Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Can Kevin Hart bring fun back to Hip-Hop??

Universal has acquired the action-comedy pitch Run the Jewels by writing duo Alex Blagg and Neel Shah. Kevin Hart is attached to produce via his Hartbeat Productions banner.

The film centers on a group of failed rappers who attempt to rob an eccentric hip-hop mogul.


2013 marked the 20 year anniversaries of not only the two best hip hop parody films but apparently the only two major screen released hip hop parody films so far, CB4 and Fear of a Black Hat. No, seriously it hip hop parody films and these two movies are the only things that pop up.

Released in 1993 and starring Chris Rock, Allen Payne and Deezer D as MC Gusto, Dead Mike and Stab Master Arson the profane faux gangster rap group CB4 the first hip hop parody film is a hilarious romp.

Coming out the following year, Fear of a Black Hat starring Rusty Cundieff, Larry B. Scott and Mark Christopher Lawrence as Ice Cold, Tasty Taste and Tone Def, the members of N.W.H. (Niggas With Hats) and equally funny mockumentary about the rise and fall of a rap group.

At first I was shocked to discover that after 20 years there wasn't much if any major film releases following these movies that poked fun at the rap recording industry and hip hop culture. But after looking at how rap music, its participants and the industry has evolved over the last 20 years maybe its not so surprising that no one has done any more parodies and satires of the music and the people.

When CB4 and FOABH came out, the extremes they portrayed were comical because at that time no one thought any of that macho, hyper masculine posturing and behavior was real. I mean it was all for show right? All the songs about murder and mayhem and all the attitudes that reveled in it was make believe and exaggeration for effect just to stand out in a increasingly crowded genre of music that was becoming global before our eyes. No one would really act like that...right?

In FOABH there was a running joke that NWH had to keep getting different managers because they would always end up getting killed some how, usually because of the groups bullshit in some way. But that running gag was inspired by the rock mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap more than spoofing any real life examples. And that's because in the early 90s when those movies came out there were no high profile rap artist or managers that got killed. In CB4, the record label the group was signed to, TrustUs Records, was slimy but only in the way that the recording management industry have always been slimy. And all the guns that all the characters carried around and threatened each other with, that was all exaggerated as well, it makes the movie funnier to see a rapper strapped up to his earlobes. You see at that time no one would believe that any of that stuff would happen in real life.

But if there was a spoof film about Rap music and artists today who and what could they exaggerate for comedic effect? Maybe that film would have a scene where a rapper at an award show interrupts the acceptance speech of an artist in completely different category of music to complain about how fucked up the voting was or how they thought they would win and then the camera would pan across the shocked faces of audience members at the rude action. Yeah, that would be funny because what artist would do something as ridiculous as that in real life? How about a scene were a rapper gets arrested with a stockpile of guns and automatic weapons at his home? Kind of like the way Tasty Taste had a whole room dedicated to guns and bombs in FOABH. Because as we all know no one in their right mind would have that many weapons in their possession. Maybe  female rappers could be featured and in one scenario two top selling female rappers get into a beef not because they don't like each other but because their entourages clash and it culminates into a shootout  at a radio station.

The ideas are flowing now, let's do a scene where there's a gangster rap label and the CEO runs this legitimate business like a criminal organization complete with actual gangbangers hired as security and office personnel and during meetings whenever someone makes a bad suggestion the CEO would lock the door of the conference room and that person would catch a beat down from the label owner and gangbanger/security. Hell let's take it even farther and have a scene where a studio technician gets beat up for rewinding the tape too far back during a recording session. That's just crazy right? I mean no real business would do some dumb shit like that. Or the film could be done like one of those comedy murder mysteries where prominent top selling Rap artists are getting killed one by one (a few in public no less) but the cops are so clueless that they can't solve the killings. And even though that one is a bit macabre its okay because it stretches the suspension of disbelief. No one would believe that celebrities so prominent in the public eye would be killed and the cops not arrest someone in connection with the murder so it makes great material for a comedy of errors movie...right?

Unfortunately that movie or movies (could have been a franchise like the Scary Movie series) haven't been made over the last 20 years because rappers have been too busy doing all that crazy shit in real life. An award show interruption not only occurred but happened three times,  twice with Kanye West and before him Ol' Dirty Bastard jumped on stage during Shawn Colvin's 1998 Grammy award win for Song of Year .

Rapper T.I. was arrested on federal weapons charges after trying to buy unregistered machine guns and silencers from undercover federal agents in 2007. That came after the rapper's best friend was killed following a party in Cincinnati in 2006. The rapper said the bullets that killed his friend were meant for him.

