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Author Topic:   Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. Behind the Scenes in Black Hollywood
bayzoo
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posted 01-27-2004 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bayzoo   Click Here to Email bayzoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting. I will be looking out for this in February. Nothing said here, and I'm sure nothing that will be said in the TV series, will neither surprise nor enlighten me. These are things I already know and have been saying for sometime now. But I'm still going to watch the series.

Read on (I italicized some interesting lines of the article):

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. Behind the Scenes in Black Hollywood

"America Beyond the Color Line with Henry Louis Gates Jr.", a series of four one-hour films airing on PBS February 3 and 4, 2004, chronicles Gates' travels to four disparate regions of the United States to test the climate of contemporary Black America at the start of a new century, and to discover what has changed for African Americans socially, politically and economically.

Professor Gates goes behind the scenes in the one-hour film, "Los Angeles: Black Hollywood," to glimpse Hollywood in action and to find out how race determines and affects black power in Hollywood. He poses the question -- "If the only color that matters is green, what does that mean for black power in Hollywood?"

To get perspective on the question, the film includes Gates' interviews with a number of Hollywood insiders including Chris Tucker, Quincy Jones, Don Cheadle, Nia Long[b/], [b]Alicia Keys, Samuel L. Jackson, Arnon Milchan and writer/producer/directors Reggie Bythewood, Reginald Hudlin and John Singleton, to name just a few. Each offered up their perspective on race and Hollywood.

Gates said one of the most revealing interviews that he did was with producer Arnon Milchan, founder/head of New Regency Productions who broke down how racism works in Hollywood. Milchan explained how "Panic Room," which made $100 million at the box office, would have made, at most, $50 million with Halle Berry in the Jodie Foster role. He went on to say that with a darker-complexioned actress, "Ten million, maybe $20 million." Gates' questioned Milchan about a Halle Berry-Denzel Washington love story. "Oh man, that is a brilliant idea," Milchan said, "Only one problem, it will only make $50 million." He went on to illustrate that the problem. Since they are both A-list actors, once he pays Halle $20 million and Denzel $20 million, he doesn't have any money left. "The moral of that story is that film will never be made," he said. Gates took it one step further and questioned Milchan about a Halle Berry-Russell Crowe pairing. "$200 million, maybe $300 million," Milchan said, explaining that the audience is not interested in seeing two black people, black man and black woman, make love. And they are definitely not interested in seeing a black woman and her son being terrorized by anybody. "They are not going to pay for that," he said.

The Israeli-born producer of more than 85 feature films (including "The King Of Comedy," "Once Upon A Time In America," "Pretty Woman," "The Negotiator," "Fight Club," "Big Momma's House," "Don't Say A Word," "High Crimes" and "Daredevil"), Milchan added, "It could be there is an assumption that Hollywood is closed to the black community, and the assumption could be wrong. Maybe the club door is closed, but not by conspiracy. Maybe it's by disassociation socially -- unless you get into that room, you don't have access. But if we hang out, we talk, and if we talk, we do business."

Hudlin applauded Milchan for stepping up and having this very honest conversation. "I really give him kudos for being as frank as he was in really explaining the economic/racial politics of how decisions get made in Hollywood," Hudlin stated.

Writer/director/producer Reginald Hudlin talked about how Hollywood is not interested in telling our [black] stories. "Drumline" was a very successful film and it will make twice that in video alone, but Hollywood is not talking about "Drumline 2." He went on to say, "This is a very liberal town. It's not that they don't fundamentally like black people. It's just that they're about taking the road of least resistance and black films are resistant." And I think that in Hollywood there's a very lazy attitude that just says: "Let's make product that appeals to the lowest common denominator. And there's an overall disease in the black community, and the white Hollywood aids and abets. That has replaced afro-centricity with ghetto-centricity. Hudlin's assessment of the changes in television programming were very telling: "It's a two-pronged terror," he said, "If "Sanford & Son," which was a huge mainstream show in the 70's, was on television today it would be on UPN and only black people would watch it." Why? "Because there's a kind of self-fulfilling attitude that there are black shows that only black people watch and there are white shows that only white people watch. And that attitude has infected all of entertainment, and it affects the kind of shows that people develop as well." Hudlin explained how Hollywood's lazy attitude leads the industry to making product that appeals to the lowest common denominator. "There's an overall disease in the black community which white Hollywood aids and abets. It has replaced afro-centricity with ghetto-centricity." Hudlin also recounted how back in 1990 when "House Party" came out the idea of a movie with rappers and hip-hop artists was considered an insane and risky idea. "Now you can't make a movie without a rapper." Today they say, "Well, there's no rapper in the cast. I don't know if it will work," he quipped.

One of the biggest surprises Professor Gates learned from this series was that when you suspend for race, almost nobody in all four segments of the film talked about race first. They talked about class and money. "These guys in Hollywood, they talked about the money, about how you get it and what it means. Race was there but was secondary to economic relationships," he said.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is currently W.E.B. DuBois Professor of the Humanities, Chair of Afro-American Studies and Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University. He is the author and editor of a long list of books, including: The African Century (2000), co-authored with Cornel West; The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts (2002); The Trials of Phyllis Wheatley: America's First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers (2003); Wonders of the African World, the companion book to the PBS series of the same title; and America Behind the Color Line (Warner Books), the companion book to the PBS documentary of the same title.

