Friday, September 16, 2005

We Are Willin’…!


When rappers grip the true voice of the Black community, how effective is our political leadership?

Kanye West’s controversial impromptu comments a few weeks ago on a nationally televised relief telethon for the victims of Hurricane Katrina shocked the American public. Breaking from the pre-written script, he went into a discourse on how pleas for help from the Black citizens in New Orleans were being ignored by the federal government, capping it all off signifying that, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” How shocking it is to hear this new information about Dubya. I do support Kanye’s comments, but this isn’t about that.

The nationwide spirit of the Black community is begging for a change, one that I think given the opportunity a large segment of us would be willing to fight for. Well before this time of crisis in the Gulf region of the US, Black denizens of New Orleans have been grossly disenfranchised. Jobs were hard to come by and living conditions were deplorable, echoing many other Black communities across the nation. For an entertainer like Kanye West to recognize this, and then have the gumption to speak on it on nationwide television is a horrid reflection on our national Black leadership. I’m not being critical of grass roots leaders or organizations that fight and sacrifice themselves on a daily to help disadvantaged folks, but mainly of the majority of our elected officials who we voted into office to be our voice but instead just have their own personal interests at heart. The Congress-people, State Senators, and the like who should be making glaringly obvious declarations on our behalf, or at least fighting behind the scenes to make sure things like this cannot happen, instead spend their days thinking about the next chicken dinner banquet they should attend.

For many Black youth, in America and the rest of the world, our musicians and artists hold the true voice of our community. Whether it’s Chuck D of Public Enemy who takes the chance to speak to bold truths here in America, or it’s the late great Fela Kuti of Nigeria who spoke out against his government’s shady tactics, it’s too often that they are the ones sacrificing their livelihoods instead of attitudes.

“Rap fans love a progressive voice that bucks the system. That spirit of rebellion gave birth to hip-hop in the first place and remains a vital part of the culture,” says Curtis Stephen, a columnist for New York Newsday. He continues, “With unemployment, AIDS, gang violence and a host of other social ills soaring in the Black community, it's not surprising that large segments of the black community feel disillusioned with the political process and the general state of affairs. When they look around, they're not likely to hear elected officials addressing the issues that impact their daily lives…But those same issues are likely to be addressed on some of the rap albums they purchase -- and that's why Chuck D called rap "the black CNN" years ago.”

It is argued that more artists, especially millionaire rappers who claim they’re hardcore and from the streets, should do more for their communities instead of frivolously spending their money on Belvedere and Benz’s. Additionally, many of them do have grossly negative attitudes toward women which too many of us in the Black community support, and repeat. However, these artists campaigned for us to spend our money on their CD’s and movies, not to represent our cultural and economic differences in the seat of government.

Our respective Black communities across the nation need to take a stand. We need to write into our elected officials and demand that they either regard, or research, the issues that are most critical to us all and then find ways to combat those issues in order to make our communities stronger, and possibly even more self-sufficient. Our communities can then actually be even more united because we would be fighting for common goals. Conspiracies being what they are, I’m sure what I’m recommending is exactly what “the machine” is fighting against. But “the machine” is just that, a piece of equipment that can be broken down.

I’m not interested in how things used to be. Urging our Black elected officials to invoke the spirits of Shirley Chisholm and Adam Clayton Powell may ring deaf in their distracted ears.

But whether its polar opposites like Ras Baraka or Hillary Clinton, they need to be reminded on a constant just who got them into office, and who can get them out; it really is that simple.

Monday, August 29, 2005


The Robin Harris Story
posted by the Media Man Watch

THE ROBIN HARRIS STORY: WE DON’T DIE, WE MULTIPLY


When I first got my DVR, like most people out there with these digital video recorders I’d tape a score of things if no other reason than to just play with it. One night in particular, I called out sick from work. But instead of working on my script I vegged-out in front of the telly watching movies and a bunch of unmemorable shows. Finally, frustrated and determined to go write, the recovering couch potato in me made me cruise some more channels to see if there was anything worth taping before turning off the tube for the night – and I found it!

