Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Execs Huggins and Nash Launch Kronicle Media

Korin Huggins
Monique Nash
(Los Angeles, Sept. 27, 2017) – Korin Huggins, former head of television for Will Packer Productions and producing partner Monique Nash have launched Kronicle Media, an independent production company based in Los Angeles that will develop drama, comedy and unscripted content for broadcast, cable and streaming networks, and digital platforms.

Among its first projects, the new venture has signed a two-script development deal with ABC Signature Studios from writer, producer Josh Senter (“Finding Carter,” “Chasing Life”) for the one-hour drama, “Revival,” whose logline is currently under wraps. Additional development projects include a drama centered around the friendships between four sorority sisters who are reunited under mysterious circumstances, starring and executive produced by rap/hip-hop legend and actress MC Lyte along with producing partner Lynn Richardson under their Sunni Gyrl banner. 

“We created Kronicle Media out of our desire to tell stories for and about women from diverse perspectives.  We saw a demand in the marketplace for female-centric content and felt this was the perfect time to capitalize on this, by creating a venture that would combine both our passion and producing experience.  We’re excited to dive in and make TV magic,” said Korin Huggins and Monique Nash.

Emmy-nominated producer Huggins oversaw Will Packer Productions’ television division under its first overall deal with Universal Television, from the company’s inception in 2013 until 2017. During her tenure she was co-executive producer on ABC’s “Uncle Buck,” NBC’s “Truth Be Told” and the History/A&E/Lifetime re-imagining of the miniseries “Roots,” which received seven Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series. Huggins also oversaw the BET series “Being Mary Jane” starring Gabrielle Union. Previously, Huggins was Director of Development at Warner Bros. Television and manager at Universal Cable Productions for USA and Syfy, handling development of “Fairly Legal” and current programming for “Monk,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Eureka.” 

Nash served as Director, Current Programming & Development at Will Packer Productions, working on “Being Mary Jane,” “Uncle Buck,” “Truth Be Told” and “Roots.” Her earlier roles include Manager, Current Programming at FOX Network, where she worked on “Bones,” “The Simpsons,” “Back to You,” and “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

Kronicle Media is represented by Ryan Nord at Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman.

'Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives' Opens

Clive Davis and Whitney Houston

on Apple Music beginning October 3rd

What do Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Patti Smith, Aerosmith, Alicia Keys, Barry Manilow and The Notorious B.I.G. all have in common? They are just a few of the musical superstars who visionary record executive and producer Clive Davis introduced to the world. In 1967, as a young attorney who finds himself unexpectedly promoted to president of Columbia Records, Davis quickly discovers he has an almost preternatural gift for identifying and cultivating the singers and songs that resonate with audiences. That ability, coupled with his deep admiration for musicians, innate showmanship, obsessive attention to detail and relentless drive, eventually allow him to lead three different record companies to the pinnacle of success. In Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our Lives, filmmaker Chris Perkel (The Town That Was) explores the triumphs and tragedies that shape Davis’ astonishing five-decade career as the world’s preeminent hit-maker.

Dee Rees To Helm 'The Last Thing He Wanted'

Director Dee Rees 

LOS ANGELES – September 27, 2017: 
Award-winning independent filmmaker Dee Rees (Mudbound, Pariah) will direct the best-selling 1996 Joan Didion political thriller The Last Thing He Wanted from publisher Alfred A. Knopf.  Elevated’s Cassian Elwes (Dallas Buyers Club, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) optioned the book last year from Didion to develop it in partnership with Rees following their incredible collaboration on Mudbound, which premiered to standing ovations in Sundance and at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Marco Villalobos will pen the screenplay which is a political thriller in the vein of the parallax view about a Washington Post journalist thrown unexpectedly into the dangerous world of arms dealing. Prolific production and financing house, The Fyzz Facility has come onboard to develop the project with an eye to co-financing the film once the project is ready as part of their first-look deal with Elwes.

Mudbound, which Netflix will release in November, is set in the post-WWII South, it tells the story of two families pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape as they simultaneously fight the battle at home and the battleground abroad.  Mudbound explores the themes of friendship, heritage and the unending struggle for and against the land. 

