Tag Archive: aaron rahsaan thomas


 

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

And finally, the nominees for Best Picture:
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
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!

 

12-years-a-slave

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…

 

beforemidnight

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
Philomena
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
Her
Nebraska
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…

 

Gerald-McRaney-Michael-Cudlitz-Southland

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!

The Malik Aziz Foundation held its annual Black History Month dinner on Wednesday in an undisclosed location in Beverly Hills.  This year’s Guest of Honor was Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, who participated in an interview, followed by a Q&A with our benefactors, trustees,  and their guests.

The following is a transcript from the untelevised interview session.

(Our Host Malik Aziz enters the room during the fourth course of the five course meal.  On this particular evening, he’s wearing a midnight blue tuxedo from the Tom Ford Collection.)

MALIK: Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and thank you all for coming this evening.  In the play, Richelieu, Or the Conspiracy, you will find in the Second Act, the Second Scene, the following monologue:

True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —

States can be saved without it!

Our guest of honor tonight is a young Afro-American gentlemen, who is living proof, the pen truly is mightier than the sword.  His work has been respected by his fellow writers, as evidenced by his nomination for a Writers Guild award; and also by the coloreds, as evidenced by his NAACP image award nomination.

The Malik Aziz Foundation is proud to welcome to the stage our guest of honor this year, Aaron Rahsaan Thomas!

(Applause as Aaron takes the stage… He gives Malik a look as he sits down.)

MALIK: For those unfamiliar with your past, let’s start with where you’re from, and what inspired you to become a writer.

ART:  Wait, wait, wait, hold up, brotha….  Did you just use the word, “coloreds”? And, whatsup with the English accent  and the blue velvet suit? What kind of place is this? I thought Popeye’s chicken catered this dinner.

(Malik, shakes his head with discernment.)

ART: Anyway, to answer your question, what inspired me to become a writer was my faith in God, my parents’ encouragement to pursue my dreams and the amount of enjoyment I get from writing. Knaw mean?

MALIK: Yes, I know exactly what you mean.  Now, your first Hollywood experience came working on the television version of the popular urban story, Soul Food.  What was that like, and do you feel like that experience shaped you either positively or negatively in what your idea of what ‘Hollywood’ is?

ART: My experience on Soul Food was all good. Everything I learned on that show, from how a writers’ room operates, to how you carry yourself as a professional in this industry, was invaluable. Combine that with the fact that I was able to see people who looked like me working together in a business where such “urban” situations are extremely rare and mocked by people like you and I can’t begin to estimate the positive impact it had on me at an early stage of my Hollywood experience. Knaw mean, brotha?

MALIK: Yes, I understand what you mean, but don’t call me brother.  Now everyone has different feelings about the ‘film school’ experience.  As a part time teacher, I would gather your feelings are better than others.  But with the benefit of retrospect would you consider it a good decision?

ART: I consider it a great decision. As an adjunct professor at USC, I’m exposed to some of the most  talented and ambitious storytellers in the world. It’s a rush to be around them and it keeps me on my toes to make sure that I’m able to give them something they can hopefully use going forward. Reminds me of a cat I went to film school with who used to be down for the cause. His name was Mali—

MALIK: Moving on!  Friday Night Lights.  You were there from the beginning.  Smash Williams is the cocky, smart mouthed black member of the team in the predominantly white high school.  In one of the trademark episodes of the first season (and truly the whole series), Smash goes through something of an identity crisis when he feels singled out, and underappreciated by his coaches and superiors.  Did you draw from any personal experience when writing the episode ‘Full Hearts’?

ART: Good question. I think all writers try to draw from personal experience. Certainly, in the case of FNL, we tackled topics such as race and class, which were prevalent in the book and movie that proceeded the TV series. These topics are always interesting to discuss and write about. Certainly, I had experiences to pull from to help inform my writing on Full Hearts, which dealt with Smash going home to confront a past he had left behind, including some humble beginnings. Speaking of humble beginnings, my brotha, don’t you know a little something about that?