Already about a ¼ way in was one of those Robert Townsend HBO specials that I never saw on cable during its first or 20th run (I’m pretty sure we were the last American family to get cable) but many years later in late-night syndication. As if I didn’t get enough of “The Bold, the Black, the Beautiful” the capper was that one of my favorite comedian/actors took the show that night: my man Robin Harris. Needless to say that, before his performance was over I was on the floor convulsing with laughter. How could I forget how funny this cat was?

After selling out all the seats at the Regal Theater in Chicago in a few hours, Robin gave his last bravura - the 36 year-old insult genius died in his sleep that night. Taken from us way too early in his career, his life and legend is remembered in “The Robin Harris Story: We Don’t Die, We Multiply”, a documentary produced and directed by Harris’ friend and Manager, veteran film and TV Producer, Topper Carew (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0136882/).

“We Don’t Die…” named after Robin’s notorious punchline from his “Bebe’s Kids” routine (and movie) is a touching reflection of Harris’ life and career highlighted by many of the comedians he came up with and fully influenced. Comics like Martin Lawrence, Cedric the Entertainer and Lewis Dix, to name a few, and Robin’s widow and family members including his youngest son (whom D.L. Hughley jokes regrettably looks the spitting image of his father [which he does]) muse about how much Robin meant to them, and the comedy world.

A majority of the story reflects around Robin’s days at the Comedy Act Theatre in South Central Los Angeles, a necessary start-up for black comedians because racist comedy clubs and owners wouldn’t allow black comedians with “style” to perform there, regardless of what roads Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy paved. But it would be Robin’s both insult and provocative style as funnyman and Thursday night host that would regularly bring folks, black and white alike, to the Comedy Act. And he didn’t care who you were; he even took on Mike Tyson back when he was “Iron” Mike!

Especially fun is blurry, but central footage of Robin from the Comedy Act Theatre days, footage that was shot by Carew on the fly ‘just because’. I almost fell on the floor a couple of times (Carew confirms that Spike Lee actually did one night at the club) watching this footage. One of my favorite moments was Robin picking on a guy in the audience with jheri-curl juiced hair – Robin barked how the guy could never satisfy his woman because she keeps slipping away! Footage like this makes one think how it’s a shame that so many of us don’t think to fully document moments thinking that we’ll always has them. We tend to think that our loved ones will always be around. But at least when we do have it, and when it can be shared with the world, it’s like that person is still alive. And when someone was as full of life as Robin Harris was, personal moments shared by his friends are especially poignant. Stories about Robin calling up folks at 5am in the morning talking about that night’s performance, or them all trying to play ball but with Robin cracking so many jokes the game wouldn’t even last two minutes; these make you feel as if he were your buddy too.

Comedian/Director Robert Townsend is one of many who bluster on about how scared he was the time he had to do his routine after Robin. And Bernie Mac (whose first meeting with Robin is hilarious), arguably the closest modern comedian to mirror Robin’s style, constantly marvels at how flawlessly Robin could ‘work’ the room, especially the night of his last performance. To modern Black comics, if Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, Richard Pryor were the King, Queen and Prince of comedy…then Robin Harris is the Bishop – he shed his light and provided the path on how it should all be done.

Independently produced by Topper Carew, “We Don’t Die, We Multiply is currently touring the country. I’ll be providing regular updates on it status. For more information check out Topper Carew’s website: www.TopperCarew.com

Monday, May 23, 2005

the 10 COOLEST BLACK MALE CHARACTERS IN MOVIE HISTORY pt.2

Here's the continuation of my "10 Coolest..." list from last week. I'm sure there are a few surprises within, but hey, it's my list..SO THERE! lol I got interesting responses from the 1st part of the list so once again, whether you agree or disagree, let me know what you think.

================================

6. Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) – The Empire Strikes Back (1979)
Although he was pretty cool as Louis McKay in Lady Sings the Blues, he was kind of an a-hole in Mahogany. But in The Empire Strikes Back, Billy Dee was the first (visible) real black man in sci-fi. He wasn’t an idiot, a weird alien or a slave. Dude was in charge of Cloud City a full over a decade before L. Douglas Wilder became the 1st black governor in the U.S.A., and he beat out Han Solo for the Millennium Falcon. The part rouge, shrewd businessman, all-around pretty boy turned rebel fighter with the tightest mustache this side of the Denovrian Belt, Williams was the total package. Out universe felt safer as soon as he stepped on screen.


7. Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) – In The Heat of the Night (1967)
You better call him Mister! While visiting his family in the South, he’s mistakenly arrested when a wealthy man is killed. But when he is then lent out by his bosses of the Philadelphia P.D. to track the killer, Mr. Tibbs uses his skills and instincts to get his man despite being blocked by the town’s racist bureaucracy. No pansy, this independent never wavered to anyone, physically or mentally. When Rod Steiger’s Chief Gillespie slapped our hero for being ‘insubordinate’, Tibbs slapped him right back…the South had never met a black man that was so bad!

Sidney has often played black men who kowtow to white folks’ idealisms or supporting their stances, and he even kind of does in this flick but less so, and at least this time he’s doing things his own way without outside influences whispering in his ear.


8. Kirikou Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998)
Hands down one of the most entertaining animated movies ever produced, French made Kirikou and the Sorceress follows the story of a tiny little boy who aims to rid his village from the evil of Karaba, the Sorceress. Kirikou is so independent that the movie opens with him demanding to be delivered by his mother. Kirikou then cuts his own cord deciding to birth himself. Smarter than his peers and more resourceful than most of the people in the village, this tiny boy who hopes to get fully grown one day begins to investigate why the stunningly beautiful Karaba has been blackmailing his fellow villagers and kidnapping the men. I won’t go into too much more and ruin your movie experience, but trust that this will be one of the most innovative animation experiences of your life, especially if you’re African-American, and more so if you have some knowledge of folklore. For more info go to: http://www.kirikou.net/


9. Marcus Graham (Eddie Murphy) – Boomerang (1992)
“Marcus? Oh, Marcus?” was the cry that Lady Eloise belted to lure her paramour, corporate-world climber Marcus Graham, to her boudoir. Despite falling beneath her clutches, Eddie Murphy’s performance in the Hudlin Brother’s Boomerang was both his coolest and sexiest up to that point, and beyond. Eddie made us believe that he was the debonair man that every woman wanted, and whom he could control, until he met his match in two woman of totally opposite personalities: Robin Givens as his new boss, the corporate shark Jacqueline, and Halle Berry as the sweet, near perfect artist Angela. Yeah, he played his boy Gerard (David Alan Grier) dirty to get Halle, but she helped craft Marcus into a complete man.

I’m eternally grateful to the writers and the Hudlin brothers for making a movie where Eddie could be both sensitive and roguish, still funny but not a cornball hustler, and certainly, certainly not asexual (whew!).
In addition to Eddie’s performance, Boomerang had a great script and cast that also includes Martin Lawrence (“That’s racial!”), Geoffrey Holder (“Nasty” Nelson), Chris Rock, Leonard Roberts, John Witherspoon (do I even need to quote his life-changing line from the movie?) and Ms. Strange’ herself, the irreplaceable Grace Jones. On a sidenote: a lot of Caucasian critics and folks bashed Boomerang for being set in a virtually “all-Black” world. However, if we watch ANY AND EVERY Woody Allen movie one would be hard pressed to find any black character, much less one that has any significance.


10. Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) – New Jack City (1991)
Although in no specific order, my 10th selection for “Coolest Black Male Characters…” was the hardest to select. In the end I knew it would be Wesley Snipes, but would it be him as Shadow Henderson in Mo Betta Blues or as Nino Brown in New Jack City? After thinking about it for a couple of days, the decision was solid, as you can see above, but for more than one reason.

New Jack City is a harsh and heinously violent view of a crime family that takes over the drug game in New York City by storm. Although many of the lines and acting were cheesy, it was Wesley as the deliciously evil Nino Brown that makes NJC a classic. You can see the then young Snipes having serious fun with his lines which, combined with his imposing physique, made Nino Brown a depraved gangster. Sick as it was, seeing him pour champagne over his girlfriend then kicking her out while telling his minions to “Cancel that b!%^h!” makes me laugh every time. It’s not until a long overdue re-watching that you remember how cartoon-y NJC can be, but how well it portrays the lack of respect for human life and dignity.

