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THE NEXT FRONTIER...The Internet is fast becoming the place for filmmakers--seasoned and new--to present their latest projects. Now, following in Michael Moore's mouse clicks, director Wayne Wang (Last Holiday, Made in Manhattan, The Joy Luck Club) has premiered his new movie for free on YouTube. The Princess of Nebraska, the story of a pregnant Chinese girl in the U.S., can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKgbIz6CM_E. You may recall Moore caused a stir when he released is latest doc, Slacker Uprising, for free on the Web. Smart move for Wang: This helps in creating greater avenues for diverse voices and a window into the fascinating elements of young, Chinese-American culture.
DAYS GONE BY...One-time Hollywood "super" manager/agent Benny Medina, who has handled the careers of Jennifer Lopez, Tyra Banks, Mariah Carey, Usher, Chris Rock, Will Smith, Diddy and Nicole Richie, is shutting down his Handprint Entertainment firm at year's end. It's been a fast and turbulent ride for Medina, who while handling mega stars also reportedly burned more than a few bridges at the studios. No word on what is next for Medina, but could it be that he missed too many connects for clients since he allegedly doesn't "do" email in an era of new media.
NEW ENDEAVOR FOR LEE...It seems Spike Lee wasn't too happy that his critically acclaimed film Miracle at St. Anna flopped, taking in just $7.5 million to date. Miracle came on the heels of Lee's highest-grossing film ever, Inside Man, which earned $176 worldwide in 2006. Lee seems to be placing blame with his agent of 15 years, William Morris. The controversial director didn't waste any time; he's just moved over to Endeavor. But it seems to The A-Lis, comparing the two films, given the subject matter of Miracle--historical based verse action/thriller--and the fact it was an ensemble movie rather than star-driven like Inside Man with Denzel Washington, the only way it could have pulled bigger box office numbers would have been with a more intense promo campaign. Could Lee have moved too quickly or was it a way to shake things up?
TIME'S UP?...Is "60 Minutes" behind the times? The long-running news magazine has seemingly not kept up with the growing TV viewing demo; the average TV viewer today is of color. Since the departure of creator Don Hewitt and the death of Ed Bradley, the program has failed to include even one journalist of color but has managed to even add scandal-ridden Lara Logan, a blond British journalist, to the mix. That, in addition to the occasional appearances of Mr. Everywhere, Anderson Cooper, who in our opinion already has enough of the TV pie with CNN's "360" and his guest host spots on "Live With Regis & Kelly," "60 Minutes" have no room at the inn for a reporter of color. Will someone please inform "60 Minutes" that diversity equals profitability?
HABLO ESPANOL ...Oprah has finally gone bilingual. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" is now available in Spanish in the country's six largest Hispanic TV markets: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston and Dallas. More cities are expected to be added this season. We're actually surprised the "Queen" of media hadn't done this before, considering the number of Latino TV viewers. So, file this in the category "Better Late Than Never."
ON DECK...After being on simmer for a minute, director F. Gary Gray (A Man Apart, The Italian Job, Set it Off), has turned up the heat. He's currently in production on Marvin: The Life Story of Marvin Gaye and just signed on to helm Armored starring Eric Bana. According to the Hollywood Reporter, he has also just taken over for Frank Darabont as director of legal thriller Law Abiding Citizen. The film will star Jamie Foxx as a man who seeks vigilante justice against a district attorney (Gerard Butler), whose plea deal set free the killer of his family. Word is Darabont, who co-wrote the script, left over creative differences with producers. All good, but let's see if Gray can really kick it up a notch by extending his eye and attention to the new media side of each of the films' experience as well. Game on!
CNN ON THE D.L....We're not sure that a news network can do comedy, but CNN thinks so. The network has announced a weekend comedy show with D.L. Hughley. Titled "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," the show will air live Saturday nights and replay 24 hours later. Jon Stewart and "Chocolate News's" David Alan Grier don't have to worry however. Hughley describes the program as a news-oriented talk show, more like David Letterman and Jay Leno. With the beautiful political comedy synergy of "Saturday Night Live," which is raking in the ratings, CNN may be onto something here. But we question the "safe" choice of Hughley. What about going with a more biting comedian.
PURR..FECT PICK?...Here we go again. Beyonce is playing yet another singer. Having just portrayed Etta James (who the singer herself reportedly wanted singer Faith in the role) in the upcoming film Cadillac Records, insiders tell us Mrs. Carter will next play Eartha Kitt in a bio pic. This we have to see. Physically, Beyonce is nothing like the Cat Woman, and she'll have to get a handle on Kitt's distinctive purr and voice.
FIERCE TWOSOME...We're wondering how Tyra Banks is taking the news that two of her "America's next Top Model" (ANTM) cohorts, J. Alexander (aka Miss J) and Jay Manuel (who recently sued ANTM for unpaid commissions, and settled), are getting their own show on the CW. We hear the network has ordered a pilot of "Operation Fabulous" in which the pair travel cross country giving makeovers. One thing we do know, with these two Js together, we're sure the show will have over-the-top attitude.
