OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
WENDY GETS GREENLIGHT....Just got word that The Wendy Williams Show will debut on Fox July 13. This comes following her six-week pilot last summer on Fox, which says Deirdre Dod, the show's talent exec, that "there were days when the show got higher ratings than Oprah and was the highest rated show on Fox, which includes prime time!" Even though the infamous gossip diva was recenlty suspended from her radio show, we're sure she'll bring the heat to Fox.
BET GOES ABROAD...BET has been busy making deals. Just recently the network inked a deal with Image Entertainment, Inc. (http://www.image-entertainment.com/), a leading independent licensee, producer and distributor of home entertainment programming in North America. The two companies signed a multi-year agreement as part of the network's expansion into international markets. Under the deal, BET International will acquire the broadcast rights to Image's entire catalog of Urban titles--which include "Jamie Foxx: Unleashed," "Letter to the President," "Notorious B.I.G.: Bigger Than Life," "Love For Sale," and "Tupac Shakur: The Life of an Outlaw"--for airing in the U.K. and Africa. BET International will also acquire the broadcast rights to about 30 new Urban titles per year. Good move on BET's part to seek content from elsewhere; many of their original shows aren't global ready.
IN THE GAME...While many other networks are cutting back on shows, the Black Broadcasting Network (http://www.blackbroadcasting.com/) has announced the addition of three new shows. The network is adding sports to it's programming mix. Black College Sports, Ringside Boxing and Premier Basketball League will all be available in full HD to viewers when the network launches later this year. Says Yusef F. Muhammad, BBN's President, "Including these programs in our lineup reflects Black Broadcasting Network's commitment to providing quality, best-in-class content for our viewers. Since a wide variety of sports play an important role in young viewer's lives, we want to make sure that we offer them a diverse line up of programs to enjoy - all in thrilling HD." Black Broadcasting Network is a 24/7, ad-supported multiplatform network targeting the 18-34 Urban African-American viewer.
GEARING UP...Black Television News Channel (BTNC), which is scheduled to launch the nation's only African-American news network in 2010, has eached out to Black-owned ad agency Carol H. Williams Advertising (CHWA). CHWA will be a minority stakeholder in the new network, and will exclusively handle BTNC's advertising, marketing and PR services. BTNC (http://www.btnc.tv/) will construct the first coast-to-coast all HD television newsgathering providing 24/7 cable news programming dedicated to covering the African-American community.
HITTING THE ROAD...Oprah must like getting punk'd. She's teamed up with Ashton Kutcher's production company to produce a travel show for her new network, OWN. The series, "Excellent Adventure," is built around "a celebrity [as yet unnamed] and their best friend as they embark on the adventure they have always dreamed of taking together," according to press materials. While it sounds a lot like the televised road trip O and her best friend, Gayle, took in 2006, with Kutcher involved there has to be a twist. When we find out what it is, we'll let you know.
LAUGH IN...It's time again for the next installment of the Starz original stand-up comedy series "Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-up." The show just taped at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C. "Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-up" is executive produced by Lawrence. Now in its fourth season, the weekly series will feature 35 comedians who take the spotlight to tell it like it is in their own hard-hitting style. Hosted by comedian Doug Williams, it featured Rickey Smiley, Nephew Tommy, Thea, Talent Harris, Kid Reid, Gary Owen, Rich Vos, Deon Cole, Ray Lipowski, Brooklyn Mike, Jonathan Gates, and many others.
DVD ALERT... Dough Boys hits the shelves on June 16th. Starring Arlen Escarpeta ( We Are Marshall), Wood Harris (“The Wire”), Reagan Gomez-Preston (Beauty Shop), Cory Hardrict (Gran Torino), Maurice McRae (The King), Lorenzo Eduardo (The Hammer) and Sticky Fingaz (“Blade: The Series”). It was directed by Nicholas Harvell and the writer/producer was Preston A. Whitmore II (This Christmas, Doing Hard Time, Crossover). In the urban drama, four determined young men struggle to escape the pull of the streets. BET and Paramount Home Entertainment are distributing the DVD, which marked the feature film debut of director Harvell. Dough Boys is the first film to emerge from Give Back Raise Up, a program founded by Whitmore to fund independent films and give up-and-coming directors, actors and filmmakers the opportunity to utilize their creative skills. Whitmore has pledged to continue to finance and produce low-budget pictures to provide a showcase for talented newcomers both in front and behind the camera...Universal Studios Home Entertainment celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Do the Right Thing with an all-new special edition DVD on June 30th. Digitally re-mastered and featuring all-new 5.1 Surround Sound, the DVD is loaded with over four hours of revealing bonus material, including a never-before-seen retrospective documentary with cast and crew, a new feature commentary from director Spike Lee, and newly discovered deleted and extended scenes.
