Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Black Conservatives Conflicted On Obama Campaign

If there ever was an oxymoron, it would "Black Republican." However, I'm glad to see that some of them are willing to reconsider, even if it's just this one time :o)

Read on below from the AP.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Black conservative talk show host Armstrong Williams has never voted for a Democrat for president. That could change this year with Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's nominee.

"I don't necessarily like his policies; I don't like much that he advocates, but for the first time in my life, history thrusts me to really seriously think about it," Williams said. "I can honestly say I have no idea who I'm going to pull that lever for in November. And to me, that's incredible."

Just as Obama has touched black Democratic voters, he has engendered conflicting emotions among black Republicans. They revel over the possibility of a black president but wrestle with the thought that the Illinois senator doesn't sit beside them ideologically.

The rest can be found HERE.

Remember When...?

Did You Know...?

Did you know that Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick never won Academy Awards for any their works?

My jaw dropped when I learned this recently, and of course I headed straight to to find out if what I read elsewhere was the truth. And unfortunately, it's very true!

I'm reasonably perplexed that these 2 masters of cinema were never awarded the industry's highest honor, while they were alive - with films life Psycho, North by Northwest, Rope, Dial M For Murder, Strangers On A Train, Rear Window, The 39 Steps, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr Strangelove, The Shinning, A Clockwork Orange, Lolita, Spartacus and Full Metal Jacket... just to name a few of their combined works.

I'm sure they each enjoyed other rewards of industry, tangible and intangible, and maybe never even sought Academy Award recognition. However, this is still very much unfortunate as far as I'm concerned, especially when you consider some of the names who won Oscars after both gentlemen.

According to, Kubrick was nominated for either a "Best Director" or "Best Picture" Oscar 4 times. He lost all 4. I was going to include data on each loss (years, what other films were in competition each year, and what films/directors won) but frankly, it's too much work, and I don't feel like doing so right now :o) You can always hop over to IMDB to find out for yourself.

The only Oscar he won was for "Best visual/Special Effects" for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

As for Hitchcock, IMDB states that he was nominated 5 times for best director. He lost each time.

He was eventually awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968, which is an award given to "Creative producers, whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production." Kubrick never won anything similar.

Neither director has been honored by the Academy posthumously.


Special Report - Diversity in Entertainment: Why Is TV So White?

I usually simply shrug when I read articles like this one, because we seem to get at least one every year from a major publication (in this case Entertainment Weekly) - in short, what we have here is another lament on the lack of diversity on the small screen... essentially what some call a "whitewash" of American network television. Is any of what is said in the article a surprise? Is it going to shock anyone? Absolutely not!

The article is titled: Special Report - Diversity in Entertainment: Why Is TV So White?

Good question! A question that's been asked by many for years, but effective answers that provide permanent solutions are still forever lacking. Is it fear? Is it just plain laziness? The article (like so many others before it) discusses the problem, stating varied facts, and attempts an answer. But, as I said, it's not that we lack solutions to the problem. We are swimming in them, I think. The problem as I see it is one of will - which is why I ask - fear or laziness? Below are several poignant pieces I snipped from the article.


- 1 out of every 3 persons in the United States is a minority,''... ''One could argue that a third of all those working in Hollywood should be a minority. However...their presence is not accurately represented on-air and for the most part, their stories are secondary or non-existent.

- After nearly 10 years of working with diversity reps and outreach programs, the networks still primarily solve the problem by sprinkling nonwhite actors into white-led shows — often as a comedic sidekick or in guy-who-helps-the-main-guy-solve-a-crime roles. Brock Akil calls the solution ''very transparent. I think the audience can see right through that. If it's not organic, people are going to be like, 'Oh, you're just pandering to me.''' Instead of pumping up their percentages with supporting characters, shouldn't the networks be presenting more minority ''face of the show'' leads?

- But while NBC provided a widely accessible platform for Cosby to reach a mainstream audience, minority shows have been increasingly consigned to fledgling networks since the early 1990s as TV spread beyond the Big Three. ''That's usually how upstart networks become viable'... ''They target an underserved audience — which is usually African-American, Latino, and [other] minorities — so they can get some numbers. Then once they become a little bit more financially viable, they move into mainstream programming. That's what Fox did. That's what UPN did. That's what the WB did. So that audience tends to get handed off to the next upstart network. It's like a relay race and we're the baton.'' But while that strategy may be good for business, it's hindered the crossover potential of shows like Girlfriends and Everbody Hates Chris. ''A lot of it is about access"... ''If you have a choice between Friends and Girlfriends, and you're used to watching Friends on NBC, why are you going to switch over to Girlfriends? But if Girlfriends comes on after Friends, you may stick around for it.''

