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January 2003
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MARIAH JUST NEEDED A BREAK

Mariah Carey says she is now in good emotional shape. "In general, in my life, I'm in a really good, happy place," she recently told reporters in Tokyo. About her publicized nervous breakdown she said, "I had worked myself very, very, hard for many, many years and I never took a break. And last year, I had just become very, very exhausted and ended up just not really in a good place physically and emotionally." Carey says a trip to the Italian island of Capri helped her regain her health.


SERENA WORKING ON HER ACTING

Serena Williams, the world's top-ranked women's tennis player, is pursuing an acting career in her spare time. She has already appeared as a kindergarten teacher in an October episode of ABC's sitcom "My Wife and Kids" and now has an acting coach.


'ANTWONE FISHER' HELPS KIDS

"Young and Restless" soap opera star Victoria Rowell held a private screening of Denzel Washington's film "The Antwone Fisher Story" on Monday, December 9 at the Fox Studios in Los Angeles to benefit the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan. The organization was founded by Rowell in 1998 to help bring national attention to the lives of more than 550,000 foster children in need of educational and emotional support. "Antwone Fisher" is the story of a troubled young black man who grew up in foster home where he was abused.


FOX A TV FOXY BROWN

Big screen actress Vivica A. Fox is heading to the small screento be the heroine for a new TV show for the USA Network. The series is still under development and they're curently using a working title, but Fox's character is described as a reincarnation of blaxploitation heroin Foxy Brown. Fox is excited about the new role. In a Hollywood Reporter article, the actress commented, "Tough chicks are popular again nowadays, and I'm so glad."


"BROWN SUGAR" LEADS IMAGE AWARD NOMS

The 34th annual NAACP Image Awards have been announced and in the motion picture category, the romantic comedy "Brown Sugar led the way with 7 noms. Close behind was "Barbershop" which earned 6 nominations. The awards, will be held on March 8 at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, and will be broadcast March 13 on Fox. For a complete list of nominees, check out the Blackflix.com article on the Image Awards for a complete list of this year's nominees.


WILL & JADA TV

Will Smith will soon be joining the UPN family. He, along with wife Jada Pinkett-Smith are executive producing a family sitcom based on their own family. While the duo are attached to the concept and production of the series, neither is expected to star in the show.


BERRY/BENET MARITAL DISCORD

Halle Berry and Eric Benet are struggling to keep their marriage together, according to "Access Hollywood." Benet told the television magazine, "The truth is, yes, Halle and I are going through a personal crisis ... I have made some terrible mistakes." Dispite current tribulations, Halle says she is standing by her man. "Marriage is about sticking together through tough times," she said, "and we're sticking together."


OPRAH WINFREY ACADEMY FOR GIRLS

Media maven Oprah Winfrey gave $10 million of her reported $1 billion net worth to Nelson Mandela for the construction of a South African Girl's school. The academy will open in January 2005 and will take in 450 girls aged 12 to 18 from disadvantaged communities. "We are looking for strong, brave girls with heart," Winfrey said. "I believe girls are going to take over the world. Men have been in control long enough but don't worry, we're prepared to share power."


THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN

The people, through a nationwide Gallop poll, have made their picks for the 29th annual People's Choice Awards and once again, celebs Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Eminem, and Jennifer Lopez are among the chosen. Jennifer Anniston, Tom Hanks, and Debra Messing were also among those garnering the most votes. Also at the top is "The Bernie Mac Show," "Everybody Loves Raymond," and "Friends." The People's Choice Awards, is decided solely by the public, and will take place Jan. 12 in Pasadena. It will air live on CBS at 9 p.m ET, and will be hosted by Tony Danza. See the Blackflix.com article on the People's Choice Awards for a complete list of the nominees.


DENZEL WASHINGTON HONORED

Calling the honor a "humbling, humiliating experience," Denzel Washington was graced with the 17th annual American Cinematheque Award at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Presented annually to "an extraordinary artist in the entertainment industry currently making a significant contribution to the art of the moving picture," the award is given to a filmmaker in midcareer. "There is only one actor in the course of his career thus far who can be appropriately and righteously compared to Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Cable -- as well as Sidney Poitier," Tom Hanks, Washington's "Philadelphia" co-star, said in presenting him with the award.