MALIK: I’m sorry but these beginnings you elude to escapes me (Malik straightens his conk).  Tonight is about you so let’s get back on topic. Your first credit as a feature film writer was the film Cover.  For those unfamiliar with the story, it focuses on a woman whose life is thrown into chaos when she discovers her attractive, upwardly climbing African-American husband is in fact, a closet homosexual.  Did you draw from any personal experience when writing the film Cover?

ART: Lol….  Okay, I see what this is. The answer? No. That story was built off interviews and based on true stories that happened to real people.

MALIK: Next we come to Numb3rs. Your episode ‘Sneakerhead’ revolves around two characters who have a fetish for high priced tennis shoes.  In light of the repeated violence that has taken place as sneaker companies try to release ‘limited edition’ versions of popular tennis shoes, do you feel that this subculture has gotten any of hand?

ART: Yes and no. The shoe companies know exactly what they’re doing. Like Chuck D once said, “I like Nikes, but wait a minute…” The shoe companies profit off the high demand for (really dope) shoes. But, even if the sneakers did not exist, the problem with customers would probably still be there. The demand would simply be for something else. And, because supply and demand aren’t going anywhere, I think the issue starts at home. It has to be ingrained that just because you don’t have a pair of sneakers, your stature isn’t any less. You don’t need them bad enough to trample, fight, or maybe even kill somebody. Full disclosure, I’m a sneakerhead, and what I’ve found is even if you don’t get the pair you want on release day, do a little research and due diligence and things have a way of working out.

MALIK: Assassination Games.  If I would have told 13 year old Aaron Rahsaan Thomas that someday he’d write a movie starring the Muscles from Brussels, Jean Claude Van Damme, how would he have reacted?

ART: He would have smiled, been very happy, but not necessarily surprised. 13 year old Aaron had some big dreams. Now, if you told him he’d be interviewed by a brotha from KCK who adopted Michael Caine’s accent while wearing a suit from the Love Boat, he might have been curious…

MALIK: You are as precious to me as you were to your own mother and father; I swore to them that I would protect you.  And I haven’t!  But moving on, now we come to ‘CSI:NY’.  You’ve had a wonderful collection of guest stars over the years, from Edward James Olmos to Ne-Yo.  Do you have a personal favorite? Is there anyone you’d like to write an episode for that you haven’t had the opportunity to do so with yet?

ART: It’s all a blessing. Working with talented people who I respect is a joy. And, every episode is a new and different chapter. As for people I haven’t worked with? Anyone who has a good story to tell and believes in telling it well, I’m open to collaborating with. Dropping that knowledge on a sucka, knaw mean?

MALIK: Now let’s talk about this week’s episode.  What can you tell us about it?

ART: It involves the world of The Go Game, adult role playing and takes a few twists that you may not see coming. There is one murder victim and someone else who gets kidnapped. Basically, it is truly an episode of television that will change your life. Or, maybe entertain you for an hour. One or the other.

MALIK: Thank you for joining us again, ladies and gentlemen, one more time for Aaron Rahsaan Thomas!

Aaron’s latest episode airs tonight on CBS. Check local listings.

 

 

B-man,

What up?  So kudos to you first for taking on the job on such short notice.  You’ve got the pedigree the Academy likes, and at this point, I don’t think anyone has any expectations for next year’s show.

So having said that, I think this year is the perfect opportunity to do something drastic. And by being drastic, I mean give the hosting duties to me.  I’ve thought this through and I will give you my reasons why I’m the perfect host this year…

1. I like damn good in a tux.

I mean seriously, look at me!

2. I’ve been doing Oscar preview/live blogs for the past five years.

Going back to our film school days (maybe earlier), my partner in crime and I have used the interwebs to offer predictions and last year running commentary on the show, so it’s not like I won’t be watching anyway.

http://malikaziz.com/2011/02/27/2011-artfradieu-oscar-live-commentary/

3. I’m cool with ‘this’ Establishment.

My generation of young actors, writers, directors, producers, etc. are coming up so you’d get to keep that ‘we’re still hip’ vibe that Eddie and Brett were giving you.

