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December 20, 2005

Remember a few months back when every other commercial was about Blockbuster eliminating their late fees? Well, some Blockbuster stores have repealed that policy - without notifying the customer. Blockbuster has admitted that about 30% of their stores have reinstated late fees. The company claims the stores couldn’t afford to stock enough DVDs to offset the longer rental periods.

Director Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother) is set to direct the comedy, The Better Man. The movie follows a popular Los Angeles comedian who heads down South with his wife and child to reunite with his family. Once he gets there, he finds that some things haven’t changed as old issues and rivalries again come to the surface. No word yet on casting.

Congratulations to Randal Pinkett, the first African-American Apprentice. The anti-Omarosa, he conducted himself with style, class and intelligence. However, now he’s taking a lot of flack. As the latest twist in the show, Randal was asked if The Donald should hire runner-up Rebecca Jarvis as well. Randal said no, there should only be one Apprentice. When asked by TVGuide.com about his decision, he offered this, “if you were given the gold medal and then invited by the International Olympic Committee to share it with the silver medalist, you wouldn't even consider it.”

Jamie Foxx has another thing in common with 80's actor Phillip Michael Thomas. Thomas played Ricardo Tubbs in the television series Miami Vice. Foxx plays Tubbs in the upcoming Miami Vice movie. In his heyday Thomas released an album of his music. Tomorrow Foxx releases a CD of his own. Unpredictable is actually Foxx's second album. He released his first one 11 years ago. Since then he's also contributed to the soundtracks of several of his movies (He rapped on the Any Given Sunday soundtrack and my personal favorite is Knocked Nekkid from the Waist Down with Rudy Ray Moore on the soundtrack for The Great White Hype). More recently, he's sung on number 1 records with Twista, Slow Jamz, and Kanye West on Golddigger.

Want to chat on your cell phone at the movies? Shame on you! The National Association of Theater Owners has asked the FCC to allow them to block cell phone signals in movie theaters. They cite cell phone usage as one of the reasons for the decline in moviegoers. Of course, the cell phone companies argue that the phones are needed in case of an emergency.

 

December 12, 2005

Yesterday Richard Pryor died at the age of 65. He'd suffered from multiple sclerosis for over a decade. According to his wife, he died of a heart attack. Pryor was a comedic pioneer and paved the way for an entire generations of comics. He will be missed.

Friday, Matt Damon married his fiancée Luciana Barroso. The two recently announced that they were expecting their first child together. Luciana has a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

 

December 8, 2005

Striking While the Iron is Hot, part I: Jamie Foxx continues to line up quality projects. In addition to Dreamgirls, Foxx is set to star in The Kingdom, which is being described as a political thriller. Foxx would play the head of a counter-terrorism unit investigating a bombing attack against Americans in the Middle East. Don’t forget, he’s also set to play Tubbs (the role originated by Phillip Michael Thomas) in the big screen adaptation of Miami Vice. Colin Farrell is Sonny Crocket (originally played by Don Johnson).

 Striking While the Iron is Hot, part II: Terrence Howard isn’t resting on the success of Crash and Hustle & Flow. He’s set to portray legendary boxer Joe Louis in Spike Lee’s next joint, Save Us Joe Louis. The story focuses on Louis and his relationship with rival fighter Max Schmeling. Howard is also in negotiations to star in  The Crusaders where he would play a young Thurgood Marshall in his days with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Oh yeah, and there is also Hustle & Flow 2.

 Christian Bale and Michael Caine will be back for the next Batman movie. But the big question is who will play The Joker? One name being tossed out is Michael Keaton. If he gets the nod he’ll be the first actor to play both the Caped Crusader and his nemesis. Other names being tossed around include Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Steve Carell (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind).

 Jet Li is more than a martial arts expert. He’s also an actor. He’s an actor, people!!!! In an effort to be taken more seriously as a thespian, he’s retiring from Kng Fu films to focus more on his craft. His says his next movie Fearless will be his last in the genre.

