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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Prince Among Slaves: Documentary About Slave Experience

On Monday, February 4th, 2008 at 10 PM [check local listings], Unity Productions Foundation will present on PBS "Prince Among Slaves," a one hour film on the inspiring story of an African Prince who endured forty years of slavery without ever losing his dignity or hope for freedom.Winner of the Best Documentary award at the 2007 American Black Film Festival, this true story was directed by Emmy Award winner Bill Duke and narrated by Hip Hop artist Mos Def.

1788. The slave ship Africa set sail from the Gambia River, its hold laden with a profitable but highly perishable cargo-- hundreds of men, women and children bound in chains—headed for American shores. Eight months later, a handful of survivors found themselves for sale in Natchez, Mississippi. On the slave auction block, one of them, a 26-years-old male named Abdul Rahman Ibrahima is an African Prince. [Hat Tip: Mutter Evans]
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Actors & Directors Awards Shows Do Red Carpet

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) held red carpet and awards ceremonies on Jan 27 and Jan 26 respectively. SAG presented its statuettes for the outstanding motion picture and primetime television performances of 2007 at the 14th Annual SAG Awards in ceremonies attended by film and television’s leading actors at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. The winners of the 2007 DGA Outstanding Directorial Achievement Awards and the recipients of the Guild's 2008 Career Achievement Awards were announced during the 60th Annual DGA Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

Interestingly, the DGA’s National Board of Directors voted unanimously the day after the ceremony to recommend ratification of the new three-year collective bargaining agreements between the DGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

These are more signs of the failure of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. The first signs came when Jay Leno and David Letterman went back on the air. Now the WGA has cut deals to allow not only their two main allies to have red carpet ceremonies, they have also given passes to the Grammy Awards and the NAACP Image Awards. Let us predict tha the Academy Awards will also have a red carpet and awards ceremony. The WGA should run up the white flag now before they become completely irrelevant. The AMPTP might decide to completely break the WGA unless they back off of their demands. You win some and you lose some. The WGA has lost this fight and if they are not careful could lose their union.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2008 Academy Awards Recognizes Small Films

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for best picture for the 80th annual Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif today:

Best Picture: “Atonement”“Juno”“Michael Clayton” “No Country for Old Men” “There Will Be Blood”

Best Actor: George Clooney in “Michael Clayton” Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” Julie Christie in “Away from Her”Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” Laura Linney in “The Savages” Ellen Page in “Juno”

Best Director: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Julian Schnabel, “Juno” Jason Reitman “Michael Clayton” Tony Gilroy, “No Country for Old Men” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “There Will Be Blood” Paul Thomas Anderson

Ruby Dee best supporting actress in “American Gangster.”

The ceremony, scheduled for Feb. 24 and the writers strike issue have not been settled. So the ceremony might not include the traditional televised ceremony with the actors, directors and producers.
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Tiger Woods Can't Keep Ignoring Racial Slights

By Alan Smithee

Tiger Woods and Barack Obama are beloved by white people because they have the 'acceptable black' thing working for them. Nothing wrong with that. But not even Tiger and Barack can avoid, notwithstanding their lofty status as American icons, racial slights. We've all experienced them. You know the "did I pronounce Schwarzenegger right" comments (television commentators love to use Arnold to slip it in). Or the example, story or other excuse to get the word nigger said in front of you. And as hard as Barack tries to be the colorless candidate, the media insists on describing his race at the same time they brag about his transcendence of race. Go figure. Yet we at AAEA at not confused at all.

