Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Steve Stout, Jermaine Dupri & The Grammys...Who's Right? What's Wrong?


The music industry is buzzing, fans are talking, blogging and tweeting, and producer/exec, Jermaine Dupri is publicly weighing in on the hot topic. Some of everybody, me included, is saying something about Steve Stout's Feb 20th New York Times letter to the Grammys and the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

Stout is a well-respected music industry veteran and in his letter he calls NARAS out on many relevant points we as industry folk discuss amongst ourselves but never publicly. Thus his letter and responses to it, are a perfect example of living and working in this game of show as my blog title suggests. If you haven't read Stout's letter, PLEASE do so. Here's a few quotes in the meantime:

"Over the course of my 20-year history as an executive in the music business and as the owner of a firm that specializes in in-culture advertising, I have come to the conclusion that the Grammy Awards have clearly lost touch with contemporary popular culture."

"Unfortunately, the awards show has become a series of hypocrisies and contradictions, leaving me to question why any contemporary popular artist would even participate..."

"While these very artists that the public acknowledges as being worthy of their money and fandom are snubbed year after year at the Grammys, the awards show has absolutely no qualms in inviting these same artists to perform."

Obviously, Stout is a man fed up with "business as usual" and is really challenging NARAS to defend how Grammy Award recipients are decided and who gets to perform. But will NARAS or show producers respond? Probably not without a publicists, if at all. Read more about Stout and what motivated the letter in this interview conducted by The Hollywood Reporter.

Jermaine Dupri on his social network has raised even more valid points. In the video below, he says there's no point in complaining about Grammys if you haven't voiced your concerns and opinion as a MEMBER of NARAS. According to him, Hip Hop hasn't been well represented in the ranks of NARAS. Maybe that explains why we rarely get to see Hip Hop and R&B artists receive their awards during the show, but are asked to perform to increase show ratings.

Also in the vid, he explains stepping down as President of the Atlanta chapter of NARAS when he realized his position held no real power, especially in affecting how Janet was dissed and uninvited by the Grammys after the Super Bowl mess. Ironically, according to Janet herself, she's never received any of her Grammys during the broadcast of the show. Interesting...!

Stout and Dupri have shared some crucial insights. If you aspire to have a career in music take serious note. Realize this game is more than just about creativity, performing, and residuals. It's called show BUSINESS for a reason. Don't get caught up in thinking the industry awards and accolades DEFINE you as an artist. Some of the best musicians and artists never received Grammys or major industry awards, yet their impact on audiences has been ever-lasting.

Here's Jermaine's video. Play it and then let me know your thoughts. I'd love to get your feedback on Stout or Dupri's comments and whether you think their comments and people's responses will have any impact on NARAS and Grammys 2012.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Melanie Fiona, Nicole Ari Parker "Decide To Be Beautiful" With Hair Architect, Keith Campbell

Hollywood is always a buzz with celebrity, but last weekend some of the hottest names in music pooled into La La land for the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. Party over here, party over there, every where you go there was a party. And with NBA All Star Weekend starting THIS week, the partying continues.

Taking advantage of the festive climate, "hair architect" and celebrity stylist Keith Campbell presented a "Cuts For Our Infirmities" book signing event complete with beautiful people, beautiful hair, and "beat" faces. "Decide To Be Beautiful" was the name of the affair and was held in Beverly Hill's Salon 180 Beauty Lounge, complete with gift bags, tasty edible treats, and wine.

For those of you NOT in the know "beat" is industry slang meaning someone's cosmetic game is on point! It IS the business! Eyelashes on, eyeshadow done, lip color popping...they fancy, huh!

Helping many celebs' including the "Girlfriends" cast, Eva Pigford, Melanie Fiona, Nicole Ari Parker, and Nia Long win the hair game and live up to their fanciest potential is Keith Campbell. Be sure to visit his website to learn more about his unique approach to all things beauty and his new book, "Cuts For Our Infirmities."

While attendees chatted and sipped I turned my camera lens to the lovely co-hosts, Grammy nominee, Melanie Fiona, and multi-talented actress/director, Nicole Ari Parker. Listen to these ladies share their personal beauty tips and explain how they prep to do what they do so well. Surprisingly what they share is probably on the shelf in your own bathroom or kitchen.

Melanie Fiona

Nicole Ari Parker

Friday, February 11, 2011

MOOZ-lum: A Movie And A Movement

Allahu Akbar!


There are films that we'll see this weekend just for sheer entertainment value, but Qasim Basir's "MOOZ-lum", is more than a film it's a movement. On the surface it's a dramatic well-written film about Tariq, a young man struggling with defining religion for himself. He is Muslim and the lessons he's learned at the hands of his religious teachers, including his father, bring him nothing but pain.

Underneath that story is a message--without being "preachy"--concerning the demonizing of one religion, one set of people, based on the actions of a few. And looking even beyond that message , you'll see a movement of diverse people, nationally and internationally, that have used the internet and grassroots efforts to not only get "MOOZ-lum" into theaters in 10 select cities this weekend, but are also working to getting it in theaters throughout the world.

