Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bill Cosby and His Fellows

On Thursday night--thanks to our new friend Crescent--we were flying down the 405 for the Cosby Screenwriting Showcase. Okay, actually there's no way humanly possible to go above 40 mph down the 405 in 7:00 traffic, but we were doing our best.

It was wonderful to see so many talented writers' words brought to life by equally talented actors. Marcus W. Harris (an actor) was notably exceptional. We'll definitely be seeing more of him on the screen in the near future (other notable performances came from Jerome Anthony Hawkins, Lorenzo Callendar and Shani Bayete).

Among writers the Bay Area was well-represented. Shauna Robinson and P. Frank Williams are Oakland natives (Go Oakland!!!!) and Karen Dean hails from San Francisco. Shauna, P. Frank, Shawnelle and I took an 'all-Oakland' photo after the event. Hilarious!

The writing fellows had worked on their projects for several months and Thursday night's event was a culmination of efforts by the writers, established directors (Kasi Lemmons, Vondie Curtis Hall, and Mario Van Peebles) and the actors.

For any screenwriter looking to advance their writing career, fellowships are definitely the way to go!


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Green Tea, Anyone?

Coffee will make you j-i-t-t-e-r-y.

Okay. The coffee thing really isn't working for us and for the moment, the only tea that we have in our beverage collection are packets of almost unbearable lemon flavored stuff (which Shawnee says tastes like "somebody put their foot in to stir") and a mint "melody" that is horribly out of tune.

Any suggestions for good, reasonable green teas I can find without having to track down a witch in the enchanted forrest? email me But if you know of a good witch in the LA area--I just might look her up...


Daphne O'neal, an exceptional actress who has worked on two consecutive projects with us is speaking at our alma mater, Oakland Technical High School tomorrow. She will be educating students about careers in multimedia and might even throw in a word or two about us! Thanks Daphne.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Sundance, Moonlight, I Spy a Rapper Tonight...

Last night we headed over to The Actors Gang Theater in Hollywood for a Sundance Institute sponsored screenplay reading. We were invited by our screenwriting maestro John Herman Shaner (Halls of Anger) and joined by other members of the weekly Monday night screenwriting group.

It started out as any theater event would: Schmoozing with fellow students, looking at the portraits of past productions on the walls, smiling at the passerby. Until an extremely familiar face waltzed from a side door into the lobby and smiled a familiar smile in our direction.

Lo and behold it was one of our favorite emcees, Common! After checking the flyer, we discovered that he would indeed be one of the actors reading from the work-in-progress script, "Iraqi Freedom," by Paxton Winters and Emre Mirza. Other recognizable talent participating in the stage reading included Jeremy Renner (S.W.A.T.) and Claire Forlani (The Medallion).

The script was good and the acting was well done especially the seated performances of Jeremy Renner and Anil Kumar. If the script makes it to the theaters, the two of them would provide a very interesting on-screen pairing...

During the reception we mingled a little bit (good Lawd, I was tired!) and handed some ABA postcards to a couple of producers. Shawnee exchanged a few words with Common (who did remarkably well on stage with veteran actors) and we bid our screenwriting group "adieu".

Rapper, Common


Sunday, October 24, 2004

"I'd like to thank The Academy..."

Yesterday, Shawnelle and I headed over to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences "Television's Challenges in Black, White and Multi-Color" for a day of panels and discussions about diversity in TV. It was a fabulous event that addressed the need for diversity in front of and behind the camera in prime-time television.

Me, Shawnee, at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre.

We ran into several creative folks that we knew from the 'festival circuit:' Directors, Tamika Lamison and Dred, Actress, Billie Jean Van Knight, Editors, Felicia D. Moore and Lillian Benson, Casting Director, Pamela M. Staton and other great people that we've had the pleasure of recently meeting. It's true, Hollywood is a very small community.

The panels featured many high-profile television exceutives and we were able to chat with a few afterwards including Carmen Smith VP of Talent Development Programs, ABC and Pearlena Igbokwe, Sr. VP for Showtime. We also talked with Valerie Woods, a fabulous screenwriter who shared some of her experiences with us.

Audiences are changing--and television has to change to keep up with audience demands. They're definitely making an effort. The event posed serious questions and garenered some serious answers.

Pretty good for the inaugural event!