- ''It was always easy for whites to run black shows or get jobs on black shows, but it was always tough for the reverse''... ''Very few blacks get jobs on non black shows. So with a lot of black shows going away, fewer and fewer black writers get opportunities, let alone get the chance to be mentored and learn how to run and create shows.

Read the entire article HERE.

Introducing The "Blogopticon"

Courtesy of Vanity Fair Magazine:

Navigating the blogosphere can be trying, what with everyone from Al Roker to your Wiccan cousin out in New Mexico vying for the attention of the world’s billion-plus Web surfers. In an effort to make some sense of it all,
Vanity Fair has charted the most influential or amusing blogs about politics, gossip, Hollywood, media, and miscellany, and located them on two basic continuums: tone and content.

Good to see The Obenson Report getting a mention!! Well... not really. Not yet anyway :o) It's worth noting that many of these site sit comfortably in my library of bookmarks that I frequent daily!

Click on the image below for an enlarged view.

Pot? Or Kettle? Spike Lee Accused Of Hypocrisy By Italians!

First Spike and Clint slog it out. Now an Italian enters the fray with the suggestion that Lee himself is guilty of cultural stereotyping! The adventure continues...

From the UK Guardian:

Just as it looked like the war of words between Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood was dying down, someone chucks in a grenade... now Bill Dal Cerro, president of the Italic Institute of America based in Rome, has accused Lee of the prejudices he attributes to Eastwood.

"Spike Lee is very talented," he said. "His points about African-Americans are well taken, but, ironically, he does the same thing to Italians in his films."

The Italic Institute of America has criticized Lee in the past for his portrayal of Italian-Americans in Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever, and expressed concern about Miracle at St Anna, Lee's upcoming second world war drama set in Italy.

Does Dal Cerro have a point? Or is this just shameless coat-tailing, an undignified attempt to claim victim status?

MSNBC's Tim Russert Dies Of Heart Attack At 58

This just in... The New York Times is reporting that MSNBC's Tim Russert has died of a heart attack at the age of 58.

No other details were made available.

Trailer - Miracle At St Anna - A Spike Lee Joint?

Well, here it is folks - what you've been waiting for -- the trailer for Spike Lee's WWII epic, Miracle At St Anna.

With all the excitement over the last couple of weeks involving Spike, it's certainly a well-timed release.

I gotta say, I'm definitely intrigued. This looks like new territory for Spike. I thought Inside Man was new territory for him at the time, but this is unlike anything he's done before!

"Spike doing a war movie? Ok. Alright. We'll see."

There's a lot riding on this, I think, so I certainly hope it's a winner, and I'm looking forward to September 26th when it's released.

Side note: I noticed that his trademark, "A Spike Lee Joint" was missing. Or did he drop that permanently?

Thanks Sergio for the heads-up!

Six Degrees Of Tyler Perry

Call me crazy, but I'm doing this based on my theory that Tyler Perry has worked (or is scheduled to work) with at least 90% of black actresses in Hollywood. Granted, the pool of actresses that fall under that umbrella is a small one, since there are very few working black actresses in Hollywood today, or in history even.

Based on this idea, I'm creating a game I call,
Six Degrees of Tyler Perry, of course borrowing from the longstanding Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, which originated on college campuses in the early 90s, after Bacon made the famous statement that he'd worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who's worked with them, and thus could be connected to every Hollywood actor/actress - specifically in 6 steps/connections or less. If you haven't heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, read up on it HERE.

I'll go out on a limb, adopting this idea on a micro level, and say that Tyler Perry has worked with enough black actresses in Hollywood that he can be connected to every BLACK actor/actress (male/female) in Hollywood today, in 6 steps/connections or less... the broader statement to all this being that Tyler Perry is essentially the center of the still fledgling black cinema universe in Hollywood today.

Let's test this theory shall we. Right off the top of my head, the first actor that comes to mind is Denzel Washington, one of the biggest names in all of cinema, not just black cinema. Can he be connected to Tyler Perry in 6 steps or less? Well, let's see... Denzel Washington worked with Angela Bassett in
Malcolm X, who worked with Tyler Perry in Meet The Browns.

DONE! In 3 steps.

Next up - how about Will Smith? Will Smith worked with Gabrielle Union in Bad Boys II who worked with Tyler Perry in Daddy's Little Girls.