 

November 30, 2005

A while back I reported on an Australian study by the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney  which analyzed movies over the past 20 years and chided them for their lack of safe sex. According to their study, Pretty Woman was the only movie to contain a safe sex message. Well, L.S. emailed me and kindly informed me that the Aussies missed a movie. She reminded me that Lela Rochon's character in Waiting to Exhale also advocated condom use. Point taken. Well I'm impressed! I've had a sneaking suspicion that my visitors are some of the smartest on the web. Here's proof!

There is supposed to be a sequel to Hustle & Flow … that is if the principals and John Singleton can get the money sorted out from the first one. Writer/director Craig Brewer, producer Stephanie Allain and actors Terrance Howard and Anthony Anderson say that Singleton, who put up his own money to make the film, promised them a portion of the $9 million he received when he sold the rights to the film at Sundance. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Paramount/MTV claimed to have paid Singleton 99% of the $9 by the time the movie opened in July. Singleton says he got $2 million in a big chunk and the rest has been coming in slowly. He says that he’s personally absorbed a lot of extra costs associated with the movie but it’s been his intention all along to pay everyone by the holidays. Singleton told the Times, "I don't like somebody saying I'm a shyster. I resent people making comments when everybody's life has been changed from 'Hustle & Flow.' Everyone has a career now."

 Usher, who stars in and produced, In The Mix, says he likes clothes that fit and wishes other African-American men would follow suit. The singer/actor/dancer was quoted in Complex magazine as saying, ““Everything I try to wear is custom-made, at least as far as shirts. If I wear name-brand, it’s usually jeans. . . . I don’t rock ridiculous oversized jeans. It’s about time for we, as young black men to tailor it up, put a little shape in our jeans.”

 Jennifer Beals, who stars on the Showtime series, The L Word, is being sued by her former managers. They claim since they represented her when she landed the role, they are entitled to 10% of her earnings from all of the subsequent seasons.

 While it’s been a solid year since her last movie (Closer), Julia Roberts is still the highest-paid actress in Hollywood; commanding $20 million a film. Nicole Kidman gets $16-17 million per film, while Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore get $15 million. Angelina Jolie, Rene Zellweger and Cameron Diaz make a paltry $10-15 million.

 You can expect another nipple-less Superbowl as the Rolling Stones will be the half-time act. We can only pray that Mick Jagger will keep his shirt on! There are probably scary sights than Sir Mick in a nipple ring but I can’t think of one of them!

 

November 26, 2005

Jennifer Hudson may have lost the American Idol title to Fantasia Barrino but she's no loser. The former finalist has landed the coveted role of Effie in the screen version of Dreamgirls. Hudson beat out Barrino for the role, even though Barrino had Jamie Foxx lobbying for her. In the end, the final decision was up to director Bill Condon. Hudson joins an all-star cast which includes Beyonce Knowles, Foxx, and Eddie Murphy. Broadway actress Anika Rose will play the third Dreamette, a role originated by Loretta Devine.

Beautiful Angela Bassett is making that beauty work for her as the new face of Oil of Olay. Bassett will be the spokeswoman for a line of Olay products aimed specifically at African-Americans. The Quench body lotion contains shea butter and amino-vitamins designed to combat ashinesses and eliminate the need for reapplication. Bassett's campaign will be handled by Burrell Communications, one of the country's leading African-American full-service advertising agencies.

Because I know you've been waiting for it, the third Rush Hour movie is in the works. And, there is a possibility that a fourth film could be on the way. Chris Tucker has negotiated a sweet deal for himself, $20 million for the movie plus 20% of the gross. Nice work if you can get it, especially when you consider that the only movies Chris Tucker has done since 1997 have been Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2. Shooting will begin next summer with a scheduled release in summer of 2007.

