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September 2001
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Louis Armstrong Left Private Recordings

Its been discovered that jazz legend Louis Armstrong left behind a diary of more than 600 reel-to-reel tapes on his private thoughts and conversations with friends. The tapes reveal a different image of the musician than the happy, smiling Armstrong most people remember. The tapes reveal his anger over the racism he often faced, and candid his attitude on drugs.

New York's Queens College, has the tapes and were reviewed by jazz critic Howard Reich.

"They will see that he's not this one-dimensional caricature, that he's not the smiling get-happy entertainer, that he's also a real human being," he told ABC News. "He's as torn about race as the rest of the country is ... There's so much more than the kind of minstrel-show facade that Armstrong self-consciously projected."

One tape reveals the memory of his reaction to a white stagehand calling him "Satchmo" instead of Mr. Armstrong, which is how the stagehand addressed all the white actors.

"You tell M-G-M to shove that picture up their ass ...," he said. "Why you handing me that s--t? Because I'm colored?"

The tapes also reveal that Armstrong was an advocate of marijuana. ABC News reports that Armstrong spoke on the healthful effects of the drug. While there's no word yet on whether the tapes will be edited into a documentary on Armstrong's life, don't be surprised when it happens.

Puffy and Bowie Soundtrack Duet

Puffy Combs will be doing a collaboration with David Bowie for the soundtrack to the upcoming Denzel Washington film "Training Day.'' The CD will also feature Dr. Dre, Nelly, Trick Daddy, C-Murder and others. Snoop Dogg and Macy Gray are scheduled to make cameos in the film, but only Gray is on the soundtrack. The soundtrack will be releasd on September 11, and the film will be released on September 21.

Tucker Tours AfricaWith Congress

Chris Tucker, most recently of "Rush Hour 2," has joined the U.S. congressional delegation touring Africa. Tucker joined the six members of Congress and about 30 business leaders during their stopover in Nigeria. The group plan is to visit four West African nations to promote health care improvements, commerce and democracy.

Nelly Impostor Invites 3,000 To Party

A rap wannabe posing as rap star/actor Nelly brought a party of 3,000 (yep!) to a club in Missouri last month. Police had the devil's own time trying to disperse the crowd with some reports saying it took over two hours. Even more unbelievable is the fact that no arrests were made, not even the impostor. The real Nelly was in Tampa during the party.

"O" Sued By German Magazine

Oprah Winfrey is being sued for copyright infringement. The publisher of the UK based "O Magazine" is seeking an injunction against any further use of the term "O Magazine" or the letter "O" by Winfrey, or any other publication for that matter, as a trademark infringement of the German erotica magazine.

In a statement, the UK spokesperson said, "I know that lawsuits are a burden but I had no choice. O is my trademark.I built it up and protected it for years. The defendants knew about my rights, but went ahead anyway, and they refused to stop when I asked them to."

The suit was brought in New York against the Hearst Corporation and Winfrey's Harpo Print LLC.

Acting Hits Record Employment Levels

Amid growing concerns about runaway production to Canada and other non-Hollywood sites, the Screen Actors Guild reported last month that the number of jobs for its members in radio and television jumped from 49,662 in 1999 to 53,134 in 2000, an increase of 7 percent. Its Casting Data Report also noted that African Americans garnered a 14.8 percent share of all roles cast, up from 14.1 percent the year before. Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and other minorities also experienced record level employment, according to the report. Nevertheless, SAG President William Daniels said in a statement, "We are delighted to see gains for all ethnicities on the large and small screen, but there's no question there's still plenty of room for growth in diversity in the television and film world."

Sudan Campaign Wants Hollywood Support In Anti-Slavery Fight

The Sudan Campaign, a coalition of Sudan anti-slavery organizations fighting government enforced slavery in their country, is trying to enlist the help of Hollywood personalities in their struggle. The Campaign's coordinator in Hollywood is journalist and producer Ron Brewington whom they hope can sway Hollywood’s elite to join the fight. The Sudanese government is enslaving men, women and children while waging a civil war against its own citizens so they can exploit a large oil reserve on land that belongs to the people.

Brewington said, "I know that many renown Hollywood personalities will lend their weight to end this human rights travesty. Slavery is an international crime and we need prominent actors/actresses, writers, producers and others to help to end the suffering of innocent black Sudanese children."

Motown Biography Scrubbed

The Motown Alumni Association reports that the scheduled A&E 2-hour biography movie on Motown has been scrubbed by A&E due to general lack of interest. Motown Records had agreed to assist in the production, but several of Motown's former artists and executives displayed little interest in the project. The film company, Towers Production, was subcontracted by A&E to film the biography, but the producer said, "We have deadlines we have to keep. . . . to be honest, we really can't wait on people to make-up their mind about it, we have to move on to the next project."

