LIVE BLOG SPECIAL ISSUE: CNN’s BLACK IN AMERICA: THE BLACK MAN

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2008 by thealistmagazine

The West Coast chat will include JEFF CLANAGAN, KEITH “KB” BROWN, AND BLACK THOMAS

What were your first thoughts when you heard CNN was doing?

Jeff: I was excited that a mainstream network was attempting to take on the task of producing a documentary outline our struggles and accomplishments in America.   Most networks are afraid to properly cover the issue of race.

When we interviewed the exec. producer of the series, Mark Nelson, he said his desire to cover the story of Black men led to the entire series. He stressed that as a White male he wanted to explore the misconceptions the media puts out about Black men. Do you think that people in general, Black, White, men and women are yearning to discuss these issues more than before?

Black: Yes, I think everyday that you get an opportunity to be better understood some one then we can get to a point where you won’t have to be informed because you know I feel it’s an ongoing thing. but as long as people continue to care and get to know those they don’t no matter what the color may be we will achieve that goal.

Jeff: Based on my conversations with people of different races, I don’t think there is an urgency to discuss the issues of Black People in America.  Keep in mind that most affluent white people think that everything is ok.  They don’t believe that black people are treated unfairly.

Do you feel this series will enlighten?

Too many negatives?

Keith:  Yes, they definitely are not painting a pretty picture.

Jeff: Unfortunately there are a lot of negative stuff that affects black people.  A large amount of black people live in poverty, the prison population is disproportionably black, education etc… so you have to deal with the negatives

Are they showing Black men in a hopelessly desperate state>?

Jeff: I think they need to offer solutions, but I think it is too early in the program.  We need to see how they conclude the show.

Keith: I think they’re doing it to bring issues to light that are often times glossed over…especially on outlets such as CNN.  So I appreciate the rawness they’re presenting.  It’s driving the point home for me and I feel it will spark conversation amongst people on how to fix the issues discussed.

Black: you know no matter how bad it is there is a point of choice to me. I feel there are so many situations for every person to feel some what responsible about there paths.

We’re almost an hour in; one of our readers wants to know what you as a producer might have done differently, if anything?

Keith: would pick up the pace a bit.  More statistics would be great and I’d enjoy commentary from more experts along the way.  But so far I’m quite impressed and will be recommending this program to everyone I know!..The spoken word segues are wonderful

They are actually doing a good job.  As a producer you could take many different approaches.  It is very subjective.  I grew up in the bay area and tend to be a more progressive so I probably would have featured used the plight of the Black Panthers as a b story.  I would have focused on Oakland since that is where the movement started

You mentioned the subjective nature of putting something like this together. Do you think CNN should have pulled in key black producers, since all of he exec producers on the series are white. Important, or not really?

Jeff: YES!  VERY IMPORTANT. The piece is a little sanitized and they keep going back to Dr. King and his philosophy but what about Malcolm, Huey etc…. and the governments role in bringing these organizations down which effects today’s generation.

Keith: I agree with Jeff, that is very odd.

Another reader wants to follow-up and ask, could the age of the producers, mostly older men, play a factor?

Jeff: I think race and perspective play more of a factor.

Black: BT:I feel the color or age of the producers is irrelevant…I respect them for bringing this to the attention of the world.  I’m glad somebody is saying something.

CNN  has gone all out in promoting the series, with special screenings, etc. Today, they sent over info on a special booklet they created for parents to discuss with their kids. Thus far, are you finding it impactful?

Jeff: Yes, they are making an effort to reach out to the black community.  You have to commend them for making the effort

Keith: I’m really liking where they are going with it.  They’ve addressed SO many issues and personalities very quickly.  I think it’s very impactful.

WOW, Malcolm shouted out The Cool Kids….an awesome group.   (Just had to add that in).

What do you think of the  experts?

Keith: I mentioned early I would have liked to hear from more ‘experts’ and I’ve decided to take that back. But I think they’ve chosen to focus on the experiences and stories of people instead of expert commentary.  I’ve gotten used to the flow now and actually like where they’re going… wish they would have said a bit more about Hip Hop music.  Doing rap videos constantly, it’s something I struggle with….the images that are put out there.

With just a few minutes left in the segment, what are your overall thoughts?

Keith: I think the music segment is great.  They’ve presented various perspectives for people to form their opinion from.

Jeff: I feel that they did a good job at bringing up and exploring the issues facing black America.  There a lot of topics that could have been more thoroughly fleshed out but I do understand they had to deal with time constraints

They should be commended for making the efforts and the success of the show should create more opportunities with other networks for this type of programming

I know ratings will play a part, but do you see other outlets following suit??

Jeff: It will be purely based on ratings and advertiser interest.  Let’s hope the ratings are good and potential other outlets like fox are open to more serious black programming

Do you think it helped people better understand black men?

Keith: Well, you know I would have liked to see a whole show on the music and video imaging topic LOL But it was a nice overview. I disagree with Russell’s comment about the top ten rap songs of last year expressing the struggle of the Black community. “We Fly High”, “Pop Bottles”, “Wouldn’t Get Far”, “Show Me What You Got”. Those songs are all flash and a$$. There are tons of songs released addressing “issues”, but they are rarely radio or MTV/BET hits.

Overall I don’t feel like the piece gave an insight into Black men in the way I thought it would.  It seemed to be more about issues, but with no answers….versus the mind frame of what it feels like to be “Black In America”…which is what I was expecting.  The fact that this aired and is getting so much attention is amazing though. I think it will spark mass discussion at water coolers tomorrow!.

Jeff: Do you mean white people?  I think it brought to light issues that we face but I don’t think it was enough to help people understand black men.

The East Coast chat will include Kevin Willmott and Marlon Campbell .