Tiger. These slights are not going to go away. In fact, the more you quickly excuse them, the more and faster they will come. Sneaky little slights to reduce you. To 'put you in your place.' Let's be clear: expressions to not only reduce you but to vicariously express their superiority. Of course we know it all comes from some curious and deep seeded insecurity, but that is their problem. You quickly came to the defense of Fuzzy Zeller over the watermelon and chicken comments. Now you've bailed out Kelly Tilghman over the lynching comment. Will you also rush to Golfweek's rescue for putting a noose on its cover? Come on Tiger. Can't you see that you are under racial attack? If you don't want to stand up for the race, at least stand up for yourself. Be a man. Kick a little ass and you will be left alone or at least generate some real fear that if you get bitten that you just might bite back. Keep giving a pass and a rich and powerful guy like you will continue to be reduced to, well, you know, the 'N-Word.'
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gore Teams With Vodka Maker To Cool Planet

The Live Earth Short Film Series, which debuted in July 2007, will tour major film festivals in 2008 throughout the U.S. to underscore the need to act now to solve the climate crisis. Kicking off the year-long initiative, five notable films will be showcased at the ABSOLUT Live Earth Green Screen Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival from January 18 through January 24. Can't make the festival? View six of the films online and stay tuned for more online viewing options and updates about other film festivals coming soon!

Live Earth has partnered with ABSOLUT Vodka to address the climate crisis. The film festival program is one component of the ABSOLUT Global Cooling campaign, which includes a donation program through which ABSOLUT will donate $1 per registered code for a bottle or cocktail of ABSOLUT, ABSOLUT Citron or ABSOLUT Mandrin to three environmental nonprofits. Find out more at: GlobalCooling **Please note you must be 21 to access this site.
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Writers Guild Gives Pass To NAACP Image Awards

But does the union also pass by Blacks when it comes to writing in Hollywood? The Writers Guild of America (WGA) will not picket the NAACP Image Awards (Nominees) at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Feb 14 (8-10 pm on Fox) because of, according to WGA West President Patric Verrone, "the historic role the NAACP has played in struggles like ours. We think this decision is appropriate to jointly achieve our goals." Really? Has the WGA been helpful in getting more work for Black writers in Hollywood? And the WGA nemesis, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), probably doesn't have a good reputation for recruiting and retaining Black writers either. Oh? You're tired of hearing us whine? Well we're sick of the sickness that leads to our whining.

The WGA has about 12,000 members. How many of those members are African American? Although Hollywood has opened up some in the past ten years, the history of African American participation has been pitiful on and off the screen. This must include writers. Does anyone out there have stats on the number of Black writers in the WGA? Blacks know that we are aggressively excluded in most sectors of American society, even in the 21st century, but if the numbers for the WGA are below 5% then Blacks should say to hell with the WGA and go get writing jobs. Help break the union if they have been not been supportive of Black writers. Support them aggressively if they have been helpful.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Oprah Winfrey Starts OWN Cable Television Network

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will debut in 2008 with availability to 70 million homes on what is now the Discovery Health Network. OWN is being created through a cashless transaction and is a 50-50 venture by Discovery and Winfrey's Harpo Productions, with Winfrey as its chairwoman and enjoying editorial control. Winfrey's Harpo Productions will be responsible for OWN's programming, branding and creative vision. Discovery Communications' contribution will be its nine-year-old Discovery Health Channel, as well as distribution, origination and other operational requirements.

Hey Oprah, feel free to create a program around the AAEA concept. We have plenty of ideas and talent over here. So if you stumble upon this suggestion, please feel free to contact us. If you check us out you will see that the rabbit goes very deep.
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Monday, January 14, 2008

The Box: A Movie By Writer Director A.J. (Joe) Kparr

Joe Kparr's first movie, "The Box," is a film noir tour de force. Kparr, pictured above with one of the actresses in the film Anjelah Johnson, wrote and directed this excellent detective drama. The film stars Gabrielle Union and Giancarlo Esposito and the basic plot is: a home invasion where thugs are in search of millions in stolen money goes wrong and Union and Esposito as homicide detectives seek answers by interrogating the only two survivors, a thief and a victim. Of course there are twists and turns in this film that will surprise you. The writing is superb, the acting by the entire cast is excellent and the cinematography is first rate.

"The Box" Trailer (Purchase - Turner Classic, Amazon.com, tbs, eBay)

Also available at Sam's and Wal Mart
(Photo courtesy Anjelah Johnson-More Photos)
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Early Friends Of Hollywood Writers Will Desert Them

The support of the actors for the Writers Guild of America will wane very soon. Solidarity does not include any threat to the pocket books of Screen Actors Guild (SAG) members. The actors are supportive as long as their paychecks keep coming. But if the strike continues, not only will the paychecks of the actors be threatened, their jobs and livelihood could also be threatened. The actors will be screaming at the writers and the standoff will be over. The WGA will be broken and the producers will hire new nonunion writers. Now do not get angry at us as the messengers. We are simply describing how the writers strike will end. And it will not be pretty.