Tragic Plane Crash Takes The Life of Singer-Actress Aaliyah

R&B singer and actress Aaliyah died when a small plane that was to carry her and eight others back to the United States took off but then crashed at the end of a Bahamian airport runway on Saturday, August 25.

Aaliyah, 22, was a Grammy nominated R&B vocalist and had made her feature acting debut in the film "Romeo Must Die." She had also recently signed on to appear in the two sequels of the box office hit "The Matrix."

While the cause of the crash is still being investigated, fellow pilot Lewis Key told the New York Post that baggage handlers and the pilot of the Cessna 402 had complained that the plane was dangerously overloaded, but the passengers insisted on taking everything with them. Key said the beleaguered pilot eventually gave in and took off. According to a Reuters report, the plane may have been overloaded by has much as 700 pounds. Police sources are investigating whether overloading or engine failure actually caused the crash.

"No question, this airplane was over gross weight when they took off,'' said John Frank, executive director of the Cessna Pilots Association. "Everything that's coming out is pointing to what it looked like at the beginning -- this was an overweight aircraft.''

Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta, said the plane was a Cessna 402 owned by Skystream, a company based in Pembroke Pines, Florida. She said the plane crashed at the end of the airport's runway at 6:50 p.m.

Hundreds gathered Monday, August 27, near the Detroit High School of Fine and Performing Arts, which Aaliyah attended, for a candlelight vigil to remember the artist. During the vigil, fans scrawled messages and farewell wishes to the artist on posters and cards that were spread on the ground. Some clutched pictures of Aaliyah while others brought flowers, stuffed animals and balloons.

Born in New York City but raised in Detroit, Aaliyah - whose name in Arabic means "powerful one" – had deep roots in the R&B community. Rapper DMX, who had a role in Aaliyah's feature film debut, "Romeo Must Die," said of her: "Talented, classy, warm, beautiful, compassionate (and) humble best describes my memories of Aaliyah, a down-to-earth sister with enough energy to put anyone on a cloud. How unfortunate."

Aaliyah was the niece of legendary R&B star Gladys Knight. "Her star had just begun to shine so brightly," said Knight. "Though she was ours for only a short time, what a time it was. I love Aaliyah, and I will miss her for the rest of my life,"

On Friday morning (August 31) her white casket was transported from Campbell Funeral Home to St. Ignatius Church in a white carriage pulled by two white horses. Dozens of white and pink roses draped her carriage. Her boyfriend, Damon Dash, and one of her "Romeo Must Die" co-stars, Delroy Lindo, were among the loved ones and fans who walked the streets behind the carriage on its way to the private service.

In respect, the other passenger's aboard the doomed flight that day were: Anthony Dodd of Los Angeles; Scott Gallin, 34, of Pompano Beach; Keith Wallace, 49, of Los Angeles; Eric Foreman, 29, and Douglas Kratz, 28, both of Hollywood, Ca.; Gina Smith, 29, of New Jersey; and Christopher Maldonado, 32, of New York. Also killed was the plane's pilot, L. Marael.

Jamie Foxx Hosting MTV Video Awards

Actor/comedian Jamie Foxx will host the upcoming 18th Annual MTV Video Music Awards scheduled to air September 6th at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. The cable music channel decided not to ask brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans back for this years awards since producers felt they bombed as hosts last year. The awards show will feature performances from N*SYNC, Missy Elliott, and Alicia Keys and many others.

Sony/Columbia Fined For Death Of Crew Worker

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has fined Sony's Columbia Pictures $58,805 for violations on the set of the upcoming Spider-Man movie that led to the death of a crew worker. Cal/OSHA found that the company improperly modified a forklift so they could operate it like a camera crane, but the inapt fork lift/crane arrangement later crashed into a construction basket carrying 45-year-old worker Tim Holcombe who was busy welding a set. Holcombe died as a result of the accident.

Five Of the Major Seven Studios Form Online Alliance

Sony, MGM, Warner Brothers, Universal and Paramount have banded together to form a company aimed at providing movies over the Internet. Aimed at short-circuting any movie version of Napster, the studios are following the lead of companies like CinemaNow and IFILM that already provide streaming video. The new company still lacks a few things however, like a name, a company CEO and even a plan for how to provide movies to audiences over the Internet. Notably absent from the agreement are Disney and Fox, as well as Dreamworks. Even though the studios claim that non-studio filmmakers will be allowed to submit their features to the yet-to-be-named site, a studio manager for Dreamworks SKG voiced the concerns of many small independent studios about the alliance saying, "It's obviously not in place to give freedom to independent producers, but to further enhance the market power of already big companies."