DONE! Also in 3 steps.

Ok, I'll do one more and you folks can chime in with your own... maybe we'll get stumped eventually. I'll go with another big name - Halle Berry. Halle Berry worked with Spike Lee in Jungle Fever who worked with Denzel Washington in Mo Better Blues who worked with Angela Bassett in Malcolm X who worked with Tyler Perry in Meet The Browns.

DONE! This time in 5 steps, although I probably would have been able to find a faster connection.

Alright, your turn!! I'll keep reposting this, to keep it current, hoping for some participation from you folks. And before anyone mentions it, yes, I know, we could probably play the same game with other names like Spike Lee for example, who's worked with just about everybody. But I'm going with Tyler Perry for starters. We can try someone else later. Also, remember, it's just a game!

Without wasting anymore time - Six Degrees of Tyler Perry. Let the games begin!

Who's got next?

See-Through Scanners Installed In US Airports!

There's been talk about this for years now, and it's finally come to fruition! I grabbed a few notable quips from the full article which you can read in its entirety HERE and added my $.02 along the way.

Security scanners which can see through passengers' clothing and reveal details of their body underneath are being installed in 10 US airports, the US Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday. A random selection of travelers getting ready to board airplanes in Washington, New York's Kennedy, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Miami and Detroit will be shut in the glass booths while a three-dimensional image is made of their body beneath their clothes...

While it allows the security screeners -- looking at the images in a separate room -- to clearly see the passenger's sexual organs as well as other details of their bodies, the passenger's face is blurred (I guess that's supposed to be reassuring!)...

"People have no idea how graphic the images are," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty program at the ACLU.

The ACLU said in a statement that passengers expecting privacy underneath their clothing "should not be required to display highly personal details of their bodies such as evidence of mastectomies, colostomy appliances, penile implants, catheter tubes and the size of their breasts or genitals as a pre-requisite to boarding a plane."

Besides masking their faces, the TSA says on its website, the images made "will not be printed stored or transmitted." (And how long will it take before that rule is broken, and some jackass finds a way to download and transfer images on his/her USB device and makes them public on YouTube? Are we a police state yet? Well, let's see: "Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism." Check. "Disdain for the importance of human rights." Check. "Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause." Check. "The supremacy of the military/avid militarism." Check. "A controlled mass media." Check. "Obsession with national security." Check. "Religion and ruling elite tied together. " Check. "Power of corporations protected." Check. "Rampant cronyism and corruption." Check. "Fraudulent elections.' Check. And there's a lot more.

Arsenio Hall To Make TV Return In Reality Show

A confession: I actually wondered whether this was worth posting, and almost didn't. But Arsenio used to be my late night TV companion way back when, during my high school years, so I still have a soft spot for the brotha, despite his appearance on Flavor of Love 3.

AOL reports that Arsenio Hall has been named host of the new reality series with working title of Funniest Moments, set to premiere this fall on the MyNetworkTV network. (Aren't there already a myriad of other shows like this, most notably, America's Funniest
Home Videos

The show takes a look at life's most outrageous moments caught on tape... The hour long program has been slated to air on Wednesday nights at 9.

Hall is best known as the host of the Emmy-Award winning late night talk show, The Arsenio Hall Show, which premiered Jan 3, 1989 and lasted five years. Since then, he has been spotted in CBS's dramedy, Martial Law, and then followed up with a two-season stint as Host of the new Star Search. Recently, Hall returned to stand-up comedy and toured for the first time in over a decade. He will be featured in The Weinstein Company's upcoming animated film Igor, scheduled for an 09 release.

Trailer For 'Mirrors' Starring The New Halle Berry

For a number of reasons, I'm calling her the new Halle Berry - at least within the narrow Hollywood context. Whether it's a good or bad thing remains to be seen. Her name is Paula Maxine Patton, wife of pop star Robin Thicke. The film is called Mirrors, which co-stars Keifer Sutherland as her husband, a troubled ex-cop "who must save his family from an unspeakable evil that is using mirrors as a gaterway into their home." Altogether now... OOOOOOOhhhh... spooooky! :o)

The film itself is a remake (what a surprise right?) of a 2003 South Korean horror film called Into the Mirror. This Hollywood version is directed by Alexandre Aja, the French mastermind responsible for 2 "torture porn" classics - 2006's The Hills Have Eyes, and 2003's Haute (High) Tension.

It will be released in theatres on August 15th. Here's the just released teaser trailer, which, in my humble opinion, looks like yet another shitty patchwork of previously released similar genre flicks. I'll pass...

