Sunday, June 27, 2010

BET Awards 2010: Televised Redemption Moments

Photo: BET.com

Undoubtedly the most anticipated event of the summer, the 10th Annual BET Awards delivered a comeback year. After last year's much criticized production, award show producers HAD to redeem themselves and bring audiences a show they could talk, tweet, blog, and Facebook positively about for weeks to come. Speaking of redemption....never mind I'll get that in minute.

Producers chose a GREAT host in Queen Latifah. She not only has broad appeal but IS an MC. She sings, acts, produces, and still spits rhymes with the best of them...definitely A TOTAL package! And with the various costumes changes from the Afro-centric, "Ladies First" video to south central LA's "Cleo" from "Set it Off", to the classy jazz vocalist dressed beautiful in pretty dresses, Queen reminded of us where she's been and how much she has to offer.

An on another note, was Queen trying to say in her intro to Diddy's smoked out performance that he's only seen in the company of fine women like herself, or that she too prefers the company of fine women? Either interpretation is probably right.

As in previous years, the theme of mixing the "old skool" with the new was back and I LOVED IT! Thank you BET for reminding your I'm-too-young-to-remember audience where the samples they stanky leg to come from!

El Debarge, WELCOME BACK BABY! Indeed, time did reveal! And yes I can call his great performance a comeback 'cause if you know the challenges he and the Debarge family have been through then you know to see and hear El hitting those falsetto notes just as well as he did in the 80s is amazing, a true testimony!

Talking about holding notes! To see Monica pay homage to Deniece Williams was a great throwback to the original song she sampled, 70's classic "Stop Making A Fool of Me." To see Hip Hoppers, actresses, performers (which are often older than you think) raising their hands and singing along to music from their childhood was PRICELESS.

I understand cutting elements of the show for time, however, LENA HORNE DESERVED MORE THAN A MERE MENTION! There was plenty of talented artists already performing that could have done "Stormy Weather! at least." That said Tyrese was a good choice for the Teddy Pendergrass tribute, but in my personal opinion a better VOCAL choice would have been Jahiem. He's got a new album and could have used that exposure if available.

I swear when I look at Kirk Franklin Prince comes to mind sometimes. Why? I'm not sure but I'd love to hear what they would do musically together. The Haiti tribute was a great reminder that just because Haiti is no longer in the headlines, it is still in need of our help. And the choir singing background was none other than the Grammy nominated choir from West Angeles Church of God In Christ, the church I attend.

The Prince Tribute...Alicia Keys had us all, Prince included, a little scared with that performance atop the grand piano but she delivered "Adore" without fear! Admittedly, I lOVE Patti LaBelle but I probably would have preferred D'Angelo performing "Purple Rain".

And sexy Trey Songz, when in his own element is great, but he does NOT have the vocal range of Prince and it showed badly. The look on Prince's face said it ALL! Trey, young man, did you attempt to sing Prince's music without his permission? Oooh that's a no no! Overall, what the tribute proved was that NOBODY does Prince better than PRINCE NELSON ROGERS himself. In fact, I wonder if he would've rather performed than be sung to.

Now back to the redemption theme...the Michael Jackson Tribute with Chris Brown. Beautiful, heart-felt! It's rare when a performer puts so much of his heart and soul in a performance and allows us to see his or her vulnerability. Hands down it's the performance that will probably by watched and favorited on YouTube a million times for the months to come. Did you cry? I certainly did!

Chris Breezy, as his knicknamed, killed it as a performer! The glow in the dark suits just took it to another level! And later in his acceptance as winner of the Fandemonium Contest he humbly promised to not let his fans down again. To that I say, "Chris don't worry about letting people down, we'll come and go. Just focus on not letting YOURSELF and your God down! Everything else will fall into place."

And that's wrap on another BET Awards! Roll the credits and fade to black--which I literally plan to do in a matter of minutes. I'm officially partied out! See ya next year!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Do You Remember The Time When You Fell in Love With Michael Jackson?

It's been a year. Time moves fast but on June 25, 2009, time stood still. Micheal Jackson, the undeniable King Of Pop, was pronounced dead. All over the world, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation people paused to take in the news...some for mere minutes, some for days, and according to various reports out of Europe, for a lifetime. See my 2009 blog posts for my personal video and reaction.