4. I keep my private affairs to myself.

So no talk from me about my gigantic balls or what 70s group my genitalia are named after.  But having said that…

5. I’m down for a little bad publicity.

But only on a short term basis, and only if we’re clear the endgame is to drive more eyeballs to the show. I’m single, Kim Kardashian is single; I’m just saying…

6. I’m a genuine film geek.

I have the respect for ‘Old Hollywood’ that I think is mandatory for the job.  And in my particular case I know the history of those who came before me, from Sammy to Whoopi to Chris, and the historical part of that turns me on. And it’s going to be a little weird if Viola Davis is the only black person in the Kodak Theatre.

7. I’ve been vocal about my support for gay marriage.

So you’d be getting someone who’s gone in the complete opposite direction from the little fiasco that got the last guy fired.

8. I’m an award winning producer/director/actor who has hosting experience.

And my writing team works cheap to boot!  Here’s a joke I was just handed:  “So this Herman Cain fella? This week one of his accusers says that he grabbed the back of her neck and said ‘You want the job right?’ during her sexual assault.  When asked for comment, former President Clinton said, ‘I like a blow job as much as the next man, but if that’s your modus operandi, you are NOT qualified to be the President of the United States!”

(Hm, you’re right. That’s more of a Golden Globes joke, than an Oscars joke isn’t it?  I’ll fire that writer.  Let’s table that one for now…)

9. It’d be a Full Circle/Small Town Moment

One of the first gigs I ever had in this town was working for Imagine Entertainment as a researcher for your Hugh Hefner project.  You paid me to go to the Playboy Mansion everyday, so really, as a man, I’m already in your debt.  There’s a lot of jokes there, but I’m saving them for the monologue.  And finally…

10. I’d Genuinely Be Happy to Have the Gig

And that should mean something right?

Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Malik Aziz share an unique, common background.  Both young men are natives of Kansas City, Kansas, graduates of the University of Kansas and went to grad school at the University of Southern California.  They both grew up in the ‘golden age of hip hop’ and share a passion for films.

For the past several years, they’ve also posted predictions about the Academy Awards.  Technology has evolved where last year for the first time they were able to post their unique commentary during the show.

This is Round 2…

Thomas: tee minus three minutes sucka!

Malik: It’s time for this year’s Oscars.  For those wondering, I’m wearing a tux from Oscar de la Renta…

Thomas: And I’m wearing a hoodie from champs sports…

Thomas: So, I’d say this was a hit and miss opening sequence. Anne Hathaway and James Franco seem game. The Black Swan bit was a little painful, though.

Malik: yeah hit and miss was right..

Thomas: Funny joke from Hathaway about appealing to a younger demo.

Thomas: That’s exactly what ABC is going for by having them host instead of a baby boomer.

Malik: yeah we’ll see how the ratings do tomorrow

Thomas: Hey, is that Lou Gosset Jr. sitting in front of James Franco’s grandma?

Malik: yeah LOL

Thomas: “There’s only two things that come out of the Oscars. That steers and queers and I don’t see no horns on James Franco.”

Thomas: Officer and A Gentleman, thanks very much.

Malik: idiot, LOL

Malik: this feels slow but I’m digging the set design

Thomas: Hey, Lou Gossett won an oscar when black people were only winning once every ten years.

Thomas: Set design is cool, but the pace is very slow so far.

Thomas: What constitutes set design and/or computer generated backgrounds?

Malik: All I know is I’m 1 for 1 in my Oscar pool brotha…

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland looked great and had great sets, but I’d be curious to know how much of the sets were created by actual set designers and not special effects guys.

Malik: good question, but it’s the direction we’re going in I’m afraid

Thomas: That category os blurring fast.

Malik: an Oscar for Nolan’s cinematographer, nice!!!!

Thomas: Well deserved win, here. Wally Pfister shot a beautiful film with Inception.

Malik: ‘his master?’

Thomas: Mark that on the list of things a brotha will never say.

Malik: i got $100 if you win an Oscar and refer to ANYONE as your master…

Thomas: If I heard any black man say that, I might bumrush the stage even if I don’t know him.

Malik: LMBAO!!!!

Thomas: Much respect to Kirk Douglas.

Malik: yeah I don’t want to make a joke here.