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bayzoo
http://www.see-hear-feel.com

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utzworld
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posted 01-27-2004 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for utzworld   Click Here to Email utzworld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bayzoo:

Gates said one of the most revealing interviews that he did was with producer Arnon Milchan, founder/head of New Regency Productions who broke down how racism works in Hollywood. Milchan explained how "Panic Room," which made $100 million at the box office, would have made, at most, $50 million with Halle Berry in the Jodie Foster role. He went on to say that with a darker-complexioned actress, "Ten million, maybe $20 million." Gates' questioned Milchan about a Halle Berry-Denzel Washington love story. "Oh man, that is a brilliant idea," Milchan said, "Only one problem, it will only make $50 million." He went on to illustrate that the problem. Since they are both A-list actors, once he pays Halle $20 million and Denzel $20 million, he doesn't have any money left. "The moral of that story is that film will never be made," he said. Gates took it one step further and questioned Milchan about a Halle Berry-Russell Crowe pairing. "$200 million, maybe $300 million," Milchan said, explaining that the audience is not interested in seeing two black people, black man and black woman, make love. And they are definitely not interested in seeing a black woman and her son being terrorized by anybody. "They are not going to pay for that," he said.

The Israeli-born producer of more than 85 feature films (including "The King Of Comedy," "Once Upon A Time In America," "Pretty Woman," "The Negotiator," "Fight Club," "Big Momma's House," "Don't Say A Word," "High Crimes" and "Daredevil"), Milchan added, "It could be there is an assumption that Hollywood is closed to the black community, and the assumption could be wrong. Maybe the club door is closed, but not by conspiracy. Maybe it's by disassociation socially -- unless you get into that room, you don't have access. But if we hang out, we talk, and if we talk, we do business."


Hey Chicks...Arnon Milchan is the guy who came up to our table and spoke with Sam during our dinner at Spagos and was kinda tipsy.

Very interesting comments...especially considering how "The Negotiator", the film he and Sam made together, crossed that $50 Million threshold-and nothing more.

I've said it before...I'll say it again: If the top Black entertainers pooled together at least $1 Million each, we'd have our own studio.

It may not be a studio with the size of Sony, WB or Disney, but at least it'll be OURS. Like Bammer once said, instead of trying to "Fight The Power", maybe WE should start trying to BE The Power!!!

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bayzoo
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posted 01-27-2004 03:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bayzoo   Click Here to Email bayzoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by utzworld:
I've said it before...I'll say it again: If the top Black entertainers pooled together at least $1 Million each, we'd have our own studio.

Maybe we should keep saying it, over and over and over again, and maybe one day, hopefully, they will hear us! I think $10 Million is more than doable by several names on the list!

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bayzoo

[This message has been edited by bayzoo (edited 01-27-2004).]

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tat106
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posted 01-27-2004 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tat106     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:

It may not be a studio with the size of Sony, WB or Disney, but at least it'll be OURS. Like Bammer once said, instead of trying to "Fight The Power", maybe WE should start trying to BE The Power!!![/B]

What's so wrong about being the size of Artisan or pre-merger New Line Cinema?

Actually, New Line's a perfect company to model yourself after. For the longest time they never made a film that cost more than $10 million. And to think KING OF NEW YORK cost between $5-7 million and had the likes of Walken, Fishburne, Snipes and Caruso.

Hell, you produce a film for $8-10 million, even with marketing, if it grosses $40-50 million you've made $20-30million!

BARBERSHOP had a higher profit margin that the last James Bond film.

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utzworld
SWMBO
posted 01-28-2004 07:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for utzworld   Click Here to Email utzworld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tat106:
What's so wrong about being the size of Artisan or pre-merger New Line Cinema?

Actually, New Line's a perfect company to model yourself after. For the longest time they never made a film that cost more than $10 million. And to think KING OF NEW YORK cost between $5-7 million and had the likes of Walken, Fishburne, Snipes and Caruso.

Hell, you produce a film for $8-10 million, even with marketing, if it grosses $40-50 million you've made $20-30million!

BARBERSHOP had a higher profit margin that the last James Bond film.


I'm dying to see Bammer's response! For the last 4 years, I've been on the PRO side of this issue and she's been on the CON. I wonder if things have changed...

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bams
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posted 01-29-2004 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bams   Click Here to Email bams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by utzworld:
I'm dying to see Bammer's response! For the last 4 years, I've been on the PRO side of this issue and she's been on the CON. I wonder if things have changed...

I don't think I've ever been on the CON side of self-empowerment, so I'm not sure what you're talking about. If you're probing for my thoughts on a bunch of Black millionaires getting together just to make "Black" movies, then sure, I'm not jumping up and down with joy just to see that. If, however, the "FUBU" angle is what they're using - creating a place where Black talent in front of and behind the camera can be nurtured (not unlike what Robert Redford originally did for indies with Sundance), then how could I be against that?