But today, June 25, 2010 I will not reflect on what can't be changed. Michael Jackson is just as present to me now as he was before that sad day. His unbreakable spirit lives on through his music, his fans, and especially his family. So take a moment with me and ask yourself, "Do you remember the time when you fell in love?" The music, the clothes, the dance moves... do you remember? I betcha remember!

Watch this video on VideoSurf or see more Michael Jackson Videos

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Can't Judge Blair Underwood's New Vook By It's Cover

No I did not misspell "book"! Thanks to the new digital age traditional books are now downloadable, portable through iPods, iPhones, iPads, and E-Book Readers. Well, add video to that "digital book", if you will, and now you have what actor, producer, and author Blair Underwood and his co-writers are offering to the world in the form of a "Vook".

So do you read it or watch it? Both!

Remember when I interviewed Blair and his partners, writers Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, about thier series of books written specifically to turn into movies? "Casanegra" was the first, followed by "In the Night of the Heat". If you missed my interviews see them HERE! It is an interesting concept in creating not only great reading material but also potential films for Blair to director and star in as sexy Tennyson Hardwick.

Now fast forward about three years and the actor-producer/writing team is back with "From Cape Town With Love" set in South African. But here's the fun part for digital consumers explains Blair.

"When you read a Vook, you periodically come across an icon. You push play, and that video comes to life for a minute or two."

I find this menage-a-trois of my love of books, films, and technology FASCINATING, down right stimulating! To discover whether you do too visit this link: Mystery & Thrillers :: From Cape Town with Love - Vook: The Smart Book. You can also download it from the iTunes App Store

The trailers look like feature film action flicks! And look who's casted in this one, "Bernie Mac's", Kellita Smith! Here's a great scene between Blair and Kellita in "From Capetown With Love"!



For those of you not yet ready to give up your page turning ways don't fret! I gotchu! Amazon will help put some Blair Underwood AS Tennyson between your sheets...of paper that is!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Karate Kid: A Triumphant Remake With Jaden Smith & Jackie Chan

More often than not, the remake just ain't as good as the original. But honestly, when it comes to the 1984 "The Karate Kid" featuring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita it's hard to remember just how good it was. What I do remember though was how it made me feel. In a word, triumphant!

In Sony Pictures' 2010 "The Karate Kid" starring Jaden Smith (Dre Parker) and Jackie Chan (Mr. Han) all the elements to make another triumphant film are in place. The first element being casting. It's pretty obvious Smith is destined to be a star despite being born to talented celebrity parents. The kid has talent and his parents are doing a great job cultivating it.

I will admit though, in interviews, Jaden's a tad cocky, a little too cocky for some adults so I hear. My response is please "stay on the humble kid" or at least act like you are. The hateration coming your way is moving fast! You're still very young and got plenty of time to act like an adult. But I'm sure your parents have said that already! Moving on...

The role of Dre's Kung Fu mentor is an important one and Jackie Chan demonstrates in "Karate Kid" that he's an ACTOR, not a martial arts expert trying to act. The quiet strength and emotion he portrays in his character is totally different than most of the roles we've seen him play and it's refreshing to witness. I never thought I'd say Jackie Chan made me cry while watching a movie, but dammit he did!

And the young actor who portrayed Cheng, the bully. If I saw that little boy on the street I might be tempted to walk on the other side. He's trained to be mean and his mean-mugging talents are not wasted in "Karate Kid." Seriously though, the work he and Jaden do in the film is great whether they are physically fighting or not.

My only complaint in casting is the lack of use of Taraji P. Henson as Dre's mother. She's got plenty of scenes but I would've liked to have known a little more about her decision in going to China for a job. Was it a promotion? And how was she dealing with her new surroundings? And third, when your child is kicked damn near across the room for the first time in a competition, and you know his opponent is fighting dirty and trying to really hurt your child, we expect the mother to get a little more "involved" in the event.

The second element that makes "Karate Kid" a triumphant film is location. The film is shot in China and really illustrates the ancient beauty and the culture of the country. Seeing it through the eyes of a youngster is perfect because he learns to appreciate the old and the new as well as seek out commonalities between the cultures such as the love of music and basketball.

