Tag Archive: aaron rahsaan thomas


The press screening last night was a surreal experience for yours truly.  I’m so used to supporting my friends and their projects, it’s really different when you’re one of the centers of attention.

We seem to have pleased our core demographic.  Next Tuesday we’ll see how the world overall sees it.

Until then, here’s an early review:



In case you missed it, Aaron gave probably the most in-depth interview he’s ever given publicly to the Daily Trojan.

Check it out!



ESPN released the Official Trailer for ‘Trojan War’ today.

It’s been the standard on this particular project, but as much as this strokes my own ego and vanity, I can watch this a thousand times just to see the name of one of my aces on the screen.


Sep 22, 2007: Los Angeles, California, USA: Southern California Trojans mascot Tommy Trojan performs before the start of the game against the Washington State Cougars at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Jeff Lewis-US PRESSWIRE Copyright (c) 2007 Jeff Lewis

The local paper noticed us!  ‘The Association’ doesn’t start until a couple of weeks after, so that night at least, all eyes on us.

Thanks LA Times.  Less than a month away gang…


2011-09-10 16.28.20

I hope ALL of you are here for this!

So the promotion is in full swing now.  ‘Trojan War’ the doc directed by my ace Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (with a lovely Associate Producer credit given to yours truly) debuts on ESPN, Tuesday October 13th, 9/8 CST.

We have plenty of time over the next few weeks to reveal some of the other goodies that aren’t public knowledge yet, and to cover the (really kind of absurd) number of ‘legacy’ checkboxes Aaron and I are able to check off because of this one project.

As always though, above everything we hope you’ll be entertained and enjoy the ride.

Get ready!




And finally, the nominees for Best Picture:
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
Wolf of Wall Street
Who Should Win
MALIK: Hooooo boy.  The Best Picture this year…the best all around film this year… I think it’s a two horse race at this point, but, yeah, 12 Years a Slave.
ART: Fruitvale Station! Had to at least mention it… Why it didn’t garner a nomination to make the allowed ten slots, I don’t know. It’s like voters actively discarded it (or, more likely, forgot about it). 12 Years, for sure. This where I separate the film from the directing effort. I liked Gravity, but as an overall film, 12 Years was more poignant.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Ahhhhh man, this isn’t fun any more.  Pffffffffffffff….Ummm…..yeah, 12 Years a Slave.  I think that’s where the momentum is.
ART: I could see a darkhorse challenging. Dallas Buyer’s Club, Gravity or American Hustle. But, I think 12 Years has momentum. I think it wins.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Here was my dad’s review when he saw it: ‘It’s hard to believe it was really that bad, but it really was, wasn’t it?’  And no, he wasn’t talking about Wolf of Wall Street…
ART: 12 Years. I think I lose my “black card” (no, not the credit card) if I don’t say this. Just for fun, second for me would actually be Captain Phillips. A well made, surprising film.
So that concludes the Oscar preview.  Thanks again to Aaron for taking the time to offer his take on this year’s race.  Awards season ends Sunday, but I have a couple more movies I want to talk about, so be ready for that next week.
Have a good weekend and enjoy the show!



Here are the nominees for Lead Actress:
Amy Adams
Cate Blanchett
Sandra Bullock
Judi Dench
Meryl Streep
Who Should Win
MALIK: It’s the freshest performance in my mind, but I think the most filled out performance was Judi Dench in Philomena.  Don’t think she’ll win though.
ART: I agree. Judi Dench is pretty great. But, Cate Blacnhett is fierce. Been a fan for years. Just one of those actresses where anything she does, you gotta take notice.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Probably Cate Blanchett, though I will always argue it’s way too much Blanche Dubois for my personal taste.
ART: You may be right, but she does a great Blanche. Sandra Bullock did an underrated turn in Gravity and I wish she received more recognition, but Cate will take this category.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK:  I’d like to see Dame Judi honestly.  Not saying I hope she retires, but it would be a nice capper to an impressive career.
ART: Whoever Malik wants to win, who is… kidding. I’m a fan of each actress in this category. But, Cate had the showiest role, with the least controversy. Certainly, Amy Adams is on the fast track to being a frontrunner, but the film, Blue Jasmine completely lives or dies based on Cate’s performances and it would not have the attention it has without her effort. She should take this.
And here are the nominees for Lead Actor:
Christian Bale
Bruce Dern
Leonardo DiCaprio
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Matthew McConaughey
Who Should Win
MALIK: McConaughey is on an absolute tear right now, but he’s earned it.
ART: I agree. He may pull a Bo Jackson in acting and win in an Oscar for his movie work and an Emmy for his TV work, because his acting in Showtime’s True Detective has been just as stellar. I’m not sure what happened, but it’s like somebody sat him down and was like, “Yo, people mostly know you for the mellow California accent and taking your shirt off, what you gonna do about that?” He’s on a roll.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Alright alright alright…
ART: Christian Bale already has an Oscar and Leo is Leo. Bruce Dern may be the sentimental favorite and dark horse and Chiwetel will be lauded for simply getting a nomination. Matthew McConaughey, the guy wasn’t taken seriously even three years ago, will take this. Oscar loves a great comeback story.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Even though I’ll probably lose every dramatic role I want for the rest of my life to him and David Oyelowo, it’d be nice if Chewie won.
ART: I really, really want to say Chiwetel, for obvious reasons. May still say it… His turn was the only one that nearly moved me to tears, especially within the last ten minutes of the film. But, Matthew McConaughey really went all out with his portrayal. That dude earned it this year.
Last post of the week will break down one of the most unpredictable Best Picture races in a few years…