Lil Kim got into a beef on wax with Foxy Brown, Brown even admitted that it had more to with the people around them than the two women themselves yet it escalated to the point of a shooting outside of a radio station where the members of the two entourages encountered each other. The result was one person shot in the back and Lil Kim jailed for a year for lying to the grand jury about what she saw or didn't see. And I'm not going to recount the ridiculous list of rappers killed in the last ten, fifteen years.

Hip Hop and rap music is in dire need of an image makeover  and the first place to start is to bring back fun in the music and culture. Before Rap music's Dark Age (the period between 1995, after Tupac was killed, and somewhere in the 2000s) there was fun and diversity in the genre.

I'm not going to say it was all rainbows and lollipops but one could get silly and be popular in rap music. Humpty Hump anyone? But it seems today the humor and comic sensibilities in Hip-Hop leans hard into the mean spirited. Kinda like the way someone would laugh if they saw a guy trip and fall down a flight of steps.

Chocolate Droppa (Hart's parody rap persona) seems well poised to bring back some much needed silliness and light hearted humor to the culture. Actually CD could have been used a few years ago but Hart has the clout now to make it happen with himself as a producer. I know its a tall order to expect one person to have a significant affect on a whole culture but maybe Kevin Hart's project can initiate some change in direction that others can pick up on.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

What really killed Harambe the gorilla wasn't bad parenting or a security decision, it was tourism.

Police are investigating a toddler's fall into the gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo — an incident that ended with the gorilla shot dead, authorities said.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters announced the investigation Tuesday.

Following the investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department, police will confer with the prosecutor's office on possible criminal charges, Deters said in a statement.

News of the investigation comes amid renewed scrutiny of the zoo, with an animal protection watchdog group calling for the federal government to hold the zoo responsible for Harambe's death.


This isn't the first time or even one of the rare times animals and humans have crossed paths in a zoo. You can google the litany of  animal escapes from zoos or humans getting to habitats or circus problems with elephants or tigers etc, the issues continue and yet all the outrage is directed at security or safety protocol breaches.

A four year old breaks away from his mother, climbs a fence and falls into the gorilla's habitat. Ten minutes later the animal is dead and everyone is pointing fingers and placing blame at everyone else except the one thing that's really responsible for this tragedy. The existence of zoos period. Taking a wild animal and putting it in a cage or artificial environment just so random people can pay to look at it is beyond cruel when you really think about it. Harambe the gorilla wasn't killed by zoo security, he was killed by the want for tourism dollars. And its not just zoos, all animal parks and exhibits are cruel. Only recently has the public been enlightened to the treatment of killer whales at Sea World. The outrage of that lead to the facility shutting down the exhibit. But thats just one exhibit. All the other animals there are still captive. 

The saddest thing I saw was an Orangutan make a hammock. 


This creature had the wherewithal for tool usage and to make adjustments for comfort and your telling me he's not aware he's in captivity? Its not fascinating its sad. Harambe was a western lowland gorilla that's indigenous to Central Africa and he was born in captivity and raised in Texas then moved to a habitat in Cincinnati, Ohio for the purpose of breeding more gorillas in captivity. I understand that gorillas in Central Africa are being hunted and poached to the point where their population numbers are dangerously low,  that's tragic and every effort should be made to stop that travesty. But what good is breeding a wild animal in captivity so that it can't survive on it own without human aid like Harambe? Or the tigers that escaped their enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo a few years back? 

If you think the lion gif is funny it shows how much you don't consider how cruel zoos are. Thats a wild animal acting on instincts and he's in an enclosure thats suppose to mimic his natural environment, we're capturing these animals to study what makes them tick but we're still destroying their territory and native lands and the ones in captivity can't survive on their own even if returned to their homeland, so whats the point? The point is tourism is big bucks for a city and zoos, safaris and exhibits generate millions for city and state coffers. Hell, an aspect of a city's prestige can lie in the quality and size of its zoo. So these wild animals are put in cages and enclosures almost strictly for the revenue they bring.

I'm not naive enough to believe that this topic will ever get examination in the public forum, there's too much money in zoos for that to ever happen. But let's at least be honest about the root of the issue that ended with a dead gorilla in the middle of Cincinnati.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Kelly Ripa Contradicted Her Own Teachable Moment.

In the last three weeks of Michael Strahan's tenure on the show, Kelly Ripa didn't hesitate to take sly digs and pop shots at her co-host.

This isn't about professional conduct and respect because the stuff Kelly was doing with her snide remarks isn't professional. Her behavior contradicts her own point about work place conduct.