First, what are your thoughts about CNN taking on this topic?

Marlon: I thought that is a very appropriate thing to do. Especially considering we are on the brink of the first African American President.

Kevin: I thought it was a good idea.  It is a good time to discuss our problems and issues.

Has anything already stood out in the beginning of the show?

Marlon: Not yet. I appreciate how they have started the program off.
I’m interested in seeing the progression with the show, after the death of Dr. King.

Why did you appreciate the start of the show?

Marlon Because it appears they are going to create a road map, that I can build upon.

Do you feel Black men have gotten a bad rap in the media for the most part?

Marlon: I find the statistic about Black’s in prison staggering however; how fair is the comparison, when Black’s make up only 11% of the population. I believe that without a doubt the Governments practice of “Shock Therapy” creates a one dimensional view of the overall problem.

Kevin: Big time.  I think we fail to discuss the causes of crime.  They appear to be trying to do that tonight.  I think most blacks folks know about the crack issue.  About the sentencing discrimination.  It seems to be more difficult to explain what is in our heads when we make those choices.  I would like to see that discussed more.

When we interviewed the exec. producer of the series, Mark Nelson, he said his desire to cover the story of Black men led to the entire series. He stressed that as a White male he wanted to explore the misconceptions the media puts out about Black men. Do you think that people in general, Black, White, men and women are yearning to discuss this issue more than before?

Marlon: I believe so however; how we discuss this issue is vital. It needs to be open and honest, yet responsible and realistic

Kevin: Yes, people are ready.  I have seen that traveling the country with my film, CSA – Confederate States of America.  Seeing that desire from people, especially whites, it was no surprise that Obama has caught fire.  I like how the show is discussing how difficult it is to find a job and how we struggle with funds.  That is something people don’t understand about black men.  They think it is easier than it is.

Do you feel the media has been slow to cover this, even though there has been a desire by viewers?

Kevin: Yes, but it not all the media’s fault.  They are limited by what sells and what they are comfortable in discussing.  The difficult issues of the history of being black in America is still hard to find.

How are you finding the CNN approach thus far?

Marlon: It’s enlightening on some aspects. What’s interesting is that Blacks today 2008 do not need to rely on any race of people White or Other for a job. We have the second highest buying power in the U.S. despite the low percentage of Black’s in the Country. We need to focus on building within our on communities while at the same time, help to educate the ignorance within White
America.

Do you think a show, series like this will help educate others about Black life, or is it only scratching the surface?

Marlon: No, not if the show does not focus on the things that will encourage this understanding. The Black race in America has problems, like every race in this Country, particularly in White America. The show can’t be bias in view or it will simply identify problems and not solutions. Much of what’s being discussed I can relate to however; I spend much of my time focusing on leading by example in addition to acknowledging the issues facing Black America and the world in general.

Kevin: Let’s wait and see.  I am of course interested in how there are still a section of whites that hold on to the Confederacy as a positive thing and that slavery was not all bad.  I have seen that a great deal from my film.  I think that there are some blacks that feel like this is not important.  I think it is a symbol of the racism and discrimination that still exists.  I think you can’t find equality until you understand our pain.

Sort of along the lines of South Africa‘s truth and reconciliation, which I know many feel we need in America.

As a Black male, is there something you really want them to discuss but have not heard thus far?

Marlon: Yes. I would like for them to demonstrate by example our accomplishments as a Race in addition to what’s being shown..

How so?

Marlon: For example, the discussion about the court system and police is something we should bring awareness to but not from the perspective of NEEDING anyone to do something for us, we can control our on destiny. We were and are a great race of people…history teaches us this.

That issue could be a series of show in itself

Marlon: : Exactly. I would like to see us attack this issue from the bottom up. Position ourselves in a way that will force changes within our judicial system, lead by example “who we are”. We as a species have a natural nect for degrading others in order to uplift ourselves. I believe that racism is the extreme version of this. The White Make has always feared what they don’t understand in addition to a different level of respect towards Family. What I mean is that Black people has always been about unity. We just don’t know how to unify. I mean we unify in large numbers in gangs. All that’s needed is to take that same concept and apply different rules.

Do you think an hour is being overly ambitious to cover all the issues Black men would like to see covered?

Kevin: No, they are spreading it around fairly well.  There is a great deal to cover and people will always argue what to cover.  The facts they are giving are very effective.

Marlon: Unfortunately the show is extremely heavy on the negative side. Being Black in America isn’t just this ONE BIG BAD EXPERIENCE! I believe it’s completely irresponsible. I’ve lived in the number one rated city in Orange County California and with the exception of one incident in 10 years, my experience was great. I’ve traveled all over the U.S., let alone the World and walked with my head up high and refused to be labeled anything other then what I am…A Man!

So you are not finding a well developed picture?
Marlon: No. I never knew my Dad. Oh well, that’s unfortunate for him, to not know me. Additionally, I run TO my responsibility as a Father and find great satisfaction in that. They are many Black fathers like me who are not victims because of our circumstance.

Kevin: There is a lot of negative.  Unfortunately, we have some serious problems.  I think they are also showing positive people, people who have overcome problems.  I think the story about the Dad who didn’t show up to the B-Party was good.  He wasn’t a thug – he was a guy who just didn’t seem to understand his role – the role they need him to fill. I think Marlon is right but I don’t mind holding the positives.  I don’t know if we need to feel good right now.  There is a lot of denial these days.

Marlon: In other words, do we really need someone to spell out our challenges? Those challenges we live every day. The issue is that all these types of shows can offer is what we already know, but it’s still up to us to figure it out. I have therefore; I know other Blacks can.

Not delving deep enough?

Marlon:  No it’s not. The fact is that the issues go a lot further then this show can remotely address. I was hoping that because of the Obama for President accomplishment would open up broader discussion about being Black in America.