Film Recommendation - A Tale Of 4 'Carmens'

I caught the tail-end of this last night on the Sundance Film Channel. This is a film I saw 2 years ago, at a film festival, and which I liked, but completely forgot about. So, happening upon it on TV last night was a needed chance encounter, because I now must get my hands on the DVD and watch it again in its entirety, to reacquaint myself with the film.

The film is called U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha, and as you might guess is a retelling of George Bizet's ever popular opera Carmen, set in Khayelitsha, South Africa and sung in Xhosa, a Bantu language. The film, which combines music from the original opera with traditional Bantu music, received the prestigious Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival, and later enjoyed a very limited theatrical release in the US in 2007.

As you all probably know, Carmen has been adapted several times, most recently, and quite unsuccessfully with MTV's Carmen - A Hip Hopera, starring Beyoncé as Carmen, in 2001. Before that, Dorothy Dandrige assumed the role in 1954's Carmen Jones, which, by the way, co-starred Harry Belafonte. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention 2001's Karmen Gei, set in Dakar, Senegal and sung in French and Wolof, with the added complexity that in this specific adaptation, the titular Karmen is bisexual!

I've seen all 4 adaptations, but I'll rewatch all 4 of them again over the next week or two, and review all four simultaneously! That could be a really interesting and rewarding process.

Check them all out, if you haven't. Well, you can skip the MTV version altogether, or just watch it if only for the sake of comparison with the others. All 4 are available on Amazon. Just click each title link above.

Here's the trailer for 2005's U-Carmen, the South African version.

How Refreshing...!

I thought this was pleasant to read... now if only her brand of honesty and humility can spill over into corporate circles, and undeserving CEO's of Fortune 500 companies relinquish all performance-based bonus payments. Yeah... right... Grey's Anatomy was created by Shonda Rhimes - a black woman, by the way.

From Yahoo TV News:

'Grey's Anatomy' star Heigl skipping Emmy quest

Katherine Heigl, who was honored as best supporting actress in a drama last year for "Grey's Anatomy" says she didn't seek an Emmy nomination this year because the show failed to deliver the goods for an award-worthy performance.

"I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination...", Heigl said in a written statement, and decided against competing.

"In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials," added Heigl.

Heigl, who shot to box-office success last summer with the comedy "Knocked Up," has established herself as one of Hollywood's rare voices of candor.

In a Vanity Fair magazine interview published in January, she called the hit film "a little sexist" and said that it painted women as "shrews, as humorless and uptight," while the male characters were lovable and goofy.

Heigl also was outspoken when "Grey's" castmates Isaiah Washington and T.R. Knight clashed last year over Washington's alleged use of a homophobic slur.

"I'm going to be really honest right now, he needs to just not speak in public. Period," Heigl said at one point of Washington, who ended up being booted from the medical drama.

100 Most Powerful Celebrities!

Hot off the presses, Forbes Magazine's list of the 100 most powerful celebrities. Not many surprises here, especially within the top 20 below. Other notable members of the club: Tyler Perry, ranked number 42, who reportedly banked $125 million in the last year alone... and 50 Cent, ranked number 26 with a whopping $150 million total payday. It's mind boggling the ridiculous amounts of money being made by the people on this list. I can't even fathom what it must be like to be sitting on an annual gross income of $275 million in Oprah's case. Even Will Smith's paltry $80 million (compared to Oprah anyway) is sublime!

The top 20 follow below. You can see the entire list of 100 people HERE and all the wonderful reasons why they are ranked.

1 Oprah Winfrey, 2 Tiger Woods, 3 Angelina Jolie, 4 Beyonce Knowles, 5 David Beckham, 6 Johnny Depp, 7 Jay-Z, 8 The Police, 9 J.K. Rowling, 10 Brad Pitt, 11 Will Smith, 12 Justin Timberlake, 13 Steven Spielberg, 14 Cameron Diaz, 15 David Letterman, 16 LeBron James, 17 Jennifer Aniston, 18 Michael Jordan, 19 Kobe Bryant, 20 Phil Mickelson.

Samuel L. Jackson Heads To The Small Screen

Another one of my many mottos: diversify your portfolio.

From BlackTalentNews:
Oscar nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson is venturing onto the small screen with a two-year, first-look deal at CBS Paramount Network television.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the pact calls for Jackson to develop and executive produce a series of projects for CBS Paramount through his production company Uppity Films.

Jackson says he is also open to the idea of appearing in any shows he develops, much like Salma Hayek's guest spots on her series "Ugly Betty.