Thomas: But, in fairness, the demo just switched the channel for a few minutes….

Malik: too bad, this is a major category

Thomas: Who wins here?

Malik: i picked Leo

Thomas: Good performances all around.

Malik: yeah this is a strong category

Thomas: This lady in Animal Kingdom freaks me out for some reason.

Thomas: Leo angered some people for lobbying for herself this oscar campaign.

Malik: yeah I’m offended, people get paid to do that…

Thomas: She took out a few ads in magazines asking people to consider her.

Thomas: But, if she really wants to win, she wants to win.

Thomas: Who’s the guy with the job of holding Kirk Douglas’ cane?

Malik: yeah I appreciate the honesty

Malik: this has to be the most agonizing moment in these five women’s lives…

Thomas: Yes…

Thomas: Not just for them.

Thomas: Leo’s life just changed.

Thomas: Leo fought for this award. She got it.

Malik: now you got me going, can’t you see some kid saying ‘Man Michael Douglas aged pretty bad didn’t he?”

Thomas: That’s the thing. There might be kids who don’t know who Michael Douglas is, either.

Malik: OHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Thomas: Leo’s a ham on stage, but we already knew she was.

Thomas: Good job in The Fighter. But, don’t be taking Kirk Douglas’ cane!

Thomas: Anne Hatahway is kind of funny. “The Young and Hip Oscars” lol

Malik: yeah good comeback

Thomas: Did you check out this short animated film?

Malik: i heard about it but no

Thomas: Looks interesting. But, I always wonder who generally gets a chance to watch these, other than festivals and voters.

Thomas: Maybe that’s it.

Malik: yeah i researched this, you have to be in a certain part of the Academy to vote on certain awards

Thomas: Toy Story 3. Nice.

Malik: probably the best overall movie this year if we’re being honest

Thomas: For anyone who loved their toys, this film was a tear jerker.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Nice way to round out the Toy Story trilogy.

Malik: yeah we grew up with that trilogy in a way

Malik: hey it’s your category brotha!

Thomas: The white tux twins?

Malik: yeah a little hard on the HDTV…

Thomas: The is Sorkin all the way

Thomas: The only question is what kind of speech will he give.

Malik: we’re about to find out…

Thomas: Even the other nominees were like, “I ain’t winning this…”

Thomas: Nice acknowledgment of the book the screenplay is based on and the author who wrote it.

Malik: yeah this is a good speech

Malik: Wrap It Up Son!

Thomas: He’s kind of a blowhard, but has a great memory of names. Overall, classy speech.

Malik: Whoa, that was my pick but I’m still surprised it won

Thomas: No surprise here.

Thomas: Seidler is in his 70s.

Thomas: Waited decades to write this story and did it well. As he said, he’s the oldest writer to win this thing.

Thomas: Seidler is also giving a classy and funny speech.

Malik: another good acceptance speech

Thomas: Writers representing with the speeches!

Thomas: Not bad singing Anne Hathaway.

Malik: (blank stare at Franco…)

Thomas: Text message from Charlie Sheen is funny.

Malik: OK Russell Brand, that was a good line…

Thomas: This is funny.

Thomas: And, I’m not even a Russell Brand fan.

Malik: me either, but I have to say the new Arthur is a good idea (on paper)

Malik: only OGs remember Dudley Moore at this point

Thomas: True, but it is a revered comedy. Hopefully they did it right.

Thomas: In HDTV, that gold envelope looks like a work of art itself.

Malik: yeah that’s pimp!

Thomas: Here comes your girl, Reece.

Malik: yeah…

Thomas: So, does Bale win and will Hathaway reference Batman?

Malik: yes and yes

Malik: as will I

Thomas: Will Bale give a crazy speech?

Malik: IN THE ALL BLACK SUIT!!!!

Thomas: Batman says “Bloody hell”?

Malik: yes so what?

Malik: learning your American accent is something we only do to make ourselves more accessible to you Yanks

Thomas: Just saying. Batman sounds kind of British up in this piece.

Thomas: At least Superman is still played by an American. Wait…

Malik: did he get a little emotional at the end?!?