To me, whether he’s playing a laborer or a sax player or a sniper, Wesley Snipes inhabits his roles and really makes you believe for that 90 to 120 minutes that HE IS that person, no faking the funk. That’s essentially what makes Nino just so damned cool.


===============================================
It was difficult to decide who can make my 10 Coolest Black Male Characters and Actors in Movie History,
so here is my list of those who didn’t make it, but whom shouldn’t be dismissed.

The Reverend Dr. Purify (OSSIE DAVIS) - Jungle Fever
Lyedecker (JIM BROWN) – 100 Rifles
Sgt. Waters (ADOLPH CAESAR) – A Soldier’s Story
Billy Foster (BILL COSBY) – Let’s Do It Again
Melvin Van Peebles (Mario Van Peebles) – BAADASSSSS!
Lt. Danny Roman - (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) – The Negotiator
Jules Winnfield - (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) – Pulp Fiction
Shadow Henderson (WESLEY SNIPES) – Mo’ Betta Blues

(clockwise, from l. to r.) Billy Dee Williams, Wesley Snipes, Eddie Murphy, Sidney Poitier (w/Lee Grant), Kirikou)
posted by the Media Man Watch

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

the 10 COOLEST BLACK MALE CHARACTERS IN MOVIE HISTORY part1

Cocky or intelligent, good or mean, cool is being your own man, doing your own thing…and surviving to tell about it. Here is PART 1 of my list of the 10 Coolest brothers in movie history.

1. John Slade (Bernie Casey) I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
Not only did he take lead in the movement to take back the streets from Mr. Big, he still made the time to organize street kids into bettering themselves by participating in the Gang Olympics. But most notably, he was the first brother to acknowledge his theme music because “Every Good Hero should have one.” Please forgive the tight leather suit, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka may have been a spoof of so-called Blaxploitation films of the 1970’s, but this still was the eighties.


2. Duff Anderson (Ivan Dixon) - Nothing But A Man (1964)
The masses know him as Mr. Asagai from Raisin In the Sun, of better yet as “the black guy” from Hogan’s Heroes. But before that Ivan Dixon starred in a critically acclaimed performance in Michael Roemer’s Nothing But a Man. This film follows the story of black man trying to do good but so unsure of his place in this racist and classist world that he goes on a search for self-discovery and identity, leaving behind his wife Josie, played by singer Abbey Lincoln. But unlike a lot of European and American led films, he doesn’t cheat on her or do crazy things to find himself…he wanders, returns to his roots, talks to folks, and THINKS. Yes, a black man thinking on film. Uncompromising in his quest for humanity, he chooses to deal with his own problems instead of taking it out on his wife any longer, and thankfully she lets him work it out…like most men need to do. Mature and very real, Nothing But A Man is a somber, but ultimately uplifting film that would not have been as successful without Dixon as its star.


3. Mouse Alexander (Don Cheadle) – Devil In A Blue Dress (1995)
Like the paladins of old, Mouse had has own gun and did indeed travel to post-WWII Los Angeles to help out his boy “Easy” Rawlins on his 1st case as a P.I. just when he needed him the most. Armed with a violent and playful forwardness, the then relatively unknown Don Cheadle played Mouse as the heavy with a short temper in contrast to Denzel Washington’s calm and often na├»ve Easy. His portrayal propelled Cheadle into the Hollywood limelight and he’s become the gracious actor that many of the others want to work with. I’m disappointed that another of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins mysteries has never been adapted for the screen.

4. Ben (Duane Jones) – Night of the Living Dead (1968)
He vas the voice of reason among the zombie chaos and led his fellow survivors when leading needed to be done. George Romero didn’t have to cast him, a black man as the highly competent lead in the now seminal horror flick, but it was the best choice he ever made. Okay, he died in the end of the flick, but then so did everyone else. But at least our man didn’t go out like an irrational sucker.

5. Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) – Do The Right Thing (1989)
Remember his intro: The close-up on the radio, then the rings (LOVE & HATE across his fingers-on separate ads) – classic cinema. The strong silent brother, Radio Raheem was a brother who lived to blast P.E. (Public Enemy for all you suckas…boooyyeeee!!!) from his boom-box and enjoy his neighborhood. Just the fact that the street kids stopped the open fire hydrant for Raheem to pass by was a testament to his cool factor – only the Fonz got more love than that. Who knows what would become of the street philospher if the pigs didn’t viciously kill him? Nunn may have never had another stand-out role like this, but he is embedded in movie history.


STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF THE LIST LATER THIS WEEK!

(clockwise, from top l. to r.) Don Cheadle, Duane Jones, Ivan Dixon, Bill Nunn (w/Spike Lee) & Bernie Casey
posted by the Media Man Watch

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Birth of a Reality Nation

There is one truly consistent ideal running throughout America’s reality shows, but to us who are used to it everyday, it’s no real surprise. Now I doubt I’m the first writer to comment on it, but I still want to talk about it because it’s annoyingly disgusting.

During the 1960’s, the non-violence movement begun by Dr. King and his associates imagined a world in which it wasn’t the color of your skin but the content of your character that determined how people treated you. What those forefathers didn’t figure out was that: 1. Because of such heavy mentally instilled racism, non-blacks continue to assume the worse about Black folks, regardless of societal status, and 2. Because of those centuries long attitudes, we Black folks stay angry – at the world and the people within it – especially ourselves. It’s all part of what psychologists like the renowned Dr. Jeff Gardere call Post Dramatic Slavery Disorder (or Syndrome) which is similar in scope, but not time, to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Reality shows are abundant these days and many times (Okay, not with The Bachelor) they are truly reflective of the society we live in. A primary highlight is the dreaded Black villain – the often lone black man or woman (or one of each) in the cast of real characters that is often used as the scapegoat for the groups problems. On The Contender this past week, the lone black boxer left was Ishe Smith – an admittedly bull-headed fighter. No one else liked him and they blamed his attitude for the bad feelings within the house they all shared. They also were upset that most critics were projecting him as the winner. So lets analyze this, shall we: Not only does he think he’s better than everyone else – every one else thinks he’s better than anyone else there. This past Sunday he was defeated by the lightning-quick Sergio Mora, an intentional pairing by that week’s challenge winner in order to get rid of Ishe and his bad attitude. Or at least that was the excuse given. Why couldn’t all these Caucasian and Latino men just admit that he is a solid fighter. No one would give him his due, nor get to even know him well. He’s just another “angry Negro.” They would never say it out loud, but any Black man who has faced the same energy throughout his existence can ‘see the pattern’.

Ironically, many of these cats on “The Contender” have either Black or dark-skinned girlfriends. But then, so did Mark Furman (see the O.J. Simpson case) and one of the cops who shot Amadou Diallo 41 times here in NYC, killing him in the vestibule to his apartment building. So our women are good enough to bang, but the man with the muscle is trouble.

The same thing applies to Craig, one of the “street smart” applicants on this current season of “The Apprentice”. Okay, we all know that Craig isn’t going to win…the Donald loves an educated guy and that’s whom he’s going to go with. But once again this past Thursday, Craig proved how creative and business-savvy he is by winning the challenge as the Team Leader…but he is seldom given his due. In his previous foray as “Team Leader” he created a storage box during the Home Depot challenge that the store began using and selling in their stores. This week he helped create a supply caddy that Staples will begin selling in their stores. So why is it during the Home Depot challenge did all his teammates conspire against him to fail…something they hadn’t done with any other one? Gee, I don’t know Daaavvveeeyyy. Granted, Craig can be a smidge indecipherable, but one team gave hefty Southern lawyer Bren’s homosexual advertising idea a go in an earlier challenge…and what was worse than that one?

And don’t forget Stacie in season 2 of “The Apprentice”. During a hectic challenge, she tried to cheer up the all woman group she was part of by suggesting (strongly) they play with a ‘Magic 8 Ball’ and they deemed her too nutty to have around. She was ganged up on and discarded, something I think the Donald even regretted in hindsight. Just another scapegoat.

And we won’t even start up about Omorasa. Even though she was a bit of a scapegoat too, her detestable persona is a big part of her.