Jennifer Lawrence

Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor:
Barkhad Abdi
Bradley Cooper
Michael Fassbender
Jonah Hill
Jared Leto
Who Should Win
MALIK: Another category that could go a few different ways and not really be ‘wrong’.  I love what Fassie did in 12 Years, but I was really affected by what Leto did in ‘Dallas’. He’s the frontrunner for a reason.
ART: Jonah Hill. Really? Yes. Really….? No. I really liked what Barkhad Abdi did in Captain Phillips. He was great. But, a win ain’t happening. He gets the “it’s great to be here” award. Fassbender was sadistic and electric. But, Leto took his performance to the next level. His may be the only guaranteed win I can see.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Abdi has been making a little more noise, but I still think this is Leto’s to lose.
ART: Leto. No doubt. He hit on all cylinders.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Got to go with Leto.  The extended layoff in between movie roles is just icing on the cake of ‘if you’re one of the guys comfortable enough to take chances, you should be working more.’
ART: Leto. Just a great example of inhabiting a character.
Here’s the nominees for Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins
Jennifer Lawrence
Lupita Nyong’o
Julia Roberts
Jane Squibb
Who Should Win
MALIK: Lupita was the Best Supporting Actress this year. The End.
ART: No doubt. I like Jennifer Lawrence. I respect Jennifer Lawrence. I think she’s great and I get why Hollywood is in love with her at the moment. But, this race isn’t close. Lupita blew everyone away with her performance in 12 Years and also is doubling right now as the person most likely to get away with murder if the jury is made up of African American women.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Look, I love Jennifer Lawrence.  She’s beautiful, she’s talented, she still has that ‘realness’ and a spark to her that we all respond to. But THIS year, for the 20 or so minutes of screen time she had in American Hustle, that’s not the Best Supporting Actress role this year. It just isn’t.  But we shall see…
ART: We’re saying the same thing. I agree. Except, I’ll add this… Nothing against J.Law personally, but her role in American Hustle – I’m not even sure it served an essential purpose in the story. It feels and smells like Oscar bait. She was excellent in Winter’s Bone. Here, she was just a crazy lady in 70s clothes. Nope.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Lupita, of course.  She’s undeniable; I know I’m far from the only person writing parts with her in mind now,  just because we want to see her keep showing up on our movie screens.
ART: Lupita. My only question? Is Hollywood ready to actually use her talents in prominent roles after this awards season? I don’t want to sound cynical, but I am really curious to see.
Tomorrow, we look at Lead Actor and Actress…



So what happens when the Wyandotte Siskel & Ebert get together for their annual breakdown of the Academy Awards?  Only one way to find out…