THE SISTERS SIMMONS...Speaking of fierce twosomes, Rev. Run's (Run-DMC) daughters, Simmons girls--Angela and Vanessa--are at every party these days. The Sisters have even recently secured a spin-off deal from "Run's House" called "Daddy's Girls." The MTV reality series will follow the sisters as they adjust to life in Los Angeles. Question is, do viewers care?
NO LONGER A CONTENDER...Producers behind Jamie Foxx's upcoming The Soloist, costarring Robert Downey Jr., are said to be upset that Paramount Pictures has taken the film, which has gotten early raves, out of Academy Award contention by moving its release date from Nov. 21 to March 13. The studio told Variety the move was to attract greater moviegoers. But if the film were to obtain an Oscar nod, the studio could possibly gain even more ticket buyers. According to Money magazine a nomination "could garner nearly $11 million in ticket sales for a film between the day the nominations are announced and the Oscar. Time will tell if Paramount made the right choice; hopefully it's a "win."
A DAY AT THE BEACH...Singer Ne-Yo is heading to Hollywood, according to his camp. He will star in and executive produce the Fox Atomic film Venice Beach. He'll also produce the soundtrack. The film, which may be directed by music video director-turned filmmaker Paul Hunter (Bulletproof Monk), follows an 18-year-old Manhattan Beach woman who represses her own singing talent until she meets a gifted musician-singer (Ne-Yo) from Venice Beach. So far, this storyline's not blowing us away...but we are curious; will Ne-Yo act sans his trademark hat?
WHITE HOUSE TO GO Hi-TECH?...A "Chief Technology Officer"? Now, that's what we call a forward-thinking presidential candidate. Earlier this week Barack Obama has called for the creation of a "chief technology officer," who would make sure the federal government imports the best technology tools from the private sector, according to William Kennard (Clinton's former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission), a technology adviser to the Obama campaign. This would be the first for a presidential cabinet. The tech czar would also be charged with reaching out to the public for their own new media ideas. The A-List has been at the forefront of ideas, has addressed the disparities in new media ownership and suggested strategy for the last several years, so look no further.
HIP HOP HOLLYWOODWILLIAMS MIA...When viewers tuned into earlier this week to the BET Hip Hop Awards, they immediately noticed host Katt Williams was MIA. Word has it that Williams called in as a no-show at 4 am the day of the taping. BET execs quickly secured artist-of-the moment T. Pain to fill in. According to an official statement from BET, Williams lost a breakdancing contest to T. Pain, thus losing his hosting spot. This strikes us as a bit odd. Underground buzz is saying that there was an arrest. We'll be diggin' further into this and keep you updated!
WEST SIDE!...Lovers of West Coast Hip Hop may want to check out the just-released DVD Once Upon A Time In Compton by Lonzo Williams, the founder of the World Class Wreckin' Crew. Williams held court recently with Lil' E, son of original gangsta' rapper Eazy E at a recent Hollywood screening for the VH-1 Roc Doc: NWA The World's Most Dangerous Group. The DVD, distributed by Dub-Kris Media, documents the early history and origins of the Los Angeles rap scene.
FINANCIAL TROUBLE AT NATIONAL AMUSEMENT
Despite being $1.6 billion in debt, National Amusement, executive chairman Sumner Redstone announced he does not plan to sell any more shares in National Amusement companies Viacom Inc. or CBS Corp. National Amusements recently sold $233 million of its nonvoting stock in CBS and Viacom. Redstone, who is the controlling shareholder of both of Viacom and CBS, said he is in talks to renegotiate the company's debt.
In an industry saturated with brainless lyrics, sex and violence, its always refreshing to hear music that moves the masses in a different more upbeat direction. Such is the current project from Goodworx Music, a hodgepodge of various Reggae, R&B, and soul artist coming together for a project called "Bolistik." Bolisitik is the brainchild of Jetsun Bradford-Ebey, the CEO of Goodworx Music. It is also the first project from the newly formed label in which the project will be released. Bolisitik was mostly recorded in the studios built by Jetsun on family property just north of San Francisco. Jutsun explains that the label and project came Into being out of the creation of a production facility and realizing a record label needed to be created to create a space for various projects to come through and flourish.
"We want to build a musical community on a global scale that infuses various cultural and rhythmic values and create relationships to support not only ourselves but other artist who are trying to do the same thing," says Jetsun. "In doing so, we're trying to bring a different vibe and frequency based on making a better world."
Joining Jetsun on this project are artist such as Jamaican-born singer Junior Reid (best known as the lead vocalist in Black Uhuru), reggae greats Lutan Fyah, Ras Attitude, and Rankin Scroo; Cuban-born rapper Mano Negra; Morocco native Bouchaib Abdelhadi, and many others. Jetsun is already working on the second album for Bolistik, which will use some of the same artists and new ones as well putting together a live set that will begin to tour later this year. Sounds like a project built on solid ground and grooves and positive change. --Anthony Davis
Rudy "Dolemite" Ray Moore
Rudy Ray Moore, the self-proclaimed "Godfather of Rap" who influenced countless rappers and comedians with
his rhyming style, braggadocio and profanity laced routines, has died. He was 81. Moore's raunchy low-budget films--Dolemite, The Human Tornado, Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil's Son-in-Law and Money Hustler in the 1970s became cult classics.