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utzworld
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posted 01-29-2004 05:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for utzworld   Click Here to Email utzworld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bams:
I don't think I've ever been on the CON side of self-empowerment, so I'm not sure what you're talking about. If you're probing for my thoughts on a bunch of Black millionaires getting together just to make "Black" movies, then sure, I'm not jumping up and down with joy just to see that. If, however, the "FUBU" angle is what they're using - creating a place where Black talent in front of and behind the camera can be nurtured (not unlike what Robert Redford originally did for indies with Sundance), then how could I be against that?

Bammer, Bammer, Bammer!!!

I love you like a big sis...but come on, now. You know that the two of us have stood on the opposite sides of this issue for years. My first "Beyond The Screen" article for 3BC addressed this issue (for those who missed it, the article is called "Where Black Film Needs To Go In 2000 And Beyond").

I said almost exactly what you said above: that US entertainers should start our own studio and put out QUALITY Black films made for US and by US and not any of THEM kinds of movies. I distinctly remember you being on the opposite side of the issue. As I recall, I didn't think you were saying that we don't need to have our own studio...but rather that the chances of that ever happening is slim.

Do you remember???

[This message has been edited by utzworld (edited 01-29-2004).]

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bams
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posted 01-30-2004 04:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bams   Click Here to Email bams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by utzworld:
Bammer, Bammer, Bammer!!!

I love you like a big sis...but come on, now. You know that the two of us have stood on the opposite sides of this issue for years. My first "Beyond The Screen" article for 3BC addressed this issue (for those who missed it, the article is called "Where Black Film Needs To Go In 2000 And Beyond").

I said almost exactly what you said above: that US entertainers should start our own studio and put out QUALITY Black films made for US and by US and not any of THEM kinds of movies. I distinctly remember you being on the opposite side of the issue. As I recall, I didn't think you were saying that we don't need to have our own studio...but rather that the chances of that ever happening is slim.

Do you remember???


I've had a hard time being understood lately, so I'm going to pick my words carefully, so as to leave no doubt.

Yes, I remember (though the specifics of what you and I have said before, weren't quite as clear as now), and first, I think I covered all that in my statement above. But I'll say it again: if the purpose of a bunch of Black millionaires creating a Black-owned studio is just to get together and make "Black" films - and I'll even qualify that with "quality" "Black" films - then I don't see the point. Or to put it in terms of what you said I said (I'm not denying I said it, I just don't remember the exact words I used; so I'll trust you on that one), then I don't see the specific need. Sure, it would be good to see quality Black films being made on a frequent, consistent basis. But the need for them to come from a singular (and you can bet it would be a "singular") Black studio? Sorry, just don't see it. (and, there's another issue involved, that I do remember stating in our conversations before, that I'll come back to in a minute).

In contrast, as I also said above, if a bunch of Black millionaires got together and created a studio/school/seminar/what have you that actually taught, promoted, and nutured Black talent in front of and behind the cameras - in much the same sense that Robert Redford did originally for indies with his Sundance Film Festival - then I'm all for that.

Let me couch it in terms of sports figures (just humor me): the difference in what I'm saying and you're saying is like the difference between creating an all-star basketball team - and creating a place where athletes, coaches, and potential owners can go to learn the business of basketball. Or better yet, the "fish" parable: give a man a good movie, he'll be entertained for two hours; teach him how to make a good movie, we'll all be entertained, and he'll be rich enough to buy us fish.

Follow?

Now, getting back to what I did say before, that you didn't address in your probe or follow-up, and that goes hand-in-hand with my lack of excitement over those Black millionaires pooling their money for a Black studio: the other shoe to be dropped is our (you know: Black folk) apparent unwillingness to truly support quality films, in numbers that would sustain one. I believe this has improved a lot over the past few years, but look at all the good, solid films that suffered at the box office because we didn't put our asses in the seats when it counted. Yes, we talk a good game; but for every 1 of us that support a Rosewood, for instance, 10 of us can't wait to get in line for Half Baked, My Baby's Daddy, or my perpetual "favorite", Booty Call.

And until we can do that - until We The People can support what already exists - why waste the money creating even more quality we'll, in large numbers, simply ignore? Perhaps the cache of being Black-owned will draw a few out; but on the other hand, I didn't see a ton of people at Magic's theater in Harlem (granted, it was early in the day). And I know plenty of Black-owned shops, in and out of the hood, that go wanting for customers who look like them. But that's another topic for another time.

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bayzoo
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posted 01-30-2004 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bayzoo   Click Here to Email bayzoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
HEY 3BC GANG, This is kinda long so, FEEL FREE TO MOVE THIS ELSEWHERE IF YOU FEEL IT BELONGS ELSEWHERE!! Thanks!

I agree with both Utz and Bams! I would gladly take either proposal. Or EVEN BETTER, how about a multi-media entity that did both – one that existed to finance and distribute “Black films,” (a designation I’m still trying to understand the true meaning of, by the way), as well as to promote and nurture Black talent in front of, and behind the camera. I think that’s certainly possible!