A long time ago a Black critic complained that August Wilson exposed “too much” about Black life to White theatergoers in his plays. Do you think that some people feel by even discussing the negatives, it’s “telling” too much? Or is CNN striking a balance?

Kevin: I think we sometime like seeing shows like Cribs and seeing how we are celebrities and succeeding, but we don’t learn much from that.  I think we learn more from telling how we get our act together.  I think they are trying to look at what our problems are and examining what is behind them.

Marlon:  I believe that to much of anything isn’t good. It’s one dimensional therefore inaccurate. Do we have these challenges…YES, are we hopeless victims absolutely NO!

It’s funny, they are addressing the very problem I’m talking about.
It’s called “Shock Therapy”!!!
Spike is exactly RIGHT!!!

Speaking of Spike, what do you think of the selection of interviews?
Marlon: I think they are excellent. I disagree with Phillps. He is completely off base in terms of needing to simply justify you’re cost.
Hollywood has a formula for Black film and unless it follows this guideline, you will have trouble. This guideline by the way is completely supported by mainstream media. am excited about my film “Oblivious” because it will be groundbreaking for Black filmmakers.

Kevin: That has been my experience in Hollywood.  I have worked with Spike and seen it up close and personal.  It is about doing the dumbest, most un-important work they can find.  There is plenty of money for that, just as Spike said. Spike couldn’t find the money for a film I wrote that he wanted to make – even with J-Lo and Dave Chapelle attached.  I use that example to tell my student how it works in Hollywood.  Not just for Black folks but really for smart folks.  That is why I make my movies in Kansas about the things they aren’t interested in.

As the show is entering that last few moments, your overall view?

Kevin: I have enjoyed it.  It could go on for hours and only scratch the surface of what it means to be a black man these days.  I think they did a good job with a very difficult array of issues.

Marlon: My perspective of Being Black in America: To be Black in America, especially at this point and time means something extremely special. As a Nation we’ve had to overcome over 200 years of Slavery and Segregation…and we have, yet 200 plus years later we’re on the brink of the Nations first African American President. However, in the process of such an accomplishment, we became divided in certain important areas of our unity process. But like Slavery and Segregation, that to shall change. In the process of this ultimate change, I believe that we need to focus within that infrastructure, on transitioning to a colorless society. Statistically, that is a process that has already started. Inner-racial dating and/or Children has risen expeditiously over the past 10 years, so I believe it’s inevitable. And both White America with its dying belief system of supremacy need to prepare for this change and Black America that may find justice in reverse racism, needs to also prepare. Let me express additionally that this process of preparedness needs to start at the top, in Government, at the same time, with the Citizens of this Nation.

Change can be accomplished simply by DECIDING to make a change. The fact that this has been such a difficult challenge, should automatically make one understand that it our hearts and mind, we need to work on. We need to believe that we can…so we can. Education and experience is the key to achieving this goal. For example; White America have become familiar with Black America through the commercial urban world in music, movies, sports etc however not enough in terms of Doctors, Lawyers, Astronauts like Ronald McNair and Female African American Astronaut Mae Jemison.

Let me go Global for a minute!

Here is what’s sarcastically funny, we as a Nation look at the many, many years of conflict between groups of people like the Palestians and Israelis and I hear one common comment, and that is “how can two groups of people fight so long over the same problems” but look at us. Rather it’s religion, sex or race is still all the same thing…divide! This system of better then/less then is what we all need to start with…and the rest will follow. Propaganda needs to be removed from this process, special interest needs to be removed from this process, and greed needs to be removed from this process!

Hopefully, even just this short show will cause dialogue.

Kevon: Amen

Thanks to all who joined us tonight. Next chat is at 9PM PT.

Bunker Hill, exploring civil liberties in post-9/11 America. It  will open at The Santa Fe Film Center on August 9.  It stars James McDaniel (“NYPD Blue”), Laura Kirk (“Lisa Picard is Famous)” and Saeed Jaffrey (Gandhi).  His next film is The Only Good Indian, starring Wes Studi (Last of the Mohicans), which will be released in 2009.

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THE A-LIST BLOGS LIVE RESPONSES TO CNN’S

“BLACK IN AMERICA: THE BLACK MAN”
FEATURING FEEDBACK FROM
HOLLYWOOD NOTABLES

WHO: The premier digital magazine covering a new, diverse Hollywood

WHAT: The A-List teams up with Urban Hollywood notables to gather live response to CNN’s historic series finale: “Black In America: The Black Man.

WHERE: Turn on CNN, Thursday, July 24, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).

TO PARTICIPATE, EMAIL THEALISTMAG@GMAIL.COM

WHY: The A-List continues to bring cutting-edge coverage of the issues that matter to multicultural Hollywood. CNN’s “Black In America” has tapped into a much-needed discussion about race in the U.S., and culminates with unprecedented coverage of “Black Men In America.”

The A-List Panelists:

JEFF CLANAGAN
CEO/President, CODE BLACK ENTERPRISES

www.codeblack.com

http://www.codeblacktv.com

A 20-year veteran of the industry, Jeff Clanagan began his career in entertainment as one of the foremost concert promoters in the music business. He promoted national concert tours featuring artists such as Run DMC, LL Cool J, Will Smith, The Fat Boys, and MC Hammer. In 1989 Clanagan moved beyond the sole promotion of Hip Hop artists and added the burgeoning R&B genre of music to his resume. Clanagan later added yet another dimension to his professional dossier by entering the realm of theatrical production and promotion with the hit stage plays The Diary of Black Men and A Good Man is Hard to Find. This was followed by his successful promotion of the popular “HBO Def Comedy Jam” Tour.

