Protestors Move In On Creative Artists Agency

   The Black Promoters of America, led by Rev. Joseph Lowery, took their protest against Creative Artists Agency (CAA) indoors last month when they occupied the atrium of the agency's offices in Beverly Hills. Police said they had hancuffed and arrested one protestor but released him and made no further arrests as protestors and agency reps were able to agree on discussing the issues. Rev. Lowery's statement to police that "if one person goes, we all go!" may have also had something to do with the shortage of arrests.
   "We want to make sure that CAA gets the message that we will not relent until litigation is completed, or the company comes to the table to negotiate a settlement, " said Rev. Lowery. The Black Promoters Association has filed a $700 million lawsuit against CAA, the William Morris Agency and several other agencies, charging racial discrimination and anti-trust law violations.
   Neither Creative Artists Agency nor the Williams Morris Agency has expressed any interest in settling the lawsuit with The Black Promoters of America, but if this latest incident is any indicator, at least the litigants may at least start talking to one another.


"Hurricane" Settlement Reached

   Former boxing middleweight champion Joey Giardello sued creators of the film "The Hurricane" over the film's depiction of the fight between he and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, claiming the fight scenes made him look "really bad" (sic). The fighter claimed defamation and other injuries.
   Someone at the studio must have agreed because Giardello finally settled his dispute with the film's creators.
   Settlement terms were not made public.


Halley Berry Rolls To Be More Risqué

   According to Halle Berry, her career may be getting a little racier.
   "I've got three really different opportunities to choose from this fall. A lot of the roles that I'm getting offered are more adult in their themes. They're a little sexier, a little edgier and that's a road I haven't really traveled in my career. I'm really looking forward to going down that femme fatale road. Kind of stretch my muscles in that area and seeing what happens."


Celebrities Pay Tribute To Comedian Dick Gregory

   Comedian, civil rights activist and author Dick Gregory was honored last month in a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
   Gregory, 67, was diagnosed last year with lymphoma.
   Friends honoring Gregory at "An Evening of Reflections with Dick Gregory," included Bill Cosby as master of ceremonies and guests Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Cicely Tyson and Coretta Scott King.


Martin Lawrence A $20 Million Man

   Martin Lawrence is in negotiation to star in two Columbia motion pictures ("National Security" and "Blue Streak 2") that will net him $20 million per film. The new salary puts him in the company of Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and Chris Tucker (if Jackie Chan also signs on for the "Rush Hour" remake) as members of Hollywood's high-priced elite.
   Laurence earned $16. 5 mil for his current flick, "The Black Knight."


Universal Filming With German Money

   German financial group Mediastream confirmed that it is helpingUniversal with the financial backing of its upcoming drag-racing feature "Redline." The financial company is helping Universal by using money invested under Germany's tax-shelter incentives for filmmakers, where private investors make a cash investment in feature films in return for a generous tax write off from the German government.
   Currently shooting in the U. S., "Redline" stars Vin Diesel (Pitch Black, Saving Private Ryan) and Paul Walker (She's All That).


Will & Jada Expecting

   Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett-Smith are awaiting the arrival of their second child (the third for daddy).The new addition to the Smith family is due the end of November.
   Jada gave birth to son Jayden Christopher Syre Smith in July 1998.
   Will Smith's oldest son, 7-year-old Trey Willard Smith III, is from his first marriage.



SAG Strike Over – For Now

   Striking actors have ended their current dispute with the advertising industry but it may just be the calm before next year's storm.
   The actors strike, which began May 1, is officially over now that a new contract between actors and advertisers has been approved by the boards of directors of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. Union members have been issued a "back to work order" pending final approval of the contract, which could take another month.
   While SAG and AFTRA convinced the advertising industry to drop their demands for cutbacks in network residuals, they did not get a pay-per-play cable deal, where actors get paid for every time their commercials are shown. Instead, the unions settled on a stronger buyout of cable residual rights. The new contract could net actors as much as a 10% pay increase.
   While this strike may be over, don't be surprised if it happens again when Sag and the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) sit down to renegotiate contracts again next year. WGA has already warned its members to start saving money – just in case. Many fear next year's dispute could be worse than this year's and may all but shut down the film and TV industries.



Black Movie Posters Go Online

   In a welcome announcement for movie poster collectors, Boone Marketing Company announced that it has just finished arranging a distribution deal with Separatecinema.com and Cushcity.com to sell black movie posters on the internet.    Black movie posters from the 1920's to the 1990's will be featured and sold at Cushcity.com.


Busta Rhymes Sentenced

   Actor/singer Busta Rhymes (Trevor Smith) was sentenced last month to a previously agreed five years probation after pleading guilty for carrying an unregistered .45-caliber hand gun in his Mercedes Benz.


LL Cool J Sued For $2 Million

   A Boston promoter is suing "Deep Blue Sea" actor LL Cool J (James Todd Smith) for $2 million claiming he was a no-show for a European music festival last year.
   The suit also alleges that the actor/singer also failed to show for engagements in England and the Netherlands in order to shoot the film "Deep Blue Sea"and never gave the promoter a 60-day cancellation notice as required in his contract .


"Remember the Titans" Already An Award Winner

   Indianapolis' Heartland Film Festival, which honors "filmmakers whose work explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life," has selected Disney's "Remember the Titans," which starred Denzel Washington, to receive its Heartland Award of Excellence for this year.