Thomas: Either that, or he had a brain fart, forgot his wife’s name and played it off.

Thomas: I like to think it was emotion, though.

Malik: it better be, couldn’t pull that with no sista…

Thomas: She’d be staying daggers at him. “Negro please…”

Malik: LMBAO!!!

Malik: great intro for the sound/music categories

Thomas: Yup.

Thomas: One of my biggest loves – film scores.

Malik: i almost got up and started swinging my lightsaber around – no homo

Thomas: No comment.

Thomas: But, The King’s Speech score was well done. And used very well in the film.

Thomas: Social Network has a good one, too. Though it was a little monotonous.

Thomas: I would have picked Kings Speech, personally, but I get it.

Malik: yeah I thought Inception might have had a chance there as well

Malik: the sound was a big part of that film as well

Thomas: True.

Thomas: Scarlett Johanson. Hot?

Malik: Yeah I dig her, I’m always surprised when I hear some guys say they don’t get her appeal.

Malik: You one of them?

Thomas: She’s nice. But, there are times when she’s much better than others.

Thomas: Inception deserves this win. Great sound.

Malik: yeah tonight is not one of her better nights

Malik: and yeah there’s the Inception win

Thomas: black with bow tie.

Thomas: Don’t see that often.

Thomas: Man, they start the “get off the stage music for non actors RIGHT AWAY.

Malik: I blame Kirk Douglas still.  There I said it.

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Inception taking no prisoners with sound and effects…

Thomas: But Nolan got no love for directing.

Thomas: I heard the Academy might see him as a “comic book guy” even though The Dark Knight was well respected. Think they’ll award him for the next Batman or will it take a non comic/special effects film?

Malik: good question…

Malik: depends on how good the next Batman is, people have a short memory.

Thomas: Cate Blachett. Much respect for her skills.

Malik: yeah she’s like an even more mainstream version of Streep

Thomas: This is another category which blends the practical work with special effects.

Thomas: How much of the Wolfman look was practical and how much was computer generated?

Malik: don’t know but i have a side question for you…

Malik: what would you do if you won an Oscar and the music never stopped?

Malik: they play you on to the stage and just keep playing…

Thomas: Go up on stage and stare down the orchestra. Don’t say a word, just stare at them the entire time they play.

Malik: that would be the greatest moment ever!

Malik: God forbid I’d be in the crowd, the camera would catch me looking like I had no home training…

Thomas: Got the first black people on the show.

Thomas: Of course, they’re rapping.

Malik: (shaking my head…)

Thomas: How much could they pay you to sing the Beauty and The Beast song with an English accent?

Malik: Not enough. Next question…

Thomas: Randy Newman songs just make people feel good.

Malik: God bless Randy Newman, but Family Guy nailed him in one of their first seasons.

Thomas: lol. Just watched the Family Guy clip of Randy Newman!!!

Malik: Told You!!!

Thomas: How did Waiting For Superman not even get nominated for a documentary oscar, though?

Malik: Man, I don’t know

Malik: i’m not sleeping on the teacher’s union though…

Malik: our first awkward looking Oscar winner…

Thomas: This guy is a film student. Nuff said.

Thomas: But, he’s living the dream if that’s the case.

Malik: very true, I’m not hating…

Thomas: Figured Auto tune was coming.

Malik: i’m trying not to laugh…

Thomas: They could have picked a better film to do it with, though. Winter’s Bone. Some movie that’s the opposite of musical.

Malik: “He Doesn’t Own a Shirt”  – that’s a winner

Thomas: yeah, funny

Thomas: That’s what the demo wants!

Malik: i was going to say that’s her best look tonight I think

Thomas: yeah.

Thomas: Oprah sighting.

Malik: the Queen has arrived

Thomas: I wish I could watch more documentaries.

Malik: I thought Restrepo was good, haven’t seen the winner yet though

Thomas: The level of quality has really been amazing in this category.

Malik: I’m sure more fictional filmmakers are naturally gravitating towards docs these days

Thomas: Can always depend on the documentary people to make a political statement or two.

Thomas: Good.

Malik: Yep, now get off the stage!