Jackson is in the process of hiring an executive to shepherd his TV development. His previous stint as a producer was for Spike TV's animated series Afro Samurai."

Uhhh... Uppity Films????

Cheadle 'Traitor' Poster Premiere!

You've likely seen the trailer. Now we get a first look at the poster above. Click on it for a larger look. I must say, it's nice to see Cheadle's grille prominently displayed. It's obviously HIS movie, and from all I've seen and read thus far, unlike most characters he's previously played. The film does feel like a retread of other similar spygate flicks, although I'm hoping it has a few surprises along its journey that will help separate it from the rest, even if it's just by a few yards. We'll see when it hits theatres on August 27th. Thanks to Cinematical for the exclusive.

German Toymaker Launches Barack Obama Doll... Or Something Like That

Expert German dollmaker Marcel Offermann has immortalized presidential hopeful Barack Obama in the form of a collector's doll. But the maker of the mini-Obama admits that it was tricky to get the skin tone correct (no kidding). Offermann explained that he was forced to adapt an off-the-shelf black doll's head for his tribute to Obama, which is his first attempt at making a black doll (it shows).

"We tried to make it even lighter so that it would look more like Obama, but then it didn't look so good," he said. (Hahaha!) "So we said, let's stick with this skin tone." (And this guy is supposedly an "expert dollmaker???)

The Barack Obama doll is available in a limited edition of 999 and costs €139 ($216). The 36-centimeter (14-inch doll) sports a black suit, complete with a Stars-and-Stripes lapel pin, a white shirt and Obama's trademark sky-blue tie. Get yours now - that is if you haven't been sufficiently turned off!

"10 Sistas To Look Out For This Summer 2008"

In light of all the recent media attention on the unappreciated, under-represented female audience, initialized by the success of the Sex and the City movie - with the assistance of, 10 Sistas To Look Out For This Summer 2008 - a rather pathetic list of African American women with roles in summer studio movies (Plus my $.02 in parentheses, wherever I had anything noteworthy to say).

1. Jennifer Hudson - plays an assistant to Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie in 'Sex and the City: The Movie' (I heard her role was unapologetically stereotypical, and her performance just didn't work. A friend actually told me that J-Hud's scenes are cringe-worthy, not necessarily because of her performance, but because of the portrayal.)

2. Gabrielle Union - She joins Eddie Murphy in 'Meet Dave', out in July, about a crew of miniature, human-looking aliens who are seeking a way to save their doomed world. Murphy will play the human spacecraft they travel in as well as the ship's captain. (I'm getting a Pluto Nash/Osmosis Jones vibe from this. I think I'll have to pass altogether)

3. Naomie Harris - stars alongside Josh Hartnett in 'August,' in theatres July 11, a story of two brothers and their Internet start-up, two weeks before 9/11. (I like Naomie. Not sure what her role in this film is, but I'll be paying attention as the film's release date nears)

4. Paula Patton - stars with Kevin Costner in 'Swing Vote' August 1 and Kiefer Sutherland in 'Mirrors' August 15. (I believe she plays the love interest to both men in each film. She's got a Halle Berry thing going on in terms of looks as well as roles. She joins the club of other "passable" black women routinely playing opposite white men)

5. Mariah Carey - plays herself in 'You Don't Mess With The Zohan' out this weekend. (Yawn...)

6. Sanaa Hamri - The director of 'Something New' directs 'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,' out August 8. (Good for her, but just not a movie of interest to me).

7. 8. 9. Keke Palmer, Tasha Smith, Jill Marie Jones - the trio star alongside Ice Cube in 'The Longshots,' out July 25. (I posted the trailer and shared my thoughts on it as well HERE)

10. And lastly, Meagan Good - stars in Mike Meyers' 'The Love Guru' out June 20. (I believe she plays the wife of a professional athlete. Not much of a stretch, huh? Even though Deepak Chopra, whom I respect deeply, gave the film a thumbs up, I'll have to pass on it!)

For the entire list without my witty and insightful repartee, go to Note - these are exclusively studio movies. Obviously, not much here for anyone to really get excited about! I'll say it again, Girlfriends: The Movie. Make it happen! I'm beating the drums... :o)

Scarlett Johansson Has A Crush On Obama

"The 23-year-old actress, known for cool, quirky films such as “Ghost World,” “Match Point” and the Oscar-winning “Lost in Translation,” has been an Obama supporter for years... and she’s made no secret of her deep devotion to the candidate."