Ice-T Denounces Gangsterism To Teens

   People have complained bitterly about what a bad role model actor/singer Ice-T is, but the man has once again surprised his detractors. On October 17th, he spoke to teenagers at the Kansas African-American Economic and Human Development Expo III about, of all things, the pros of education over a gangsta' street life.
   He told the kids that "Street smarts will get you killed sooner than book smarts. Street smarts teach you how to make money, but 98 percent of how you do it is illegal. You can't retire on street smarts, but you can on book smarts."


Beah Richards Dead At 74

   Actress Beah Richards, who recently won an Emmy for her guest performance on "The Practice," died in her hometwon of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on September 14 of emphysema.
   During her fifty year career, Richards was nomminated for an Academy Award for her performance with Sidney Poitier in the 1967 classic, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?," a Tony Award nomination for her Broadway role as Sister Margaret in James Baldwin's "Amen Corner," and an Emmy for her guest appearance on the TV series "Frank's Place." Other film credits included "In The Heat Of The Night," "Hurry Sundown," "Drugstore Cowboy," "The Great White Hope," and Toni Morrison's "Beloved."
   Richards also worked to develop actor's talents and skills through her Los Angeles-based theatre program, Theatre of Being.


Black Actor Shot At Party By LAPD

   In a statement released by the LAPD, actor Anthony Dwain Lee, 39, who appeared in the 1997 movie ''Liar, Liar'' and on several television shows, was shot multiple times early on Saturday, October 28 by LAPD officer Tarriel Hopper. The officer fired on the actor after police said Lee pointed what turned out to be a fake gun at the officer who was responding to a noisy Halloween party complaint.
   Police said that when Lee saw Hopper and patrol partner Natalie Humphreys he pulled what looked like a handgun and pointed it at Hopper, who, fearing he was about to be shot, fired several rounds through a glass door, wounding Lee.



Eddie Murphy Opens Wallet

   Before the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) strike ended, Eddie Murphy offered his support to fellow actors by donating $100,000 to the union's Strike Relief Fund. Donations from celebrity SAG members topped $900,000 and along with Murphy included Nicolas Cage, George Clooney, Harrison Ford, Helen Hunt, Martin Lawrence, Jay Leno, Rosie O'Donnell, Kevin Spacey and Bruce Willis. Nicolas Cage made the largest gift with a $200,000 contribution.


NAACP 32nd Image Awards On The Web

   The NAACP is launching a website (www.naacpimageawards.org) for its primetime Image Awards special on FOX.    Image Awards Executive Director, Ernestine Barlow Peters, is working with interactive-media design firm, IdentityOne, to develop the site. The site will have submission, ticket and sponsorship information, as well as showcase a photo gallery and other Image Awards memorabilia from past shows.


Halle Berry To Wed

   Halle Berry told People magazine that she and fiance Eric Benet will definitely be tying the knot soon.
   "Sometime before the end of 2000, we'll probably go off and elope," Berry said.
   No wedding plans are scheduled, however, until after the actress finishes her new movie, "Swordfish."


Gordon Parks' Career On Display

   The man who brought us the original "Shaft" is being honored for his photography and film accomplishments.
   The California African American Museum is hosting an exhibit titled, "Half Past Autumn: The Work of Gordon Parks" which features over 200 photographs including photos from Parks' career with Life magazine from 1949 to 1969. He was Life magazine's first black staff photographer.
   Those honoring him at the opening of the exhibit included John Singleton, Bill Duke, Richard Roundtree, and Gina Prince Bythewood.


Billy Dee Williams Awarded For Lifetime Achievement

   Billy Dee Williams has received the Multicultural Motion Picture Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments, entrepreneurship and humanitarian efforts.
   Star of the 1972 film, "Lady Sings The Blues," Williams received the award on Oct. 23, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.
   The annual event focuses on the entertainment industry's efforts to increase diversity in motion pictures and television.


Laurence Fishburne Honored

   Laurence Fishburne was presented with the 36th Chicago International Film Festival's Career Achievement Award last month.
   The festival program was dedicated to Fishburne's entertainment career, including "Boyz N The Hood," "The Matrix," and his Oscar-nominated portrayal of Ike Turner in "What's Love Got To Do With It." Fishburne's feature film directorial debut, "Once In The Life," was also screened at the event.


Washington Angers Hollywood Marketers

   Hollywood film marketers are grumbling, no, more like enraged over Washington lawmaker efforts to stop the marketing of "mature" films to younger audiences.
   Complaining quietly for fear of political backlash, Hollywood execs are upset because Senate Commerce Committee members Sam Brownback, R-Kan. and committee chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., sent letters to the studios requesting they provide details of their marketing plans to the committee within 30 days.
   Many in Hollywood believe all the recent scrutiny of the film industry is unfair and motivated solely by lawmaker's efforts to support presidential election campaign issues.
   One of the requests in Brownback's letter, asks studios to stop advertising in all venues where children younger than 17 comprise 35% or more of the audience. Film execs say the request is impossible to quantify and impractical to enact, as is Brownback's demand that studios also stop signing merchandising agreements for R-rated movies that include "toys, dolls, action figures andHalloween costumes" that could be sold to the under 17 crowd.


Networks Lack Racial Diversity Of Cable

   Executives from broadcast and cable TV outlets and representatives from Hollywood's unions and talent guilds met last month during a sometimes hostile panel discussion on multiculturalism in television. The panel, was organized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and moderated by CNN anchor Jim Moret.
   While major networks were blasted by representatives from Hollywood's unions and talent guilds for their poor efforts at overcoming racial diversity, HBO and Showtime were lauded for cable's more racially divergent programming.
   "What we are trying to overcome here is a history of racism and bigotry," said Rodney Mitchell, assistant executive director of the Directors Guild of America. "None of us are in the position where we can say we are equal with the people of power in this country."