OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
AT THE MOVIES...The Academy of Arts and Sciences have promised a Oscars unlike others in the past. While they are keeping most of the plans hush-hush, they did announce the inclusion of Oscar-nominated writer-director John Singleton. They have tapped the filmmaker to direct the trailer promoting the 81st Academy Awards featuring Oscar host Hugh Jackman. The trailers just started running in more than 11,000 theaters nationwide. Singleton is the first Black filmmaker to create the theatrical buzz for the Oscars. According to an official statement for Academy President Sid Ganis, "The Oscars are a world>wide phenomenon. I'm thrilled that John could work with us to create a powerful spot that will whet movie lovers appetites for a terrific show."
MADEA'S EUROPEAN ADVENTURE?...His movies have already grossed nearly $300 million at U.S. box offices, but Tyler Perry recently told fans in his newsletter that he hasn't been as successful as he'd like. His nagging ambition--to have his Madea series of films take over Europe. Although Hollywood's questionable wisdom claims "Black" films don't sell overseas, is the African-American community really eager for Perry's Christian-themed, slap-stick humor infused films to be representative of Black lifestyle? You tell us what you think.
MADSION AVENUE & RACE...Things are heating up over at the FCC. The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council wants the FCC to extend its broadcast advertising nondiscrimination rule to cable, satellite and telecommunications companies as well. In a recent filing, the group asked the FCC to launch a examination of the issue to "ensure an equal footing for a services in the fight against advertising discrimination." We'll keep you updated on this developing story
NO MORE DRAMA...The Wendy Williams Experience, the nationally syndicated radio show that spawned a TV show, has added a new producer. This comes following a sexual harassment scandal involving the former producer and Williams' husband. Now show newcomer Kenneth Simmons says he plans to "bringing more guests on the show including experts in finance, careers and health in addition to celebrities (lke Ray J)." Says Simmons, who worked for nine years as a senior producer for X Radio Networks before joining Wendy Williams, "The show is more information intensive now." And Simmons gives The A-List a sneak peek for next week's shows "We will examine America's young Black millionaires with Wall Street Journal reporter Lee Hawkins who hosts the CNBC special 'The Rise of America's New Black Overclass.'"
HIP HOP HOLLWYOOD
HAMMER GETS MORE TIME...As with many Hip Hop sensations from the past, MC Hammer has made his way back to the limelight--well, to reality TV that is. The A-List just got word he has landed a deal with A&E. And, you guessed the name--"Hammertime." The network is calling the program as an unscripted "Cosby Show," as it covers the family man, church-going version of the '90s rap sensation who brought excess and mega showmanship to the game. The show's going to need a little of that old Hammer magic to make people tune in as this is now the umpteenth show about a rapper and his family.
ALL EYEZ IN COURT...Things are looking dim for the much-talked about Tupac Shakur bio pick. The film about the slain rap legend is caught in a legal web. According to the New York Times, the production company Morgan Creek (Ace Venture Pet Detective, Juwanna Man) is suing Amaru Entertainment, which is run by Shakur’s mother, Afeni Shakur. According to Morgan Creek, Amaru reneged on an agreement to sell Tupac's life rights for a movie. Amaru's legal rep issued a statement saying, “There is no agreement with Morgan Creek, there never was, and there never will be.” Considering the success the Notorious biopic enjoyed and studios jumping on other hip hop life dramas, it would be a shame if the Tupac project gets stalled indefinitely. Not only would it possible shed more light on the complex life and career of the rapper/actor/activist, but bets are it would be a moneymaker.
OBAMA CAMP ON FAIRNESS DOCTRINE
According to a spokesperson for President Obama, the Administration will oppose any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine. In an official statement to FOXNews.com White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said, Obama "Does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated." This follows the call from several prominent Democratic senators who have called for the policies to be reinstated. Conservative officials opposed attempts of reinstatement, suggesting that the doctrine is an attempt to impose liberal viewpoints in the Conservative media. The Fairness Doctrine was adopted in 1949 and held that broadcasters were obligated to provide opposing points of views on controversial issues of national importance. It was halted under the Reagan administration.
ON THE SCENE
The A-List At The Brit Awards
To sum uo this year's The Brits (the Grammy's of the UK) – it was FANTASTIC!
First, hats off to Havas Media for the invite and our host ITV (the UK's largest, independent TV network and broadcaster of The Brits). We couldn't have had a better table in Earl's Court (a massive venue, think Madison Square Garden) – perched high but close enough to see every thing and every one. Dinner was delivered with surprising precision. Although it was nothing worth mentioning but the champagne made up for that and it flowed all night!
The show was hosted by Kylie Minogue, James Corden and Mathew Horne. Can't remember anything they did or said so we're not sure how strong of a choice they were. U2 opened the show with their latest tune "Get on your boots." While we love U2, I didn't think there was anything fresh about the song or the performance considering their lofty comments about reinventing rock'n'roll. Other performers included Girls Aloud, Coldplay, Duffy, Take That, Kings of Leon and The Ting Tings together with Estelle. The 2009 "Outstanding Contribution to Music Award" winners, Pet Shop Boys, closed the show with a collection of their songs in true British electro dance fashion with help from the U.S sensation Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers (lead singer of The Killers) – definitely one of the highlights of the evening. Massive '90s boy band and comeback kids, Take That dropped from the ceiling to sing their hit "Greatest Day." But the best performance of the night was the live mash-up between Estelle singing "American Boy" and The Ting Tings performing "Shut and let me Go" and "That's not my Name." Which brings us to a few interesting observations:
- JUST LIVE RADIO VERSIONS - Other than the mash-up, every performer sang their song in the EXACT same fashion as it's heard on their CD. Every single note in the exact same arrangement – we could have been listening to the radio! Why not mix it up a little and do something different.
- WHERE WERE THE PEOPLE OF COLOR? Estelle was the only Black Brit on stage and only one of three black Brits nominated – Leona Lewis and M.I. A. were the other two. Funny enough, Leona wasn't even nominated for Best British Female. She was right to turn her nose up at the Awards. Honey was only nominated in one category! Granted she had more nominations last year but she didn't win any of them and nothing was different this year. Hey, this is Leona Lewis we're talking about – forget color, she was the fourth highest-selling artist in the UK in 2008 AND first solo British female artist to have a number one hit in the US charts for 21 years. TWENTY–ONE YEARS?!! Her view, according to a source close to the singer, is, "What's the point of getting her glad-rags on if the chances of being recognised on her own soil are slim to none?"
If you look the UK's top 20 singles chart right now you've got Leona Lewis, Alesha Dixon, Shontelle, Tinchy Stryder and Taio Cruz -all Black Brits. Yes, we know that ethnic minorities only make up 10% of the population in the UK and yes ethnic minorities have an award show of their own, The MOBOs (music of black origin). But voting procedures aside, we can't help but wonder how a country/industry that is consistently churning out White women who sound Black singing soul music (Amy Whinehouse, Joss Stone, Duffy, Adele…) can't seem to find any Black singers singing soul music to promote. Leona Lewis came up through the reality show Pop Idol and Estelle went to Americans to get her #1 single. Guess the Obama Effect hasn't hit the UK yet (not like our financial catastrophe that is).
All that aside, the energy of the crowd was great and all together it was a night we won't soon forget. One other thing we will say, the Brits have figured out is how to keep award shows short and sweet. We're guessing because everyone wants to knock off work and just get to the after-parties – and the Brits do a DAMN good after-party! --words and photo by Melissa Ross