Casted well with impressive performances by Evan Ross, Roger Guenveur Smith, Nia Long, Dorian Missick, and Danny Glover, "MOOZ-lum" is based on the life experiences of Qasim Basir, the director and writer. It's set in Michigan, Basir's home state, and uses flashbacks to tell his moving story. And yes, Basir is Muslim.


But no matter your religious beliefs, it's a relatable story and will make you question just why do you believe what you do. Such a timeless and timely story is ironic considering America's own challenge in defining for ourselves the difference between a Muslim and a terrorist. The two are NOT synonymous. And as audiences experience the tragedy of 9-11 from Tariq's (Evan Ross) perspective, a Muslim perspective, some may be reminded of past shameful moments in America's own history which go too often unspoken.

If you're clueless to what I'm referring to Google "Japanese American Internment" "1942" or since it's Black History Month try "Black Wall Street" "May 31, 1921." Terrorists come in all shapes, sizes, races, and religious affiliations yet ironically groups like the Klu Klux Klan were never labeled that way. Ponder that! I digress...


What makes "MOOZ-lum" important too is its exploration of how do you be true to yourself when it could dramatically effect your family, friends, and finances? Seeing Tariq's mother (Nia Long) and Professor Jamal (Dorian Missick) face this challenge also makes this a film about individuality.

In the interview below, "MOOZ-lum" producer, Dana Offenbach, says staying to true to what she believed motivated her to help Basir bring this film to life. Listen also to how they chose the great cast and overcame the obstacles to see it OPEN THIS WEEKEND IN 10 SELECT CITIES.

VISIT "MOOZ-lum's" FACEBOOK FAN PAGE to see if it's playing in your city and LIKE THE PAGE! Join the movement to get "MOOZ-lum" to more screens nationwide. Tweet it, Facebook it, blog it, email it, and tell your friends about the very necessary imagery and messages in it. And after you see it, I'd love to get your feedback here on the blog!

As-Salamu Alaykum!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Why Tyler Perry Instead of Idris Elba As Alex Cross?


There's been a whole lot of conversation about Tyler Perry being chosen to play detective Alex Cross, the popular detective featured in James Patterson's series of best-selling novels. Last year, Idris Elba was tapped for the role, but now he's out. Enter the Perry haters and critics! While they do that, I'm going to weigh in on the subject too. Why? Cause I can! That's what a blog is for, dang it!

Many of us may remember Morgan Freeman originally in the role in "Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came A The Spider". Those films were LONG ago, and now Freeman is too old for what the producers and the audience wants too most likely. Read some of what producer Bill Block says about Tyler Perry in an article from Entertainment Weekly:

"Tyler Perry is one of the most significant entertainers in all of media. He is a huge cross-media talent and presence — and he’s a terrific actor whose range is going to be shown here. You’re going to see Tyler Perry like you haven’t seen him."

That's a glowing review of Perry's potential, but the article won't reveal why Elba is no longer in the role. So here's my three cents! And yes, just like the cost of gas, the price of my opinion has gone up! Lol. What people seem to forget is that Hollywood is all about image and branding. Elba just played a similar role as a detective in the BBC's "Luther" which I suspect will be returning thanks to the great audience and industry response. That said, he can't be Luther and Alex Cross!

Not to mention, Elba has an Executive Producer credit for "Luther," something of which I'm sure he did not get for "I, Alexander Cross." But some may argue doing the major studio film is better for his career than a television series. Weeelllll, not necessarily! Would you rather have your own multi-award winning series as an Executive Producer and actor that's already broadcast internationally or merely be a hired talent in a major movie where you have less control, if any?

Speaking of control, knowing Perry as well as I don't, I'm sure he'd like the opportunity to just act. In the church of Tyler Perry, he generally plays all the major roles--organist, pastor, deacon, trustee, choir director, the usher, the amen corner, and even first lady. Wouldn't it be nice just to show up and not have to worry about the entire production for a while?

In addition, Perry like any actor also knows too much of a good role makes one typecasted in this business of show. Just ask Jaleel White, Jenifer Lewis, or Martin Lawrence! Side note: Notice Lawrence is back in his Grannie panties for "Big Mamma's House 3". I back to Perry.

Perry himself has been quite public about wanting to step away from the role of Madea. But many of his loyal fans and critics too seem to want him to stay in that pun intended, I promise. Yes, Madea has made him millions, but why not allow the actor to truly come forth in other roles?

Think like a producer and ask what other black actor has a following as big as Perry's and with consistent success at the box office? Denzel, Will...who else you got? Obviously they either were not offered the role or turned it down.

I'm curious to see what Tyler can do when he's not controlling every aspect of the production, and some of his haters are too. Truly, in Hollywood if no one is talking about you, then you're like that tree in the forest that no one heard one knew you even existed.

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