"This work is one of my favorite Joan Didion novels and is a brilliant and layered piece of fiction,” said Rees.  “I am forever attracted to interesting, unexpected characters and Didion is one of the greatest masters of the form.  I’m so excited to be able to interpret this literary masterpiece.”

“As a longtime admirer of Joan Didion, we couldn’t be more excited to bring one of her most compelling works of fiction to life.  And Dee’s take on this piece has a unique tension and depth,” added Elevated’s Cassian Elwes. “The combination of the two powerhouse creatives will make for an incredible film and I look forward to continuing my work with Rees and The Fyzz.”

Rees’ Pariah debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win many awards including the “John Cassavetes Award” at the Independent Spirit Awards, and the Gotham Award for “Best Breakthrough Director”. Rees wrote and directed the HBO film Bessie (2015) which won 4 Emmy awards including "Best Limited Series or Movie”.

Rees is represented by WME.

The Fyzz Facility and Elevated have collaborated on a number of films, most recently: Justin Kelly’s JT Leroy starring Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern and Victor Levin’s comedy Destination Wedding starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder – both of which are in post-production.

Monday, September 25, 2017

'Evolutionary Blues' Doc To Debut At AAFFLA

The feature documentary, Evolutionary Blues...West Oakland's Music Legacy will debut at the 8th Annual Awareness Film Festival Los Angeles at 7 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Regal LA LIVE. 
A filmmaker Q&A will follow. 

The Southern California premiere of the definitive West Oakland music culture is told in the new documentary film, “Evolutionary Blues…West Oakland’s Music Legacy.”  Directed and produced by Cheryl Fabio, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian, Isabel Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other Suns).  Commissioned by the City of Oakland and produced by KTOP-TV, Evolutionary Blues is a musical showcase with testimonials and tributes from progenitors to aficionados.

Long celebrated for a unique sound emanating from acclaimed performers of yesterday and today--West Oakland is a dynamic music Mecca whose history is untold, in full measure, until now.


Fabio, a 30-year authority on the African American film experience, has put forth a stunning, accessible and illuminating 90-minute documentary.  It is a veritable walk through historical terrain revealing how postwar development impacted African Americans and their musical heritage. Filmmakers and select talent are available for interviews; key biographies and jpeg images are available.


The Blues is an earthy, soul-stirring mélange of roots music and personal narratives that became the defining soundtrack of Black America.  Wherever Black people settled that soundtrack took on a local flavor. In Northern California, the influences came from the musicianship of Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. Seventh Street in West Oakland supported and bolstered Blacks who escaped the harsh South and answered the call of the war effort in the late 1940’s. Entrepreneurship created a fully contained community that provided work, homes and all the necessities of life including a fully developed music scene--more than 30 local musicians share their inspiration and describe the trajectory of the Oakland Blues--how it evolved and what it has become.

Evolutionary Blues … West Oakland’s Music Legacy is co-produced by Sarah Webster Fabio Center for Social Justice.

Additional information:

Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of The Warmth of Other Suns, Robert O. Self, author of American Babylon: The Struggle for Post War Oakland, and Rickey Vincent, author of Funk and Party Music, provide background giving these musical stories a historical context. The film incudes a catapulting soundtrack, amazing period images - newly digitized negatives from EF Joseph’s Collection, film clips from Marlon Riggs and Peter Webster’s film Long Train Running, others from private collections, even the Library of Congress.  Listen to entertaining interviews from Blues Legends like Sugar Pie DeSanto, Sonny Rhodes, Bob Geddins, Jr., Marvin Holmes, Faye Carol, Larry Vann, Paul Tillman Smith, Lenny Williams, Ronnie Stewart, John Turk, Leon Williams, Alabama Mike, Ron Wells, Fantastic Negrito, The Hartfield Brothers, Freddie Hughes, Wylie Trass, Jesse James, Lady Bianca, Tom Bowden, and D’Wayne Wiggins. Then Lee Hildebrand, a music journalist and James C. Moore, Sr., record producer and talent manager, share their perspectives. We have incorporated legends such as Charles Sullivan, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy McCracklin, Big Mama Thornton, and Omar Sharriff through the writings of T. Watts. Bob Geddins, Sr. and Johnny Talbot and De Thangs, and Larry Graham are included through the stories the musicians tell.

