All Articles Tagged "Black Hollywood"
by Steven Barboza
Great black stories almost never get shown at America’s megaplexes. The reason? They are an endangered species.
In a perfect world, major studios would green-light a dozen films per year with mostly black casts, and audiences of all persuasions would pay to see them. But Hollywood moguls seem stuck on the color of actors’ skin. Either major studios don’t think white audiences would pay to see universal human dramas played out by black actors, or studios are bewildered by black films. Many fail at the box office for a host of reasons, including lack of audience development and badly hatched advertising and publicity campaigns.
“Ultimately, to reach an African American audience, there needs to be a cross-section of tactics,” said Ava DuVernay, filmmaker and publicist. DuVernay, who helped to market such Hollywood releases as “Dreamgirls” and “Invictus,” has formed an alliance that aims to bring more black films to commercial theaters. The African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (or AFFRM) uses social networking and grass-roots tactics to reach its marketing goals.
The alliance hopes to overcome a host of mistakes being made by otherwise savvy producers and film makers. Many black films fall victim to their creators’ good intentions but inept marketing practices. “I think that a lot of people overshoot in terms of the number of screens that they put a film on,” said DuVernay, “and I think that a lot of people undershoot in terms of the type of marketing that they apply toward certain types of films. But in cases where there’s been a happy marriage of distribution and marketing, you’ve seen modest and successfully distributed films that give nice returns to investors.”
The film “Just Wright,” starring Queen Latifah and Common, was “on too many screens,” DuVernay said. “And it was a campaign that didn’t integrate any kind of grassroots effort or real local outreach. They had a very national campaign, and they were relying on their stars. If they would have had some boots on the ground, it might have made some difference.” The film only grossed $21.5 million.
Other black films succeed if producers employ the right marketing mix. “You look at something very successful like ‘Jumping the Broom’ — they had a full-fledged publicity campaign, a very aggressive advertising campaign and local support on the ground — and you get a hit,” DuVernay said. “Same thing with ‘The Help.’ With the right marketing, the right push, the right kind of perfect storm of elements, you can actually have a successful release.”
She herself has left nothing to chance. She has written and directed a film titled “I Will Follow,” starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who plays a woman sorting through memories of a dead aunt. The film was the first to be marketed by the AFFRM. “We couldn’t afford big advertising so we upped our ground game,” DuVernay said. “We did more grassroots organizing. We did heavy, heavy publicity. We were in a market for six months, when you’d [customarily] be in a market for 3 or 4 months before opening.”
Check out the fabulous Black celebs that were hanging out in Hollywood this week like…
Singer Macy Gray arrives at Vertu and Gelila and Wolfgang Puck Celebrate the Oscars and Dream for Africa Foundation at CUT on February 23, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.
Some of Hollywood’s most wanted men have their fair share of female attention. Although many have reaped the rewards of celebrity in the dating department, we know that their perspectives must have changed when they had their own daughters to raise. Here are some photos of some Black Hollywood celebs and their little (and not so little) girls!
The youngest child of Juanita and Michael Jordan has kept a low profile as a sensible and well-grounded teen. She’s set to start her freshman year in college at Syracuse University in the fall. Luckily for her, she not only has a superstar dad looking out for her but two older brothers as well.
Tyler Perry has written a letter to his fans explaining why Kim Kardashian was given a role in his upcoming film, “The Marriage Counselor,” after receiving a ton of backlash over the casting choice. Tyler Perry already gets plenty of side eyes for his films, but his casting of the reality TV star tocuhed a nerve with many fans, especially after news of Kim’s divorce hit.
In looking over the letter, I’m not convinced this gesture will do anything to halt the grassroots boycott efforts that are popping up. He writes:
About two months ago, long before I even heard about Kim’s marriage or divorce, I was trying to finish up the casting. I said to one of my producers, “who else is out there that young people are looking up to?” One of my producers showed me pictures that his daughter had taken of several hundred kids lined up around the corner to get into a Kardashian store. They wanted to meet Kim. I thought, what better person! She literally has millions of young people following her. I thought and still do think, that it would be very responsible of her to be a part of this film. To have the young people that look up to her, see her in a film that is about, what happens in life when you make the wrong choices.
Tyler seems to equate teen’s fascination with Kim Kardashian with her being a role model and I think there is a thin line between the two. I’m not saying Kim is the worst person on the planet, but let’s not forget how she rose to fame in the first place. If you really want to teach young people what happens in life when you make the wrong choices, you don’t grant more fame to a chic who is in the media on a daily basis because of her sexcapades. That right there is a mixed message sir.
