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Friday, October 24, 2008

Terrence Howard Out & Don Cheadle In "Iron Man 2"

It is being reported that Terrence Howard has been unceremoniously dumped from "Iron Man 2." Howard must have pissed somebody off because he says in published reports that he already had a contract for "2." Howard told National Public Radio that it wasn't about money. Will Howard sue? Doubtful. He wants to work and suing studios, particularly big powerful ones, can get you black balled.

Looks like Howard's bad luck, or personality clash with somebody, is Don Cheadle's good luck. Clearly somebody is 'putting Howard in his place.' Everybody was looking forward to Howard donning the suit too. We bet that is the rub. They must have kept Howard out of the suit and Howard probably fought for it and the producers decided to replace him. So if Cheadle is not in the suit in "2" then we will have our answer.
Link to this article

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Black" Competition Between CNN & Comedy Central

CNN is premiering a new, "unconventional" weekend show hosted by comedian D.L. Hughley called "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," which will feature Hughley's humorous take on the week's events. The show is set to start airing on Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET beginning Oct. 25 and will feature Hughley and guests discussing on politics, entertainment, sports and pop culture. Hmmmm. Although other news services are comparing this show to Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," we believe it is a response to Comedy Central's new David Alan Grier Show, "Chocolate News."

David Alan Grier of "In Living Colour" fame has a new show called, "Chocolate News" that is a black, tongue-in-cheek program similar to "Dateline." Look at the similiarities in description: Grier's show is described by IMDb as, "A magazine-show parody hosted by comedian David Alan Grier covering urban pop culture topics." It too debuted in October. Of course Hughley has been quoted as saying that his show will be more like the late-night talk shows of Jay Leno and David Letterman.

Well we love the competition. Let's call this new littering of talk shows with more black faces The Obama Effect (TOE). Better hope Obama wins, or they could disappear just as fast as they appeared. Just don't forget to have us on when discussing energy and environment.
Link to this article

Monday, October 20, 2008

Levi Stubbs Dies: Lead Singer of the Four Tops

Legendary Motown Records lead singer of the Four Tops, Levi Stubbs, left, died Oct 17 at his home in Detroit, Michigan due to complication from a stroke. He was 72 years old. Although most people probably do not remember what he looks like because he blended into the group [never a Levi Stubbs & The Four Tops], everybody in America knows his distinctive voice. And everybody knows their hit songs:


"Baby I Need Your Loving"

"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)"

"It's the Same Old Song"

"Reach Out, I'll Be There"

"Standing In The Shadows of Love"

"Ain't No Woman Like The ONe I Got"

"When She Was My Girl"

Mr. Stubbs also played the man-eating plant in the 1986 version of "Little Shop of Horrors."
Link to this article

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ambivalent About My Marriage To America

By Alan Smithee.

I guess I am ambivalent about America.

In reality.

Does America love me?

I think not.

Do I really care?

Yes I do.

Does America care whether I love her or not?

I don't know.

But sometimes she shows signs of wanting my affection.

Or at least my loyalty.

I don't know.

Doesn't sound like a marriage made in Heaven to me.
Link to this article

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sammy Davis, Jr. Invested in Coal

By Alan Smithee

I just finished reading "Deconstructing Sammy" by Matt Birkbeck. Sammy has been described as the best entertainer of the 20th Century (Elvis really couldn't dance), but most people don't know that he invested in coal. Although it was a bad investment by a bad business partner, it shows that Sammy was one of the few Blacks, then or now, to invest in America's energy sector.

Birkbeck writes:

"The case was known as Davis v. Commissioner and the court was asked to rule on a previous decision that determined Sammy and Altovise were not entitled to deduct losses from tax shelters they invested in over a five-year span, from 1978 to 1982. As an example of the unworthiness of the investments, the court focused on details of one particular shelter, a limited partnership known as Cannel City Associates. Cannel City planned to lease the rights to approximately three thousand acres of land in Kentucky to mine and sell coal in five or ten pound bags to consumers at fifty cents per pound. A market and economic report offered projections of 9 million tons of coal available in reserves in Kentucky, which would be sold at $200 per ton, which was ten times tha actual market price. There was no explanation in the prospectus for the discrepancy between the consumer price and the expected per ton sale price."
Albert "Sonny" Murray, Jr. worked to revive Sammy Davis, Jr.'s estate by settling IRS debts from these types of bad tax shelters. Sonny was the prosecutor who brought down E.F. Hutton and he almost helped Altovise to get back on her feet. Unfortunately she was too broken to fix and Sammy's legacy lingers in oblivion to this day. More on the coal venture:

"Cannel City, said the court, was never a genuine mining operation, with no realistic expectation that the coal could even be dug from the ground, and the lofty market studies predicting millions in revenue were fictitious. The court determined that Cannel City had "no economic substance" and the entire endeavor was a carefully crafted scheme designed to defraud investors, whose money ended up in the account of another shell company, Salem Coal Corporation. By 1983 Sammy and Altovise claimed losses n their tax returns totaling over $2.5 million, which were later denied by the tax court."
Link to this article

Friday, October 10, 2008

How Will The Financial Collapse Affect Hollywood?

