All Articles Tagged "Robert Townsend"
In 1991, after the success of his self-funded project, Hollywood Shuffle Keenan Ivory Wayans and Robert Townsend decided to take on a studio film, a first for Townsend. The collaboration didn’t do so well in theaters but over 20 years later, it’s a favorite in the black community. You know the lines and the songs. Check out these behind the scenes secrets.
Where did the story come from?
Though the story was based on several R&B groups and solo artists, including The Temptations, The Dells, Frankie Lymon and Sam Cooke, Robert Townsend told Black Voices that the breakup of The Temptations when he was a child, inspired the story. “I grew up with a lot of the singing groups from the ’60s, such as The Temptations, The Dells and The O’Jays. I always loved music. When The Temptations broke up, I took it personally. [The Five Heartbeats] came out of that.”
You just might be asking yourself, why, oh why are you exploring the secrets behind B.A.P.S?! I know. The movie is far from a classic but that doesn’t stop it from being entertaining. Despite the fact that you can probably find this flick in the 2 for $5 bin at Walmart, I still get quite a kick out of it. Which is why I’m bringing you these secrets today. An even better question is why did you click on the post? Aha! Gotcha! You love it too. Now that you’re here, you might as well learn something. Let’s begin.
We’re continuing to roll our BET exclusives out. Even if you missed the BET Awards on Sunday night, we got you covered with our red carpet interviews. Check out our one-on-ones with Robert Townsend, his daughter Skye (who is releasing an EP soon) and the ever-entertaining Bobby V (formerly known as Bobby Valentino) who may have had a little something somethin before he stopped by our station.
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Up and comers in Black Hollywood gathered to shoot the cover of Be Magazine. You may recognize their parents but these budding starlets aren’t content to live off their parent’s stardom. They’d rather grind for their own. Hip Hop/Pop recording artist, H Wood City, who’s worked with Lil Kim and Soulja Boy, and director, Alfredo Flores (whose credits include Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey)don’t have celeb parent backing which is why they’re all the more ready to get out there and do the work to get where they want to go. Good deal.
Check out pics from the shoot and what each of young ones had to say about their careers and their work ethic.
What were you doing when you were 17?
Probably somewhere finishing up high school, working a crummy summer job and trying to stay out of trouble (or look for it). But if you’re Skye Townsend the daughter of Robert Townsend, famed actor, comedian and film director, you’re busy filming and starring in an awesome BET.com web series called “8 Days a Week.” But Skye didn’t use her dad’s name or contacts to get the role. Instead, she used Beyoncé.
Starting in 2009, Townsend, now 18 by the way, posted a video to YouTube of her dead-on impression of Queen (or King) B, playing out an epically hilarious rendition of the singer’s reaction to Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMAs. The video has amassed more than 955,000 views, spawned a second video (the hilarious post-VMA announcement of Beyoncé’s pregnancy done this year), and definitely got her name and her great sense of humor out there. “It’s been really fun to see how people react to it. It’s been great and opened so, so many doors. I know the writer of “8 Days a Week” had seen my videos and that’s how the ball started rolling. YouTube is definitely the world of opportunities if it’s used the right way. I just hope Beyoncé got a laugh out of it.”
In addition to her parodies of Beyoncé as well as recent ones of Nicki Minaj, Townsend also has an amazing voice, showing up on features for rappers like Casey Veggies and covering (and KILLING) songs like “Rolling in the Deep” and “I Hope She Cheats on You.” And now Townsend is starring in the BET web series “8 Days a Week,” based on the book The Come Up by Lyah Beth LeFlore. It is a show about a small group of ambitious 20-somethings trying to live out their dreams in Hollywood. And while most of the characters are aspiring musicians, artists, designers, managers and the like, which would be a great fit for Townsend because of her real life aspirations, instead, her character of Jade Taylor is anything but a starlet to be.
“Jade is actually studying to be a psychologist, and she’s striving to be a humanitarian. Her character is so dope because they allow her to be beautiful, intelligent, eloquent and classy. And that’s a great thing to be as a black woman shown on TV because of the current negative images. I think people will like Jade cause she’s fighting for the right things. I kind of like the challenge. I’m proud of the character, maybe she can learn to sing in season two!”
No matter how positive Jade is, there’s always some attention-grabbing drama on a show like this. But aside from the drama played out on screen during the four to five-minute episodes (short, right?), Townsend wants people to know that the show is a positive representation of young black people trying to do big things. “We’re trying to do something positive without being preachy and shoving statistics down your throat. I think people should stay tuned and they ‘ll find the show to be inspiring.” And if that doesn’t push you to check it out, you’ll be happy to know that her famous pops is a huge fan of the show and its direction.