The Dynamic Miss Faye Carol has a unique style and gift of connecting with her audience that is astonishing. This Bay Area living legend is a recipient of countless awards and honors inducing 2014 Bay Area Jazz Hero Award, 2016 City of Berkeley Lifetime Achievement Award, and four Cabaret Gold Awards, in addition to her 2015 induction into the Oakland Blues Walk of Fame.

Ronnie Stewart has been a musician for over 49 years.  Along with Cool Papa Sadler, they created the Bay Area Blues Society in 1986 to perpetuate blues, jazz and gospel as an art form indigenous to America.  In 2014 the Blues Society reorganized and expanded to a more regional organization, the West Coast Blues Society.  Programming includes the recognition of Bay Area Blues Legends at first West Coast Blues Hall of Fame & Awards Show in 1987.  The first year inductees included Jimmy Witherspoon, Don Barksdale, Sugar Pie De Santo, Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy McCracklin, Ruth Brown, Bobby Blue Bland and Hank Ballard. 

Cheryl Fabio, JD - received a BA from Fisk University in Sociology, a MA from Stanford University in Communications and her JD from John F. Kennedy School of Law. Cheryl has managed PEG television channels for the City of Oakland and City College of San Francisco. She was the Program Director for Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Inc. and she has worked in independent film community for many years.      

Tickets are $12-$15.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Patti Austin To Celebrate Ella's 100th Birthday

Patti Austin

By Darlene Donloe

Patti Austin loves to laugh almost as much as she loves to sing. She laughs often and she laughs freely. To meet her, talk to her, or just to share a moment reveals an immediate, likable and authentic personality that makes you feel like one of her best friends.

A stunning beauty with piercing eyes, Austin is known for her luscious voice. It glides, it shines, it wraps itself around melodies and lyrics as if to give them a hug.

She knows how to make a song her own – even when she’s covering someone else’s.  Those skills will be front and center this weekend when Austin pays tribute to one of her favorite singers of all time – Ella Fitzgerald.

Ella Fitzgerald

As part of the Ignite@the Ford!, on Sunday, Sept. 24, the Grammy-winning songstress will host an all-star evening – 100: The Apollo Theater Celebrates Ella’s 100th Birthday! at the Ford Theatre in Hollywood. The show, presented in association with the Apollo Theater, features David Alan Grier, Monica Mancini, Ledisi and pianist Shelly Berg, who are all there to honor the First Lady of Song.

Patti Austin and David Alan Grier

It’s no secret that Austin, 67, is a huge fan of Ella Fitzgerald’s. Just ask her, she’ll tell you. In tribute, she recorded 
“For Ella” an album of Fitzgerald’s standards. Soon, the consummate New York native, who has been entertaining audiences for six decades, will release “Ella: Now & Then,” her second recorded tribute to Ella.  The CD will include classics like Lullaby Of Birdland, Mack the Knife, Sing Me A Swing Song and April in Paris.

I recently spoke to Patti Austin about her upcoming show and her envious career.

DD: Tell me about the first time you heard Ella Fitzgerald sing.

PA: To be honest, it's a tough question. I started at 4-years-old as a professional and was completely blessed by the gods to be in the company of Ella and people like Dinah Washington, who was my godmother and Quincy Jones, who was my godfather. I was around people like Sammy Davis Jr. and Mel Torme. I was always hearing all kinds of music at a young age. I really didn’t focus on the first time I was hearing Ella. I didn’t really start focusing on Ella until people would ask if I was listening to Ella because they heard Ella in my voice. Ella is in there. I just loved everything about her voice. It’s so simple for me. The very timbre of her voice. It’s very rich. When she was younger she sounded like others, but as she got older her voice became more defined. Hers was a rich vibrato, with a velvety tone. There wasn’t a break in her voice. She can sing up in the top. She was just amazing. She had a very simple way of reading a lyric.

DD: When you were younger, you were surrounded by music.

