Tag Archive: hollywood


 

Chinatown

We were in Club 112.  It was the first night of the best Spring Break of my life, and we were kicking it with some Deltas from Spelman.  We made fast friends.  College.

A ‘homeboy’ comes to our area and starts hollering at the light skinned girl in our crew.  The rest of us giggle; he was wasting his time the moment he thought to walk over.  The girl I was bonding with leans over and says ‘Malik, watch this fool step to me next.’

Me: ‘Come on, he’s trying to get with your homegirl.  Ain’t no way…’

Homeboy: ‘Aye gal, what’s your story?’

I was stunned.  I was still a baby in the Game, but Homeboy was blowing past EVERY sign of initial attraction:  Is she making eye contact with you? (No.) Is she engaging with you in conversation? (Hell no.) Is she touching your arm as you talk, or any of the other million subtle body language moves that suggest she likes you? (Nein. Negative. Red Light. Sad trombone.)

That night sticks out in my mind as one of the earlier episodes of me realizing, that I was completely naive to how many experiences, played out from the point of view from my female friends, play out completely different.

Now, let’s add power to the equation.  Power corrupts, it just does.  Power feeds into our deepest insecurities.  And unchecked power?  Well…

You didn’t feel like ‘the cool kid’ in school? Maybe you wake up one day, and you’ve surrounded yourself by people who only tell you how great you are, and who never question the choices you make.

You grew up without money?  Maybe you only wear designer brands, have a 10 car garage and three houses so no one will ever question your material wealth again (since you can’t wear a credit score.  Or you shouldn’t…)

You grew up sexually frustrated or denied?  And you get to a station in life where even if people disagree with what you’re doing or frankly, it’s illegal, and you still don’t fear consequence?  Maybe…

I’ve said this in private conversations and I’ll repeat it here: it’s been something to see the tidal wave of momentum in favor of punishing bad behavior that’s been enabled for decades.  But the cynic in me still wonders if everyone is being honest about how much work is necessary to really ‘break the wheel’ (also see: systemic racism).

It’s a year late, but if part of the legacy of a certain someone’s political career is Hollywood looking in the mirror and cleaning itself up…I mean, that’s good.

I still refuse to use the phrase ‘silver lining’ in talking about him, but it’s good.

 

Advertisements

‘Beyond the Lights’

 

beyond

Let’s start with something I retweeted this morning…

Yes…yes it is.

Beyond the Lights brings Gina Prince-Bythewood back to the writer/director chair and it was well worth the wait in my opinion.  The pitch is a classic Hollywood story: a star is surrounded by yes men and falls for the one ‘real’ person who finds their way into their circle.  It’s the execution of the story and the performances make Beyond one of the better black films in recent memory.  The soundtrack is pitch perfect, it’s my favorite Minnie Driver performance in a REALLY long time, there’s some nice cameos that add to the ‘realism’ of the film (Roland Martin, the BET Awards, your boy Don Lemon).  On an ‘issue’ level, the film makes a really clear statement about how young and ruthlessly we sexualize girls and profit from it. (I don’t see the Machine changing that, but that doesn’t make it right.)

Now before I say this next part…we all know the Prince of Gotham has an established weakness for beautiful women with exotic/English accents right?  That’s public record, yes?  OK…

Hollywood, you dropped the ball once when you wouldn’t back this film because Gugu Mbatha-Raw wasn’t a big enough name.  What’s done is done though, moving forward, you have to give this young lady more ‘shots’.

You know how Sanaa was ‘there’ before Love and Basketball but Gina built a whole movie around her, and then we had ‘Sanaa Lathan, leading lady’?  I think if she wants that type of career, Gugu can do that and more.  She’s fine, yeah, I covered that.  But the girl can act.  My favorite parts of Beyond aren’t the Hollywood/music stuff, but these intimate scenes she has with Nate Parker and Minnie where she gets to be vulnerable and defiant, and over the course of the film you watch that character grow.  Minor spoiler alert, but there’s this whole symbolic subtext that’s established in the very first scene with black hair.  I’ll let you see it.

And I kind of thought that was her, but I stayed through the credits to be absolutely sure: it’s really Gugu singing Blackbird and a few of the other songs you hear.  I went into my queue and moved Belle back to the top of the list when I got home so I can get a better grasp of her range, but off one film?  Man…

So yeah, see this film.  It has been a good year for black filmmakers.  And I don’t believe I’ve seen the ‘home run swing’ yet…

 

 

As this post is about me as a writer, let me do a solid to start.  If you’re a blog writer, screenwriter, joke writer, or a like minded member of our ilk, what’s the dreaded word no one wants to hear or be accused of?  Stealing.  There’s no foolproof method of course, but I recommend my friends at Grammarly to help out.  Use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker online because every story has been told, and if you have a feeling the story you’re telling is destined for greatness, there’s a chance someone already beat you to it.