But that’s part of my argument. Being a Black man or woman in this society, unless we act JUST LIKE our counterparts, in the kindest way that is, we are subjugated to scorn. But as much as I’d like to blame the contestants of these shows, I think the main culprits are the casting directors. They pick people that will conflict, of course, because conflict creates DRAMA. However, they often pick Black folks that are, well, really contentious, which creates a stronger carry-through in society. As always, there are exceptions, but they are not the norm. Just as we are perpetually evil in movies and tv dramas, so we are in reality shows and thus…the world.

I should research whether D.W. Griffith’s descendants are the creative forces behind these shows.

Craig of "the Apprentice"
posted by the Media Man Watch

Ishe Smith from THE CONTENDER
posted by the Media Man Watch

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Practicing What You Preach: Black Movie Habits

With all this talk back and forth about “Diary of A Mad Black Woman” and how either its important as an Black filmgoer to support it or how stereotypically perverse the image of the central character of Madea is, I want to put some ideas out there for people to ponder. In the past week I’ve gone back and forth about how I respect Tyler Perry for being able to bring his efforts to the silver screen, but that I don’t support his plays because I take the above latter position. I look back upon the history of film and marvel at the atrocious ways that Black folks have been both treated and portrayed, so I marvel at the support of the same old mental slavery stance when we support modern day Stepin Fetchit’s and Beulah’s and the like, much less dudes in drag.

A lot of people who disagreed with my opinions sternly suggested that I should be more positive and support Black films regardless of the content. Honestly, I can understand their position, but if you’re going to say so, then practice your film going (and buying) habits as you preach.

This weekend Be Cool was released in theatres across the country. John Travolta stars in this sequel to one of my favorite films, 1995’s Get Shorty. In the original, Miami mobster Chili Palmer comes to Hollywood to collect a debt for his boss and discovers that his “talents” lend well to becoming what he always dreamed: a movie producer. In Be Cool, Palmer is fed up with the movie industry and decides to break into music production. Now, I know that a lot of black folks have not nor will ever willingly watch Get Shorty, but to support your arguments about WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORTING BLACK FILM, I want all of you to go out there and support this new flick.

You may be unaware, but the director of Be Cool is F. Gary Gray. He is the excellent director of such films as Set It Off, The Negotiator (another of my favs), and The Italian Job (He also directed Friday, but hey we all gotta start off somewhere [and yes, I’m quite aware that I’m among the literal handful of young black folks who didn’t like Friday]). Gray does really good work, so even if you don’t like Travolta, then go support this film to show your support behind this Black man. And hey, it is a comedy too, so you won’t have to worry about taking life too seriously.

While you’re at it, remember to buy Spike Lee’s latest film, She Hate Me, which was released on video and DVD in late January. Also go buy last summer’s King Arthur and the Blues music documentary Lightning In A Bottle, both directed by Antoine Fuqua of Training Day and Bait. And don’t forget last year’s Woman Thou Art Loosed too because I bet most of you didn’t make the effort to go see that. There are so many others to go support too, other films that are really good (or at least directed well) that are too numerous to place here, but go support those too.

If you’re going to preach, then lend your efforts across the board. Your support for Tyler Perry is just as important as your own for Gray and Fuqua and especially for Spike, who opened up so many doors for modern black films and filmmakers.


BE COOL director F. Gary Gray schools Travolta about that darn wig
posted by the Media Man Watch

Christina Milian (yum!) perfoms at the MTV Awards in F. Gary Gray's 'BE COOL'
posted by the Media Man Watch

Director F. Gary Gray with his hands full (Why is he touching my Christina M.!?!)
posted by the Media Man Watch

Monday, February 28, 2005

live from the cathode-ray carpet: the Media Man at the 2005 OSCARS

I’m writing this live from my job as I watch 2005’s Academy Award telecast! Yeah, I know I’m at work and I should be working…but it’s the Oscars! And hey Chris Rock, straight men do watch the Oscars…we just turn during the musical numbers.

Chris Rock was mad funny, especially the joke about Michael Moore not being mad about not getting nominated for Fahrenheit /911. Rock said that Moore he should have made the documentary Super-Size Me instead, “…He’s done all the research.” He also dissed everyone from Jude law (“Why is he in every movie?”), to Ja Rule, to brilliantly enough, himself.