PA: Yes. My dad was a jazz musician and played in a lot of big bands. I grew up in a house hearing everyone sing from Ella to Patsy Cline. At that time  Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McCrae and Betty Carter were happening. During that time you didn’t question who was singing. You knew who they were. All of these women had completely different sounds. They were very special.

DD: Why should Ella be celebrated?

PA: Because she was a bad mamma jamma. She was amazing. She sang everything and sang it all over the world. She brought America to the rest of the world.  She did it in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s - singing American music.  Most people don’t know just how much of a mamma jamma she was because she was a gentle spirit.  What an amazing life she had. She came up from zip and turned it into this classy, beauty wonderful talent that represented this country.

DD: Do you think she ever really got her due?

PA: I don’t think so. It’s America. If she were white she’d be Empress of the Universe. We gotta live with that until we get that sorted out. Have you seen an Ella Fitzgerald special? No. We’re working on an Ella Fitzgerald special. It’ll be a series about all the black female vocalists from that period. I just wish she were here. I wish she could’ve lasted until she was 200-years-old.

DD: In 2002, you recorded, “For Ella,” an album of her standards.  Now you’ve released “Ella: Now & Then,” your second recorded tribute to Ella.

PA: Yes, we’re finishing it up now. We will finish mastering it this week or next week. I could do 10 of these and not cover her repertoire. It’s magnificent to hear her. When you do, it makes you want to go home and rehearse.  Her talent seemed totally effortless.

DD: Do you have a favorite Ella song. If so, what is it about the song?

PA: I never answer that.  That’s like standing with a woman with 10 kids and asking which one she likes the best.  You know, she wasn’t a jazz singer, she was a pop star. The material she did in those days was saucy and sassy. We did a bit more of that stuff on this record. Her body of work is just too big to pick one song. That’s why I’m not married. I couldn’t pick one guy.

DD: It’s hard to put your own spin on an Ella song.  Were you at all apprehensive about the attempt?

PA: Extremely. I immediately determined I wasn't going to do anything like she actually did it. You can’t touch that. Luther was famous for taking someone’s hit and making it his own. My idea was like going into Ella’s closet, picking out what I like, getting a tailor to come in and being able to wear Ella’s dress. We didn't take anything and do it her way. The idea was to honor her body of work in my own way. Besides, I don’t have the same kind of voice. She sang verses to her songs – they all had melody patterns to them.

DD: You’ve spent six decades in the industry. Talk about what it was like in the beginning and what it’s like now.  How has the industry changed?

PA: Not for the better. We’re losing our souls to these little things we carry around in our hands. It’s turning our minds to mush. It has really affected the music industry. We have 20 less ways to get our stuff out there. You go to buy something on iTunes and you don't know anything but who the artist is. You don’t know the roots of anything. You don’t know anything about the arranger, the producers or who wrote what.

There was mentoring when I was coming up. I don’t see that happening anymore. I don’t see them calling over the younger artists and saying, ‘Hey don't do that, do this.’  I’ve become a lunatic doing this. I want to show people how to do it the right way. We are youth oriented in this country. We’ve gotta improve our image and keep telling the kids what’s going on and figure out where the music business is going. The record industry doesn't exist anymore – not as we know it. They don't have A&R anymore, they have people who look at screens and try to find talent.

DD: Well, this doesn’t bode well for the music industry.

PA: We’ve killed longevity for an artist. It’s difficult to have a 60-year career today. It’s a ‘like you today, hate you tomorrow’ kind of mentality.  It’s about instant gratification, which sucks the soul out of everything. It’s not about making good music.

DD: Do you like today’s music?

PA:  I like a lot of it. I like what’s happening lately.
I listen to everything. Bruno Mars is brilliant. He keeps one foot in today and the other foot in the Gap Band. There are some great voices out there now – especially in the gospel market – Kim Burrell is just incredible. I mean, what is that? She’s just incredible.

DD: What did you expect from the industry and what did you get?

PA:  I didn’t expect jack from anything, therefore, everything is interesting, everything is a joy and everything is a learning experience.  Expectation is stupid. You want to see God laugh, make a plan. I expect nothing. I don’t even expect to wake up the next morning. I try to stay in the moment and enjoy the moment.