"“I am engaged to Barack Obama,” she said back in January, joking with reporters after returning from a USO tour to the Persian Gulf. “My heart belongs to Barack.”"

"She e-mailed him after some of the Democratic debates, offering her thoughts on his messages and performance. After the silliness of the last ABC debate... she wrote to congratulate him on “holding his ground.” His replies have been thoughtful, she said, more than a brief line or two... Johansson is somewhat shocked that he keeps up their back-and-forth correspondence. “You’d imagine that someone like the senator who is constantly traveling and constantly ‘on’ — how can he return these personal e-mails?” she asks. “But he does, and in his off-time I know he also calls people who have donated the minimum to thank them. Nobody sees it, nobody talks about it, but it’s incredible.” She adds, “I feel like I’m supporting someone, and having a personal dialogue with them, and it’s amazing.”

More HERE.

Brand New Trailer For Vin Diesel's Next - 'Babylon A.D.'

Based on the novel by Maurice G. Dantec, Babylon A.D. tells the story of a mercenary (Diesel) who must escort and protect a woman. Unknown to him is that this same woman is playing host to what a cult think could become the next Messiah. The film also stars the fabulous Michelle Yeoh, and Gerard Depardieu, and is directed by Frenchman, Mathieu Kassovitz, responsible for the 1996 cult classic, La Haine (aka Hate). The film hits theatres August 29th. Whadaya think? I can't help but get a Children of Men vibe from it (a film I liked) given the storyline specifically. I'll probably see it though.

Film Recommendation - Lumumba

Dare I say, a better bio-pic than Spike's Malcolm X? Hmmm... I say yes... why not! After initially seeing it at a film festival in San Francisco, in 2000, at what was then its US premiere, I remember discussing the film with several other audience members afterward, and the assured consensus was that this was a film that could play wide.

It didn't. It reached a maximum of 12 theatres nationwide and raked in just over $350,000 in box office receipts - not very much at all.

The filmmaker, Haitian-born, Raoul Peck, hasn't done much since, unfortunately, except for some TV work.

If you haven't seen it, you should do so now! It's available for sale at Amazon, and likely for rent on Netflix.

Trailer follows below...

Katrina Docu "Trouble The Water" Headed To Theaters

This screened recently at the Sundance at BAM program, here in Brooklyn, NY, but I missed it, unfortunately. But it looks like it will enjoy a full theatrical release later on this year, thanks to Zeitgeist Films, known well for their unabashedly artsy, challenging, wonderful library of films. The fact that they are giving it an "Oscar-qualifying run" says a lot about their thoughts and hopes for the film.

Read on from Yahoo Movies...

Katrina doc "Trouble the Water" headed for theaters

The Hurricane Katrina chronicle "Trouble the Water," winner of this year's Sundance Grand Jury documentary prize, has been picked up for U.S. distribution by Zeitgeist Films.

Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's "Water" uses camcorder footage that aspiring rapper Kimberly Roberts and Scott Roberts shot before and during the New Orleans disaster. The film tracks the couple through the aftermath, taking a critical look at the government's response and media coverage.

The film will receive an Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles and New York beginning August 22, followed by a gradual national rollout.

ChickFlicks - Coming Soon!

One of my mottos: take advantage when an opportunity presents itself.

From Variety Magazine:

Producers Sara Risher and Stephanie Austin
have teamed up to form an indie production company called (drumroll) ChickFlicks, with the intent to generate two to three films per year aimed specifically at the female demographic.

$100 million in financing over the next 5 years has been raised with the help of WestPark Capital, Inc, a full service investment banking and securities brokerage firm.

Expect announcements of the first three films in the next few months.

"With the extraordinary success of Sex and the City, the underserved market for intelligent, emotional films with relatable female characters has spoken emphatically," Risher said.

Directors Gone Wild - 10 Notable Director Feuds.

Inspired by the recent war of words between filmmakers Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood, the Los Angeles Times put together a list of 10 recent publicized director feuds in Hollywood, of course including the Spike/Clint beef on said list.

Here is the first one:

The feud: “Clerks” director Kevin Smith vs. “Batman” director Tim Burton

The accusation: On the New York Post’s Page Six, Smith accused Burton of ripping off one of his comic books with his ending to “Planet of the Apes.”

Back story: Smith had written a script for a “Superman” project that Burton had planned to direct. But rather than work with Smith, Burton immediately tossed his script out in favor of other ideas, angering Smith.

Trash talking: Burton’s statement to Page Six read: “Anyone who knows me knows I would never read a comic book. And I would especially never read anything created by Kevin Smith.”

