 1960 by Rafael L. Trujillo for opposing his dictatorship. The former "Lost" star will be playing the lead role of Minerva Mirabal. Actresses Claudette Lalí and Celinés Toribioon costar as her sisters. The film is produced by Kemasi Films and Rodriguez's production company, Cheshire Cat. On top of this, she's putting the finishing touches on her own script. When we get the lowdown on this, you'll be the first to know.

BRING THE NOISE..Hollywood is about to get a major dose of power. BET founding partner Sheila Johnson is taking on film producing. She is the force behind a film entitled A Powerful Noise (, a documentary set to make a highly anticipated debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film by newcomer Tom Cappello follows three women--in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mali, and Vietnam--as they fight day-to-day battles against ignorance, poverty, oppression, and ethnic strife. Hanh is an HIV-positive widow in Vietnam; Nada, a survivor of the Bosnian war; and Jacqueline works the slums of Bamako, Mali. Sound depressing? Not so. Johnson, a Global Ambassador for CARE to fight global poverty, says she was drawn to the project because it depicts how each woman overcame gender and other barriers to rise up and claim a voice in their societies--fighting AIDS, rebuilding communities, educating girls. Joining the ranks of such socially-minded Hollywood titans-in-the-making as Participant's Jeff Bezos, Johnson intends to prove that solid film making and societal awareness make for great synergy on the multicultural side as well! Kudos.

THE LION ROARS...MGM is looking to re-capture its brand recognition, as expected once Cruise and Co. took over the helm. It is this intention which is behind the studio's recent acquisition of the Robert Ludlum suspense thriller The Matarese Circle. To ensure the film's success, MGM has tapped Denzel Washington to star in the film adaptation of the best-selling novel. Said Mary Parent, chairperson, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, MGM in a press statement, "The Matarese Circle has all of the elements of a truly great film and possible franchise. Add Denzel Washington to this and we couldn't have hoped for a better announcement to kick off the ramping up of the studio's motion picture operation."

DRUG DRAMA...Stomp The Yard producer, Will Packer, isn't taking any breathers. He has just announced his latest project: the true story of Kemba Smith, who was granted clemency by President Clinton after serving six years on a 24-year sentence for conspiracy to sell crack cocaine. The first-time offender's story has been highlighted in the media during the debate surrounding sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine, versus powdered cocaine. Although Packer is hard at work on the thriller Obsessed starring Beyonce; he has been furiously searching for a writer for the project, especially since he plans to start production in 2009. Be on the lookout for more details later.


...The Rza has racked up many accolades for his recording talents and definitely his film composing talents, but this brotha is not stopping there. He is poised to launch his own online community. But here's the twist. According to AllHipHop, The RZA has partnered with to create for chess enthusiasts. The site will allow players to challenge others around the world, including Rza himself. C

B GAME..The Beastie Boy's Adam Yauch is taking some time out from rhyming to promote his new basketball documentary, Gunnin' for That No. 1 Spot. Yauch went behind the camera to capture some of the nation's top high school talent who played at Harlem's famed Rucker Park. The project was two years in the making, and will make its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Perhaps Yauch was inspired by fellow Hip Hopper, Pete Nash, formerly of the group 3rd Bash. Nash has been busy the last few years working on not one--but two films. The first is also sports-related and is based on a book the baseball lover wrote about Red Sox. Nash's second project is a documentary about White appropriation of Black music and culture called White Negro.

Gordon Bobb has been promoted to partner at entertainment law firm Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano. Bobb will continue to work with the firm's roster of entertainment clients, including directly with actors Jamie Foxx and Cedric The Entertainer, and feature writer/directors Malcolm D. Lee, Reggie Bythewood, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Rick Famuyiwa, among others.

The Primetime Emmy Awards is seeking entries in the category of outstanding creative achievement in interactive media. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' interactive media peer group issued the call for new digital programs and series for two different awards: fiction and nonfiction.



TV has been crucial to the candidates ever since the first ever televised debate on September 26, 1960 when John F. Kennedy faced off against Richard M. Nixon.

Fast forward to 2008, and there has been 21--count 'em--debates thus far, each televised in some form or another all forming what some production companies in Hollywood might call the latest new "series" on television.

Many speculated the coverage overload would be greeted by viewers with enthusiasm and the visionaries were right even though, curiously, the "programming" seems to be essentially a re-run of what the candidates essentially said the "episode" prior. You've seen it before, but you love it even more the second and third time around a la "Friends" or even "Sex & The City" in syndication.

