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OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
FREE NET NEWS...Folks for a net neutrality are celebrating--at least for the moment. Earlier this week, Democrats Rep. John Conyers (Michigan), who is African American, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (from the Silicon Valley area of California) introduced a bill--the Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act--that would subject broadband providers to antitrust violations if they block or slow Internet traffic. "Hollywood’s creative community depends on Net Neutrality to guarantee that the Internet remains a free-flowing medium for independent writers, producers and filmmakers," notes Jen Howard, spokesperson for Free Press (http://www.freepress.net/conference), the largest media reform organization in the U.S. whose efforts include SaveTheInternet.com. The bill's passage would result in keeping the Internet free and open. "The larger goal is affordable Internet access for everyone, everywhere. We need a competitive Internet that will bring lower prices, faster speeds and more choices to all Americans," says Howard. "If Internet service providers continue to block Web sites and services, Americans will be denied the economic and social opportunities that innovative technologies promise. You might want to mark your calendars for June 6-8 when Free Press holds its National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis. The Net Neutrality issue is of great concern, of course, to African Americans in new media as this new distribution avenue is vital. Shout out to Conyers for is efforts to push this forward. You know, we'll keep you posted on any other developments. CANNON READY TO SERVE...He may best be known these days as Mariah Carey's new hubby, but Nick Cannon also has other developments. Will Smith haICEBERG HEATS UP...Mack Daddy Alert. Iceberg Slim's classic pimp novel Mama Black Widow is being brought to the big screen--after a heated bidding war over the book rights. "It was extremely difficult, says producer Erika Connor (co-producer, Idlewild). Ultimately, the producers had "to overbid by quite a high number to secure the rights/property," she adds. Now Darren Grant (Diary of A Mad Black Woman) is set to direct; Kerry Washington, Mos Def, Rhianna, Anthony Anderson and Macy Gray (pictured) are all attached. Currently in pre-production, filming is set to start on location in L.A .and Chicago this summer. Budgeted at $5 million, Connor says they are "still securing private financing" and are in talks with several studios about distribution. "Besides his familiar classics Pimp and Trick Baby critics have said Mama Black Widow, about a Black transvestite, is one of Slim's most important works," says Connor. "My fellow producers, Darren, and I all agreed that our goal is to have [the audience]understand this characters' psyche." While Connor and Grant seem to be on a roll with their film adaptation, the movie adaptation of Pimp (to be directed by Bill Duke and staring Ice Cube) seems indefinitely on hold. In 2004 rapper Pras acquired the rights to produce a movie based on the book. What would be equally as interesting as any of Slim's novels, would be a biopic on the life of the college-student-tuned-pimp-turned-convict-turned-author.
s just recently tapped Cannon to play tennis legend Arthur Ashe in a biopic Smith's Overbrook Productions is bringing to the big screen. The unnamed project will start shooting later this year. Let's see if Cannon can serve up enough on-screen acting ability to put him the serious dramatic actor league.
REALITY DREAMS...Hold onto your hats, comedian, actor Eddie Griffin is returning to TV. Lacking a great track record with scripted sitcoms, Griffin is going the reality route. VH1 has picked up a reality series starring actor Griffin tentatively titled "Eddie Griffin Going for Broke." Unfortunately it sounds like a rehash of Snoop's recent successful series on E! show as the concept is similar. Now even the reality shows are becoming bad reruns. As the reality show circus become dominated by people of color, it's going to be up to those in front of the camera, many of whom are co-producing the shows, to step up the game and keep this genre fresh and exciting.
SCHOOL NEWS...Looking to reach a younger audience, ABC News plans to open bureaus this fall on the campuses of five universities across the United States. While offering on-the-job training to aspiring journalists, ABC News said it would gain greater insights into the lives of the 33 million U.S. 18-to-25-year-olds--a demographic every major network news division is striving hard to reach. The initiative will be launched in journalism schools at Arizona State University, Syracuse University, University of Florida, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and University of Texas at Austin. What's missing? An HBCU--Historically Black College or University. But ABC spokesperson Paige Capossela told The A-List exclusively, "ABC News considered several top rated journalism schools that were geographically and socially diverse...We wanted to begin with five schools in our first year, to insure they receive the proper attention and mentoring. We do hope to expand the program in 2009 and broaden our pool of schools involved." With more than 100 HBCUs, including Hampton University, Dillard, and Howard, who are considered to have some of the best journalism programs around--ABC shouldn't have a hard time finding one to partner with next year.
THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
The Next Act…
While the power of Hollywood's television industry has long been the vehicle of choice for mass media political discourse, this may just be the first campaign in U.S. history that has used the Internet in now growing force. The campaign is being played out in Cyberspace. And, there's no doubt, the Internet is taking its rightful place, helping candidates to spread the word and boosting their fundraising budgets with the Web's unprecedented targeted outreach unlike the mass reach of TV.
In fact, according to a recent Pew Research study nearly a quarter of Americans (24%) say they regularly learn something about the campaign from the Internet,almost double the percentage at a comparable point in the 2004 campaign (13%). And the role of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook has become a story in itself. Now when a celeb, such as Tom Hanks, wants to announce his endorsement of a candidate--in this case, Obama--he didn't hold a press conference. He uploaded a video announcement via his MySpace page.
On the flip side, the Pew study found that the proportion of Americans who turn to traditional news sources for information about the campaign has remained static or declined slightly since the last presidential campaign. "Compared with the 2000 campaign, far fewer Americans now say they regularly learn about the campaign from local TV news (down eight points), nightly network news (down 13 points)...Cable news networks are up modestly since 2000, but have shown no growth since the 2004 campaign," says the Pew report.
So where are folks surfing? According to recent reports/stats/metrics/ratings MSNBC (at 26%), CNN (23%) and Yahoo News (22%). But non-traditional sources of campaign information--the Drudge Report (3%), MySpace (3%), YouTube (2%)--are also in the mix.
And with the youth adoption of all things new media, there are numbers for young people seeking campaign info online is substantially higher. Overall, Pew research disclosed that more than a quarter of those younger than age 30 (27%) – including 37% of those ages 18-24 – have gotten campaign information from social networking sites. They are going online to view videos of campaign debates, speeches and commercials. In fact, about four-in-ten people under age 30 (41%) have watched at least one form of campaign video online, compared with 20% of those ages 30 and older.
Yes, election is now being played out daily by media affiliates blogs, and websites. Who can imagine life without cnnpolitics.com, politico.com, The Huffington Post, or msnbc.com. Urban coverage has been beefed up, not only on long-standing sites such as blackpoliticsontheweb.com and BlackElectorate, but with theroot.com and even on BlackVoices, BET and many Hip Hop portals..
Not only are formal media outlets themselves but the candidates are directly tapping this infinite resource. The candidates have, particularly on the Democratic side and especially the Obama camp, with its "Barack TV channel" and ringtones, are using the power of the Web. Whether it be emailing updates to constituency, sending videos/commercials/interviews via iPod, with new media, candidates can reach millions immediately. Just recently, as John Edwards was formally endorsing Obama live on air, the Jr. Senator's camp was downloading the up-to-the-minute photos of the two on stage to Obama's Flickr.com page. And while Sen. Clinton's Internet invasion has been well-thought out and organized, she has not been truly able to capture the attention of the Web's main force--the youth. Will adding her own ringtones, wallpaper and other mobile "accessories" help? Probably not, as her core constituency is older. John McCain even further illustrates the online age gap. His use of new media, well almost invisible. But candidates today and in the future should take caution. Another growing segment on the web are seniors. According to the Department of Aging, Americans over the age of 60 are the fastest growing segment of computer and Internet users.
As we continue to factor in and ponder new media's influence on the 2008 Presidential campaigns, I have to ask who wouldn't want to be a person on the true inside of politics right now. Much like the way we wrap our day-to-day lives in work, and play this phenomenon is beyond exciting. It's apparent that the Web has revolutionized the political scene and its on the way to changing the way people politic. In other words, the revolution won't be televised (we already did that) it will be downloaded. But just how connected will African Americans be if Urban issues are short shifted in the new media arena, as they have been else where, remains to be seen --Clemetine ClarkeClemetine 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.
Boost Mobile Appoints Matt Carter Senior Vice President and General Manager
Boost Mobile has named Matt Carter as senior vice president and general manager. Most recently, Carter served as senior vice president, base management at Sprint. Carter holds a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
BEDI A. SINGH NAMED PRESIDENT, FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION & CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER FOR MGM STUDIOS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. has names Bedi A. Singh, most recently the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc., President, Finance and Administration & Chief Financial Officer of MGM. In this newly created position, Singh takes on the overall responsibility for the company's financial activities.