“My dad is ecstatic. He’s always checking his Google Alerts and he’s like, “I got a Google Alert for the next episode!” He’s my number one supporter. I was always watching him and watching him learn his lines back in the day and now he’s like, “Wow, my daughter’s an actor.”
While the show currently airs, the bubbly Townsend is hoping to show off those awesome pipes she has and hopes to sing and collaborate with other young, positive artists. But her major hope right now is that you’ll tune into the web series, leave comments with your thoughts on the show, and help play a part in getting the uber-cute series on BET’s actual channel and lineup. “We’ve just had so much fun filming it and we’re all like a family. I love the show, and I think the cast is absolutely amazing. I’m excited that we got to start on the web but I’m hoping bigger things can come from it.”
Check out the premiere of the seventh episode at BET.com as well as here at Madame Noire at 7 p.m. EST. Until then, see the first six episodes below:
Episode 1 – “The World is Mine”
Episode 2 – “Can’t Hold Me Down”
Episode 3 – “Touch the Sky”
Episode 4 – “On to the Next One”
Episode 5 – “Reality Check”
Episode 6 – “Don’t Call it a Comeback”
(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.
(The Loop) — If the studios and gatekeepers refuse to fund anything else besides a cross-dressing male lead (thanks Big Momma and Madea!), then black filmmakers have to create a new construct in order to tell our own stories. The online space as well as other mobile platforms may be the cure to the black movie bottleneck. Black filmmakers are now turning to the Web to produce projects and market them virally to the community. Notable directors such as Robert Townsend are using the online space to tell stories that reflect the experience of the black community. Townsend recently produced an original award-winning Web series Diary of a Single Mom, starring Monica Calhoun. Also, Idris Elba is currently executive producing Milk + Honey, a Web series about four ambitious women navigating Hollywood, after he noticed a lack of authentic and relevant content on television. The original scripted series stars Debbie Allen and Lance Gross.
Robert Townsend broke major ground when he released the classic comedy, Hollywood Shuffle, in 1987. The satire about the relationship between blacks and the Hollywood industry made waves, but the behind-the-scenes narrative of how he financed the production on his credit cards became legendary. A lot has changed since then and the business of film production has drastically evolved to become more accessible as amateur and veteran filmmakers now have the online platform by which to distribute their programs. Townsend, now a household name, is exploring the relatively new frontier and taking his expertise online with his latest project, Diary of a Single Mom – a web series on the Public Internet Channel about three single mothers and their challenges with child care, health care, education and work.
“Because of the internet now, you can reach millions and millions of people to see your content” he said. “200,000 plus people have already seen Diary of a Single Mom on the internet and I’ve just started to do interviews now.” Townsend became involved with the project after meeting Ray Ramsey, the founder and CEO of One Economy Corporation, a non-profit organization which seeks to empower low-income people through technology and information. Their similar visions, yet different industries, led them to cross paths in Washington DC, where Townsend’s duties as head of the Black Family Channel frequently led him to engage policy makers and politicians on Capitol Hill. When Townsend ended his run at the Channel, Ramsey recruited him for his organization’s crusade.
In his role as producer and director of the Diary of a Single Mom series, Townsend created programming which delivered content that One Economy used to engage its targeted audience and stories that spoke to his own standards of positive entertainment. “Part of it is to make content that people can see but content that people need,” he said. “As people are watching Diary of a Single Mom, they can click on different buttons and learn. For example, one of the characters is trying to get her GED, so if you’re interested in that, you can click on the button and learn more about it.”
Although Townsend has been successful in his first foray into web series production, the $500,000 budget he had to work with for the season is a far cry from the television and film limits that he’s used to. “Because the web is such a new frontier, the budget is always going to be tighter because everybody is still figuring out how to monetize the model,” he said. Now that Diary is in its second season, the model appears to have proven itself and the series is looking to capitalize on its popularity. “We’re having discussions with television networks to potentially buy the show and advertisers to promote on the shows,” he said. Along with advertising, he added, DVD sales compose the bulk of the potential revenue for web series.
Despite his success with this show and the success of so many filmmakers who have utilized the online production and distribution model, Townsend wouldn’t evangelize it over other traditional routes, especially to the budding filmmakers he guides through his Robert Townsend Foundation. “Many roads lead to Rome,” he said. “There’s no one way to go about it. It’s a bit of mixing and matching and figuring out what really works.” Since his own start in Hollywood, Townsend has witnessed what he calls the Hollywood “reshuffle” and wants to address the decline of African-American representation in programming through cultivating other filmmakers and helping them to refine their craft, expertise and professionalism. His latest venture may capitalize on a new trend, but the focus for Townsend is still the same: producing positive and uplifting entertainment.