See the remaining 9 HERE.

Obama's Family And Kenyans Celebrate His Victory

While I appreciate this particular story and its intent, I can't help but wonder how many ways the Republicans (or Repubes, as I've heard others refer to them) will manipulate the clip, taking items out of context for use in their anti-Obama campaign. What was initially conceived and distributed as a legitimate, innocent portrayal will become someone else's fodder for fear tactics.

The story goes... along with many Americans who support the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, many people around the world are hoping that US foreign policy will witness a change in the event Obama wins the Presidential elections. No one is more excited than the residents of the small Kenyan countryside village of Kogelo. where Senator Obama's father was born and raised, and where some of his family lives.

Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones Sell Clinton Stories On Web For $1.99

Oh boy! This is rather unfortunate and distasteful on the part of the two women. But if good old Slick Willy can emerge from each scandal relatively unscathed and fairly well off financially, why shouldn't they? I guess a girl's gotta eat, right?

Side note: I'm not sure how Hillary was able to stomach each fiasco, one after the other - those that were publicized and those that weren't. There was Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and now there are
rumors that he also had an affair with actress Gina Gershon. Likely there were others.

Anyway, according to CNN, Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones are offering Internet viewers the lurid details of encounters they claim they had with former President Clinton - for $1.99 a pop. No joke! Read the entire story HERE.

Tuesday Funnies - FOX Tries To Ambush Bill Moyers But Gets Ambushed Instead

At the National Conference for Media Reform 2008, a producer for FOX's The O'Reilly Factor, Porter Barry, ambushes PBS's Bill Moyers with questions regarding his political affiliations and his supposed refusal to appear on O'Reilly's show. His ill-conceived assault humorously backfires, as the tables are turned and the producer gets a taste of his own medicine.

The 10 Top-Earning African American Stars

According to Forbes Magazine, the 10 top-earning African-American stars for 2007.

A few things I noticed - no surprise that Oprah is numero uno on the list... 5 of the 10 names are athletes (4 of whom are basketball players, or former basketball players)... 3 of the 10 are in the music business... and only 1 of the 10 (Will Smith) is a movie star... 2 of the 10 are female... Jay-Z and Beyonce make for quite to power couple (at least financially) since both are on the list, with combined earnings of $110 million... wow... a whopping 8 out of 10 are under 40 years old... wow... that says and means a lot... and lastly, the million dollar question: with this much wealth in circulation, where the hell does it all go? Or maybe, where SHOULD it all go? We're talking close to $700 million in earnings, in 1 single year - and that's only including the top 10. Multiply this over several years, and that number increases exponentially into the billions of dollars!

Here's the list:

Oprah Winfrey - $260 million
Tiger Woods - $100 million
Jay-Z - $83 million
50 Cent - $33 million
Kobe Bryant - $33 million
Shaquille O'Neal - $32 million
Michael Jordan - $31 million
Will Smith - $31 million
Beyoncé - $27 million
LeBron James - $27 million

Read the entire article HERE.

iPhone Blues...

A question for those folks who rushed at the opportunity to purchase the first iPhone model made available approximately 1 year ago, at the astounding cost of $600: does it sting (even just a wee bit) that Apple just unleashed a more powerful, slicker-in-design, faster model that cost $400 less, almost a year later?

It would sting me!

I guess I'll actually think about buying one now ;o)

First 'Miracle at St. Anna' Poster Released

Well, here it is, hot off the presses, the first poster released for Spike Lee's next joint, Miracle at St. Anna, courtesy of the good folks over at! And the timing couldn't be better, given all the recent media coverage of the war of words between Spike and Clint Eastwood.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

It's not exactly what I expected to see actually, but I like it - deceptively simple with subtle visual cues, and I think quite effective. I'm sure there'll be others to follow - featuring the faces of the film's stars, notably, Derek Luke and Michael Ealy.

The film hits theatres on September 26th this year.

Focus Features - Africa First Film Program - $10,000 Award

Focus Features announced a Call for Applications for the Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program. The postmark deadline for applications is July 15th, 2008 (so you've got over a month). The program will award five emerging African filmmakers $10,000.00 each towards the pre-production, production, or post-production of their short film.

Filmmakers selected as award recipients will also participate in a 3-day workshop in New York City. during which the filmmakers will receive firsthand exposure to the inner workings of studio development, finance, marketing, and distribution; and participate in one-on-one sessions with the Focus Features Advisory Board members.