NAACP Issues Diversity Report, Boycott/Legal Action Threatened

Kweisi Mfume, President & CEO of the NAACP, held a press conference to introduce "Out of Focus - Out of Sync," an NAACP report on the television and motion picture industry. The report covers 18 months of facts and findings on the study of diversity at the four major television networks and within the film industry. "It is inconceivable that anyone can deny the existence of racism in an industry which has yet to have an African American with the ability to greenlight any film or television deal," said Mfume. He also made the point that there is no African American who can hire or fire a director, sign a development deal, or make final decisions regarding creative matters. "I'm getting ready to do battle to bring about real and meaningful change," said Mfume.

No More Fake Reviews From Sony

Sony Pictures has promised to stop using fabricated reviews to promote their movies. In a pact signed on 13August, Sony said it would either use quotes from actual reviews by professional film critics or admit that the people touting the film were studio employees.

Two Sony executives had made up a reviewer, named David Manning, who lauded and praised both "A Knight's Tale" and "The Animal" to unsuspecting audiences. The two were later suspended by Sony for their fraud, but both are now back at work.

Oregon state, America, attorney spokeswoman JAan Margosian said, "It's a basic violation of our consumer protection laws. They always use puffery, but to fabricate somebody and put them up on a billboard and everything - that's going too far."

If the studio breaks the agreement, signed in Marion County Circuit Court, Oregon, Sony could end up paying a $25,000 fine for each victim of marketing fraud, Margosian said. The agreement between Oregon and Sony ends the state's investigation of Sony's marketing practices.

Hi-Tech VOD To Replace Home Video

Studios are set to back the Video On Demand (VOD) systems via cable and the Internet over the next three years. It seems they're going to be working hard to make current home entertainment formats obsolete.

Barron's magazine quoted industry consultant Tom Adams of Adams Media Research, saying "there is a certain inevitability about it (VOD)." He predicted the VOD market will grow from its current $30 million level to $1 billion in 2003. VOD could become a major thorn in the side of video dealers, and in particular, to Blockbuster.

Rodman Extinguishes Common Sense

Basketball icon and sometime actor Dennis Rodman recently entered a Newport Beach, CA restaurant carrying a fire extinguisher and a secret grudge over something only he knew. Without warning, he proceeded to spray the restaurant's patrons, got into a shoving match with one of them, and then retreated to his boat which was docked in the marina behind the restaurant. The police were called but for whatever reason they elected not to arrest the b-ball player turned junior fireman.

Source Awards Boss Arrested

Just one day after the Source Awards refreshingly fight-free show, Source co-owner Raymond Scott was arrested for reckless driving, battery on an officer, resisting arrest, driving with a suspended license, and possession of marijuana. Not exactly expected from someone who, during the violence of last year's Source Awards, advocated leading by example.

Toni Braxton To Be A Mom

Toni Braxton announced that she and new hubby Mint Condition's keyboardist Keri Lewis, are expecting their first child. Braxton says they already know it's a boy and their newest family member is expected on Christmas Day.

Indian Film Celebs Targeted By Mafia-Gangs

According to Indian police, top film producers and movie stars from all ethnic backgrounds in that country are being targeted for extortion by underworld Mafia-type gangs. Police have been frustrated in their efforts to catch the crooks by the refusal of terrified film personalities to lodge formal complaints. The Times of India quoted a police officer saying, "Many actors and actresses submit to the demands of the extortionists. In some cases, they have given money to gangsters even after being provided with police protection." Another source said in some cases the gangs are even demanding overseas distribution rights on films from their victims. "If producers are reluctant to part with overseas rights, they have to face the gun," sources said.

MicroCinemas A Growing Trend

A 75 year-old church in Houston, a theater in an old bank in Los Angeles, the 1935 rusted out and immobile Kalakala ferry on Seattle's Lake Union - they all have one thing in common. They all show 16-millimeter film, Super-8 and VHS video and film shorts as members of the underground world of microcinemas, where screenings of alternative works are a growing trend. Microcinemas are proving to be a significant outlet for young minority film makers.

Chris Tucker To Present At Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years

Chris Tucker, (Rush Hour 2) will join Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Samuel L. Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal as a presenter at the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years on Friday, September 7, 2001 and Monday, September 10, 2001 at Madison Square Garden. According to event producer, David Gest, "Michael is delighted Chris will be a part of this evening as he is featured on the opening monologue of his new single, ‘Rock My World.’ They have been close friends for years and Chris will definitely add his great sense of humor to the festivities." Tucker will present at both shows. The confirmed guest list reads like a who's who of Hollywood and the music and sports industries and includes: Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Jane Russell, Liam Neeson, Franco Nero, Liza Minnelli, Muhammad Ali, Yoko Ono Lennon, Sean Lennon, Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Angie Dickinson, Master P, Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, Shaquille O’Neal, Janet Leigh, Reggie Miller, Ann Miller, Jane Powell, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Esther Williams, Macaulay Culkin, Naomi Campbell, Patricia Neal, and Quincy Jones.