SAMSUNG ANNOUNCES MOBILE TV PARTNER
Samsung Electronics has announced it is combining efforts with fellow Korean electronics maker LG Electronics to develop a new standard for mobile TV broadcasts. Harris Corp., an American broadcast technology company, will provide key elements of the technology, which will allow mobile devices such as cell phones to receive signals sent out by local TV stations. Mobile TV broadcasts will be one of the ways broadcasters hope to capitalize on a federally mandated switch to all-digital signals. After Feb. 17, 2009, all regular analog broadcasts will stop and older, non-digital TVs not connected to cable will need a converter to display broadcasts.
FEATURE: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
NOKIA "DOES THE RIGHT THING"
Has cell phone distribution of film properties come of age?
Well, if Nokia has it's way, whatever progress has been made will now move exponentially..By now you may have heard about the unique partnering of filmmaker Spike Lee and Nokia via a ton of different media outlets. But we decided to dig deeper.
If not, in a nutshell, Lee will direct a movie
compiled of cell phone footage from everyday people in what he calls the "democratization of film." The film by Nokia Productions (http://promotions.yahoo.com/nokiaproductions/) will consist of three acts: an "assignment" for each act will be announced online and people will then have four weeks to produce their submission.
But today's savvy consumers will understand that Nokia isn't heading into these productions for art's sake. The concept is a cross-promotion made in heaven. Not only can filmmakers strut their stuff, but Nokia gets to promote their product. "Nokia Productions platform was designed for consumers who are dedicated to the latest trends in social networking and technology. Through this, Nokia is creating awareness and increasing the appeal of its brand with the very consumers who can best take advantage of the latest devices and services that Nokia is today making available," says senior marketing manager Nicki Purcell, who is heading up Nokia Productions.
For Lee, the partnership will help push film into the next arena. And, Nokia and Lee seem to be reading from the same script.
"What appealed to Nokia was how Spike Lee is so well known for breaking the mold in his films. We see Nokia Productions as also breaking the mold in how people think about what a film can be," says Purcell. "One thing that he told us is that 'The future of filmmaking is changing and mobile-generated art is fast becoming the next medium for film. In five years, I believe we will be watching films in movie theaters that have been shot on a mobile phone.'"
But this isn't the first time Nokia reached out to Hollywood. The company previously tapped Gary Oldman in 2006 to create a short film, entitled Donut, on the then-new Nokia N93 multimedia computer. "The Gary Oldman project was quite well received, and we see Nokia Productions as something that builds upon prior programs that explored mobile filmmaking by adding a compelling community element to the mix that has never been attempted before," says Purcell.
As Nokia continues to develop phones that allow the users to create films, Nokia Productions is here for the long haul. And now with Lee on board, it would seem that at Nokia multiculturalism is in the, which will really take this project to the next level.
It was double duty for singer Lyfe Jennings who teamed up with Lifebeat for a party to stress AIDS awareness recently in NY at hotspot Home. But it was also the night Jennings celebrated his CD release, Change. So of course we were excited as we hopped out of the cab just as many other guests were just arriving as well.SPOTTED
The club had a smooth atmosphere--dark, nice acent lighting, and a real laid-back vibe. Not to mention the music was awesome, thanks to DJ Suss.One. The setting was straight out of a rap video.
We hung around a minute before making a beeline to the V.I.P section where Lyfe and his people had settled in. We spotted a few familiar faces including BETs own Cousin Jeff. Once inside the inner circle, we chatted with Jennings, who told us he is heading soon to the big screen--if he has his way: "I can act!," he said, then added jokingly, "I am around these industry cats all day, they tell me to do something different and I say ok I'll do it!"
After Lyfe's event wrapped, we all--include in Lyfe--headed across the street to hot new R&B singer Estelle's ("American Boy") own release party. But wait: We were stopped at the door. We waited for a while, but eventaully Lyfe grew tired and decided to jet. Just then someone from the club ran out and said Lyfe--but only Lyfe--could come enter. But believe it or not, Lyfe said "Forget that." Needless to say, we all left. But The A-List left felling good about having met such a gentleman in the game. And you know we'll have our ticket in hand when he does make his film debut. --Jaleesa Brown (aka L e e S a B*)
Tosha Smith, Tisha Campbell and Sally Richardson enjoyin' a girl's day out while exiting Phipps Plaza in the exclusive Atlanta suburb of Buckhead during a break from filming Rockmond Dunbar's directorial debut Pastor Brown.
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.