I do think SOMETHING is definitely needed – whether it’s Utz’s proposal, or Bams’s; or both proposals coexisting, or not coexisting, in one production media entity! We gotta have something! We have to start somewhere. Someone (or some people) have to make the first move/step, because the current system that’s in place is not going to do that for us! They have absolutely no incentive to do anything! It’s a strictly money-driven machine! We, on the other hand, do have an incentive… or two, or three! I agree with Bams that we (Black people, in general) have not supported “quality” films made by those that look like us. No doubt about that! But I don’t think that this should be the deciding factor as to whether something should/should not be put in place. “If you build it, they will come…” maybe not right away, but eventually – at least, we can hope! But we’ve got to at least try something. ANYTHING! And if say the entity did exist as Bams described – “a studio/school/seminar/what have you that actually taught, promoted, and nurtured Black talent in front of, and behind the cameras” – I think we would still be in the same predicament that we are in now! Because once these well-taught, nurtured talented individuals leave the “program,” and go out into the film world, run by white owned and operated corporations, they will still be faced with the same challenges that Black filmmakers and performers face today – and that is, a lack of support from the system that’s currently in place (the Studio system). The idea is to find a way to continuously expose the audiences (all races and ethnic backgrounds) to new ideas, (variety is key) – “school” the audience, if you will. Because I believe that the talent is already out there, but they have no place to go that will support their efforts – which is where a studio of some kind would come in handy!

I think the designation, “quality Black films” needs to be defined effectively! It seems like when we say “quality Black films” we tend to think of anything that’s on the extreme, or near extreme end of films like “Booty Call,” “How To Be A Player,” “My Baby’s Daddy,” etc… We name films like, “Eve’s Bayou,” and “Daughters of the Dust,” et al. Maybe there’s a happy medium somewhere! The key here is variety. We don’t have any! There are so many stories out there that have not been told, and that are looking for ways to be told (money), and will probably never be told, unless SOMETHING exists that wants to see these stories told on celluloid. Many of these stories you will probably never see, except maybe on the indie circuit; and even there, they’re lacking. But as an indie filmmaker myself, I have friends with remarkable stories/scripts, with fresh perspectives/ideas/stories that we’ve NEVER seen on screen, but they cannot get funding, because the current system has no interest in doing so. There are Black writers from all across the genre spectrum – you name it, we’ve got it – genres that we really don’t see people like us in, on the regular – great science fiction stories, good horrors/thrillers, and even what might be considered the most obscure/bizarre “out there” stuff, that people like David Lynch and Charlie Kaufman are famous for, even though I wouldn’t call them the most obscure/bizarre. Then there are the “Arthouse” and “Experimental” designations that, for whatever reason, don’t seem to include anything in the realm of African American cinema – how many times have you heard the term, “African American Arthouse cinema?” Also, whatever entity that exists would have to broaden its horizons – i.e., don’t just stay within the borders of the United States. There’s “Black cinema” in Europe, Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Canada, and more! The possibilities are endless, for Christ’s sake! Many of these films are actually quite good, but VERY few people in the U.S. would actually know that, because no one is in a rush to bring these films over here, in much the same way that White European films and Asian films find their way to American theatres. The entity in question could make this one of its objectives, for the sake of variety, if nothing else.

We have lots of authors (other than Terry McMillan and Toni Morrison) whose novels I believe are readily available to be adapted to the screen. We have writers right here on the 3BC boards! Deesha, (D-Nice) for one! I am currently reading a novel by Octavia Butler called “Lilith’s Brood.” It’s actually 3 novels in one. For those who don’t know who Octavia Butler is, look her up! She also wrote a novel called, “Kindred.” She is considered primarily a science fiction writer, but I see her works as much more than just sci-fi flights of fancy! In short, the premise of “Lilith’s Brood” is as follows: the earth destroys itself in war, an extremely powerful alien race rescues the few remaining humans on earth, but at a price - as payment for the rescue, the alien race "trades" with the surviving humans, the trade being genetic material, thus creating a new type of being, which is a combination of the two species. The novels are wonderfully believable and complex, and fully engross the reader in rich imagery, presenting several "What ifs?”. ***End book plug*** This is a novel (or series of novels) whose stories I feel could readily be adapted to the screen, and be rich and complex enough, yet still commercially viable for the masses (whites, Blacks, Asians, Latino…). It could even be a starring vehicle for, dare I say, the likes of Halle Berry (Ducking for cover, as I type her name), if you want a high-profile star; or, on the other end, someone like a Kerry Washington (whom I actually pictured as I read the novel).