Malik: Billy Crystal getting a well deserved ovation.

Thomas: Yes. Still the best Oscar host ever.

Thomas: For our generation at least.

Thomas: Bob Hope was known as pretty good himself.

Malik: yeah Hope is iconic

Thomas: That passover joke is iconic itself.

Malik: LOL

Thomas: I wonder who did “new Bob Hope’s” voice.

Malik: yeah that was awkward.

Thomas: Inception has to win this, right?

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland was really good for effects, but the turning room itself probably won this for Inception.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Social Network is cleaning up. Some in their camp have to feel like they have a shot at best picture. What do you think?

Malik: Ask me after the give out the Directing award in a few minutes…

Thomas: Jennifer Hudson. Hot?

Malik: Usually but I don’t like her look tonight

Thomas: Yeah, I agree. Doesn’t seem like her own look.

Thomas: But, she lost weight and that looks good for her.

Malik: oh i see brotha; you like those size 1 types…

Thomas: I ain’t saying that.

Thomas: Just think that she looks good either way.

Malik: i guess you’re digging Gwyneth Paltrow huh?

Thomas: lol. The skinny snow bunnies…?

Thomas: Gwyneth’s never been my type. To each his own.

Thomas: I do wonder if Jennifer Hudson looks at Gwyneth’s singing and is like, “Don’t even try it…”

Thomas: The Family Guy Randy Newman is still in my head. Lol…

Malik: it’s going to be there for awhile LOL

Malik: “she takes a bite”

Thomas: The real randy Newman is pretty funny, though.

Malik: yeah that dude is pure Cali

Thomas: Uh Oh. Celine’s singing your song.

Malik: no comment

Thomas: You’ve always been a fan of “Smile” and an even bigger fan of Celine.

Thomas: This is nice.

Malik: i heard this really was MJ’s favorite song though

Thomas: Yeah.

Thomas: Perfect song for this montage.

Malik: yeah

Thomas: Well done. They normally go to commercial after the montage. Not this year. Think I still have a crush on Lena Horne.

Malik: I still have a crush on Halle Berry…

Thomas: NOW they go to commercial.

Thomas: Nice.

Malik: that may have been the best In Memoriam even though it wasn’t the most star studded

Thomas: It was well done.

Thomas: Here we go – directing…

Thomas: Wow. Hooper wins in his first nomination.

Malik: yeah that’s impressive

Thomas: Not sure how I feel about that.

Malik: the Social Network folks just got their bubble burst I think..

Thomas: Looks like The King’s Speech just grabbed the inside track on best picture again.

Thomas: The Social Network took the early prizes, but The King’s Speech might be coming on late.

Malik: nice Mama’s boy speech there

Thomas: Yeah. Nice and simple speech.

Thomas: Fincher has one in the bank for a future award, though.

Malik: you know the historian in me wants to get into the Governors Award ceremony one day

Thomas: Wow. That photo of Lucas, Scosese, Speilberg, Coppola, DePalma  etc, was pretty cool.

Malik: yeah i was wondering if you caught that!

Thomas: Don’t think I’ve seen a director’s photo like that before.

Thomas: How would you feel if they were taking a photo like that and asked you to step out of it?

Malik: LOLOLOL oh man….

Malik: thanks for pulling me out of my sentimental moment brotha…

Thomas: lol

Malik: Warren Beatty looking like “I remember when you yelled at me like that…”

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Jennifer Lawrence has a bright immediate future if she wants it.

Thomas: BUT, this is Natalie Partman’s night.

Thomas: Think I still feel that my favorite nomination announcement was when it was done by peers (a group of fellow actors/actresses) a year or two ago.

Malik: agreed that was awesome

Thomas: Natalie Portman takes it.

Thomas: She’s been good for years. Deserves this. Was great in Black Swan.

Malik: yeah

Malik: I’m a Natalie fan so this is cool

Thomas: She’s been acting since she was born, so you know she’s been thinking about this moment forever.

Thomas: Shout out to Luc Besson!

Thomas: The Professional!

Malik: still the flick!

Thomas: I like Portman, because as I said before, she seems very normal and even has a geeky side.