BEYONCE NEW PEPSI GIRL

Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child is set to star for cola giant Pepsi. The singer/actress has agreed to do at least two commercials for the soda company. The Knowles contract comes on the heels of a broken deal with Ludacris. The rapper's planned campaign for Pepsi was pulled after talk guy Bill O'Reilly took issue with the rapper's lyrics and sparked a widespread controversy. Spike Lee’s advertising agency has scored the deal to direct the commercials. The Pepsi deal with Lee's agency also includes print, radio, and Internet campaigns, and is expected to begin in early 2003.


DIRECTV DOWN THE TUBES

DirecTV customers are going to have to look elsewhere to see their favorite movies and TV shows. The Hughes Electronics Corp. is set to close its DirecTV Broadband service, directing its 160,000 subscribers to other providers.


"DOBOY" WILLIAMS A SUICIDE

Eugene 'Doboy" Williams, who acted in such movies as "South Central," "Nikita Blues" and "Sub Down" apparently committed suicide last month on December 22. A memorial celebrating his life was held December 30, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.


WHO’S MOST ADMIRED?

A Gallup poll conducted on December 16 and 17 asked 1,009 American adults who they most admired. Among women, the top spot went to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton who was favored by 7 percent. Coming in at a close second were First Lady Laura Bush and talk show host Oprah Winfrey with 6 percent each. J.Lo made it into the sixth spot with 2 percent. Other top ten women include national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and poet Maya Angelou. Among men, President George Bush had the top spot. Also included in the top ten admired men were Secretary of State Colin Powell, actor Denzel Washington and former South African President Nelson Mandela.



MOVIE SEATS VIBRATE IN CANADA

Moviegoers are now sitting in Canadian cinema seats that literally transmit a movie's sound vibrations. Toronto-based cinema chain Famous Players, a unit of Viacom, said its new Messina GSS sensory seats, invented in Quebec by Gilbert Bouchard and launched last month in Montreal, enable moviegoers to watch and listen to a movie while physically feeling sound vibrations. This is not the 1970s Sensurround technology that depended on intense waves of high decibel sound. Famous Player's system uses intense low frequencies in a movie's soundtrack to produce physical sensations in cinema seats without increasing the sound level in the theater as with Sensurround.


NAACP IMAGE AWARDS BOYCOTT

Project Islamic H.O.P.E. and a coalition national and community groups have announced the launching of a national boycott of the NAACP Image Awards. "The NAACP Image Awards has delivered a slap in the face to the legacy of Dr. King, and Rosa Parks. Cedric the Entertainer should not be rewarded with an Image Award nomination for his disparaging remarks about Dr. King and Miss Parks. We should not reward buffoonery, cooning, or disparaging remarks against civil rights icons for a two second laugh," stated Najee Ali, Executive Director Project Islamic H.O.P.E. Ali also said that the Reverend Al Sharpton also supports the idea of a boycott. Oddly enough, the press conference announcing the boycott was held at the New Millennium Barbershop in LA.


EDWARD NORTON SAYS "KUDOS" TO SPIKE

Edward Norton, the star of Spike Lee's new film "25th Hour," recently gave the Marilyn Beck's "Celebrities"column his opinion on the current Oscar hungry Hollywood environment. "It's hard to imagine what a best-director Oscar means when it's never been won by Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers or Spike Lee." As far as the actor/writer is concerned, Lee's "The 25th Hour" is brilliant, and "As always with Spike's films, it's provocative in a sense and makes you look beyond easy judgments of good and bad and right and wrong. He's an original, one of the most distinctive American film voices in the last 25 years or so -- but underappreciated by mainstream Hollywood."


COLLEGES ATTACK "DORM PORN"

Indiana University in Bloomington and Arizona State University in Tempe have brought disciplinary action against students who participated in "dorm porn" movies shot by Van Nuys, CA-based Shane Enterprises. In a statement announcing the action, Indiana University Chancellor Sharon Stephens Brehm said, "These were deplorable actions by a company intent on exploiting the university and our students." One of those who participated in the production was Brian Buck, who has complained that the college is trying to make an example of him because of his position as its current student government vice president. Likewise, ASU President Michael Crow has condemned the campus fraternities who participated in the Shane production as "completely and utterly unacceptable."


DIRECTOR FUQUA INKS TV DEAL

In his first big television commitment, "Training Day" director Antoine Fuqua has signed a mid-six figure, one-year deal with Universal Network Television to produce and direct series projects for the studio. Two action-drama shows to be developed under the deal have already been set up at CBS and Fox.