MALIK: Y’all know what time it is, it’s the 2014 Art Fradieu Oscar Preview!  5 posts leading to Sunday night, we’ll cover Writing, Directing, Supporting and Lead Acting and Best Picture.
Now if you’re here, you know me: KCK native, repping the SAG-AFTRA crew, but blue collar down to my roots. Might walk in the room in a suit, might rock a hoodie and a wave cap, ya feel me?
My guest this week also started in Wyandotte, but he knew early on he was ‘too good’ for where he came from.  Literally.  Proudly crossed the tracks to go to Pembroke Hill, proud Morehouse Man.  His all time favorite song is Billy Joel’s ‘It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me’.
But professionally, you have to give him his respect: 2 time NAACP Image Award nominee, for writing on ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘Southland’ respectively.  Helped get the popular cult hit ‘Sleepy Hollow’ off the ground; putting the finishing touches on directing an ESPN 30 for 30 doc I (and many others in our circle) are very hyped about.  Ladies and gentlemen, my old friend, Aaron ‘The Servant’ Thomas!
ART: Thanks for that intro, Malik “Koko B. Ware” Aziz…. But, let’s get one thing straight – I’ve been nominated for 3 Image Awards, not 2, and the only thing I be serving is real talk, knaw mean? Looking forward to this year’s Oscars, especially because 2013 was heavily hyped as the year of the critically acclaimed African American themed film. Between Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and 12 Years A Slave, there were certainly more conversations about the black experience in America and its representation on film than ever before. Now, as we both know, you tend to prefer a Julia Roberts starring vehicle over, say, a Lupita Nyong’o type of actress, but that’s the beauty of this year’s Oscar season – you have both to consider! So, without further ado, lights, camera, action…
Here are the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay:
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
12 Years a Slave
Wolf of Wall Street
Who Should Win
MALIK: For me this is either Philomena or 12 Years.  You look at that list and see we had some great adaptations of real life stories this year.  I define both screenplay categories as ‘that movie you just watched was 90 percent on the page’, so by that standard I’d go with 12 Years.
ART: All of the entries this year are well deserving, naturally. And, each has its own merits.
Before Midnight, written by actress Julie Delpy, director Richard Linklater and actor Ethan Hawkes, is a great third entry in a trilogy spanning decades. It certainly has a strong cult following. But, I’m still confused as to why it’s considered an “adapted” screenplay. Adapted from what source material, exactly? Sure, the characters were established previously, but the story itself was not. Am I missing something? That’s my writer’s soapbox for the day.
Captain Phillips, written by Billy Ray, adapted from the book by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty, was really well done and admired mostly because it did what films like Black Hawk Down did not – bypass the temptation to portray a bunch of dark, African aggressors as only that. This film went deeper, by displaying their humanity as much, if not more, than the likeable American main character. Solid story telling.
Philomena, written by actor Steven Coogan and Jeff Pope, adapted from a book written by Martin Sixsmith, was emotionally gripping, but my concern is that it may be perceived more as a display of acting for Dame Judi Dench (no offense, Malik) than writing.
The Wolf of Wall Street was fun, but has received backlash for a script that seems to praise a morally questionable main character in Jordan Belfort. Despite Leo and Scorsese’s claims that the story is meant to criticize Belfort’s excesses, it seems to fall on deaf ears when you consider the comic tone and cool music used to make Belfort’s journey seem so fun.
Flat out, this category should go to 12 Years. Based on a short slave narrative, the emotion in 12 Years is sincere and the story, triumphant. Hollywood has often criticized the mere thought of slave movies as too depressing. That may be one of the reasons so few mainstream industry films have taken on this subject matter throughout the century (that, and telling such a story would require entirely too many black people to be involved). This story managed to blow that excuse out of the water, by finding a story that gives an audience a happy ending that hasn’t (totally) scared Hollywood, while also not downplaying the horrors of the history behind that story.
Who Will Win
MALIK: This isn’t considered a glamour category (no offense Aaron and all my writing friends), but I could see 4 out of the 5 nominees taking this one.  I’ll again go with 12 Years.
ART: 12 Years. A win like this makes everyone involved feel good.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: 12 Years just to hear Ridley get on stage and speak.
ART: Ditto that. Selfishly, I also want him to win because it’s always great to see diversity recognized behind the camera. Everyone gets caught up when Denzel Washington or Halle Berry wins an Oscar. But, actors are stars and performers (no offense) and have always been recognized (Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel) with no real change in the industry following said wins. I don’t feel like any real progress is made until we see more writers, editors, directors and producers gain entry and recognition. They make up the engine of the movie business.
Here are the nominees for Best Original Screenplay:
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Who Should Win
MALIK: Man.  There are some screenplays I really, really like in here.  But..it’s gotta be Her right?
ART: Another tough category. You may be right, though…
American Hustle. Lost in the shuffle of buzz surrounding American Hustle and David O. Russell is the fact that the screenplay is credited as co-written by Eric Warren Singer. Some of this is because Russell has the reputation for using a ton of improvisation in his films. This element both helps and hurts the perception of the screenplay. It hurts, because some may see the screenplay as simply a blueprint for each scene and not necessarily the guiding point. On the other hand, it helps… Well, it helps the improvising actors look smart and brilliant. In this case, a nomination may be the award for this script.
Blue Jasmine. Written by Woody “they won’t leave my skeletons alone” Allen. A great role written for a great actress. Which, again, can help or hurt. My sense is that Kate Blanchett’s performance may outshine the screenplay, as solid as it is. One might argue that this screenplay and Before Midnight should switch places, as much as Blue Jasmine was “inspired” by A Streetcar Named Desire.
Dallas Buyers Club. Written by Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack. Amazing story. And, learning the background on how the story came to the big screen, an amazing achievement as well. Great performances and a world that much of the public was not privy to prior to seeing this film. A darkhorse candidate.
Nebraska. Written by Bob Nelson. The little engine that could. Great story. Solid film. But, I also ask if it passes the test. Which test? The test of, whether or not it’s a film I’ll be thinking about a year from now. Not sure about that with Nebraska. But, I am sure about it, with…
Her. Written by Spike Jonze. Yes, the premise is wacky. Dude’s in love with his cell phone. Yes, it seems like an idea someone thought about during a long layover at the airport. Yes, it may well be the future for some people. But, it was the freshest and most unlikely story to resonate – and it managed to do just that.
Who Will Win
MALIK: I think Spike Jonze is pretty respected in most parts of town so I’ll go with him, but I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if American Hustle picks this one up.
ART: Spike Jonze and Her. But, don’t write it in stone. I could easily see conservative Academy voters sitting down to vote and muttering to themselves, “Wait a second, this clown is in love with his phone?! Can’t do it.”
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Yeah, I want Her to win.  Loved the twist on the romantic genre.
ART: Her. Crazy, geeky fun.
Tomorrow, we break down the Best Director nominees…