Clanagan eventually moved into the world of film and television production as president of No Limit Films, rapper/entrepreneur Master P’s film and video company. Clanagan next  became president of Mandalay Urban Entertainment. During his tenure at Mandalay, he executive-produced three telefilms for BET, while also producing the official Sundance Film Festival selection Civil Brandfor Lions Gate.  Clanagan went on to create and executive-produce the magazine television show “Livin’ Large,” syndicated nationally through Carsey-Werner Distribution.  After leaving UrbanWorks Entertainment in 2005, Clanagan formed Codeblack Enterprises, LLC (CBE) as a multimedia entertainment vehicle in motion pictures, television, home entertainment and new media. Targeting the sophisticated urban generation, CBEproduces and acquires the most compelling content for its niche and will distribute content through various media channels, both on-line and off-line. The channels will include but not be limited to: theatrical exhibition, television exploitation, home video (DVD) and emerging digital platforms.

KEVIN WILLMOTT

FILMMAKER

Professor of Film, University of Kansas

Kevin Willmott grew up in Junction City, Kansas, and received his BA in Drama from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas. After graduation, he returned home and worked as a peace and civil rights activist. He attended graduate studies at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. His play T-Money and Wolfwas selected as part of the New Vision/New Voices series produced by the Kennedy Centerin DC. As a screenwriter Willmott co-wrote Shields Green and the Gospel Of John Brown with Mitch Brian. The script was purchased by Chris Columbus’ 1492 Productions for 20th Century Fox. He also co-wrote Civilized Tribes for producer Robert Lawrence and 20th Century Fox. Producer/director Oliver Stone hired Willmott to co-write Little Brown Brothers about the Philippine Insurrection. He also adapted the book Marching To Valhalla by Michael Blake for Stone. For television, Willmott co-wrote House of Getty and The 70’s, both mini-series for NBC. The 70’s aired in 2000. Ninth Street, an independent feature film starring Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes, was written, produced, and co-directed by Willmott. Distributed by Ideal, it was released in 1999 on video and DVD. Most recently Willmott authored Colored Men about the Houston riot of 1917. He also adapted “The Watsons Go to Birmingham” for CBS, Columbia Tri-Star, and Executive Producer Whoopi Goldberg. His film CSA: The Confederate States Of America, is about the United States had the South won the Civil War. Willmott’s latest is

KEITH “KB” BROWN

General Manager

MAJOR INDEPENDENTS

http://www.majorindependents.com/

Keith”KB” Brown got his industry start in music video production at Universal/Motown Records, working with artists such as Nelly, Lindsay Lohan, Brian McKnight, Akon, 3 Doors Down, Lil’ Wayne, India.Arie.  Quickly climbing the ranks, he soon segued to The Walt Disney Studios. There, he worked on soundtrack marketing and music videos to promote films, television shows and DVD releases with an emphasis on urban-oriented material. He worked alongside artists such as Alicia Keys, Missy Elliot, Ciara, Rascal Flatts, Chris Brown , Sean Paul and the Cheetah Girls to achieve record-breaking opening weekends of major films including Step Up, Glory Road, Cars, Stick It, Chicken Little and Herbie: Fully Loaded, along with their accompanying soundtracks.

In 2005, Brown partnered with acclaimed Hip-Hop artist and actor Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones as general manager of Sticky’s production company, Major Independents.  This multi-faceted company produces films, music, clothing, television shows, documentaries and packages Onyx tours both domestically and internationally.  Major Independents’ first innovative project was A Day In The Life. Keith serves as Executive Producer on a new DVD entitled Onyx: 15 Years of Videos, History and Violence, released June  2008 as well as a forthcoming documentary called How To Make A Major Independent Movie. In addition, KB manages Disney Hip Hop artist and “Caught On Tape” star J. McCoy, rap newcomer M Bars, Step Up 2 The Streets star Black Thomas, Stomp The Yard actor/dancer Sean Riggs, singer/songwriter/actress Heidi Marie, Hip-Hop icon/actor Fredro Starr, “Noah’s Arc” star Jason Steed, actress Lindsay Seim, Cash Money rapper Gotti and Infamous/G-Unit Hip Hop recording artist 40 Glocc. Keith is producing a film adaptation of the best-selling novel B-Boy Blues, a dance instructional DVD called “Hollywood Hip Hop” with Black Thomas and choreographer Chuck Maldonado, the television version of Maurice Jamal’s hit movie “The Ski Trip,” a Sticky Fingaz reality show entitled “Sticky Situations” and a viral television series called “The Real McCoy Of Beverly Hills” for Kush TV starring J. McCoy.  On top of all this, KB is also the Head of Music Video Production for Cash Money Records

BLACK THOMAS
Actor, Musician, Dancer, Choreographer, Model, Creator
Alfred “Black” Thomas is a native of Miami, Florida. He earned his BA in Theatre from Florida A&M University and perfected his lifelong love of dance before making his move to Los Angeles. Disney’s Box office blockbuster Step Up 2 The Streets gave Black his breakout turn as bad boy villain “Tuck.” Black has made appearances in other feature films including I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Stomp The Yard and Dreamgirls. He has been featured in music videos for Rihanna, Danity Kane, Mario, Cheetah Girls, Beyonce,  Fall Out Boy, Natasha Bedingfield and performed live with The Pussycat Dolls, Jessica Simpson, Chris Brown and Fonzworth Bentley.  As an assistant choreographer, Black has lent his talents to television shows such as “That’s So Raven,” “Just Jordan” and “CSI: New York.” In addition, he has been the face of major print/television campaigns for KSwiss, Target and Wal-Mart.Black Thomas will next be seen in RockmondDunbar’s feature film Pastor Brown and The Jump Offas lead character “Randel,” with Cedric The Entertainer and Wayne Brady.