Case in point? Well, more than 10 million viewers tuned into the Pe
nnsylvania Democratic debate this time on ABC (which unfolded in real time on the sponsored networks website and their debate sponsor partner Facebook) where essentially commentators agreed that, yet once again, not much new material was covered. In fact, according to Nielsen Media Research, it was the most-watched debate of the primary election season. It topped NBC's "Deal or No Deal" and CBS's "Big Brother" on CBS. (Though viewership dropped the second hour, when it was up against "American Idol.) ABC's previous debate airing in January averaged 9.4 million viewers. Some 8.3 million viewers tuned into CNN for another Democratic debate in January. Even the recent CNN Compassion Forum easily defeated the competition, garnering 1,880,000 million viewers.

Even though the two Dems have now officially debated everything under the sun, the "hit series" has continued without much new material. As a matter of fact, the first forty-five minutes to an hour of the 21st debate was spent on nothing but "gotcha" moments or how can I "one up you." So, some pundits are scratching their heads wondering how long will this "real life drama made for a serious TV series" continue.

Although questions are being asked, there is yet even another debate in the works. Senator Clinton has expressed interest, but Obama (perhaps being a wise "lead"), just announced, enough with the debates already. But when you have a hit show, the stars can sometimes be lured back with perks and promises. We're sure the hosting network will have a sit-down with Obama's people to entice him back for just one more episode.

So what we may now be confronted with is the good ol' cliffhanger?
Only time will tell.

What we do know is that with the historic Kennedy-Nixon debate, television changed the course of the political process. Now, politics have forever changed television.

Reality TV with reality. --Clemetine Clarke
Clemetine Clarke, owner of the governmental affairs, political strategy, fundraising and community relations firm CMH & Associates, strives to help women of color get elected to political office. Clarke has also served as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Democratic Party.




Yes, The A-List was out and in full effect covering the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention in sunny and warm Las Vegas. Though much has been said of the slightly lighter attendance perhaps due in part to recession lay-offs and apprehension about spending corporate dollars, there was definitely no effect on the abundant flow of information, gadgets, equipment and more.

Buckle up, here we go...


...It's always nice to have a solid newsroom on site when
at these things, and the number of "accoutrements" is usually directly reflective of both the sponsor(s) and organizer's notion of just how important media is to their business.

In the case at NAB, we'd say a definite 4 out of 5 stars. With a veritable fleet of computer stations, WiFi to boot; the "newsroom" as it were is well organized and a good size. Breakfast and lunch buffet style was cool, and we would just like to add that the brownies are a nice touch for us journalists in need of a sugar rush. Thus, we feel it's appropriate to first shout out Redback Network, an Ericsson Company, who as a sponsor of the newsroom "gets" what is needed for us to get the job done. And just what is Redback? An Ericsson company since January 2007, it manages 63 million broadband subscribers for more than 75% of the top 20 telephone carriers worldwide. Its mult-service routing platform delivers next generation broadband services such at IPTV. To check out, visit

Low-Cost Blank Video Tapes

PANELS, WORKSHOPS, AND SUMMITS, OH MY...If there was a current topic regarding new media broadcasting, radio and more; NAB had a place for discussion. A wealth of workshops dubbed "Super Sessions," keynotes, breakfasts and were all taking place concurrently; providing so many choices and so much information that one's head was spinning. Of particular note for The A-List were the workshops on New Media Video Production as well as the workshop on the hot new Adobe Media Player/Flash Media Server. The long and short of it is, if everyone in Hollywood is not thinking about multiscreen application for their film, TV or video content; they are probably dead in the water.

And the more one knows about how to either directly manipulate this material oneself or at least speak intelligently with their Flash programmers and others, the hotter the outcome will be. Main ideas to take away? Organize the process well, decide whether the bang of HD video is worth the buck and make sure the total backend (i.e. bandwith, resolution, etc) is well thought out before beginning production. And once all this content is ready to roll, Adobe just may have the tool for setting the standard (finally) for video viewing thanks to their new Adobe Media Player. With the estimation of 10's of millions of downloads (free to end user) in just a few months, the sky could be the limit on just how many people will use this software to better categorize and view the non-stop video out in the cyberworld today. And why do content producer's care? The metrics for viewing/advertising are built in and it all works as an RSS feed!