Well to start off with the heavy categories, Morgan Freeman finally won an Oscar and it was for his Best Supporting Actor performance in Million Dollar Baby. I haven’t seen it, but I just hope that he isn’t the “Magical Negro” in it like so many other black actors are in films with mostly white casts. Truth be told, I always enjoy Clint Eastwood movies. Aside from them being just plain good, he doesn’t exploit his black actors or characters and for that he gets my respect. Still, I haven’t seen MDB.

The producers did an interesting thing this year. Cate Blanchett presented the Make-up award from atop the steps next to the people who were nominated. The camera simply panned down the rows to the three sets of nominees. How simple and beautiful it looked. Okay, maybe what I just said seemed a lil boring, but hey, aside from being a screenwriter (and a damned good observer/critic) I’m also trained in filmmaking. I love the technical aspects of moviemaking and…okay, okay I’ll shut up now.

Beyonce tore up that song from the French movie The Chorus. Did I hear correctly that Chris Rock had to force his hand to have the producers of this telecast to bring in more black presenters and performers (Prince was one)? I heard this somewhere and if that’s the case it just reaffirms what most of us still know about the industry, much less the world. I guess they felt that the 4 black folks nominated for acting Oscar’s, plus having a Black host, more than filled the quota. Don’t adjust your screens folks, yes, there are more than 5 black folks on the telly. I just realized that I must be gay now, I just watched a musical number. Can I use Beyonce on stage as an excuse? Hey, at least I have no idea “who” she was wearing.

Damn the Oscars are black this year! Chris Rock went to the Magic Johnson theatre to interview people about their fav movies. He interviewed mostly black folks, and Albert Brooks…and they all loved White Chicks. I don’t know if the skit was as funny or just sad. Ah well. By the way, Scarlett Johanssan is a pretty girl, but man, as an actor she is way overrated. Loved her in Ghost World though (where are you Thora Birch?)!

Actress in a Supporting Role: I know Cate Blanchett will win for The Aviator. She’s literally one of the best actors in the world right now. Her portrayal of Katherine Hepburn (another of my favs) was truly dynamic. They could have shown a better clip for Hotel Rwanda’s Sophie Okenedo. This is racial (running joke: see 1990’s Boomerang). See, I was right – Cate Blanchett won!

Wow. Born Into Brothels won as best Documentary Feature Film. I wanted to go see that for the longest. Guess I’ve spent too much time writing reviews of bad movies to go see that good one. Who’s gonna take me to the movies to go see it this week? This is what I hate though…I can’t go see it now because it’s going to seem pretentious that I’m going to see it because it won. Now I’ll have to wait for HBO to air it. Life’s a b!#ch ain’t it?

Another musical number is on? Should I watch Romeo Must Die on TNT or Bad Boys on TBS? Oh, there’s a SummerLand marathon on the WB and Full House on Nickelodeon. Can’t get enough Lori Loughlin in a night! Ah, Miami is playing the Orlando Magic. That’ll work.

Best Adapted Screenplay. As a writer I especially love this category. I hope before Sunset wins, but I know it won’t. Yep, director/writer Alexander Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor won for Sideways. Hey, I respect Payne’s films so I’m happy for him. Election is still one of my favorites of his.

Another original thing they’re doing this year is for the lesser loved categories like Visual Effects is that they line up all the nominees on stage and the winner just walks over to the podium to accept (they also did for the Docu Feature category). Spider-Man 2 just won for that category. Man, I still shake when I watch that film. The special effects, especially the elevated train sequence, is possibly the best effects I’ve ever seen on the silver screen.

Sidney Lumet just won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Al Pacino presented it and dang, he has gotten A LOT of “work” done. He looks 50 years old. Lumet, for all of those unfamiliar with him, is the director of such seminal films like Twelve Angry Men, Fail-Safe, Dog Day Afternoon, and of course, Network. His films always make you feel truly close to the character. He also directed The Wiz. I guess none of us are perfect.