Malik: it’s coming out in this speech

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: she just thanked the 1st AD and the camera operators for God’s sake!!!

Thomas: 1st AD is even surprised by that…

Malik: also loving the Chinese Theatre backdrop by the way

Thomas: Yeah, that’s great.

Thomas: Hey, if you get nominated for an acting oscar and I’m sitting behind you, remind me to lean up behind you when they call your name and be like, “Yo, they said your name. You hear that? You hear that?” as I shake your shoulder.

Malik: LOLOL, please don’t…

Malik: that’s EXACTLY why there aren’t any minorities nominated…

Thomas: Colin Firth has to win this, it seems.

Malik: well deserved in my opinion

Thomas: Yeah, they got it right. Great performance.

Thomas: Funny first line of his speech, too.

Malik: that’s going to be replayed for years…

Thomas: Does Harvey Weinstein ever shave?

Malik: naw that’s his look

Thomas: But, he never lets it grow into a full beard.

Thomas: The stubble beard has been his thing forever.

Malik: yeah he’s on that Paul Pierce program

Thomas: lol

Malik: so the last one, it has to be King’s Speech right?

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: Spielberg keepin it real!

Thomas: Nicely put by Speilberg.

Thomas: Even if you lose, you’re in great company.

Thomas: They’re playing the best moment from The King’s Speech.

Malik: Exactly

Thomas: By the way, this is a great score as I said before.

Malik: Excellent montage

Thomas: Yup. Well done.

Thomas: Whoever did the montages for the oscars should get an award themselves.

Malik: yeah montages and set design were aces

Thomas: Alright. There you go.

Thomas: King’s Speech. Well done.

Malik: yessir

Malik: I know we have other obligations; any last words brotha?

Thomas: It’s been fun. Gotta love the movies. Best job in the world is to be able to tell stories. On to Oscars 2012.

Malik: i don’t think The Dark Knight Rises will be eligible yet but I’m sure there will be other good films..

Thomas: Looking forward to seeing them. Peace out!

Malik: thanks to everyone who read along.

 

Oscar Preview 2011 Part III

 

Best Picture

Personal Favorite:  You know something?  For all the crying about the lack of creativity in Hollywood, I looked at the list of nominees and can say I really enjoyed half of the films and really liked most of the rest.  I’m a Nolan fanboy so I have to standup for Inception, but…

If you argued Toy Story 3 was one of the few ‘third films’ that lived up to the standard of the first two films in the series?  I wouldn’t disagree.

If you argued Black Swan in its own way was more visual and original than Inception, I wouldn’t hold it against you.

If you argued The Social Network was ‘the film we’ll look back on as the film that defined where we were as a culture in 2010′, I don’t think anyone could argue that.

I could keep going but I think you get my point.

Who Should Win:  Same argument.  True Grit, The Kids are All Right, The King’s Speech, and The Fighter all stand out as films that ‘feel’ like Oscar films because of who’s in front of or behind the camera (or both). In my opinion the film that nails every major element the best (cinematography, writing, direction, action, subject mattter, design) is The King’s Speech. Just my opinion.

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech because of the argument I made in the previous paragraph.

One last pre-show note: I talked to Mr. Thomas and we plan to ‘liveblog’ the Oscars again this year to keep the ‘ArtFradieu’ tradition alive (for those of you who go WAY back) with us.  I think I’m tech savvy enough to pull this off, so for those of you who like (relatively) unfiltered comedy by two black film geeks during the show, check back here during the show Sunday night.

Until then…

 

In what will most likely be the last time I’m asked back, I’ll be guest hosting Our Town Pasadena again tonight.  My guest will be writer/producer Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.  He’s the man behind this week’s episode of CSI: NY, with guest stars Ne-Yo and Lesley-Ann Brandt.  As some of you know, we’ve known each other many years, so we’ll try to keep the inside jokes to a minimum and focus on his work.

Those of you in LA can catch this week’s show on AT&T U-Verse, as always it will be broadcasting live on the internet; you can go to the Pasadena Community Network website for more information.

There are few guarantees in life, but I feel pretty confident saying that this should be a fun hour.

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