MARLON CAMPBELL

Screenwriter

With nearly two  decades of experience in the music industry, Marlon Campbell  crossed over to the big screen.  Campbell, a native of New Orleans, grew up in the same household as his famous Playwright cousin Tyler Perry and ironically Campbell’s mother is characterized throughout Perry’s plays. Campbell got his start in the music industry back in the late ’80s-early ’90s  along with his trendsetting band Shy Shy & C.R.I.M.E. Later Campbell’s worked behind the scenes under a moniker “M” performing with and consulting for acts such as Richard Marx, Jagged Edge, Timmy T, DJ Hurricane of  The Beastie Boys, and Lauren Lake.  In  2003 Campbell joined his cousin Perry and became Perry’s first film distributor under Campbell’s company Majer FilmWerks. In 2005 after a brief stint on a European tour with Grammy Award Winning Whitney Houston; Campbell began writing his latest film Oblivious. The project was placed on hold while Campbell took on the role of president/CEO of 404 Gaming, a MMOG (Multi-Player OnlineGame) company that he shared with other influential names in the biz such as DJ Pooh, DJ Hurricane, AD Rock, and Flava Flav.  In the summer of 2008 Campbell’s film Obliviouswill go into production with a release date slated for summer 2009. Campbell has also partnered with business executive Akbar Cojoe to executive produce a new reality show titled “Blaque In The House,” which will feature R&B aritist T-Boz from the  group TLC, along with platinum-selling trio Blaque.

Issue #2

Posted in Uncategorized on July 12, 2008 by thealistmagazine

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OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
SISTA SITE…If you’re a Black woman and find the online social networks too young and well, too male, fret no more. Black Women Connect(BWC) has launched. The site offers news, blogs, and events geared to Black women, ages 18 and up and allows users to add their own content to create and
manage public and private groups. On the job networking tip, BWC (www.blackwomenconnect.com) features career opportunities from actual companies that are hiring as well as resources for the many African-American female entrepreneurs out there. So serious-minded sistas need only to surf.
BET BACKLASH?…Auto giant GM and personal care products company Procter & Gamble says they have been listening to the concerns of BET viewers and have pulled advertising from the network. Seems complaints about “questionable” content on two shows–Rap City” and “106 & Park”–have caused an uproar. But The A-List knows folks have been faithfully watching these shows for years, so we wonder just who is to say what is questionable, and who responded? How about making your voice heard and letting us know what you think. Send a comment below.
DO YOU COUNT…We’re back at the debate of whether minority TV viewers are being counted. And now in the digital age, the whole situation is getting a bit more complicated. So the Federal Communications Commission, the body that governs, among other things, radio and television broadcasting in the U.S., is investigating–and says it will have an answer for the public by August 15. Why should you be concerned? Well, it all comes down to money. If the numbers prove minorities are indeed turning in, the evidence could result in more diverse programming.
WATCH OUT, AL.. The documentary film An Inconvenient Truth helped re-make former Vice President Al Gore as the “green” guru–he was even awarded a Noble Peace Prize. Now that same filmmaker, Davis Guggenheim, has found a new subject–Obama. Guggenheim has been following the Democratic presidential nominee around for a documentary that will air at Democratic National Convention in Denver. Will the Guggenheim magic work for Obama? We’re looking for more than a vanity piece from the filmmaker. We’ll know next month.

REALITY, JACKSON STYLE...Although her tour may be hitting the skids sooner than expected, Janet Jackson appears to be moving full blast with her MTV reality talent show. But get this, Janet’s not the only Jackson with a TV show on the horizon. Her father, Joe Jackson, is shopping his own reality program. The untitled project will chronicle how he reunites his sons as The Jackson 5 for one more time. It will also capture situations as he develops new artists for Chi-Coast Entertainment and launches his clothing line Hayvenhurst. The question: Are you ready for a double dose of Jackson-style reality?
CAN’T LOOK AWAY...We just can’t get enough of TV. According to the Nielsen Company, although we’re shifting to more video-centric watching via the Internet, we’re more tuned into TV than ever before. The average American spent 127 hours of time with TV in May, up from 121 hours from a year ago; and 26 hours on the Internet, up from 24 hours in 2007. More than 282 million people watch television in a given month and nearly 162 million use the Internet. Wow with all this demand, we say the time is ripe for more diverse show offerings.
PIMP ALERT…Remember the Hughes Brothers, the directors behind Dead Presidents? We know, it’s been a minute. Now, Albert and Allen Hughes are finally following up their 1999 documentary American Pimp, “Gentlemen of Leisure” will air on HBO, but unlike its predecessor, “Gentlemen” will be a 2009 dramatic series exploring prostitution through the eyes of a 35-year-old pimp in Oakland, Calif.


THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

WAR: WHOSE STORY IS IT ANYWAY

Throughout the years, it’s been an open secret on how the government uses Hollywood to perpetrate certain pro-American images, especially in times of war. But now the military has announced they want even more of a say-so and they are putting forth their own military man to assist Hollywood in how to formulate war films. With this in mind, we had to ask ourselves: “When it comes to film, whose story is it anyway?”

This is a difficult question when one considers that this is the way it has always been for years. So why change it? But today we all know that there is deep disagreement even within the filmmaking community as to what stance towards the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should be taken by one of America’s most lucrative industries. Moviegoers are looking for answers. So yes, Hollywood should have its say in how the images are shaped, and we should support those brave enough to tell the truth–Phil Donahue, Michael Moore etc… Though some would argue the lines of propaganda can be crossed on both sides–that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. We contend however even though Hollywood is an industry of fantasy, when delving into the political arena truth would always be the star.