Clearly the relationship between her and Michael broke down badly but Regis did the EXACT SAME THING and she didn't flip out nearly as much:

Philbin has been cryptic about his reasons, but even at age 80 after over 56 years on TV in L.A. and New York, he has repeatedly insisted he is not retiring. He also has said how much he has enjoyed the show he has done since 1988 (first with Kathie Lee Gifford and since 2001 with Kelly Ripa).

Some said Philbin was finally tired of the daily grind, the early hours and wanted an easier life.

After he said he would leave in early 2011, there were a flurry of stories that said Philbin had balked when told Disney wanted to lower his compensation, which under a contract negotiated in 2008 is reportedly about $21 million a year. That contract also was very restrictive in term of what he could do outside of the show.

Philbin denied it was over salary and said they had never even reached the point of a salary negotiation.

He still isn’t going into detail, but several sources tell THR it was actually a combination of the two factors.

Philbin had apparently been thinking of taking it easier for some time. His show schedule requires him to get up in the wee hours of the morning, and makes living a normal life difficult since he has to go to bed early.

Then when his agent at the time Jim Griffin went in to talk to Disney, sources say he was told the syndication business was soft and the show wasn’t pulling as big numbers as it had. They also apparently brought up how much time Philbin takes off each year.

The bottom line was what mattered, however: It was still a success, but not as big a success, so sources said they were still willing to pay him a lot, but not as much as he had been getting.

Disney officially declined comment on this article and off the record sources said Philbin made clear he wasn’t fired.

Philbin did, however, feel slighted by being asked to take a pay cut. That appears to have triggered his decision to quit the show and seek other options in show biz. He has said in interviews they never got to a discussion of salary specifics, which seems to be true, because he walked when they said it would be for less.

Not long after it became public and irreversible, Philbin fired his longtime agent and signed with the William Morris Endeavor talent agency for representation.

Now peep what happened when he told kelly about 15 MINUTES before they walked out on stage for the show:

His move, according to the website, left co-host Kelly Ripa stunned and the production team furious.

The decision to leave came after Philbin's agent Jim Griffin was told the veteran would have to take a pay cut in his new contract because of the show's dipping ratings and the large amount of vacation time he took.

It's unclear when he made the decision to call it quits, but TMZ reported that he let Ripa, his co-host of almost a decade, know about 15 minutes before they went on the air. He told the studio audience shortly after.

"She felt it showed a total lack of respect for her," a source told the website.

The former soap opera star was much more gracious in a statement shortly after the announcement.

"While I realize that nothing is forever, still I had always hoped there would be an exception," Ripa told the Hollywood Reporter in a statement. "I can't overstate what Regis has brought to the table."

Now understand something...Regis and Kelly had been doing that show together for TEN YEARS! 2001–11: Live! with Regis and Kelly. And Regis didn't tell Kelly shit until literally minutes before a live show even though he had sat next to her for TEN YEARS. Early on she would call him "my big man"and he would call her "Pippa" they would act lovey dovey, laugh together, interested in each others family...all of that and yet Reeg goes I QUIT 15 minutes before show time after ten years together. So clearly that relationship broke down at some point if Reeg felt the need to keep his cards that close to his chest with her.

So now we see a REPLAY of the same thing happen with Michael...They started off lovey dovey but at some point there was a breakdown.

When you look at it, Michael gave 4 month notice when he announced he was leaving. They told her when the deal was cleared, where they (management) MAY HAVE messed up was that it was in the news literally 30 minutes after she was told but that shouldn't matter really. Up to the point in the actual meeting the public wasn't aware of he was leaving. Check the timeline:

An insider who has spoken to Ripa opened up to the New York Times about what exactly happened in that meeting in a new story published Thursday, April 21.

As the hullabaloo continues, the insider told the Times that Ripa was "told of the move just minutes before the announcement,"and "felt blindsided." Us Weekly breaks down the newspaper's timeline of what exactly went down on Tuesday along with inside scoop from our own sources.

The paper said Ripa was called into a meeting after the show ended on Tuesday. She was joined by Live's executive producer, Michael Gelman, and Dave Davis, the general manager of WABC, which produces Live. "She did not know the purpose of the meeting," the insider told the Times.

Strahan Tells Ripa

Ripa, who was evidently in the dark about Strahan's departure, waited for 20 minutes in the meeting. Finally, the former NFL player entered the room. He then "broke the news that he was leaving."

A source tells Us Weekly that Strahan "wanted to be in the room" with Ripa when she learned about his departure. "Of course he respects and cares about Kelly," the insider says.

According to the Times insider, Ripa got upset with Davis at the meeting. "Didn’t I tell you this was going to happen?" she was quoted as saying to the WABC exec. "I told you two years ago this was going to happen." (Strahan started appearing on GMA twice a week in 2014.)