Just when Hollywood really started getting money to make movies from Wall Street, they go broke. Studios were tapping into hedge fund capital as another source of financing films. Now there is probably no money available from Wall Street to finance Hollywood films. Maybe the era of the $100 million dollar production budget for films is over. The CGI companies better find a cheaper way to generate those special effects. Of course, the rich celebrities will not suffer unless they put all of their money in the stock market, but members of the Screen Actors Guild could be at considerable risk of losing the limited increase in benefits they just received. And that could just be the beginning of what they could lose.

The sexopoly of Viacom, Fox, NBC Universal, Time Warner, Sony and Disney are very big companies but they too are subject to the laws of economic downturns. If people stop going to movies, the bottom line of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) will suffer. AMPTP will share that pain with SAG. Although the public mostly hears about foreclosure nightmares, the possible recession/depression has not really gotten into the suburbs. The malls and multiplexes are still humming each weekend, but if things really turn south and the bailout does not work, Hollywood could be negatively affected by the economic downturn. Don't forget, it is the popcorn where the real money is made at the theater.

The first big sign is Hollywood big boy Viacom having trouble. Sumner Redstone controls Viacom, CBS and National Amusements Inc and all are adjusting to the liquidity and credit crunch issues currently rocking America. National Amusements had to sell $400 million of stock in Viacom and CBS to meet debt coverage agreements. Viacom is also expecting diluted earnings-per-share growth for this year. Viacom shares are currently at $16.50 per share and CBS shares closed this week at $8.10.

Some directors are now looking abroad for financing for their films. Stephen Spielberg, Spike Lee and Oliver Stone have all funded recent films with foreign capital. Some of the global group of investors include: Bill Block-QED International , Christopher Mapp-Omnilab Media (Australia), Thomas Sterchi-(Swiss investment millionaire), Albert Yeung & Albert Lee-Emperor Group (Hong Kong), Johnny Hon (Hong Kong venture capitalist), and Victor & Samuel Hadida (France).
(New York Post, 10/11/08) (The Wall Street Journal, 10/11/08)
Link to this article

Friday, October 03, 2008

Morpheus To Head "CSI" Crime Lab

Current lead actor William Peterson, who plays Gil Grissom, is leaving "CSI" in January and will be replaced by Laurence Fishburne. Nobody seems to know exactly why Peterson is leaving one of the top-rated shows on television. Although he will be missed, Morpheus on "CSI" should be very interesting.

Laurence Fishburne brings appropriate gravitas to the role. But if Keanu Reeves or Carrie Ann Moss shows up, then we have a problem. Good luck Larry. Las Vegas is lucky to have you.
Link to this article

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sheryl Lee Ralph's One Woman Show in Washington, D.C.

By Holly Wood

Sheryl Lee Ralph, left, participated as a panelist at Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's Science and Technology Braintrust at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Friday and then went on a stage at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus on 16th Street NW in a one-woman show "Sometimes I Cry" on Saturday. This theatrical production exhorts the public to acknowledge the problem of HIV/AIDS. The actress-turned-activist has toured the work nationally and internationally and she gave a forceful performance in a show subtitled "The Loves, Lives and Losses of Women Infected and Affected by HIV/AIDS." Ralph's solo turn is part memoir, part dramatized oral history, part civic and medical harangue, ringing with sermon-like cadences. Standing in front of a screen that relays photographic projections and terse epidemiological statistics, she delves into her subject by way of a bittersweet memory of the 1980s, when she created the role of Deena Jones in the Broadway staging of "Dreamgirls." While she was reveling in her fame, she recalls (an Ebony cover featuring the "Dreamgirls" stars splays across the screen behind her at this point), the AIDS outbreak was gathering force.

She segued between matter-of-factness and anguish, portraying two characters: a 45-year-old entrepreneur who struggles to maintain her dignity as an AIDS-ravaged body fails her, and a 68-year-old grandmother who has trouble comprehending her HIV-positive diagnosis. Some of the evening's most touching moments cropped up in a Q after the show. Ralph gave sympathetic, supportive answers to audience questions.

From The Washington Post Style Section Review

Earlier in the same day, Sheryl participated in a sit-in at the Lincoln Memorial, along with her husband, Pensylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes, to bring attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the U.S. (The Washington Informer)
Link to this article