U.K. RAIDS MOVIE PIRATES

In a pre-Christmas campaign against video pirates, the U.K. antipiracy body the Federation Against Copyright Theft carried out a surprise raid on a market in West London, netting around 7,000 illegal DVDs and VHS tapes and arresting three of London's black marketeers. Titles seized included "Die Another Day" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," plus thousands of music CDs and counterfeit clothing. The raid on Western International Market in West London was a joint operation of FACT, the police, Hounslow Trading Standards, the British Phonographic Industry, the Customs & Excise department and immigration officers. Three market traders were arrested, one of whom was found to be in possession of a firearm.


RICHARD ROUNDTREE JOINS SOAP

Blaxploitation star and New Rochelle, NY-born thespian, Richard Roundtree has joined the cast of the long-running CBS daytime drama "As the World Turns." Roundtree will play the recurring character of Oliver Travers, an accomplished and compassionate attorney who is determined to set his crooked son, D.A. Marshall Travers (played by Lamman Rucker), on the right path.


ORLANDO JONES GETTING CHATTY

Comedian, actor and former 7-Up pitchman Orlando Jones has signed a deal with FX Network for his own late-night talk show. Jones welcomed the opportunity saying he feels that there is a void in the television community for "urban" talent to hit the couch. "I feel like a lot of [African-American] artists don't have anywhere to go," he said. "I don't see Nick [Cannon, co-star in the upcoming marching-band drama "Drumline"] sitting comfortably on Leno or Letterman, any more than I see Ludacris fitting into that pantheon," he told TV Guide.


WASHINGTON NAMED TOP ENTERTAINER

The Time Warner magazine, Entertainment Weekly, has named the Oscar winning actor and, now, director, Denzel Washington, as 2002's top entertainer. "Denzel reached new heights in his career this year, artistically, commercially and in a business sense," said Dave Karger, senior writer and author of the magazine's cover story on the actor. Karger also pointed out Denzel's success as a first time director. "It's not only that he directed his first movie, but it is a fantastic movie ... It's not that he did it, but that
he did it in a really accomplished way," Karger said. The 48-year old actor said directing was a look toward the future for him. He reminded the magazine that he isn't getting any younger. "In the back of my mind, I was going, 'You know, sooner or later, the calls are going to stop coming. From 2002 to 2022, what do you go for now?' I think filmmaking is the next part of that." Other accomplishments for Washington this year include his winning an Oscar for "Training Day," the success of "John Q"in the wake of not so favorable reviews, and his membership to the $20 million per picture club with the upcoming "Out of Time."


ANGELA BASSETT JOINS PBS

Actress Angela Bassett has agreed to host the new PBS prime-time series "Independent Lens." The show is an anthology series featuring independent documentaries and dramas from around the world. The inaugural season will feature 14 episodes. The first is set to air Feb. 4 at 10 p.m. and the series will air through June 3.


DENZEL SNUBBED BY GOLDEN GLOBES

Denzel Washington may have been snubbed by the Golden Globes this year for his directorial debut, "Antwone Fisher," but the rookie director says that doesn't matter. Though he admitted to reporters that a nod would have been nice, he also said, "I guess it would've been good for the film to get a little more attention like that but the main thing is that we get out there and let the people see the film. As my Mom always said, 'Man gives the awards, but God gives the rewards.'"



CONCERT FOR AIDS AWARNESS

President Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and Whoopi Goldberg are coming together for "The World Action Concert: An Evening of Hope and Commitment" on May 5 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. The benefit concert is presented by America's World Action Campaign to Stop AIDS and hopes to raise funds for AIDS awareness and reach out to international celebrities for their support in battling the disease.

WHOOPI RETURNS TO TV

Actress and comedienne Whoopi Goldberg is preparing to return to television. Goldberg, who stars in the new film "Star Trek: Nemesis," has signed a deal to star in and executive produce her own sitcom for NBC. No word just yet on the premise for the show or when it will actually hit the airwaves.


FAKE WILL SMITH CONVICTED

Identity thief Carlos Lomax pled guilty and was convicted last month in federal court of one count of using actor Will Smith's identity to charge $33,000 on phoney credit cards. The conviction for using unauthorized credit cards netted the idenity thief a sentence of 37 months in federal prison. Assistant US Attorney Margaret Picking said Lomax, 42, opened 14 bogus credit accounts in Pittsburgh-area stores as Willard C. Smith, the full name of the actor-rapper. But the identity thief wasn't too smart. It seems all the accounts used Lomax's real home address, and as a result, authorities found sales receipts and other documents in Smith's name at the residence, some with Lomax's fingerprints on them. Investigators said they also found a computer at the home which had been used to search the Internet for personal information on actors, sports figures and their families. It seems Smith was not to be Lomax's only celebrity victim.