The first signs of retreat were the late night shows, notwithstanding Dave's special deal. Now the awards shows (money making cash cow parties) are being cancelled and the celebrities do not get to dress up and preen like peacocks in free clothes and jewelry. Nobody watches the Critics' Choice Awards (highest viewership: 3 million) so the Dave Deal the WGA gave them does not count. Queen Latifah gamely hosted the People's Choice Awards without an audience. Taped clips. Now the Golden Globe Awards will present a 'news conference' format with a Matt Lauer "Going For Gold" preshow of interviews. Huh? And the Academy Awards people are talking a big game but they will probably have to pervert their show too. Anybody mad at the writers yet?

And what about the money being lost. It is being estimated that the local economy will lose $80 million over the Golden Globes alone, according to the L.A. County Economic Development Corp. Stylists, makeup artists, fashion houses, designers, well you get the idea, will all be hurt economically by the cancellation of actor participation. Approximately 20 million people watch the Golden Globes generating $27 million in ad revenue and the Oscars are watched by about 40 million people generating $80 million in ad revenues. The Oscars (so far scheduled for Feb 24) is the second biggest ad night after the Super Bowl. Now if we know that more and more people will get mad at the writers, don't you think the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) know it too? Just go to their site and look at the money billboards for money losses for the writers and the Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans.
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Saturday, January 05, 2008

M.C. Hammer Wants You To Upload Dance Videos

MC Hammer (Stanley Burrell), 45, is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Menlo Park, Calif.-based DanceJam.com, a web site that wants to become the Internet's source for uploading, sharing and watching dance videos. DanceJam hopes to make money by selling Internet advertising, which is about a $28 billion market.

Ron Conway, a longtime Silicon Valley investor, is part of a small group that provided DanceJam with $1 million in startup funds. Hammer's DanceJam partners, in photo with Hammer, are Geoffrey Arone (left), the chief executive, and Anthony Young (right), the chief technology officer. DanceJam will stage head-to-head competitions in which contestants submit videos that will be judged by viewers and will provide demonstrations and information about a wide variety of dances. They will have to outcompete Google Inc.'s YouTube, which listed 1.7 million dance videos in its index throught 2007. (The Washington Times, AP Photo)
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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Late Night Shows Lead Way To Breaking Writers Union

They are trying their best to put a good face on it but Leno, Letterman, and O'Brien have led the charge to break the Writers Guild of America (WGA). AAEA-Hollywood previously reported ("Hollywood Producers Are Out To Break Writers Union") that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is out to break the writer's union. The surrender by the late night shows, regardless of special deals, signals the beginning of the end for the writers. And the writers have reason to worry because once they are broken, every waiter and waitress in L.A. are actors and writers on the side. The AMPTP is just bidding their time to replace WGA union writers with hungry nonunion restaurant help. Note the facts below.

Jay Leno's "The Tonight Show," is owned by corporate giant NBC Universal and General Electric. They have to be delighted that the union blinked. Yet Leno returned without writers stating that the 19 on his show were putting 160 other employees out of work. Conan O'Brien, whose show "Late Night" is also owned by NBC Universal, also returned writerless. Go click on the AMPTP site to see the money being lost because of the strike.

David Letterman produces and owns his CBS late-night show, Worldwide Pants, worked out his own agreement with the Writers Guild of America so that Dave and his writers could return with no picketing of the show. Another huge blink. Craig Ferguson's, "Late Show," which follows Letterman on CBS and is owned by Letterman's company, was back with its staff of writers intact. And what about Letterman's staff's website http://www.lateshowwritersonstrike.com/, which is maintained by Letterman's staff instead of the writers? Another strike breaker asterisk in our opinion. (More: The Washington Post)
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