This season will be the last for agent Sidney Bristow. Alias has been cancelled. Ratings for the one time hit have been on the decline for the past few seasons and even a pregnant, crime-fighting secret agent wasn't enough to save the show. The May finale will be the last.

Despite The Honeymooners, Dukes of Hazzard and Bewitched, studio executives are convinced that making I Dream of Jeanie into a feature film is a good idea. In fact, Jennifer Garner, Lindsay Lohan and Kate Hudson are considered front runners to fill Barbara Eden's belly-baring outfit.

This has absolutely nothing to do with movies but I thought it was interesting. Today, in 2005, the British Royal Opera has decided that it is no longer appropriate for white singers to don blackface makeup. After a writer for a British paper complained, they decided to stop the process calling it 'racially insensitive'.

Rapper/actor DMX has received a 70-day sentence for a probation violation. It could have been worse, he could have gotten a year. His sentence was supposed to be 60 days but the judge slapped on another 10 when the rapper showed up 3 hours late for sentencing. He claimed he'd been sick and even provided a doctor's note. DMX, otherwise known as Earl Simmons, plead guilty to a 2004 incident where he rammed his SUV through a security gate at JFK Airport in New York. Apparently, he was high on Valium and told police he was an undercover officer. He was busted for speeding in early 2005 and in April he hit a stationary car which caused a chain reaction involving several vehicles included an unmarked police car. But even with all this, it's possible that DMX could get off for good behavior. He's doing his time at New York's notorious Riker's Island.

 

November 19, 2005

Page Kennedy, the actor formerly known as Caleb on Desperate Housewives, is desperate for people to know the truth. The actor denies claims that he exposed himself to two women on the set of the hit show. In an interview with his hometown newspaper, Kennedy says, "I definitely need my city (Detroit) to know and understand what's going on. The truth is Touchstone decided to go in a different direction, and they bought out my contract. Anything you've heard to the contrary is all false. The challenge I have right now is trying to get the truth out as aggressively as they got the rumors out. That's the problem. If the truth isn't as juicy as the rumors, who cares? That's what sucks."

Johnny Depp is the unofficial poster boy for smokers. Although he's cut down on the cancer sticks himself, he believes in the right of smokers to smoke and quit at their own pace when they are ready. He vehemently opposes smoking bans and restrictions. The actor says, "Obviously it ain't good for you, and I don't condone it or recommend it, but everyone has to find their own way out of it. The idea of bludgeoning people and telling them that if they smoke they are awful is ludicrous."

What a Feeling! Jennifer Beals of Flashdance fame, who can currently be seen on Showtime's The L Word has given birth to her first child. The 41-year old actress and her husband,  Ken Dixon have a brand new baby daughter, her name hasn't been released. Dixon has two children from a previous marriage.

Are you still a trekkie? Do you love Captain Kirk? Do you petition Nick at Nite to run old episodes of TJ Hooker? Are you hooked on Boston Legal? If you love William Shatner that much (and if you do you might need professional help), you might be able to buy the actor and sometimes singer's kidney stone. Shatner was taken from the Boston Legal set last week for what they thought was back pain. It turned out to be a kidney stone which he eventually passed. Now he wants doctors to hand the stone over so he could sell "the ultimate piece of Star Trek memorabilia" to fans. Proceeds would go to charity.




November 9, 2005

There's another mystery on Wisteria Lane. So far, the big mystery in the second season of Desperate Housewives has centered on who is in Betty Applewhite's (Alfre Woodard's) basement. Now, people are wondering why Page Kennedy, the actor who plays Caleb, the mysterious man in the basement, was fired. In a terse statement, ABC attributes Kennedy's dismissal to 'improper conduct.' The statement did say that the conduct did not involve cast member but didn't elaborate any further. His character will be recast.

Although The Boondocks cartoon is getting rave reviews, a Los Angeles group is less than impressed. They are protesting the shows liberal use of the N-word. The problem is that no one seems to be listening to the protesters. Aaron McGruder, the cartoonist who created the comic strip and the show, brushes off the community group's criticism and cites the use of the word in hip-hop and rap.

 

November 3, 2005

Gabrielle Union is filing for divorce after 4 years of marriage. She and running back Chris Howard married in May of 2001. The two do not have children.

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ won’t be released until next week but already its sparking controversy. Billboards depicting the star/rapper 50 Cent with his arms outstretched – a microphone in one hand and a gun in the other – are being removed from several Los Angeles communities. Activists are complaining that the posters encourage gun violence.

Sixteen year old actress Tara Correa-McMullen, who played the character of Graciela on Judging Amy, was shot to death outside of an apartment complex in Inglewood, California. Police say the shooting may have been gang-related and that the actress may have just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Ironically, the character of Graciela was a former gang member. The actress recently had a role in the Martin Lawrence movie Rebound.

The Jennifer Lopez produced drama South Beach is experiencing some drama of its on. The show is supposed to be a midseason replacement on UPN. South Beach focuses on the lives of some young South Beach professionals and is filmed on location in Miami. However, this year’s unusually active hurricane season has forced production to close three times (for Katrina, Rita and Wilma).

The actor who played Sulu in the original Star Trek series has come out of the closet. Actor George Takei is gay. The 68-year old actor has been in a relationship for the past 18 years. In an interview with the gay magazine Frontiers, Takei says as a teen he was ashamed of both his heritage (he’s a Japanese-American) and his sexuality.

 

October 25, 2005

Star Wars producer/director George Lucas has donated $1 million to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial project. The estimated cost for the Washington DC-based memorial is $100 million. So far, $40 million has been raised.

Who’d have thought a little birthday party could turn into such drama? Gabrielle Union turns 32 on the 29th and was planning to celebrate her birthday with a party at Los Angeles's Club Mood. Well, an email allegedly sent by her publicist, Holly Shakoor, was mistakenly forwarded to other industry-types accusing Club Mood owner David Judaken of racism. According to the email, racism was behind the South African native’s decision to abruptly canceled Union’s birthday bash. Apparently, he had confused her with volleyball player Gabrielle Reece and when he realized his mistake (he got the black Gabby and not the white one) he canceled. In his defense, Judaken says the deal with Union was never finalized and he simply got a better offer. Shakoor says that the email was never intended to be forwarded and was based on information obtained about the situation from a third hand source. Anyway, Happy Birthday Gabrielle!

When it comes to the $340 million Powerball, fans of Lost should be glad that they lost. Part of the central mystery on ABC’s hit show involves a mysterious set of unlucky numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42). Lost character, Hurley, hit the lottery for $54 million when he played those numbers…  and a series of misfortunes have followed him every since; including getting stranded on a not-quite deserted island. Still over 800 people played those same numbers in the Powerball. Had they won, they would have received a fraction of the $110 million (after taxes) prize. And that would have had to have been split over $800 ways!

Want to see the movie version of Left Behind: World at War? Forget the multiplex and head to church. The movie starring Kirk Cameron and Lou Gossett, Jr. is playing exclusively in large churches around the country. The movie is being featured at 3,200 churches across the country and smaller churches are showing it on big screen TVs and taking orders for the DVD.

 

October 17, 2005

Spike Lee is planning a documentary on the Hurricane Katrina fiasco. After spending some time in the 9th Ward, the area hardest hit by the flooding, Lee described his project as being similar to the movie Chinatown. Lee says, "People could not believe, especially the residents of the Ninth Ward (in New Orleans), that there wasn't hanky-panky in the flooding. And what I thought about automatically was Chinatown, the great film by Roman Polanski. The whole subplot of the whole thing is about water in Southern California and how it was not delivered to the people who needed it." Lee plans to release his movie on the first anniversary of the hurricane.