If this sounds a bit like Greek to you, The A-List suggests running--not walking--to get the lowdown from a new media consultant who can help you take advantage of all
these advancements and more. Consider connecting with (see b2b, new media marketing/consulting).

NOT YOUR DAD'S 3D...If anyone thought that 3D had reached its peak with say the 3D Shrek attraction at Universal Studios, think again. Roger Enrico, chairman of the board, DreamWorks Animation (pictured, right) and Todd Bradley, executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, Hewlett Packard (pictured, left) gave an impactful presentation Day 1 of NAB where we got a look at the Ultimate 3D (aka Real D). Incredibly impressive--the viewer almost feels as if he is inside of as well. And DreamWorks is banking that consumers across the world will find the look irresistibly sexy companies have come together to create. Going forward, all DreamWorks animated films will be released in this new 3D technology. That's right. All of them.

Also announced was HP's "DreamColor" technology that enables creatives to handle those color correction issues in more dazzling ways. Of interest to The A-List, however, will be the share that creatives, animators and techies of color will claim with all this forward thinking. It would be another smart move for these companies to reach back and train Urban youth in order to advance diversity--along with the technology.

EXHIBITIONISTS...After the hoopla about Apple not attending NAB this year due to what the company perceived were excessive charges by the convention, The A-List was curious to see just how just how full the exhibit areas would be. While there were definitely a few pockets without booths, many of the big boys were still out in full effect--from Panasonic and JVC hawking incredible HD cameras, to Sony, Adobe, Microsoft and Google, which by the way took the opportunity to demonstrate something which is a bit controversial: software to totally automate radio stations. Why the backtalk? If no one is minding the store, then the FCC wonders just who will inform us in real time via radio in an emergency situation. But judging by all the bees at the Google hive, there is definitely interest in this new offering.

...NAB is working hard to make certain that at the forefront of the convention is not only all the hoopla about the effects of new media on entertainment but just the regular ol' nuts and bolts of the change to digital TV on February 17, 2009. If you have questions connect with

...While there are no doubt different philanthropic attempts from the NAB which includes support of training programs for future broadcasters of color, actual on-site attendance by people of color did not seem to be high at all as one walked the exhibit floor. Just where is everybody? To be fair, maybe there are not so many "everybodies" even in the industry. According to the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, in fact, "minority" presence in radio alone has dropped at such a steady rate over the years that we are back to the same statistic of more than three decades ago.

But be that as it may, there are some of us--even in traditional television broadcast and those on the come up in new media. Yet in looking around at panel discussions such as "The New Hollywood," there is nary a brown face on the panel let alone discussions about the browning of American and how relevant content and marketing campaigns will have to be created in order to be competitive. Will these folks be prepared to satisfy the needs of the new upcoming majority? If not for a little Diversity in Broadcasting soiree at one of the suites at the
4040 Club at The Palazzo, we'd be hard pressed to find some flavor. Guess there's always next year...

With observations by KPOO news reporter Harrison Chastang.

On AMC's "Shootout"
Peter Guber to Laurence Fishburne: " as an African-American, what do you think about the presidential race?"
Laurence Fishburne to Peter Guber: "Let me answer that as an American."

Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker, Sanna Lathan, Taraji Henson snappin' up bottles of wine from music-mogul-turned-winemaker Kedar Massenberg's new vino label K'orus. Massenberg teamed up with French wine master Jean-Sebastian Robicque to produce the wine (Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon with a Rose due out later this year), which targets African Americans and novice wine drinkers. Massenberg recently introduced K'orus ( at Atlanta's new Uptown Restaurant & Lounge during a star-studded birthday celebration for model Cynthia Bailey and Kodjoe.

Snoop Dogg visitin' Llanview, Pennsylvania, on the ABC Daytime's "One Life to Live." The scene: Snoop drops in on the bachlorette party of "Adriana Lord" at the Ultra Violet club where he runs into old pal, "Bo Buchanan" (Robert S. Woods). And, Snoop, of course, performs as well. Set your TiVo for May 8 and 9 to catch Snoop's soap stint.

The A-List is: Lauren Coleman, founder/co-publisher...Ann Brown, co-publisher...Melissa Ross, European correspondant...LeAnne Lindsay, contributor...Anthony Davis, contributor...Gil Robertson, contributor...Dan Williams, contributor...Jaleesa Brown, contributor...Clemetine Clarke, columnist.