I think, in some way, we would have to actually “force” this cinema variety on the audiences. And not just the Black audience, but also audiences from other ethnic backgrounds! We (Black people) watch “white movies;” we watch “Asian movies.” So, why can’t they watch “Black movies?” When I say we should “force” the audience, I don’t mean literally forcing them into the theater seats, and handcuffing them to the seats until the movie is over. I mean it in much the same way that Hollywood has “forced” its entertainment on us. Socialization! What has been taught, can be untaught. You fight an old idea with a new (or several new) ideas! So, what could be done is this: the production entity continuously floods the marketplace with the type of cinematic variety I described above, market globally, and, most difficult of all – be patient! Now, initially, the entity that exits, whether its Utz’s, or Bammers or a combo of the 2, will probably be in the red for a period of time. They will lose money for, what I think will be, a little while, BUT I truly believe that with perseverance, and a commitment to the cause, it will eventually be fruitful, and fruitful for all – fruitful for the entity, as well as the audience, and, yes I will say it – THE WORLD!!! (Collective gasps!). So, the sole purpose for this entity’s existence will not be to make tons of money. That will certainly be one of its objectives, but it should not be its only objective, because if it is, it will fail! This would therefore require that those millionaires, or billionaires (yes, there are a few of us in that club now) who decide to get involved, would have to want to do this for reasons OTHER THAN for profit! But if I’ve got $100 Million and I lose $40 Million to something I believe serves a purpose that’s greater than myself, then I won’t cry over it. After all, I’ve got $60 f****** Million left, and more on the way!!!!! Maybe that’s asking too much of them! Then again, maybe it’s not! Maybe I’m living in some fairy tale land, hoping that something like this is possible! Then again, maybe not!

But, in closing, I would GLADLY take either proposal. It would be GREAT to have both, either existing separately, or in one entity; or maybe one exists first, and evolves into the other. I don’t know. Whatever! I don’t care! Just start something! ANYTHING! We NEED something! Something that encompasses all that I have described above, and then some! The sad thing is that it’s all very possible – both proposals; it’s not like they’re some radical/crazy/ridiculous ideas. It’s all within reach! We just have to start somewhere. Baby steps first; giant steps later… maybe much, much later… but soon enough!

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bayzoo
http://www.see-hear-feel.com

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utzworld
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posted 01-30-2004 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for utzworld   Click Here to Email utzworld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have accepted the fact that Sony, WB, Universal,Paramount and Disney (especially Disney) will not support a "quality Black (as in African American themed) film." New Line used to be down for the cause, but the well has been dry over there lately. Maybe after they get finished counting the Billions LOTR has made them, they'll return to assist US.

Lately, Fox has been sending their Black-themed projects through their smaller label Fox Searchlight (Kingdom Come, Antwoine Fisher, Brown Sugar, and the upcoming Johnson Family Vacation have been routed through there). Dreamworks has only made 1 Black themed film: Chris Rock's "Head Of State". And MGM is said to be working with Black filmmakers to get product to fulfill the requirements of their revised business plan: leave the big budget stuff to the big studios (except for 007) and we'll focus on moderately budgeted films (like Barbershop...neither that nor it's sequel...or "Soul Plane"...or "Out Of Time" look like they cost a whole bunch to film).

As far as the 10 of THEM going to see "My Baby's Daddy", that P.O.S. only dropped $15 Million in 3 weeks. It's deader than a doornail. Proving one thing above all: people will only go see good f**king movies! THEM included!

Realistically, this potential studio that the Bros & Sistahs bankroll, can finance some flicks in the $5-10 Mil range, blitz BET/Soul Train/UPN Monday TV/Ebony/Jet/Essence for marketing and with the standard $20-30 Mil average gross of Black films can turn a $10-15 Mil profit...which will give them some room to stretch out and expand to different types of films...like the ones Bayzoo has been frustratingly trying to pitch.

As I said earlier, THEM films wouldn't be allowed. It's gonna take a strong Chairman/CEO to tell Irv Gotti, Hype Williams and the rest of those hip-hop cats to take their NIGGERISM elsewhere! It would blow up into a controversy and the aforementioned rap moguls/directors will play the "as a Black company it's your DUTY and OBLIGATION to let me make my film" card. Said CEO would and should counterpoint "No, my brother. It's YOUR DUTY and OBLIGATION to make films that give US some DIGNITY, HONOR and SELF WORTH!"

Basically, it's come down to this simple truth. No matter how hard we bang at Hollywood's door, they're not gonna let all of US in. They'll let in a few, but won't place them in any POWER positions. So maybe it's time to create our own house and build our own doors to bang through.

Good discussion, folks. Keep the thoughts coming!

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dreamer
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posted 01-30-2004 01:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dreamer   Click Here to Email dreamer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Watch HBO (especially) and Showtime. Cable is where minority interests are best served in terms of "serious" filmmaking.

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QKnown
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posted 01-30-2004 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for QKnown   Click Here to Email QKnown     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bayzoo:
how many times have you heard the term, “African American Arthouse cinema?”

Just once (Sadly) with Ganja and Hess.

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c_los
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posted 01-30-2004 10:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for c_los   Click Here to Email c_los     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the more interesting statements in the first post is that African American films are resistant. I think that this is largely because of black audiences. I think that the black movie audience in is demographic characteristics is comprised more heavily of teenagers and very young adults. I am 38 and when I talk to African Americans in their 40's and 50's it is very common that many of them have not been to a movie theater in over 10 years.

I think a result of this is that black films like Scary Movie are going to do well because the black audience of teenagers is out there in mass. However, a quality black themed film like "A Family Thing" with a great story and great acting Robert Duval and James Earl Jones and a movie that entertains, informs and makes some points, will not find enough of an audience among blacks to do reasonably well in the theaters. And when I say reasonably well, I am not saying that this type of film would be a blockbuster even if it were a white film but there is enough of a white movie going audience for this type of film to get them produced. Just a few of my thoughts.

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utzworld
SWMBO
posted 01-30-2004 11:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for utzworld   Click Here to Email utzworld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by c_los:
One of the more interesting statements in the first post is that African American films are resistant. I think that this is largely because of black audiences. I think that the black movie audience in is demographic characteristics is comprised more heavily of teenagers and very young adults. I am 38 and when I talk to African Americans in their 40's and 50's it is very common that many of them have not been to a movie theater in over 10 years.

My mother stopped going to the movies regularly about 7 years ago or so. She's in her 50's. I think the last film we saw at the movies together was Soul Food. I don't know what it is with our older Bros & Sistas. It seems like going to the movies seems less and less of a priority. Then again, who needs to get up and get in their car to see the latest movie when Ray-Ray just got the bootleg version of "Out Of Time"??? (Another "Beyond The Screen" article I wrote 4 years ago).

Now their White counterparts still hit movie theatres in full force. Living in the O.C., the majority of whom I see going to the show are older Whites in their 50's and up! There were a ton of them there last week when I saw "Along Came Polly".

In the end, it's all about quality. Like I said before, people will only drop their $$$ to see a good movie. If your movie sucks, you're dead in the water by Saturday morning. There haven't been too many good movies...and, sorry to say, not too many good BLACK movies.

2003 was defintely a step back for Black cinema. The only Black directed film that I enjoyed was "Head Of State"...and even that could have been a helluva lot better than it was. Now it's a totally different story for Black directors. F. Gary Gray John Singleton and Clark Johnson made it to the prestigious "$100 Million Club" with "The Italian Job" and "2 Fast 2 Furious" and "S.W.A.T." And, of course, Martin and Will's "Bad Boys 2" did $140 million (love it or hate it) and ended up being Sony's biggest grossing movie of the year. All 4 of those were, at the very least entertaining...and cheese. But all 4 opened in Summer too...the season where Cheese rules.

Carl Franklin's "Out Of Time", despite Denzel, had to crawl it's way to $40 million. The Black themed (but not Black directed) "The Fighting Temptations" crawled it's way to $25 million (God was definitely showing Cuba and Beyonce grace...that movie sucked!). Troy Beyer's remake of "Can't By Me Love"-retitled "Love Don't Cost A Thing" got lost in the Christmas shuffle and only did $10-15 million.

Only two of those films targeted the 40's-50's age bracket: Out Of Time and The Fighting Temptations.

But as I said up top, just because the box office was low doesn't mean that that age bracket didn't SEE those movies. I think the Bootleg thing is hurting these movies just as much as the Quality and Age Demographics are. Folks don't understand the game. Worse, they simply don't give a f*** about the game. The whole allure to the Bootleg industry: it's free! One dude pays 5 bucks for "Out Of Time" and 50 folks see it the same damn weekend! Nothing makes THEM happier than to run across something free! I've had THEMISH coworkers look at me like I was crazy when I said I don't buy and support bootlegged films. Even when I try to explain the game, THEM's response is "Well...I don't give a f***! Ain't none of the $$$ going into my pockets, so what the hell?!"

And there lies the real problem.

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c_los
Friend of 3BC
posted 02-01-2004 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for c_los   Click Here to Email c_los     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree and the same thing applies to bootlegging,illegally copying and illegally downloading CD's. The bottom line is that if our people consistently support quality and reject junk then in the long run we will get more quality. But the key word is support.

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Dnice
Regulator
posted 02-02-2004 11:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dnice     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bayzoo:
We, on the other hand, do have an incentive… or two, or three! I agree with Bams that we (Black people, in general) have not supported “quality” films made by those that look like us. No doubt about that! But I don’t think that this should be the deciding factor as to whether something should/should not be put in place. “If you build it, they will come…” maybe not right away, but eventually – at least, we can hope! But we’ve got to at least try something. [b]ANYTHING![/B]

Whole post well said, Tambay! [And not just because you mentioned me on the same line as Octavia Butler.]

So much of what you wrote is applicable to the current state of black fiction. I look at the list of NAACP Image Award nominees for literature and just shake my head. I don't knock anyone for telling the stories they have to tell; I only wish a wider range of stories were recognized as *ours*.

~Deesha

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bayzoo
Friend of 3BC
posted 02-03-2004 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bayzoo   Click Here to Email bayzoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dnice:
Whole post well said, Tambay! [And not just because you mentioned me on the same line as Octavia Butler.]

So much of what you wrote is applicable to the current state of black fiction. I look at the list of NAACP Image Award nominees for literature and just shake my head. I don't knock anyone for telling the stories they have to tell; I only wish a wider range of stories were recognized as *ours*.

~Deesha


Thanks D! Long time no see... or read, in this case. I'll drop you a few lines later.

A REMINDER FOR EVERYONE INTERESTED TO WATCH THE SERIES MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS THREAD. It's a 2-part series that's on tonight and tomorrow night! Might be worth a look. I'll be checking it out. Henry Louis Gates, Jr usually makes some interesting documentaries.

------------------
bayzoo
http://www.see-hear-feel.com

[This message has been edited by bayzoo (edited 02-03-2004).]

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utzworld
SWMBO
posted 02-03-2004 11:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for utzworld   Click Here to Email utzworld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bayzoo:
A REMINDER FOR EVERYONE INTERESTED TO WATCH THE SERIES MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS THREAD. It's a 2-part series that's on tonight and tomorrow night! Might be worth a look. I'll be checking it out. Henry Louis Gates, Jr usually makes some interesting documentaries.


I'm gonna miss this series. I'll be sipping on Mai Tai's on Waikiki Beach tomorrow night! Somebody tape it 4 me!

I think it's time for me to get a TiVo recorder!

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bayzoo
Friend of 3BC
posted 02-03-2004 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bayzoo   Click Here to Email bayzoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by utzworld:
I'm gonna miss this series. I'll be sipping on Mai Tai's on Waikiki Beach tomorrow night! Somebody tape it 4 me!

I think it's time for me to get a TiVo recorder!


I would tape it Utz, but I ain't got no VCR, believe it or not! DVDs all the way! Maybe someone else here can and will.

------------------
bayzoo
http://www.see-hear-feel.com

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tat106
Friend of 3BC
posted 02-03-2004 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tat106     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by utzworld:

2003 was defintely a step back for Black cinema. The only Black directed film that I enjoyed was "Head Of State"...and even that could have been a helluva lot better than it was. Now it's a totally different story for Black [b]directors
. F. Gary Gray John Singleton and Clark Johnson made it to the prestigious "$100 Million Club" with "The Italian Job" and "2 Fast 2 Furious" and "S.W.A.T." And, of course, Martin and Will's "Bad Boys 2" did $140 million (love it or hate it) and ended up being Sony's biggest grossing movie of the year. All 4 of those were, at the very least entertaining...and cheese. But all 4 opened in Summer too...the season where Cheese rules.
[/B]

Cheese definitely rules. I don't think Oprah's gotten over the failure of BELOVED. A great film that was ignored by virtually everyone.

It's funny but F. Gary, Singleton and Johnson's films were mainstream and not "Black Themed." Sure they had colored folk in 'em- some in starring roles but they weren't about "us."

Hopefully, the success of these directors'll give them some pull to eventually produce and direct projects that showcase African-Americans and African-American subjects; historical or otherwise.

I find it interesting that Spike seems to be the only one still pressing on to make "Black Films" (Summer of Sam and 25th Hour, non-withstanding).

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musicisnumberone
Friend of 3BC
posted 02-07-2004 04:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for musicisnumberone   Click Here to Email musicisnumberone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tat106:
Cheese definitely rules. I don't think Oprah's gotten over the failure of BELOVED. A great film that was ignored by virtually everyone.

It's funny but F. Gary, Singleton and Johnson's films were mainstream and not "Black Themed." Sure they had colored folk in 'em- some in starring roles but they weren't about "us."

Hopefully, the success of these directors'll give them some pull to eventually produce and direct projects that showcase African-Americans and African-American subjects; historical or otherwise.

I find it interesting that Spike seems to be the only one still pressing on to make "Black Films" (Summer of Sam and 25th Hour, non-withstanding).


Spike Lee is coming out with a movie in the springtime, or there about, called
"She Hate Me" starring Lonette Mckee, I love sending Lonette Mckee, some of your forums to read... Thanks everyone!
Brenda

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musicisnumberone
Friend of 3BC
posted 02-07-2004 05:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for musicisnumberone   Click Here to Email musicisnumberone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
for tart106, Spike Lee has a new film coming out maybe the springtime or there about, called "She Hate Me" and starring Lonette Mckee, and a great cast of others... I do enjoy sending these forums for Lonette Mckee to read in New York... Keep up the great work and thank you for the great topics...
watch for the "Color Purple" as a musical coming out, on tour, to a city near you.. Brenda

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QKnown
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posted 02-08-2004 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for QKnown   Click Here to Email QKnown     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just wanna point out that 2 "urban" films have opened up at #1 at the box office for 2 weeks in a row, You got served and Barbershop 2.

Are we headed somewhere with this?

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dreamer
Friend of 3BC
posted 02-08-2004 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dreamer   Click Here to Email dreamer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by QKnown:
Just wanna point out that 2 "urban" films have opened up at #1 at the box office for 2 weeks in a row ....

Are we headed somewhere with this?


They often do (remember CB4?). The target audience for these "genre" flicks usually comes out in the first week, after which the movie fades (unless its actually good, like the earlier Barbershop, and manages to cross over for greater box office returns and a longer run). It's more about marketing, timing and competition than a specific new trend.

Barbershop 2 has a strong built-in audience based on the first one (just like any sequel). It will be interesting to see if it can make as much money over the long haul despite less than glowing reviews.

[This message has been edited by dreamer (edited 02-09-2004).]

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utzworld
SWMBO
posted 02-09-2004 06:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for utzworld   Click Here to Email utzworld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dreamer:
They often do (remember CB4?). The target audience for these "genre" flicks usually comes out in the first week, after which the movie fades (unless its actually good, like the earlier Barbershop, and manages to cross over for greater box office returns and a longer run). It's more about marketing, timing and competition than a specific new trend.

