Sept 99: Industry Buzz

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Following the lead of Time Magazine's February, 1999 Hip-Hop Nation edition, The Hollywood Reporter released its first ever issue dedicated to Hip-Hop on August 17, 1999. Hip-Hop is dominating the music industry and flowing into media, clothing and film as well. According to 1998 year end sales figures, Rap outsold all other music genres including Country. Mad credit to executives in the film industry like New Line Cinema president and COO, Michael DeLuca. Still treating Hip-Hop and African-Americans correctly, New Line currently has more than 8 films in development starring African-Americans. Keep it up!

Writer-producer, Yvette Lee Bowser (Living Single) has gotten a grip on two production deals for the 2000-2001 television season. She will develop an hour long pilot for the WB and a half hour pilot for NBC. Looks like she has that girl-power thing!

Samuel L. Jackson & Busta Rhymes will have you all in check when they team up with director John Singleton and producer Scott Rudin to deliver a remake of "Shaft," the 1971 blaxploitation film that proved to be a tent-pole from that era. Busta will tackle the part of Rasaan - Shaft's right hand man. Jackson will take on the Shaft mystique. John Leguizamo will play the villain, Peoples Hernandez. Oh this will definitely be hot! Will they give Richard Roundtree a cameo? And most important, Isaac Hayes has to be on the soundtrack.

Rapper DMX, star of the film "Belly" and double, multi-platinum recording artist was named Solo Artist of the Year at the 1999 Source Hip-Hop Awards in Los Angeles. "Belly" was also named Film of the Year. It was directed by video-impresario Hype Williams. Belly part II? What happens to Bundy and did Sincere really move to Africa? We wanna know! Also, Russell Simmons was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. Phat work Russ.

Mayor Ernest Davis is confident that the first Hip Hop Hall of Fame will be built in Mount Vernon, New York sometime next year. Money earning Puff Daddy and Heavy D are reportedly interested in helping with the Hall of Fame project. Who'll be the first inductee? How about Kool Herc, Grandmaster, Russell Rush, Afrika Bambaataa or Kurtis Blow? Will it happen? Let's keep our fingers crossed.

In July, the NAACP put the networks on notice that the "whitewash" in programming has to end. Kweisi Mfume, President of the NAACP stated, "We intend to make it clear that the frontier of television must reflect the multiethnic landscape of today's modern society." After meeting with executives, Mfume still thinks that television is one of the most segregated industries in America. Discussions are currently underway about a possible November sweeps boycott of the networks. Make 'em sweat Kweisi.

Did you know Wesley Snipes has been flagged to develop another bad-ass super hero from the Marvel Comic collection? "Black Panther" will be Snipes' next power figure.

Martin Luther King III is supposedly headed into discussions with TV execs about hosting a daytime talk show for next season. The show would deal with social and political issues. What did you think it would deal with? Teenage break-ups and people who need a makeover? Please, please give King a show. Daytime needs it!

BET topper, Robert Johnson, has proposed launching a new network. BET II: The Black Family Channel. The channel would target the black audience and would feature original programming. BET is seeking commitments from cable operators to provide for a launch in 2000. Will this put more performers and executives to work or just make room for more infomercials?

Bowfinger, the latest pic from Eddie Murphy appears to be off to a grand start. The film is a welcomed return for the master comedian. He avoids using silly gimmicks or odd story lines to deliver this off-beat comedy. Looks like Eddie is back in form. Let's keep an eye on the brother.

The Hurricane, starring Denzel Washington and directed by Norman Jewison is carrying a lot of buzz and Oscar talk. The story centers around Rubin "Hurricane" Carter who was sent to jail on a triple murder conviction. He vehemently claimed his innocence. After public protest and tenacious rallying from protesters, he was released from jail in 1985. The talk is that Denzel is looking large and in charge in this role ladies. You can't see it until December though. Oh, well.

Looks like a first to us. The late Tupac Shakur was nominated for a Best Rap Video Award to be awarded at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. His video "Changes" joins DMX "Ruff Ryders," Jay'Z's "Can I Get a " and the infamous Nas/Puffy "Hate Me Now" collaboration. The slain Rapper/Thespian still speaks from the grave. Biggie's right behind him with some tracks coming down the pike that we haven't heard yet. Peep the October 1999 edition of Vibe magazine that's dedicated to the immortal lyrical geniuses.


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