FCC ANNOUNCEMENT…President Obama: has named a Black woman as FCC Commissioner. Mignon Clyburn will head the Federal Communications Commission, an agency in charge of regulating television, radio, satellite, cable, and telegraph communications in the United States. As a commissioner, Clyburn will be instrumental in renewing or declining licenses to broadcasting stations as well as issuing fines.Clyburn was a member of the South Carolina Public Service Commission and publisher and general manager of The Coastal Times, a weekly newspaper in Charleston. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.-WLW
HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD
BANNER DEBUT...David Banner has signed on to star in the upcoming thriller The Confidant. Produced by former Miss USA Kenya Moore, Banner plays Jackson, a talented art major on full academic scholarship. When his best friend and college football star Nigel (Boris Kodjoe) mistakenly kills a man in a gambling dispute, Jackso forms a pact with childhood friend to beat the charge. Under their agreement, Nigel promises that Jackson will be taken care o financially once released. However, Banner’s character becomes twisted in prison, and upon his release he plots to take over his former friend’s life, starting with the illicit seduction of his lonely wife. Richard Roundtree also stars in the film. The project is slated to be the first motion picture under Moore’s Moore Vision Media company. Principal shooting begins in May, with a tentative release time for Fall 2009.
Check out what happened at Philly Cinefest09. Click Here for Philly Film Festival highlights. http://suckmyprettytoes.
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
The Tribeca Film Festival 2009 has come and gone. While, this year TFF seemed abbreviated in tempo, maybe because the schedule was leaner, in part due to current economics, the schedule included 85 features and 46 shorts , way down from previous years. This year's content was still pronounced and generally inclusive. The lineup included works from esteem local directors such as Spike Lee with two documentaries: Passing Strange and Kobe Doin' Work, and Woody Allen's world premiere of Whatever Works, serving as instant attention-getters. But as we allknow, film festivals are the hot beds for new concepts and emerging artist as TFF is on the cutting edge here.As usual there were the sightings and interactions. New Yorkers for the most were unraveled ou know it was just Robert DeNiro, Spike Lee, David Bowie, Deborah Harry, Edie Falco and many more. But hey wait was this just a weekend in SoHo?, nah... this was Tribeca --Tribeca Film festival!! But let's get to the details.
The festival entries addressed issues as diverse as the hypocrisy of gay politicians (Kirby Dick's documentary Outrage); an Iranian drama about a group of old college friends who reunite for a weekend adventure on the sea (Asghar Farhadi's About Elly), a black and white documentary about hunger in Brazil (Garapa by Jose Padilha); Soul Power, a film about the three-day concert that preceded the 1974 Kinshasa, Zaire boxing fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. Which were only two films with explicitly African themes at this year, and a litany of others in between. Below are a series of reviews that gives a broad overview of the festival.
1. Garapa, -documentary- directed by Jose Padilha: Addresses an issue that is quickly becoming central to the human condition, hunger. Padiha confronts this topic up close and personal. He shots three families as if it were his family with video home style in 16mm black and white. The result is haunting, disturbing and in the end effective. It begs us to look into our "soul" and ask is this what we would want for our "family" or even more it profoundly begs the question "Who is your family?"
2. Soul Power, produced by Leon Gast is essentially a belated follow-up to Gast's 1996 Oscar-winning documentary When We Were Kings. The question: Why is it only one of two African theme films in the whole festival? Not to get it wrong the film offers a vibrant and articulate eye on what happened in Zaire prior to the Ail/Forman fight in 1974.
3. Outrage -documentary- directed by -Kirby Dic is incendiary because he asks a couple basic questions many of us Americans tend to have issues with--How honest do I need to be?, How rich and famous do I want to become? and finally What is my sexuality? These questions combined tend to put a lot of us in a tailspin. Honesty seems to be "self" perceived, so does truth and reality. What happens when our self-perception conflicts with our public persona and we are asked for an explanation? Kirby seems to ask- "who are you true to?" Such an ugly but awesome deal.
4 . About Elly by Asghar Farhadi is an Iranian mystery addressing the culture of deceit in modern, middle-class day Iran is both visually and mentally appealing. Think about it like this- what if you created a movie that affected your culture but they could not view it due to political controls. Farhadi is brilliant and brave for keeping true to his truth. The question is, can we see that truth and use it pro-actively. This film also won "Best Narrative Feature."
5. The Last Mermaids (by Liz Chae) is a documentary short that lasts only 19 minutes, and what 19 minutes they are. It speaks of the women of Jeju Island, who generation after generation have survived by becoming Haenyo (women sea divers). These defiant women have for 2,000 years, fought men, governments, and armies to protect their right to make a living from the sea. Now they want the tradition to stop. These are The Last Mermaids.
These five films encapsulates what Tribeca prides itself on. -Worldwide diversity and understanding. --dan k williams
Actor Jesse Martin shopping at the Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa.