Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Real of Working in Reality Television

Recently while engaged in one of my least favorite activities--grocery shopping--I was approached by a young woman. I turned slightly and immediately noticed the hat pulled low over her forehead and the dark tinted shades. Either she was a celebrity incognegro or someone who was about to hit me up for money.

As it turns out she was neither. After "excuse me" came, "Would you like to be on television?" After a short pause to stop the "hell to the naw" tickling my throat, I politely replied, "No". But curiosity led me to ask, "What show are you working on?" She unfolded a sheet of paper and upon reading the title I laughed to myself. This girl was doing the job, I had interviewed for just two weeks before. I literally had met my competition.

During the interview, I was told my background was not suitable for the position. And as I looked at the young lady I realized my interviewer had a valid point. I've never had a job that I felt I needed to hide my identity to do. In fact, I had always done the opposite to make a potential show guest more comfortable with me and the production I represented. But when you're booking characters, not just people per se, who are willing to make fools of themselves on national television, I understand why the woman may have felt it necessary to distance herself from the people she booked. Though we didn't talk much at all, the hidden face said a lot. It's a numbers game, nothing personal. The more characters she convinces to fill the camera frame, the better for the show paying her bills.

I got into television to dispel myths and stereotypes, not to visually perpetuate them. But lately I've noticed a willingness to do just the opposite. Ghetto messes, hot and otherwise, are being produced for our enjoyment and ratings prove we're watching. Am I hatin'? Yes! I'm hating the fact that there's not much on tv to balance out all the mess we see. Those of us raised on Good Times or The Cosby Show know the difference. There's a fine line between laughing with someone and being laughed at. Obviously in reality tv, that line has become blurred.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Who's Your Caddy? Green Carpet Arrivals

Working the Green

Nothing lights up Hollywood like a movie premiere. Bright lights, frenzied camera flashes, and polished celebrity smiles set the scene for a night filled with anticipation and excitement. Expect the unexpected, as the industry's big names and lesser knowns provide the following morning's Hollywood scoop and water cooler gossip. For those of us working diligently to bring you the interviews, photos, and recaps of the event it can be alot of fun, but also alot of work.

Truly, I didn't expect to cover the Who's Your Caddy red carpet arrivals--in this case green. But there I was armed with my little digital camera assisting a newbie online entertainment reporter from Detroit. All the internet and radio outlets were positioned near me at the end of the carpet, including BET's Black Carpet. E!, Access Hollywood, Wire Image, and the like always get the best spots assigned to them. That's just the way it is, so you do what you can to get the best shots from your position. But every now and then you'll find yourself working your way closer to them to get the shots you want. That's when being petite is an advantage. I fit often into the smallest spaces amongst the big boys and their big cameras. The disadvantage is possibly catching an elbow or getting stepped on every now and then. Sometimes it's worth the risk, but honestly not often. Some members of the press can get real unfriendly when they feel you're moving in on their territory.

Thanks to the other outlets around me, I captured interviews and general shots of the arrivals. I couldn't or actually wouldn't conduct interviews of my own with my little digital camera. It's not necessarily deemed professional. But for now, it's what I'm working with until sponsors and advertising dollars start rolling in.

So here's what me and a digital camera can do when prepared to expect the unexpected.



When away from television and film sets, Tamala is sharpening her comedic skills in comedy clubs in the area.



And what do the founders of Our Stories Films have to say?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Who's Your Caddy Premiere

Who's Your Caddy Premiere

Movie premieres are one the things I love about Hollywood. Last night at ArcLight Cinemas on Sunset Blvd, the stars of Who's Your Caddy and their celebrity friends came out to support Our Stories Film's debut feature. Here's some pics. The video is "in development" as we say in the industry. But unlike most projects in Hollywood my straight-to-blogsphere feature will debut probably by Wednesday. So y'all come back now, ya hear!

Antwan "Big Boi" Patton


Faizon Love

Garrett Morris

Sherri Shepherd

Finesse Mitchell

Tamala Jones

Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmonds

Taraji P. Henson and Who's Your Caddy writer/director, Don Michael Paul

Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Gregory Keith

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who's Your Caddy?: The Street Meets the Elite in Big Boi's New Film

Whether together or apart, the leading men of ingenious Hip Hop group, Outkast, are powerful, says Antwan Andre "Big Boi" Patton, one half of the dynamic duo. And after appearing with best friend and creative partner, Andre 3000, in last year's Idlewild, Big Boi is back on the big screen in a new comedy called, Who's Your Caddy?.

Replace Idlewild's anti-prohibitionist speakeasies of the South with modern elitist country clubs and you have the backdrop of Big Boi's new fish-out-of-water film. Shot on perfectly mowed golf courses in the Carolinas, this new comedy brings the 'hood to the 17th hole, not to shoot a birdie but to shoot a Hip Hop music video, complete with pimped out golf carts, thug love rappers, and bootilicious vixens. It's Tiger Woods worst nightmare sans the collard greens and chitterlings. However, the story is not just about bringing the "street to the elite". Hip Hop mogul, C-Note (Big Boi), wants membership in the all white country club to shake up segregationist thinking and to uphold his family's golfing honor.

Along for the ride are his crew Big Large (Faizon Love), Dread (Finesse Mitchel), and (Lady G) Sherri Shepherd. Actress Tamala Jones portrays Shannon, the attorney hired by the country club president (Jeffrey Jones) to talk C-Note out of joining the all-white establishment.

In an interview about Who's Your Caddy?, Big Boi explains how he learned about the film, what he liked about the character, and his acting aspirations.






Co-Executive Produced by Our Stories Films, Tracey Edmonds and Bob Johnson's production company and the Weinstein brothers', Dimension Films Who's Your Caddy hits theaters July 27th.

Trailer:


Click this link to the Who's Your Caddy website to get cast bios, downloads, and photos from the production.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I'm Not Mad, I'm Enlightened

I love creating content for this site. But woman cannot live on the love of blogging alone quite yet. I must work. Me and my dependents, Corolla and Tyrone, have needs that can only be met monetarily. (For you newbies to this site, Corolla is my car and Tyrone, my beloved computer). So I've hit the pavement with the other young and restless of Hollywood in search of work.

Most of my efforts to find employment have been in the reality television genre. I've two shows under my belt already--one involving nannies and out-of-control children and the other concerning interesting home buyers. So that's two notable Hollywood credits added to my resume. And in this game, credits mean everything. Sometimes used like bargaining chips, credits give people some semblance of respect, whether deserved or not. To quote the Bruce Hornsby song, "That's just the way it is, some things will never change." Hate the game folks, not the player. Better yet, don't even hate the game; learn the way it's played and handle yourself accordingly.

Recently, I interviewed for a job on an upcoming reality tv show thinking my experience met the requirements. Confident in my ability to do the job well, I sat before the producer ready to sell her on my qualifications. And thirty minutes later, I walked out that meeting feeling good myself about the prospect of going back to working full time. Two days later, all that positivity oozed right out of me. Here's an example of why:

"So what shows have you booked before?" Asked the supervising producer.

"I've worked on talk shows, documentaries...booked different kinds of people. Made the cold calls, pre-interviewed them, prepped them for the show, made sure they made what we called "good television."

"Really...I don't see any listed on your resume I recognize," she said.

I stated, "Actually, these credits were on the east coast for a PBS affiliate."

"PBS...that's not the kind of show we're doing. We need people who can book characters."

"I understand that, but I know how to book controversial guests. I can do the research, find the people, approach them, massage their story into something to be used for the show," I said in
defense.

After a long pause she replied, "We'll be in touch," and abruptly ended the call.

Based on that sampling of conversations I've had several times lately, I can say PBS gets no respect in the entertainment game. Shame. As always, perception is everything. As it goes, if your experience is not acquired in Hollywood, New York, or possibly Chicago then expect your resume to go near the bottom of the pile, unless there is a call for locals. But how do you get the recognizable credits if when you apply employers only look for show names they recognize? It's a resume, not TV Guide!

But I ain't mad...anymore. I had to remind myself of what I learned along time ago. Everything I think I want is not meant for me to have--kind of like that fine brotha I wanted the attention of in college. Once I got it, I wished I'd never met him...but getting back to Hollywood. Just because I lack name brand shows in my experience, doesn't mean my talents are not good enough to work at E!, MTV, or similar companies. Nor does it mean I should let it stop me from trying to earn coveted jobs and show credits at those companies if it benefits my career.

So how do I not act like a DMX song when Hollywood denies me? I meditate on this: If I'm not hired for a particular job, then probably the opportunity was meant for someone else. Mine is on its way. In the meantime, I'll continue to apply, network, blog, and create opportunities of my own. The real blessing is knowing that my success does not lie in Hollywood's hands. Tinseltown is merely the channel I've been led to use. So stay tuned, there's more to see.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Comedy Is Serious Business

Making People Laugh Is Serious Business

Some years ago after telling a funny story to an associate about working in Hollywood, he said that I should be on stage. My response, "The last time a man told me I should be on stage a pole was involved". I was only kidding somewhat. I may occasionally use quick wit to make a joke, but ain't nothing funny about doing comedy for real. It's serious business to those who aspire to become successful at it.

While attending the Hollywood premiere of Russ Parr's new film, The Last Stand, I talked with comedians and actors about just how hard it is to make it in the entertainment industry. I also chatted with them about the theme of Parr's new film and how they measured success. Comedian, Rodney Perry, Animal Planet host, Rachel Reenstra, and actors Gary Sturgis and Clifton Powell all had interesting perspectives.











Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Radio's Russ Parr Directs New Movie

Radio Personality, Russ Parr, Brings Directorial Debut to Hollywood


Russ Parr is one of the most popular radio personalities in the country. Morning commuters know him well as host of the top rated, nationally syndicated, Russ Parr Morning Show. And yes, you may have also seen him on television, co-hosting TV One's dating show, Get The Hook Up.

And now Russ Parr has two new credits to add to his resume--screenwriter and motion picture director. Described as a drama about comedy, The Last Stand is Parr's directorial debut. Monday, July 9th, the west coast premiere of the film occurred in the heart of Hollywood at Grauman's Chinese Theater. On July 10th the DVD hit stores nationwide.

The story focuses on four amateur comedians and their struggles to obtain success in Hollywood collectively and individually. Parr states the film was inspired by his own experiences as a struggling comic and actor several years ago. By sharing some of his story through The Last Stand, he hopes to add a more human or personal aspect to comedy that is rarely seen.



Though he says he did not succeed as an actor, actress Samantha Brown, believes his direction was more than "on parr"--excuse the pun. Smith states Parr challenged and motivated her to really bring out the emotions needed to play her role of a demanding wife frustrated with a husband who chooses to pursue his dream of becoming a comedian over financial stability.



The Last Stand not only shows audiences what's "really up" as Smith states, but also how seductive the lure of money, power, and fame can be to those willing to take the fast lane to success. When the hidden intentions of those in power come into play, tough decisions must be made. For Tami Roman's character, a pretty, single teacher breaking into the industry, making the wrong decision could jeopardize not only her career, but also her life.



Of the many titles competing for your attention and your purchase, this one receives my vote. Guy Torry, Todd Williams, Anthony Anderson, Darrin Henson all give great performances as well as the ladies, Tami Roman and Samantha Smith. This is not a black movie as Hollywood would characterize it, but a universal story that's well acted, produced, and directed. Applause to Russ for not giving up on telling this story. To learn more about the film, cast, and available downloads check out The Last Stand website.

Pics from the event:

The Last Stand's Writer/Director, Russ Parr and sons, Payton and Braxton


The Last Stand's Darrin Henson and Guy Torry


Last Stand's Tami Roman and daughter, Jazz Anderson



Last Stand's Samantha Brown


Last Stand cast members


Last Stand's, Todd Williams



Animal Planet's Ms. Adventure, Rachel Reenstra


Actress, Shondrella Avery


Actor, Clifton Powell


Actress, Drew Sidora


Comedian, Rodney Perry



Charm School's Bootz, Larissa Aurora


Actor, Gary Sturgis


Movie Trailer:




Click underlined link to Purchase The Last Stand DVD

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Platinum Lounge Website Launch

New Website Gives Young People A Chance to Make Money and to Produce A Hollywood Movie



That is Richard Guiton, actor turned founder of PlatinumLounge.com, the first ever social networking website that actually rewards users for generating content by giving them points that can be turned into cash.

Saturday, July 7, 2007, or as Guiton referenced, 7-7-7, the website officially launched with a Hollywood premiere at
The Globe located at Universal City Walk. Our Films, Crocs, and not-for-profit youth organizations, B.O.L.D. and Pop Token, co-sponsored the event which emphasized the importance of pop culture and its power to influence the world socially and economically.

Geared toward 15-35 year olds, PlatinumLounge.com contributes a portion of its revenues to a virtual bank called the Platinum Vault. All registered members on the site have access to it. But in order to "cash in", users must work--participate in online forums, upload music or videos, refer friends, or shop--basically do what they normally do on other social websites to gain valuable points that can be exchanged for money. And on the Movie Machine portion of the site, members will also earn points/money for sharing ideas about what they want to see happen in the PlatinumLounge.com produced film, All Eyes On Me. From the beginning, says Guiton, the goal was to create a site that would benefit everyone, not just the website creators and its advertisers.



So why use the word "platinum" to describe this current pop culture generation of "bling" and "big pimping"?


I prefer to think of Pop Culture as one of the most valuable resources on earth and since platinum is one of the most precious minerals and does not tarnish, I believe Pop Culture should be referred to as the ‘Platinum Nation’ – Platinum Lounge is the perfect place for them to hang out and get a piece of the action! Says Guiton.


And to help celebrate the PlatinumLounge.com official launch, some of Hollywood's hottest new stars came out to the event. Check out the pics below and visit the website to get more information.




Lauren London, ATL




Taryn Manning, Hustle & Flow



Jasmine Jessica Anthony, 1408




Platinum Lounge founder, Richard Guiton, Amaury Nolasco, and website co-founder, Gary LeFever




Joy Lauren, Desperate Housewives


Nautica De La Cruz, KDAY 93.5 Radio Personality


KiKi Haynes-Bell, Bacholerette Party


Taryn Manning, Richard Guiton, Lauren London, Aubrey O'Day, Amaury Nolasco


Amaury Nolasco, Transformers



Drew Sidora, Step Up


Gary Anthony Sturgis, Daddy's Little Girls



Lauren London, Taryn Manning, Danity Kane's Aubrey O'Day


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Educating Young Minds, Inc. Scholarship Gala

Educating Young Minds, Inc. Awards Successes in Entertainment and Business

Entertainers LeVar Burton, KeKe Palmer, Niecy Nash, Tonex, and business executive, Kenneth Bentley, all received high honors at Educating Young Minds, Inc.'s (EYM) 9th Annual Scholarship Awards Gala held Sunday, July 1st, at the Airport Marriot Hotel in Los Angeles.

Founded 1987 by educator, Angeles Echols, EYM encourages at risk students to not only work hard but to also see the benefit of their efforts. To help bring home it's message, students are taught the EYM formula: desire + dedication + hard work = success. And at it's 9th Annual Scholarship Gala, the organization awarded those in entertainment and business that exemplified the EYM equation :

  • Actor, Producer, LeVar Burton (Golden Apple of Hope Award)
  • Akeelah and the Bee star, KeKe Palmer (Young Achiever Award)
  • Actress, Comedienne, Niecy Nash (Chairman's Award)
  • Grammy nominated Gospel Artist, Tonex (Artist Achievement Award)
  • Nestle Corporation Executive, Kenneth Bentley (Humanitarian of the Year Award)

Believing in oneself, determination, and hard work were common themes among honoree acceptance speeches. Before receiving his award, LeVar Burton thanked his mother for instilling in him as a child a "can do" spirit and expressed to the large crowd the importance of defining one's sense of purpose.





The ultimate goal of EYM, a non-profit learning center, is to lift the "intellectual, emotional, and academic levels of its student body." Through one on one tutorial, referral, and counseling programs, the organization provides supplemental educational services overcrowded and underfunded school systems can not. To date, the organization has assisted over 2,000 students and their families. To learn more about Educating Young Minds, Inc. visit its website.


Pics from the event:


Niecy Nash and EYM students


Tonex

KeKe Palmer



Front Row: Morris Chestnut, Louis Gosset Jr., Neicy Nash, LeVar Burton, Taraji P. Henson, Camille Winbush, Maeve Quinlan, Obba Babatunde Back Row: Omar Benson Miller, Bill Duke



Taraji P. Henson

Congresswoman Maxine Waters and husband, Ambassador Sidney Williams


Golden Brooks


Camille Winbush


Richard T. Jones and wife, Nancy

Maeve Quinlan


Monique Coleman

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