The military has its own “truth” monger– Army Lt. Col. J. Todd Breasseale–whose current mission is to make sure Iraqi war films are military approved. Some in Hollywood have actually invited him in. This is more than just an advisory role to filmmakers, the military wants Breasseale’s presence to help shape war movies.

Will the public buy into a movie about the Iraq war that was selected by “a Pentagon insider” ? This one moviegoer won’t. And most would bet that the American public has heard enough spin and propaganda, especially as the military causalities increase almost daily. Until soldiers come home and tell their own story, maybe perhaps as Vietnam vets and filmmaker Oliver Stone did in Platoon and Born on the Fourth Of July, this is one moviegoer who will be more than happy to munch on my popcorn and watch movies like Kung Fu Panda. –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.

 

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HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD
CALLING ALL CARS…”Raptor” Xzibit is teaming up with actors Val Kilmer, Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendez in the cop drama Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. A remake of the now-cult classic, it is about a corrupt policeman investigating the rape of a nun. Kilmer is plays partner to Cage’s crooked cop and Xzibit is the villain. Wouldn’t have been an interesting twist to cast Xzibit as the good cop and Kilmer as the criminal in this 2009 release?

ROCKIN’ THE MIC...After portraying a spelling whiz in Akeelah & The Bee, young actress Keke Palmer will show of her rhyme skills in the film Vapors. In the film about New York’s legendary The Juice Crew, she’ll play female rap veteran–and now PhD holder, Roxanne Shante. The long-awaited film also stars Evan Ross, rapper Nas.
JEEZY GETS PUT ON…It seems these days sooner rather than later, rap stars soon become “raptors.” Now count Young Jeezy among that clique. insiders tell us he will make his feature film debut in Ice Cube‘s latest comedy Janky Promoters. In the flick, about two shady concert promoters (Cube and Mike Epps) in over their heads, Jeezy plays the hip-hop artist at the center of the mess. Not a big stretch for Jeezy, but if his film career takes off like his music, Cube better make way.


FEATURE
OBAMA’S ENTERTAINMENT AGENDA: WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU

There’s no doubt whoever gets into the Oval Office next year, changes will be made–not only in Washington, but in Hollywood as well. So The A-List decided to take a look at where Sen. Barack Obama stands on various entertainment industry issues. Let’s go down the list.

 

CENSORSHIP: While he consistently expresses concern about certain images and content in film, on TV and in songs, he feels the control should be within the home not in the government’s hands. “You know, the primary responsibility is for parents. And I reject the notion of censorship as an approach to dealing with this problem,” Obama said during a Los Angeles debate with then party nomination rival Sen. Hillary Clinton. But he added he felt parents need the proper tools (aka technology) to help them self-censor. “I do think that it is important for us to make sure that we are giving parents the tools that they need in order to monitor what their children are watching. And, obviously, the problem we have now is not just what’s coming over the airwaves, but what’s coming over the Internet.”

To the industry he said: “The one other thing I will say is — I don’t mean to be insulting here — but I do think that it is important for those in the industry to show some thought about who they are marketing some of these programs that are being produced to.”

“I think Obama has it right on censorship. Consistent with his position on other social issues he seems to be much more in favor of putting a greater responsibility on parents and communities to police what their children are watching. It’s never been Hollywood’s responsibility to raise our kids and as program content becomes more and more violent and sexually explicit, it is imperative that parents take a greater role in what their children watch and listen to,” notes Jam Donaldson, whose controversial website Hotghettomess.com inspired a BET show of the same name which came under fire from parents and censorship groups. “I also agree that the government should be active in making sure parents and other consumers are given the tools to censor what comes into their homes.”

 

MEDIA OWNERSHIP & THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE: “Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters,” Obama press secretary Michael Ortiz told Broadcast and Cable Magazine earlier this year. The Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues. The FCC found the doctrine unconstitutional back in 1987, and President Reagan vetoed an attempt by congressional Democrats to reinstate it. “He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible. According to Ortiz, Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets. “I strongly favor diversity of ownership of outlets and protection against the excessive concentration of power in the hands of any one corporation, interest or small group. I strongly believe that all citizens should be able to receive information from the broadest range of sources,” Obama said himself to Broadcast & Cable magazine.

 

ANTI-TRUST ENFORCEMENT: Sen. Obama told Broadcast and Cable Magazine, “There is a clear need in this country for the reinvigoration of antitrust enforcement. Our competition agencies, the Department of Justice and the FTC [Federal Trade Commission], need to step up review of merger activity and take effective action to stop or restructure those mergers that are likely to harm consumer welfare, while quickly clearing those that do not. Specifically, for media mergers, the Department of Justice and the FTC should closely scrutinize all mergers for their implications for competition and consumer choice. “

 

“The FCC’s loosening restrictions on media ownership in the 90’s was a great disservice and allowed a few companies to control the majority of what we saw and heard,” notes Donaldson. “More regulations in this regard will allow for smaller broadcast outlets owned by diverse companies to get a place on the world’s stage. America has always been about the marketplace of ideas, but recently it’s been just a small kiosk. Hopefully, Obama will see that more players get a place at the broadcast table which is great for everyone… And I hope minority broadcasters will be large part of the future.”

 

NET NEUTRALITY: “The neutral nature of the Internet makes that possible, and it is something we should defend. Up to now, legislation has focused on protecting against the discrimination against or in favor of any single voice or legal service. All have made allowances for objective, nondiscriminatory network-management practices,” says Obama to B&C magazine.

 

When examining Obama’s stance on the various issues facing the entertainment community, it appears the result would be more freedom of expression, increased minority ownership, and an Internet that remains neutral. Unless of course he flip flops.