Oh My God, Big Momma’s House is on TeleMundo. It doesn’t get much better than this. If I’m watching this, you know another musical number is on.

Hey! I had no clue that ex-New York Knick player Hubert Davis made a film! He and his film partner made a Short Documentary film named HARDWOOD about the life decisions made by his father, Mel, and how they affected his life. Mel, a former Harlem Globetrotter, fell in love and had a child with a white woman, but ended up marrying and fathering another child with a black woman. In the film, both women speak about love and betrayal, and both sons address their absent father. Gotta peep this.

Do you realize it’s 10:40pm EST and they’ve only given out two hardcore awards. Now I remember why I don’t watch American awards shows. Sheesh!

Well, it’s 10:55 and another musical number. Beyonce is truly too fine. Check her out in that silver dress. Nice and thick and hippy, just like I love ‘em. She’s actually made me watch a whole minute of a musical number. “Believe” from The Polar Express is a nice song though. And thankfully it’s not Randy Newman singing yet another Disney song.

Finally, the Best Actress category is on tap. I hope Annette Benning doesn’t win for a film no one saw and the ones that saw didn’t care for (Being Julia). It would be such a throw-away win. Nice, Hilary Swank won for Million Dollar Baby. Ain’t it funny that her face looks more masculine than her husband Chad Lowe’s own, and vice-versa? She’s a great actress though, even when she was in ‘Beverly Hills 90210’. In my opinion, I saw a lot of potential from her since The Next Karate Kid. Congrats Hilary, you’re a great talent.

Charlie Kaufman won for Best Original Screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He’s a nut, but he is a great writer. He got nominated for Adaptation last time and that was one of my favorite films of that year.

11:21 and the Best Actor category is FINALLY up. I hope my man Don Cheadle wins, but Jamie Foxx is the front-runner. I don’t want Don to win simply because he’s black or anything, but his performance in Hotel Rwanda was one of the most dynamic I’ve seen on film my entire life. But, Jamie got it which isn’t much of surprise. He almost cried again, which is really annoying and feels kinda fake at this point, but I’m so happy for him. Who woulda thunk that ‘Wanda’ from In Living Color could have won the Oscar?

Clint just won the Best Director award and then won again for Best Film. Dang, Million Dollar Baby swept for 4 solid categories. I may just have to go check it out this week. Like I said before, I trust Clint anyway so I know it won’t be a waste of $10.25/10.50 or whatever.

This was a really good Oscar telecast, definetly one of my favorites. The best part was the end when Chris Rock shouted out BROOKLYN! at the end of the show. Damn Chris…that’s MAD LOVE!

Charlie Kaufman, winner for Best Original Screenplay (finally) for Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind Posted by Hello

Jamie & Morgan...two Black actors actually winning for two good films Posted by Hello

Jamie Foxx on top of the world  Posted by Hello

Chris ready to Rock the boring-@$$ crowd Posted by Hello

Best Director Clint Eastwood Posted by Hello

Cate Blanchett, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, and Jamie Foxx Posted by Hello

DIARY OF AN TIRED BLACK FILM

I didn’t see it, and I don’t want to. All I have to say on the matter is, damn, I know we can do better than this. In a decade it will be 100 years since The Birth of A Nation, and since before that hateful movie Black folks have been fighting to get truer images of ourselves on the silver screen, as well as in all of society.

It’s bad enough that Diary of A Mad Black Woman, from which writer/director Tyler Perry adapted from his series of “urban” stage plays, has been made as a feature film. But, the director himself dresses up as the family matriarch who dispenses her home-spun wise-ass-ism’s, complete with fat suit and white wig. What does this say about how we as black folks view our elderly, especially our elderly women who are often the backbone of our families, black or white or whatever race. Are they manly? Are they aberrations?

The two remakes of The Nutty Professor had Eddie Murphy portray Grandma Klump as an overbearing, oversexed, octogenarian. Big Momma’s House had Martin Lawrence dress up as the family matriarch as well, to catch a crook who was preying on co-star Nia Long. Yes, I know they are all comedies, but damn it, I’ll stay serious because I’m sick of this.

And insult to injury, it debuted as the #1 film this week.

I better hurry up and get my films produced.