The Times also reported that Ripa made "little attempt to conceal her displeasure." A source adds to Us Weekly that Ripa was "definitely blindsided by the Michael news" and saw it as a "huge sign of disrespect" that nobody had told her.

Another source tells Us that Ripa's reaction was "totally unexpected." A third source adds that Ripa "stormed out" after "a lot of drama happened."

The word blindsided keeps getting used over and over but blindsided by WHAT??

For nearly four years, Ripa and Strahan have been lauded for their on-air chemistry — a lighthearted rapport that led to a 9 percent rise in the show’s ratings. But off-air, sources say, the two hosts were frosty: Ripa resented Strahan’s lack of devotion to the series and his rising star; Strahan was sick of being Ripa’s lesser-paid sidekick.

A show insider says Strahan — who reportedly raked in $4 million as the show’s co-host in 2012 — merely used the program as a steppingstone and quickly became a diva.

He would show up late to screenings, regularly bring his entourage to set, and made the crew stop everything twice a week during pretapings for him to get a haircut at the studio. (A source close to Strahan says the haircuts were approved by “Live” executive producer Michael Gelman.)

While Strahan was as charismatic as could be on camera, one media honcho says, “when he doesn’t need to be on, he shuts down and can be selfish.”

Leading up to last year’s Halloween episode, Strahan was so difficult that “the producers brought in an audience for one of the pretaped segments so he would behave,” says the show insider.

Strahan often butted heads with Gelman. A few years ago, Strahan screamed so loudly at Gelman over a show-related disagreement that one of the producers hid under a staircase because they were “terrified and disturbed,” says the show insider.

Okay if any of that is true in the least then Michael's behavior has been horrible for a least two of the four years he's been on the show. If that's the case plus she had a hunch he wasn't going stay with the show long term...THEN HOW THE HELL IS SHE BLINDSIDED by news of him leaving?? And mind you at the time of that meeting SHE DIDN'T KNOW WHETHER THE PUBLIC WAS INFORMED OR NOT! Remember reports say she flipped out during the meeting. As far as she knows this is just news for her told literally 20 minutes after they taped a show. So basically:
  • They stopped liking each other for a least a year up to this point and stopped talking to each other other than to do the show.
  • She suspects he may the leave the show because ABC is sniffing around.
  • She's not aware that anyone else like the public knows about his leaving at the time they tell her.
  • He says his last day is in September a full FOUR MONTH ahead.
Considering the environment and condition of their relationship at that time, Michael gave her 4 month notice and told her not long after the deal was made. So how is any of this a surprise for her?? If anything she should have been okay with this nightmare of a person leaving.

And considering her behavior towards him now, why would he tell her during the negotiations with ABC?? And quite frankly his decision to consider taking a job offer is none of her business especially during the contract phase of negotiations. Major changes can happen at the drop of a dime in that industry, she knows that.

And the People article where she says she basically sped up Mike's departure because they have to make preparations for choosing a new co-host is bullshit too. They do 5 shows but they work 4 days because the Friday show is usually taped on Thursday. Under that schedule Mike could have done say Wednesday and Thursday doing 3 shows and the co-host tryouts could have done on Monday and Tuesday over the summer and just before mikes last week a co-host could have been chosen and that Monday after Mike's last day the new person comes in. If Kelly really wanted to be professional about it she would have kept cool and did the show and all of this drama would have been avoided.

I think the freak out happened because not only is she personally angry with Mike (because all that attitude and shit is personal) but because she was also scared that ABC might mess with her show in order to bolster GMA's ratings. And for a middling actress who works a few hours four days a week, pre-production is probably 2 hours, the show itself is an hour and post production notes and meetings probably 2 or 3 hours after taping..that's 5, 6 hours a day for four days a week...that's PART TIME JOB HOURS and for that she gets paid between 15 and 20 million, yeah I'd be throwing out all kinds of shit at the ABC execs for threatening that gig if I was her. So in that regard I don't blame her.

But how she's acted in the show toward Michael in the last three weeks was uncalled for and decidedly not professional at all.


Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan Found 'Peace' Before His Controversial 'Live!' Exit

After four years, the 44-year-old former NFL star left the show on Friday, and while Ripa, 45, appeared to harbor some hurt feelings over the ordeal -- she was spotted wearing a "Freedom" jacket before his final show -- sources tell ET the two resolved their issues with each other.

"Kelly realized her issue wasn't really with Michael, but the network," sources tell ET, noting the "chill" between the co-hosts has definitely thawed over the past week. "Are they best friends? No. But there definitely is some peace."

There "wasn't a big conversation or 'Kumbaya moment,'" the source explains, but simply Ripa "reflecting and having a realization that he had a choice to make and business to take care of. That being said, she's still angry over being disrespected by the bosses."