Now, what am I writing these days?

Well, the ‘indie’ project I’ve written is the latest version of my teenage, sci fi project ‘The Legend of the Cursed Angel’.  I’ve taken my Star Wars and refashioned it as a low budget webseries, with a stronger emphasis on every episode raising the stakes on ‘how does this end?’ and less emphasis on ‘planets exploding’ and other such nonsense it’s just completely impractical for me to pull off.  It’s a ‘movie star’ type part for yours truly, and when I figure out which way I want to go the other major part, I’ll at least get the pilot episode shot.  Science fiction, and movie star stuff, I know that doesn’t really scream ‘indie’ but as I joked about with one of my co-stars, when you’re name dropping Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal in your script, you’re not exactly screaming Hollywood either…

On the Hollywood side, I’m in the middle of my feature rewrite for ‘Lady In My Life’.  The ‘people’ like what I did in the last version fine, but my quest to be original broke way too many genre rules (damn System), so now it’s telling the story I want to tell in a form everyone can recognize while still doing it in a way that is so unique anyone who sees it will know it is ‘my voice’ and it stands out from the pack (welcome to the life of Hollywood screenwriting).  I’m already more than halfway there so that doesn’t really concern me; the other part of writing for ‘the Bank’ is the first thing ‘the Bank’ is going to do is envision who they can put in your story to make money.  In the last revision I did, I (of course) and Kerry were high school sweethearts who had a baby when we were teenagers, and now that kid (Michael B. Jordan) of course is about to be a man, and…Page 1.  And who would play the present day love interests?  Everyone who offered suggestions, I’m still digesting all of them: Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita, Alison Brie, Brie Larson, Emma Stone, Jurnee Smollett, Kerry, Beharie, Alba, Zooey.  And no, I’m not deliberately looking past the wife/mother character, she is the ‘Lady’; in the current version of the script though, I’ve framed it as a father/son story and how each reacts when given similar choices.  And if that framework sounds like it borrows from one of my favorite/greatest movies ever but using it in a more comic form…you may be on the right track there slugger.

So that’s what’s up with the nonstop writing so far in 2014.  When we progress into acting and/or directing, I’ll keep you posted.

 

mirror11

Lipstick in hand
Tahitian tanned
in her painted on jeans

She dreams of fame
She changed her name
To one that fits the movie screen
She’s headed for the big time, that means

She’s going Hollywood
She’s going Hollywood tonight
She’s going Hollywood
She’s going Hollywood tonight
She’s going Hollywood
She’s going Hollywood tonight
It’s true, that you, may never ever have that chance again

West bound Greyhound
To tinsel town
Just to pursue her movie star dreams
She’s giving hot tricks to men
just to get in
When she was taught that that’s not clean
She’s headed for the big time, that means

She’s going Hollywood
She’s going Hollywood tonight
She’s going Hollywood
She’s going Hollywood tonight
She’s going Hollywood
She’s going Hollywood tonight
It’s true, that you, may never ever have that chance again (that chance again)

[Spoken words:]
She gave up her life, to follow her dreams
Left behind everything, for the movie scene
Nothing more she could want, she was determined to follow her plan
She wanted Hollywood, she wanted it bad
Now that she got her dream, she became a star
It all looked so good, but only good from afar
Imprisoned in every paparazzi’s camera, every guy wished they could
Now it’s back to reality, for Ms. Hollywood

Lipstick in hand
Tahitian tanned
in her painted on jeans

She dreams of fame
She changed her name
To one that fits the movie screen
She’s headed for the big time, that means

She’s going Hollywood
She’s going Hollywood tonight
She’s going Hollywood
She’s going Hollywood tonight
She’s going Hollywood
She’s going Hollywood tonight
It’s true, that you, may never ever have that chance again (that chance again)

(You know it baby)
West bound Greyhound
To tinsel town
Just to pursue her movie star dreams

West bound Greyhound
To tinsel town
Just to pursue her movie star dreams

(You know it baby)
West bound Greyhound
To tinsel town
Just to pursue her movie star dreams

West bound Greyhound
To tinsel town
Just to pursue her movie star dreams

(She’s Hollywood x 10)

 

 

natalie_portman_israeli_actress_latest_wallpaper

Self Promotion Time!

‘Natalie Portman: the Musical!’ is back starting this Friday as part of the prestigious Hollywood Fringe Festival!

I have heard that ‘Samuel L. Jackson’ and ‘Chris Rock’ will be there among others, will you?

http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1362