Shawnelle at the event.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Sharks and Shaun Robinson

"Shark Tale" has done surprisingly well at the box office. Three weeks at the top is a major achievement these days in spite of critics' attempts to sink it. Ty Burr of the Boston Globe blasted: "'s Finding Nemo gutted of all its charm and remixed for urban hit radio."

Though it was deemed "too urban" and "tolerant" by some adult movie goers, children across North America seem to enjoy life under the sea with Shark's Tale. This is great news for us and the "Adopted By Aliens" series. Girl power in children's programming hasn't lost it's steam either in the last few years. ABA is still trucking along in L.A....

Another item of note: I was watching the news this morning and saw a segment that featured Shaun Robinson of Access Hollywood fame. She is involved with the L.A. Chapter of The Black Adoption Festival and stated a very interesting fact: 40% of foster children in the system are African American. Very few of these children are ever adopted.

Those figures are pretty grim but many good people are working towards change. As some of you may know, the reality of african-american children in foster care inspired the character of Whitney and the Adopted by Aliens series. We thought: Can you imagine a child so overlooked by humans that aliens were approved to adopt her?

Ironic: A very sad premise for such an upbeat production.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Adventures In Networking at "The Office"

Last Night:

After comparing penmanship on napkins at Starbucks, Shawnee, our roomate Rachel and I skipped over to The Office for a night of networking.

Trailblazing producer Jennifer Klein (Pearl Harbor) spoke to a room filled with mostly executive assistants about succeeding in the corporate side of the filmmaking industry.

The knowledge that we gained was truly an eye-opener! It's so easy to think of executive assistants as typical male tycoons in suits but it was interesting to find a great balance of very young, hip women and men working for major production studios, producers and talent agencies around town.

Jennifer Klein, her cool assistant Pooneh Zandazma; special guests, screenwriter Sheldon Turner and Brad--Head of Tyra Bank's production company all shared their insight as well as some rather funny backstories. They were also all very accesible and easygoing during the networking session near the end of the event.



Wednesday, October 20, 2004

New Blog! (and eery news story...)

Hey all!

We've got a new look and a new blog!

It was getting hard to maintain our HTML page, so we opted for something simpler and easier.

The other day Shawnelle discovered this news item:
Woman Who Claimed Alien Abduction Dies

Mon Oct 18, 5:28 PM ET

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - Betty Hill, whose tale of being abducted by aliens launched her to fame and became the subject of a best-selling book and television movie, has died. She was 85.

Hill died at her home Sunday after a battle with lung cancer.

Hill claimed that she and her husband, Barney, were abducted by extraterrestrials in New Hampshire's White Mountains on a trip home from Canada in 1961.

The Hills were puzzled when they arrived home and noticed Betty's torn and stained dress, Barney's scuffed shoes, shiny spots on their car, stopped watches and no memory of two hours of the drive.

Under hypnosis three years later, they recounted being kidnapped and examined by aliens.

The couple gained international notoriety after going public with their story, traveling across the country to give speeches and making numerous television and radio appearances.

Their story also became the focus of John G. Fuller's 1966 best-selling book, "Interrupted Journey," and a television movie starring James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons.

Hill retired from UFO lecturing in her 70s and complained that the quest for knowledge about extraterrestrials had become tainted with commercialism. Too many people with "flaky ideas, fantasies and imaginations" were making UFO and abduction reports, she told The Associated Press in a 1991 interview.

"If you were to believe the numbers of people who are claiming this, it would figure out to 3,000 to 5,000 abductions in the United States alone every night," she said. "There wouldn't be room for planes to fly."

She also said media had fueled UFO fiction.

"The media presented them as huge craft, all brightly lighted and flashing, but they are not," she said in a 1997 AP interview. "They are small, with dim lights, and many times they fly with no lights."

Hill had gone a bit commercial herself, trying to fight UFO fantasies with a 1995 self-published book, "A Common Sense Approach to UFOs."

Before devoting her life to UFOs, Hill had been a state social worker specializing in adoptions and training foster parents. Her husband died in 1969.

When we saw the part about her becoming a social worker and specializing in adoptions we just kind of looked at each other: the whole premise of "Adopted By Aliens" is eerily somehow related to this woman's life work.

Anyhoo, we're pretty busy down here in SoCal. We've been working on a new script, networking and just adjusting to our new lives, so the third episode isn't yet ready to be unveiled. We promise to keep you updated--regularly!