You can check out the full letter on theybf.com. What did you think about Kim Kardashian being cast in Tyler Perry’s latest film? Does this effort do anything to change your mind about seeing the film?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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An interesting remake is in the works. Lifetime, in conjunction with Broadway director Kenny Leon and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, is bringing back the 1989 classic “Steel Magnolias” with an all-black cast.
The movie is about the bond between women living in the same parish in Louisiana as they go through different life experiences — pregnancy, marriage, death of a loved one, health risks, etc. The original movie featured an ensemble cast of highly regarded actresses: Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts.
Since the upcoming remake featuring black actresses will still be set in Louisiana, perhaps the directors can throw a little Creole flavor in the mix — I’m seeing Lynn Whitfield and Jurnee Smollett from “Eve’s Bayou.” Since Leon already worked with Phylicia Rashad when he directed “A Raisin in the Sun” in 2004, I hope he’ll make her a part of this as well. I have a feeling the movie could end up as a cross between the original film and Tyler Perry’s interpretation of “For Colored Girls,” but without the poetic style. Maybe “The Women of Brewster Place” would be a better comparison. Either way, as a Lifetime junkie, I’m pretty excited about this.
What black actresses would you like to see fill these roles?
Gabrielle Union is a stunning woman. With her rich brown skin and traditionally black features, she represents African-American beauty unequivocally. Much like First Lady Michelle Obama, a beauty like Ms. Union shows the world that black women are as gorgeous as ladies of any other race. In fact it is our skin and other unique features that make our form of loveliness so special. And not content to be merely beautiful in her own right, Gabrielle is an advocate for the acceptance of our form of pretty by the mainstream establishment. Union is not just a beauty role model; she is also a black beauty advocate. Be sure to remind yourself today that you are wonderfully appealing as a black woman, even if Hollywood still needs to be educated about the full range of our exceptional natures.
You are gorgeous, Madame Noire denizens! Enjoy your day!
(Eurweb) — The demand for religious films is on the rise, especially in the advent of Tyler Perry plays and big screens as well as movies produced by T. D. Jakes. Megachurch preacher Creflo Dollar is catching the wave and has opened up a film division within his Christian empire. According to reports, the new company, CAD Productions will produce at least three faith-based films a year, with one in the making right now.
Idris Elba — hunky British actor known for his fascinating leading roles — is heating up the web today for stating that he would be happy to play James Bond in the next version of the film. But he has ONE major condition.
The Hot star of the BBC series “Luther” told CNN:
I would do it, but I don’t want to be called the first black James Bond. [Emphasis ours.] Do you understand what I ‘m saying? Sean Connery wasn’t the Scottish James Bond and Daniel Craig wasn’t the blue-eyed James Bond. So if I played him, I don’t want to be called the black James Bond.”
As Elba goes on to explain, he didn’t come to the States “to play black roles. I just came to play roles.”
That is an interesting stipulation to make — but good luck with that Idris. Just like President Obama being the first black president of the United States NO MATTER WHAT, that is how he will be seen if he lands this iconic gig.
There has been similar talk of Beyonce playing Wonder Woman if that movie idea ever makes it to the big screen. These are both very interesting casting concepts, which would certainly breathe new life into old cultural institutions. But, I wonder if the mainstream is ready for blacks to portray heroic images typically enacted by white actors, or if there might be a negative reaction.
Recently when Marvel Comics made Spiderman a black and Latino bi-racial youth, some reactions were not pretty. And this was just for the comic book.
I personally believe younger audiences are ready for a black James Bond, a creole Wonder Woman, and an Asian Superman. What do you think Madame Noire lovlies? Leave your comments below!
(Black Enterprise) — Robert Townsend hopes his latest film, In the Hive, joins his critically acclaimed and popular works such as Hollywood Shuffle and The Five Heartbeats. (In the Hive, which premiered at the American Black Film Festival and screened at this year’s Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge, may be in wide release next year.) The veteran entertainer broke into acting as an extra in Cooley High more than 30 years ago but branched into drama, writing, directing, and producing. From 2003 to 2007, the 44-year-old was president and CEO of The Black Family Channel. In 2009, he ventured into the digital world with Diary of a Single Mom, a Web series that will make the leap to television in a one-hour pilot on TV One on Oct. 9.
(Los Angeles Times) — Further evidence has emerged that Hollywood has made little progress in hiring women and minorities to work on prime-time television shows. A survey conducted by the Directors Guild of America of more than 2,600 television episodes from 170 scripted TV series for the 2010-11 season found that white males directed 77% of all episodes, and white females directed 11% of all episodes. Minority males directed 11% all episodes and minority females directed just 1% of the shows, according to the survey of programs from the major broadcast and cable networks. The directors guild, which over the years has prodded production companies to establish diversity programs and improve hiring practices, expressed disappointment with the findings, noting that the results show little change from a similar survey in the 2009-2010 television season.