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“SITUATION ROOM” CNN. Discussion: Rev. Jesse Jackson’s off-color remarks about Sen. Barack Obama. DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK, WRITER OF POLITICAL BLOG, “THE BRODY LIFE“: Well, Wolf, listen, at the end of the day, Barack Obama doesn’t need to worry about winning the African-American vote.

“Hollywood Deals, Diversity & Discussion”

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28, 2008 by thealistmagazine

Issue #1
To join The A-List,
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Welcome readers, you are now about to be in the know. From the creators of the respected Hollywood trade “The A-List2” we give you Hollywood scoop for the sophisticated. Leave the trash gossip and paparazzi photos to the others, the cream of the crop deserves Hollywood talk on it’s same level issues to think about, disucss and debate. You’re project and A-List sensibility so should your entertainment info reflect that level. So put your feet up dear reader. We’re happy to have you and your discerning style.

OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD

ENEMY TERRITORY…If you loved watching Alfre Woodard on “Desperate Housewives,” you’ll be happy to hear the actress is returning to TV. She will join the cast of Christian Slater‘s new NBC series “My Own Worst Enemy.” In the Jekyll-and-Hyde-themed drama series, Slater plays a suburban dad named Henry whose alter ego, Edward, is an international spy. Woodard will play Edward’s hard-as-nails boss at Janus HQ. Here’s the twist: She also has an alter ego. With “Girlfriends” canceled, it’s good to know at least one Black actress–an Emmy winning one at that–will be on primetime.

HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE…Talk about great collabos. Set It Off director F. Gary Gray is making a film about the life of Marvin Gaye. Yeah, there’s already another flick in the works–starring Gaye lookalike “Law & Order” alum Jesse L. Martin. Called Sexual Healing, the film is slated to be released in 2010. It, however, focuses on the tragic last years of Gaye’s life. The Gray biopic will cover Gaye’s life, career, and music from beginning to end. Either way, Marvin Gaye fans should be happy.

LIFE IMITATING ART?…Lately Wesley Snipes’ life has been full of government intrigue, especially now that the U.S. Government says he’s a “wanted man.” But while the feds attempt revoke Snipes’ bail and have him surrender himself to prision, the sequel to his hot film The Art of War will be soon heading straight to DVD. The Art of War II: Betrayal drops this August and again features Snipes as Agent Neil Shaw. Shaw once again gets embroiled in Washington cloak and dagger drama as he uncovers a plot to assassinate a slew of senators. Readers: Send us your thoughts about Wesley’s current situation and we’ll post the best ones next issue!

NEW ROUTE FOR SOUL TRAIN…If you’ve been yearning to see the “Soul Train” line once again, the wait won’t be much longer. The music show’s founder Don Cornelius has sold the company to a Black-owned production company called MadVision Entertainment, that promises to not only revive the show but to issue vintage epsiodes on DVD. So get out your platform shoes and best bell bottoms and get ready to ride the Sooooooooooooooul Train again.

THE BATTLE OF THE SMITHS…Guess who Will Smith will be going head-to-head with at the box office this summer? His own daughter, Willow. The 7-year-old’s film, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl , will be released the same day–July 2nd–as daddy’s new action adventure, Hancock. Sorry Willow, our bets are on Will for this one.

HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD

T-PAIN DOES IT ONLINE…Hip-Hop artist/producer T-Pain, who holds the record for the largest number of ringtones sold at 15 million, has launched a digital record label. Nappy Boy Digital (www.nappyboyonline.com). Nappy Boy will off music via all the major digital download retailers. The first release will be “Beam Me Up” by Tay Dizm. Hip Hop is once again leading the technology pack.

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

CAN WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

Welcome Readers! The media has played such a role in the campaign thus far, it might as well be another candidate.

With bloggers and The Internet often beating seasoned media pros to the punch on breaking news, the mainstream media has decided to become even more outlandish to grab ratings. Objective journalism has seemingly been tossed out the window for opinion pundits, with some even spewing racist and sexist soundbytes. One minute, you have a “Meet the Press” moderator laughing as a guest calls Sen. Clinton a “bitch.” The next you have a FOX News producer referring to Michelle Obama as “Obama’s baby’s mama.”

There have been accusations of media favoritism for Obama one week, then media attacks the next. So what’s a candidate to do? Monitor his media interaction and try if possible to control his image–at least this has been the plan of late from the Obama camp. With this done, it wasn’t surprising when recently a pool of journalists started grumbling about limited access to Obama. In fact, a few weeks ago several of the major media outlets crafted the below letter (show in part) and sent it to the Obama camp.

To Barrack Obama Team:

There are many ways in a campaign to control your message and conduct private meetings that do not involve deceiving the press corps. Last night, the press corps traveling with Senator Obama was misled, and was also flown to Chicago without the Senator. The Washington bureau chiefs of ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News, and the Associated Press strongly protest the events of last night…The decision to mislead reporters is a troubling one..
Ah, the power of the almighty pen. With a stroke of the fingers, a masterpiece is created and shared with the world for their viewing pleasure! Reading the above letter, one can’t help but think of a jilted lover scenario whereby one partner in the relationship felt betrayed and therefore the other partner must be punished. However, we all know that this is not a jilted lover scenario, but six powerful media entities welding their power and they have every right to do so since they can skillfully make or completely break a candidate.

The losers in this game aren’t only the candidates and their mates, who get shrunk down to stereotypes (i.e. the boss bitch, the angry black woman, the crazy old man, the uppity N***), but the viewers lose out. In the past, voters and viewers counted on the media to ask the hard pertinent questions, to be their advocate in the search of truth, to be the check and balance of the pr hype.

Where is Ed Gordon when you need him? –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.