1. BBShop2 was WAY WAY WAY better and funnier than Part 1 IMHO. I can definitely forsee seeing it a couple more times. It won't be #1 next week...not because of "target audience" issues, but because Adam Sandler's "50 First Dates" opens. That will probably make high 30-low 40's...especially cause it's Valentine's Day Weekend.

2. I really don't find much to complain about when 2 Black themed/directed films (which, by the way, don't feature rappers shooting people and oversexed thugs and hoochie mamas) have strong openings like "YGS" & "BBShop 2." Both films have earned the majority of their production costs back during the first weekend. Like Bayzoo said, it's SOMETHING!

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dreamer
Friend of 3BC
posted 02-09-2004 10:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dreamer   Click Here to Email dreamer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by utzworld:
It won't be #1 next week...not because of "target audience" issues, but because Adam Sandler's "50 First Dates" opens.

Right. Good counter-programming (competing for an audience against a hockey film) helped last week and an exhaustion of its limited "target audience" will hurt this week (unless people really like it).

quote:
I really don't find much to complain about when 2 Black themed/directed films (which, by the way, don't feature rappers shooting people and oversexed thugs and hoochie mamas) ...

Boyz N the Hood?

quote:
... have strong openings like "YGS" & "BBShop 2." Both films have earned the majority of their production costs back during the first weekend. Like Bayzoo said, it's SOMETHING!

Cabin Fever quintupled its budget on opening weekend. Well-marketed "genre" movies (be they "urban" or white) and sequels to sleeper hits tend to perform in fairly predictable ways. These last two #1's fit typical patterns that have little to do with their "black" cast & crew status (unfortunately).

Barbershop 2's director Kevin Sullivan also debuted at #1 with the less-than-stellar, and quick-fading, How Stella Got Her Groove Back on the strength of Waiting to Exhale's success. The "coattail" effect (as with 2 Fast 2 Furious) along with smart audience marketing, and clever release timing should all be taken into account before grander conclusions about "trends" are drawn. That's all. No need to get overexcited about "genre" films (dance, crime, teen romance, horror ..etc.) and sequels scoring big opening weekends. It's not uncommon. Give me Bamboozled and Antwone Fisher as strong back-to-back hits and then you'll have a real "trend" worth paying attention to.

[This message has been edited by dreamer (edited 02-09-2004).]

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utzworld
SWMBO
posted 02-09-2004 10:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for utzworld   Click Here to Email utzworld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dreamer:
Cabin Fever quintupled its budget on opening weekend. "Genre" movies (be they black or white) and sequels to unexpected hits perform in predictable ways. These last two #1's fit typical patterns that have little to do with their "black" status (unfortunately).

Barbershop 2's director [b]Kevin Sullivan also debuted at #1 with the less-than-stellar, and quick-fading, How Stella Got Her Groove Back on the strength of Waiting to Exhale's success. The "coattail" effect (as with 2 Fast 2 Furious) along with smart audience marketing, and clever release timing should all be taken into account before grander conclusions about trends are drawn. That's all. No need to get overexcited about "genre" hits and sequels scoring big opening weekends. It's not uncommon.

[/B]


YAWN...

Like I said, I am happy to see 2 Black themed (which is a genre...just like action...and comedy...and drama...and sci-fi...) films open in consecutive weekends at #1 with grosses over $15 Mil. 'Cuse me, while I keep on dancing!

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dreamer
Friend of 3BC
posted 02-09-2004 11:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dreamer   Click Here to Email dreamer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by utzworld:
YAWN...

Like I said, I am happy to see 2 Black themed (which is a genre...just like action...and comedy...and drama...and sci-fi...) films open in consecutive weekends at #1 with grosses over $15 Mil. 'Cuse me, while I keep on dancing!


You can stand on your head and sing the Ave Maria all day but that still won't make these two (coincidentally) back-to-back opening weekend chart-toppers a significant "trend," which is what we're discussng here.

Successful "hack" directors of genre flicks come in all varieties these days. Where's the news that an "urban" film opened at #1? The minority employment part is great, but beyond that ......?

It seems more interesting (or curious) that Reggie Rock Bythewood earnestly stated in the "Skip" Gates series that he was willing to put his "career on the line" (by demanding a primarily-black cast) over ... Biker Boyz, of all things. What does that mean? The more things change, the more they stay the same? New boss is same as the old boss?

The fact that blacks have arrived as typical Hollywood hacks, capable of delivering market-driven (low budget) opening weekend hits, is hardly an explosive or fresh story. Where do they go from there?

Seeing that the talented indie filmmaker Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman) is reduced to making drek like My Baby's Daddy in order to gain access is disheartening. Nice to see her get work in the big-time (even if as a "hack"), but where does such a feature credit really take her (and black films/filmmakers in general)? Where should it?

[This message has been edited by dreamer (edited 02-10-2004).]

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utzworld
SWMBO
posted 02-10-2004 08:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for utzworld   Click Here to Email utzworld     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Please let it go, Dreamer. I've said my peace and you've said yours. Let us (as always) agree to disagree on this one.

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