The third element is story. Of course, we know it and how it's going to end but what leads up to the dramatic end is good. Admittedly, there is a moment or two when things get a little slow but not so slow you lose interest. The film is two hours and 20 minutes long, not your typical 90 minute experience! And of course, the puppy love story between Dre and Mei Ying, his violin playing school mate is just...too cute.

"The Karate Kid" officially hit theaters this weekend. I'd love to read your thoughts on the film so leave your comments! Comments are like little fortune cookies after a good Chinese meal! Umm, umm good!

Side note: Is it me or does Jaden Smith with those cornrows look just like "The Boondocks" character, Riley Freeman or "Escobar"? I'm just saying if Jaden is in a "Boondocks" movie don't be surprised. They're both distributed by Sony Pictures. Remember where you heard it first!

Friday, June 11, 2010

TV Gets More Social Thanks To Philo and HBO's BloodCopy.com

If you tweet or update your Facebook status while watching your favorite shows or televised events such as "American Idol" or the NBA Basketball Finals then your "social" life just got a little better thanks to a new service called Philo. Yep! Now you can see the game at such and such's house with the big screen and still interact other friends and viewers who aren't there on one site instead of two.

So what's a Philo? "Philo" is the name of the LA based company that recently launched a social program for television viewers who love to "talk" during the show through social media. Says Interactive TV Today the "pet" name actually pays homage to one of the inventors of television, Philo T. Farnsworth. Maan! We've come a long way baby since that first invention. And now tvs, cell phones, and computers are learning to live together in harmony with the help of this new technology.
That said, Iphone users rejoice! You'll be the first to get the phone Philo app. The rest of us will have to wait, but in the meantime we can visit the website at http://www.playphilo.com to make use of the new technology.

Creating a "real-time, multi-screen, and truly interactive user experience", Philo allows you to "check-in" to your fav shows and interact with friends and other users. But aren't we do that on Twitter and Facebook already? Yes, but now you can do it in one place and have your thoughts and check-ins sent to those profiles.

True Blood fans! Thanks to HBO's new microsite called Bloodcopy.com you now have a place online to hang out and let your inner vampire be free! The new site will probably become the official "True Blood" online community that can share it's thoughts and comments about the show with others and on other social profiles while it's airing. But that ain't the best part!

According to The Hollywood Reporter the site will have weekly hosts--possibly producers or cast members I'm thinking--talking with fans as the show is being broadcast. Talk about social engagement and transparency! Whoever thought this up, a bloody mary toast to you! If HBO makes the site easy to navigate on a mobile device or develops a mobile app then it's really ahead of the game!

Social and mobile is the future of entertainment, folks! So tv and film producers are going to have to think beyond the traditional big and little screens and get into the game. In fact, at last the Producers Guild's, Produced By Conference last Saturday, major studio reps from Disney and Warner Bros on the "Mobile Nation" panel informed us to expect more of this kind of social/mobile collaboration. MULTI-PLATFORM is where it's at in the industry right now so get ready!

And lastly, if you'd like to see what other things I learned at that "Mobile Nation" panel see my Twitter profile at http://www.twitter.com/hollywoodlvwork hashtag #producedby.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Gary Coleman, Ali Woodson, Dennis Hopper, Rue McClanahan

I honestly don't want to dwell on the passing of these artists. Yeah I know it would be better for blog traffic to do individual posts, but dammit I'm just not in the mood right now to think "business". Some amazing talent has left this side of the universe in the past week, so this is not a business as usual blog post for me.

Gary Coleman, Ali "Ollie" Woodson, Dennis Hopper, and the one that saddens me most, Rue McClanahan. I'm a huge "Golden Girls" fan and whenever my world gets a little too serious, Blanche Devereaux and the girls never fail to produce a smile in a hardened face and dark spirit. Talk about wonderful casting and equally wonderful performances. That kind of chemistry on and off set is rare in this business. "Thank you for being a friend," Rue McClanahan. Your southern charm, sexy senior citizen swagger will always be remembered, not just on "Golden Girls" but on other shows and films as well.

And a sincere thank you to each of these entertainers mentioned for lending to us their amazing gifts. May you all rest in peace!

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