FEATURE

LORI PETTY ANTES UP

ACTRESS TALKS DIRECTORIAL DEBUT, FORGIVENESS & DIVERSITY

After nearly 20 years in the business, actress Lori Petty should be used to press days where she promotes her latest project to the media. But this one is different, and the usually confident Petty seems rushed and a bit stressed this sunny day in L.A. Maybe because editors and the like had just finished screening Petty’s directorial debut, The Poker House. Besides opening up her filmmaking skills for critique, the film is also autobiographical. Set in a poor rural Iowa town in 1976, it lays Petty’s life–the troubles, struggles, molestation, success, and loves–out for all to see. But what is also interesting about The Poker House is Petty’s aggressive push for diversity in her film and behind the scenes. Newcomer Jennifer Lawrence plays Petty. Sophia Bairley and Chloe Grace Moretz play Petty’s two sisters; and their drug-addicted, abused mother is portrayed by Selma Blair. Also starring is co-screenwriter David Alan Grier (pictured), Bokeem Woodbine, Tyla Abercrumbie, and Clarke Peters. The A-List chatted with her about this and more.
This is a movie that took place in Iowa back in 1976. Was the town depicted in the movie that as racially diverse as in the movie? “Iowa and Illinois have a lot, have had a lot of black and Spanish living there. And when you’re poor, race just dissolves. If you’re poor, you really don’t have time to be racist. Its like you’re too busy trying to handle it. If you noticed like all the states that went to Obama are poor states because poor states they don’t have the racist problems. But its those middle states like Indiana that go for those white candidates because they have just enough money to be, you know, F—– up. When we filmed League of Their Own in Kentucky, everybody was great. We went across the river to Indiana, F—— Klan was there, with a can asking for money. This was in 1992. People would quit because we had a black PA and she would tell people that they had to sit in certain areas and people would say “F— You!” and storm off and leave, this was in 1992. But Henderson, Kentucky was fine.”
What were some of the valuable lessons that you learned as a director, as an artist, as a woman? “I learned that men can’t hear you when you talk. Unless you say ‘yes I will take my clothes off’. (Laughs) No, not all men, but there were a few men, and it wasn’t personal at all, they respected me but I would be talking to them and they would just walk away. I would have to say to them ‘come here’. I would have to send Peter Quartaroli, my producing partner over to get them and they would come back and say ‘yea’, and I would be like ‘I’m still talking to you’, and they would be like, ‘oh, sorry.’ “

Do you think sexism was involved? “No. Its just programing. They’re use to that type of environment. During the basketball game scene, I had a microphone because the place was just huge but I ran into the same problem, the guys weren’t listening…I’m not being sexist but, give a guy a basketball, a car, a gun, you might as well forget it, he’s not going to listen to you.”

At one of the screenings, I over heard a conversation you had with a woman about forgiving your mother and your response to her that you learnt a long time ago that if you go through life carrying around baggage you are crazy. “Yea, you just have to put it down. She was all serious, she was like ‘how can you forgive your mom?’ She was molested as a child, she was beaten as a grown up, she was addicted to drugs and alcohol. She’s not the bad guy, she was doing the best she can. Now she’s doing great. and she’s been doing great. If you live long enough, you go through shit. And once you get older you can choose as to how you’re going to deal with stuff. People feel that they need to react to things. Instead of reacting, how about not reacting. ”

Did you intend for this movie to be cathartic, to be a healing tool for those who experience it? “Yes. I believe that at least 80% of the women on the planet have been sexually molested based on how many woman just come up to me. This movie has given them the ability to say something about what happened to them, they could be 50 years old and never told anyone. And this happens a lot. If you go to my website at http://www.loripetty.com, I’ve written about it there under The Poker House blog.

In making movies, what is most important to you?I don’t know if you saw the TV series I was in ‘Lush Life’ on Fox with Karen Parsons, did only seven episodes before they canceled everything on Fox. She was biracial, there was this Puerto Rican kid, this white kid and me, and Karen’s mom was white, and we never mentioned race ever, we never say the word, that is just one thing that I’ll never do with my films is never bring it up because people don’t bring it up, people don’t sit and talk about it. The whole issue of race is just silliness.” –Anthony Davis

EVENT COVERAGE

TOYOTA CAMPAIGN LAUNCH PARTY & ESSENCE FASHION SHOW, NYC

The A-List arrived at Eyebeam fashionably on-time! We approached the PR people after our names were not spotted on the guest list (ugh). Luckily, they knew who we were, and things rolled smoothly! We entered inside, and dazzled around the red carpet for a minute. Flashing pics of not only our glamorous selves, but ofcelebrates such as R&B singer Mashonda, Eric Benet, America’s Next Top Model contestant Bianca Golden. After a few flashes, we made our way into the party! The setting, of course, went well with the host of the evening–Essence Magazine. The venue was chic and sexy with pinkish/purple lighting, and the fashion runway and bar setup accordingly. But before the fashions by designer Alexis Phifer of GHITA, Keyshia Cole performed–and it was the highlight of the night, which was organized to introduced Toyota’s new marketing campaign called “If Looks Could Kill.” The campaign is aimed at attracting African-American female car buyer. –L e e S a B*

SPOTTED
All of the members of New Edition–including singer-turned-reality-show star Bobby Brown–pickin’ up the Golden Note Award at the 21st Annual ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

Recording artist and judge on the TV show “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew,Lil Mama (nominated for Best Female Hip Hop Artist) tunin’ into jams on the new COBY MP4 Player at the COBY Electronics backstage area at the BET Awards.

The A-List is: Lauren Coleman, founder/co-publisher…Ann Brown, co-publisher…Melissa Ross, European correspondent…LeAnne Lindsay, contributor…Anthony Davis, contributor…Gil Robertson, contributor…Dan Williams, contributor…LeesaB, contributor…Clemetine Clarke, columnist