Award recipients will be notified on or about August 15th, 2008 of their status.

For complete details of this program, go to their WEBSITE.

A Short History Of Iraqi Cinema

Yes, despite the ongoing US-led invasion of the country, which has given birth to widespread infrastructural damage, there is (and has always been) filmmaking in Iraq.

FROM: Film In Focus.

Unlike its neighbor Iran, whose recent output has put it on the cinematic map, Iraq has never been known for its films. Yet the development of film and film-going in Iraq reflects the drastic historical shifts that Iraq has experienced in the 20th century.

While the first film projected in Iraq was in 1909, it wasn't until the 20s that film became a cultural activity. The first cinemas, like the famous al-Zawra cinema on Baghdad's bustling thoroughfare al-Rashid, played mostly American silent films for British citizens. When the Ottoman Empire was divided up after World War I, the newly formed League of Nation mandated Britain to oversee the territory of Iraq. And for the citizens who administrated this dictate, and the soldiers who fought the then Iraqi insurgency, a series of entertainments were brought in. While a monarchy was reinstated with King Faisal I, the area remained under British rule until the Mandate was lifted in 1932.

The rest of the story HERE.

Rethinking The So-Called "Chick-Flick"

"Women are attending films differently to men... They are going in groups, as a sort of sisterhood, and want to see something that appeals to 'us'. It's a spiritual pilgrimage, and there's a feeling with these sorts of films now that it's more than just a movie: it's a cultural imperative to attend." - A problem with discussions like those within the article is that they tend to focus almost entirely on the needs and concerns of the majority - essentially Caucasian women. The films mentioned in the piece help prove this. Where do black women fit in? Or Asian women? How about Latino women? Native American? Etc, etc, etc... So, while the news itself is good, and there's an apparent growing excitement at the possibilities, given recent box office successes of female-centered films, will everyone be invited to the party, or will it remain an exclusive club?

Everything You Need To Know About The Democratic Race In 8 Minutes

The good folks over at Slate compressed the just-finished Democratic race for President from 16 months down to 8 minutes:

Sunday Links - Pele Doc, Film Festival Cash For Filmmakers, Bitching About Bandwidth Hogs, Che Branding...

It's a scorching day here in New York City, with temperatures hovering around 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). It was just as bad yesterday and will be even worse tomorrow! The humidity certainly doesn't help matters. It's just not a day to be outside, even though I've been out for most of the day. However, now I'm in, and I'm staying in for the rest of day, within air conditioned spaces.

Here's to cooler temps in coming days!

In the meantime...

International soccer star Pele is ready to tell his story and has commissioned a biographical documentary. Pele's life has been documented in written biographies, but the parties said this marks the first time he has granted anyone "such unparalleled access" to produce a TV documentary.

- In whatever form, whether they pay filmmakers or not, I am glad film festivals exist. Because, if nothing else, they do provide publicity to films and filmmakers. However, if revenue is generated by showing a movie, it is fair to give some of that revenue to the makers of the movie, because without their work it would be impossible to have the festival/show a movie - One indie filmmaker seeks to challenge the standard festival structure.

- If the choice is between your being able to download more movies or other video and my getting the best possible speed from my internet connection, I'm thrilled when you get kicked off. It can't happen soon enough. Speed is what I need. Take all your P2P downloads and get the hell off my internet - Billionaire Mark Cuban bitches about "bandwidth hogs" and his push for tiered broadband pricing, echoing the suggested practices of several other industry giants, like Time Warner.

- Video killed the radio star; now the internet killed the video star? - MTV shucks and jives to stay afloat.

The fact that Guevara was a communist guerrilla and Marxist ideologue is an irony of little interest to his capitalist exploiters. It has, however, become a problem for his children - Che Guevara's children denounce Che branding.

And that's news to me!

A Chronology Of African American Military Service WWI - WWII

The recent squabble between Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood over the representation (or lack thereof) of African Americans in supposedly historically accurate cinematic retellings (the second world war in this case) encouraged me to do a little research on the contributions of African Americans in WWII, if only to ensure that I'm well-versed on the subject, given Eastwood's rather unfortunately dismissive response to Spike's initial observation.

The following website was recommended by a poster on another site. It's a chronology of African American military service from WWI to WWII. There's a lot of detail, so it's a lengthy read, but it's also very specific, highlighting noteworthy people and events during the 29 year period covering both wars.

I found it useful and thought you might as well, so check it out when you can. Here's the link: A CHRONOLOGY OFAFRICAN AMERICAN MILITARY SERVICE.