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OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
"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--http://www.aliciainafrica.com/-- 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."
NEWSWORTHY...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.
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 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.
HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD
MYSTERY OF CHESSBOXING...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 ChessPark.com to create WuChess.com for chess enthusiasts. The site will allow players to challenge others around the world, including Rza himself. Checkmate.
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 MAKES PARTNER
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.
EMMYS CALL FOR INTERACTIVE ENTRIES
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.
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 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 ABCNEWS.com and their debate sponsor partner Democratic debate this time on ABC (which unfolded in real time on the sponsored networks website ) where essentially commentators agreed that, yet once again, not much new material was covered. In fact, according to , it was the most-watched debate of the primary election season. It topped 's " " and CBS's "Big Brother" on CBS. (Though viewership dropped the second hour, when it was up against ".) 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. 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.
Buckle up, here we go...
CONNECTED...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 http://www.redback.com/
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 http://www.punchmediagroup.net/ (see b2b, new media marketing/consulting).
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.
DIGITAL, SMIGITAL...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 http://www.dtvanswers.com/.
MUTED TONES...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.
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.