RUSSIANS LOVE HALLE BERRY

Thanks in large part to the Russian's widely known love for co-star Halle Berry, the latest James Bond movie, "Die Another Day," set an opening weekend record in Russia, taking in $2.6 million in just 159 theaters.


"VIRTUAL" RED CARPET INTENDED FOR BAFTAS

The London Independent newspaper is reporting that British television technicians are being asked to create a "virtual" red carpet for the next British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards ceremony. The newspaper said that the aim is to avoid a repeat of the hilarious scene at last year's BAFTA show when a sea of foam was kicked up by rain falling on the carpet, which had been treated with fire-retardant chemicals.


PALESTINIAN FILM BARRED FROM OSCARS

A Palestinian feature film that won the International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May, has been rejected by the selection committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for inclusion in the voting for the Best Foreign Language Film award. The committee said that its rules require that films be submitted by a country recognized by the Union Nations, and Palestine is not a recognized country. "Obviously, we are disappointed," Feda Abdelhadi Nasser of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N. told the London Sunday Observer. "What it comes down to is that the Palestinian people, in addition to the denial of other rights ... are now being denied the ability to compete in a competition that judges artistic and cultural expression."


SNOOP DOGG BATTLES COPS - FOR KIDS

Snoop Dogg has had a few run-ins with the 'boys in blue' but this time it was for a good cause. The multi-platinum artist/actor and his friends played a football game against the Inland Empire Police Department at Long Beach City College Veteran Stadium last month to benefit the Lama Linda Children's Hospital and the Boys and Girls Club of America. The $12 gate admission and donations of canned goods all went to benefit children in need. Snoop Dogg’s All-Stars beat the Inland Empire Police Department Enforcers 33 to 21. And the Dogg not only organized the event, but also scored six of the All-Stars' points, followed by an NFL quality touchdown dance. "It was a tight dance, I'll give him that," said Levi Baker, a lineman for the Enforcers.


CONVERTER BOXES OUT FOR DIGITAL TV

Watching movies on digital TV will be getting easier and cheaper. Officials of the Consumer Electronics Assn., which represents TV set manufacturers, and the National Cable and Telecommunications Assn., which represents cable operators, have announced an agreement on a standard system that would allow consumers to purchase "cable-ready" digital TV sets. The system would eliminate the need for settop digital TV converters. Because converter boxes have been a serious snag in the widespread adoption of digital TV, the FCC had threatened to impose its own standard if the two groups failed to agree on one voluntarily. But content providers may try to throw a wrench in the works. They have said they will examine the new standard closely to determine whether it embraces a system to prevent movie copying and piracy. The proposed technology could be in place as early as 2004.


DRUMLINE DRUMS UP LAWSUIT

Filmmakers of the new movie "Drumline" may be facing legal woes. Director/producer Darryl Lassiter of the independent film "Pay the Price," (which won the New York International Independent Film & Video Award in 2000), is suing "Drumline" producer Dallas Austin, claiming Austin and his assistant Jordan Bratman, stole his film idea about a freshman student at a historically black college who struggles to join the school's marching band. Lassiter came up with the idea in 1991, spent eight years to get his movie made, but then couldn't get major distribution. Lassiter says he met with Jordan Bratman several times between June and October 2000, and even gave Bratman his screenplay and film, hoping he would get Austin to help finance the film's distribution. But instead, the duo made "Drumline," so now Lassiter is suing. Lassiter sees a number of similarities in the two films. For instance, both movies used Clark-Atlanta University and Morris Brown College bands. Both include J. Anthony Brown, comic sidekick to radio personality Tom Joyner, and both films even used the same stunt coordinator.


STARS ON SHOWTIME FOR KIDS

On January 19th, the Showtime cable will air the first of a 10 part series entitled "What's Going On?" The show is family documentary series that examines critical global issues from the perspectives of children. Danny Glover, Angelina Jolie, Jeff Bridges, Laurence Fishburne and Michael Douglas are already onboard as celebrity hosts. The 10-part series begins with an episode hosted by UN Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover that will focus on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.


VIDEO-ON-DEMAND A HIT

The New York Post reported that Time Warner Cable has boosted its revenue by 30 percent in the New York area by adding a video-on-demand channel option to its service. VOD allows viewers to watch pay-per-view movies at any time and to pause, fast-forward, or rewind it just as if they were watching a rented video.