Big changes are coming to James Bond. For the first time, Bond will be a blond with British actor Daniel Craig taking over in the coveted secret agent's role. But that's not the only change taking place. Bond staples Q (the gadget guy) and Moneypenny (his capable assistant) will be gone. Neither Q nor Moneypenny were featured prominently in Ian Fleming's original novel and first Bond book, Casino Royale, so they will not be featured in the movie version.

He's damn near 60 (59, to be exact) but Sylvester Stallone plans on making Rocky VI. The sixth installment will be called Rocky Balboa and shooting begins in Philly and Las Vegas next year. Stallone  plans to write, direct and star. This time around the aging boxer enters the ring one last time. The first Rocky was released in 1976. Sly has written ever movie in the Rocky franchise. Stallone will also pen the script for Rambo IV. The plan is to release it release some time next year.

 

October 14, 20005

Jamie Foxx has joined the cast of Dreamgirls. The Oscar-winning actor turned down a role in the film version of the hit Broadway musical because they couldn't afford them. But once Foxx found out that Eddie Murphy and Beyonce were on board he dramatically cut his rates. He said the opportunity to work with talent like that was "worth more than a paycheck"

 

October 11, 2005

The first Black Movie Awards airs on October 19th. The show will honor the best in black movies, with awards for acting, writing and directing. Additionally, Sidney Poitier will be awarded with the Distinguished Career Achievement award. On the other end of the spectrum, actress Kimberley Elise will receive the Rising Star award. And the classic, The Color Purple will be the first movie inducted into the Classic Cinema Hall of Fame. Crash and Diary of a Mad Black Woman had the most nominations with six each. Hustle & Flow is nominated for four. The show, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, will air  on TNT.

 

As Maury Povich might say on his show, “Wesley, you are NOT the father!” Lanise Pettis, 33, accused Wesley Snipes of fathering her 3-year-old son. Pettis claimed that she and Snipes had relations in a Chicago crack house several years ago. Not only did Snipes vehemently deny the allegation, he denied ever meeting the woman and refused to submit to a DNA test. It appears that Pettis has a history of making crazy claims against celebrities - including Oprah Winfey, Prince and even President Clinton. After two years of courtroom wrangling, another man (who has not been named publicly) finally stepped forward. Tests proved that this mystery man is indeed the boy's father. An exonerated Snipes told reporters outside of the court, “The good Lord says, 'Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor. These are the tenets I live by." Well, the good Lord also talked about forgiveness but apparently that isn't one of the tenets Snipes lives by. He plans to press forward with his civil suit against Pettis (for defamation and slander). There is a hearing in that case scheduled for late next month.

 

Supporting African villages, buying cars for struggling women, making kids dreams come true with her Angel Network and now Oprah can add getting child molesters off of the street to her growing list of good deeds. As part of a show last week on sex offenders, Oprah showed a picture of wanted offender William C. Davis and offered $100,000 for information leading to his arrest. A Minnesota woman recognized him and called in. Davis is wanted in Indiana. He’s accused of molesting three boys failing to register as a sex offender. Oprah plans to profile more wanted child molesters on her website and to offer similar rewards.

 

Mo’Nique star of The Parkers is the mother of brand new twin baby boys. The boys, Jonathan and David, were born last Monday. Mother and sons are doing well. Their father is her fiancé Sidney Hicks. Mo’Nique is also featured in the upcoming film Domino.

 

 

October 7, 2005

Fans of Everybody Hates Chris should love the fact that the hit show has been picked up for the entire season. In fact, Chris is the most-watched show in UPN history.

 Wyclef Jean is a busy man. In fact, he’s so busy he’s been hospitalized for exhaustion and dehydration (after being admitted to the hospital Tuesday with food poisoning). He’s been working hard on The Fugees reunion, his solo CD and now he’s getting his own series! The rapper/actor is set to write, star, produce and add original music to the HBO sitcom loosely based on his life. (Hey HBO, call me, I could do a sitcom loosely based on my life. It would be called ‘Can a Sista Get a Date?’) 