Kind of out of sorts; lost someone else who looked out for me when I was younger.  I’ll talk about that more later in the week.

For now though, things fell kind of nicely this week as far as the timing of when certain things show up on television (and no I’m not referring to WrestleMania and the return of Mad Men…)

First on the agenda, my old roommate Aaron Rahsaan Thomas wrote tonight’s episode of SouthLAnd, which features a cameo appearance by future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.  I asked Aaron a few questions to help promote tonight’s episode.  Enjoy:

Malik: First, talk about what SouthLAnd is about for someone who’s never seen it.
Aaron: SouthLAnd is about the every day experiences of Los Angeles Police officers on the streets of L.A. Specifically, patrol cops (the uniformed street cops you see every day) and detectives, which makes SouthLAnd very different from other cops shows. It captures the experiences of police officers from a personal point of view and looks at how the job effects their lives and vis versa.
Malik: So what’s your episode about?
Aaron: In addition to several storylines we’ve set up throughout the season, the episode deals with a phenomenon called the Felix Paradox, based on a real guy, Felix Mitchell, who was a dope dealer from back in the day in Oakland. When Felix was killed, some people assumed that the crime rate in the city would decrease, but it actually went up because the little fish were fighting each other to fill Felix’s spot. Considering this paradox, the entire episode builds on this theme. When you think things might get better, sometimes, they get worse. All of our officers are faced with such dilemmas in the episode, and all are faced with the idea that the worst threat in the world, sometimes comes from within.
Malik: Shaq is your guest star, how was it working with him?
Aaron: I dunked on him. A few times. Like, what?! No, Shaq was cool. Very much the guy you see on TNT and in the commercials. Cool guy. And, very professional. And, funny. Everything we could have asked.
Malik: You’re an co-executive producer, explain to everyone outside the Business what that means.  I imagine you on the set all day saying ‘Would you like more coffee Mister Shaq?  Your shoulders look tense, can I give you a massage?’
Aaron: Funny… In television, different titles are given mainly to signify level of experience and pay grade. Being a co-EP simply means you have a little more leverage in how the season is produced as a whole. Certainly, everyone involved feels ownership over what we produce and how it is produced. We’re all proud of what we’ve done this season, season 5.
Malik: Finally, a non Hollywood question: what do you think of the Chiefs offseason so far? Any draft predictions?
Aaron: The Chiefs are being active, which is great. New coach, new QB. In the draft, if we don’t go after a defensive lineman, or offensive lineman, it might be nice to trade for additional picks and build our team as a whole. We need more than just one superstar player (if the number one pick produces that to begin with). Leon Sandcastle would be nice. I heard he ran a 4.2 40!

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