Eddie Murphy doesn’t seem too fond of soon-to-be-ex-wife Nicole’s new beau Alan Daniels. In fact, he wants the court to stipulate that their three children be kept away from the businessman at all times. The papers state “Nicole Murphy shall be restrained and enjoined from having the children in the physical presence of Alan F. Daniels.” Expect the gloves to come off as the couple, married for over ten years duke it out over their New York and LA homes as well as Murphy’s movie millions. 

Kenneth ‘BabyFace’ Edmonds and his producer wife Tracey Edmonds have announced their plans to divorce. Claiming they’ve been ‘unofficially separated’ for some time now, they’ve decided to make the split official. The couple has two children, Brandon and Dylan Michael. They say they will continue to work together. The pair founded Edmonds Entertainment and produced the movies Soul Food and Light It Up. They also produced the BET reality show College Hill.

Hard rocking American Idol reject, Constantine Maroulis is preparing his return to television. But, this time around he’ll be featured in a sitcom. Maroulis and Kesley Grammer’s production company, Grammnet Productions have signed a development deal with ABC. According to the deal, the pouty rocker could either have a show built around him or be featured in an existing ABC show.

 It turns out Julia Roberts didn’t just play a Pretty Woman; she played a pretty smart woman too. A group of Australian researchers say that Pretty Woman was the only movie released in the past 20 years that suggested condom use. The study from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney chided movie makers for failing to show the consequences of unprotected sex as well as illegal drug use.

 

October 3, 2005

 A screenplay written by slain rapper Tupac Shakur is finally making its way to the big screen. The rapper/actor who co-starred in Juice, Poetic Justice and Gridlock’d wrote Live 2 Tell and had planned to star in it as well. Live 2 Tell is the story of a poor black kid who becomes a big time drug lord and eventually manages to go legit. His mother Afeni Shakur sold the script to Insomnia Media Group and will serve as a producer on the film. No word on casting.

It was a lackluster weekend at the box office. None of this week’s new releases managed to take the number one spot from Jodie Foster’s thriller Flight Plan. Serenity, the feature film follow-up to Josh Whedon’s cancelled FOX series Firefly, did manage to debut in second place with an estimated $10 million. The Corpse Bride kept its death-like grip on third place. The critically acclaimed David Cronenberg film, A History of Violence went into wide release this weekend and, at $8.2 million, managed to capture fourth place. Barely making the top five was Into the Blue which made a paltry $7 million. The week’s last new release, Disney’s golf movie, The Greatest Game Ever Played came in in ninth place with a meager 3.75 million.

Currently playing in New York City (exclusively at the Film Forum) is The Untold Story of Emmitt Till. This documentary by Keith Beauchamp has been nine years in the making. While many of us are familiar with the story (as well as the brutal images) of 14-year-old Till (who was killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman), Beauchamp delves deep into the story. In fact, he’s delves so deep that the U.S. Justice Department decided to reopen the case - largely as a result of this film and Beauchamp’s research. Despite a mountain of evidence two men were acquitted for the crime (they later confessed within the pages of Look magazine). What is astounding is that Beaucamp has found additional accomplices who can still be prosecuted under the law. When this movie is released, I’ll be one of the first in line to see it.

Nicholas Cage and his wife Alice Kim, who married in July of 2004, have a new addition to their family. His name is Kal-el Coppola Cage. This is Alice’s first child (and first marriage), while Cage has a child from a previous relationship (and this is his third marriage, Lisa Marie Presley and Patricia Arquette are his former wives).

Finally, comedian Nipsey Russell has died of cancer. The actor, who was in his 80's, was a fixture on television in the 60's and 70's, first on Car 54 Where Are You? and then as a frequent guest on talk shows and game shows. The role he is best remembered for however, is the Tin Man in The Wiz.


 

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