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Great Black Books

1. “Invisible Man,” Ralph Ellison “If you only read one book”….let it be this one. The imagery is breathtaking. The metaphors….The unnamed protagonist of this classic can’t really fairly be called an “action hero” but his showdown with Ras the Destroyer at the finale of the book must be considered…

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PETER HUDLIN by Richard Hudlin, PhD Peter Hudlin and his two brothers either escaped or bought their freedom from a plantation in Virginia and all went on to be freedom fighters. Centuries later, three Hudlin brothers grow up on a street named Virginia Place in East. St. Louis. Amazing coincidence,…


My New Reel Story

Every couple of years I have to revise my list of credits and the sizzle reel of my work. I update the list as much for myself as well as others. Sometimes you’re doing so much, so fast, you forget all you’re done! The sizzle reel brings those credits to…

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Peter Hudlin’s Underground Railroad Station

The House of Hudlin My Family History My success is built on an incredible history of heroes who have achieved great things in the face of oppression.  This is the first of a series of posts about the Hudlin family.  I could not tell this story without the extraordinary efforts…

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House Party 25th Anniversary

The great TV series Unsung did an episode devoted to Kid and Play. I went to the premiere screening and had a great time! The House Party crew on the Red Carpet It turned into an impromptu House Party reunion with many of the cast members coming together for the…

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46TH NAACP Image Awards

Here I am on the Red Carpet with my family! Here’s a clip of the opening number for the Image Awards that kicked it off with a bang while making our mission statement clear. I’ve executive produced the Image Awards for three years now, and every year people say this…

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Did Voters Have “Racial Fatigue”?

‘Django Unchained’ Producer on ‘Selma’ Oscar Snubs: Did Voters Have “Racial Fatigue”? (Guest Column) by Reginald Hudlin  The Hollywood Reporter 1/21/2015 I hate whining. Ironically, when I was asked to write about the Oscar “whiteout,” I was in a planning meeting for the NAACP Image Awards. For those who don’t…

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The 2014 AMPAS Governor’s Awards

Reggie at Governers Awards

Reggie with AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson and President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (with her husband Stanley), with honoree Maureen O’Hara (seated)

Here I am flanked by AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson and President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (with her husband Stanley), with honoree Maureen O’Hara (seated).

Chadwick Boseman, Zendaya and Reggie

Star of the upcoming BLACK PANTHER movie Chadwick Boseman, singer and actress Zendaya and I talked a lot that night.

Sidney Poiter, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Reggie and Mrs. Poiter

Sidney Poiter, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, me and Mrs. Poiter.

Governors Awards: Top Contenders Celebrate Legends at Dress Rehearsal for Oscars

by Scott Feinberg

As always, the Academy’s second biggest night was beautifully orchestrated, emotionally moving and attracted dozens of current Oscar hopefuls

Keira Knightly and Benedict Cumberbatch

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the Governors Awards

The Academy’s sixth annual Governors Awards was, like the five before it, as special a night as any on the Hollywood awards season calendar.

I refer to it as "special" because it was a beautifully orchestrated and moving ceremony (hat-tip to the evening’s producer, Reginald Hudlin, and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs) celebrating four remarkable people: Golden Age actress Maureen O’Hara, prolific writer Jean-Claude Carriere and animation master Hayao Miyazaki received honorary Oscars, and 87-year-old actor-activist Harry Belafonte became the 37th recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Liam Neeson salutes Maureen O’Hara!

Clint Eastwood talks about working with Maureen O’Hara.

I refer to it as part of the "awards season calendar" because it decidedly is. Each year, more and more tables are bought by studios and filled with Oscar-contending talent. They gamely show up, knowing that attendance guarantees them not only a chance to witness history, but also the opportunity to casually (or not so casually) rub shoulders with more Oscar voters and tastemakers than they will encounter in just about any other room prior to voting. Only 600 people are seated in the room, but almost everybody is somebody.

This all provides a close observer with the opportunity to witness some pretty cool things.

Before dinner, Jessica Chastain, a star of Interstellar (as well as A Most Violent Year, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Miss Julie) and perhaps the most beautiful and talented redheaded actress in the movies today, nervously approached O’Hara, perhaps the most beautiful and revered redheaded actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age. O’Hara happily agreed to pose with her for a photograph, in which Chastain grinned with delight.

Selma’s writer-director Ava DuVernay introduced me to the gorgeous young actress Tessa Thompson, who stars in Justin Simien‘s Dear White People and DuVernay’s forthcoming film. We all had a chuckle upon realizing that both of Thompson’s directors were film publicists until getting behind a camera quite recently. Now DuVernay is the director of one of the most anticipated films of the year.

Jack O’Connell, the star of the forthcoming Unbroken, did a classy thing and snuck away from the event for a few minutes to go downstairs to the Dolby Theatre and surprise an audience attending an AFI Fest screening of another of his films, 71, which will be out next year and could be an awards player.

I was able to introduce Laura Poitras, the director of the acclaimed Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour — who is back from four days of much needed R&R in Berlin — to one of her heroes, the great Sidney Poitier, who was delighted to meet her. I snapped a picture of the two of them together and offered to email it to Poitras, who gave me an address that, she joked, will guarantee that the NSA gets a look at it, too.

Elsewhere around the room, Boyhood‘s young actress Lorelei Linklater and IFC’s chief Jonathan Sehring sat across from each other, surveying the scene. Birdman‘s Michael Keaton squeezed Wild‘s Reese Witherspoon in a big hug as the two Fox Searchlight contenders posed for a pic, with Birdman‘s Edward Norton looking on. And the date of The Gambler star Mark Wahlberg, his young daughter, just wanted to meet The Fault in Our StarsShailene Woodley — who, as fate would have it, was among the few 2014 Oscar contenders not present.

Once the show got underway, several others showed up onstage as presenters. American Sniper director Clint Eastwood was part of the O’Hara presentation, and John Lasseter, whose Disney-Pixar is distributing Big Hero 6, was at the center of the Miyazaki segment. Out in the audience, one could hear a pin drop as Harry Belafonte delivered his jaw-droppingly eloquent and moving speech — that is, until it ended, at which point whistles of approval from David Oyelowo, who plays Belafonte’s late friend Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, pierced through the applause.

Reggie and David Oyelowo

Me talking with SELMA star David Oyelowo.

Once the ceremony concluded, I boarded an elevator full of stars — among them The Judge‘s Robert Downey Jr. and Wild‘s Laura Dern — and headed down to the valet area, where the wait for cars to come around enabled many other contenders to congregate with one another. Dern and Jake Gyllenhaal, who have known each other since costarring in October Sky 15 years ago, chatted. Get On Up‘s Chadwick Boseman was introduced to Mr. Turner‘s Timothy Spall. And Rob Marshall, the director of the forthcoming Into the Woods, bowed before the great director Norman Jewison.

Among those waiting for their cars was The Imitation Game‘s director Morten Tyldum and star Benedict Cumberbatch, who were running late for a nearby post-screening Q&A, so when their film’s distributor Harvey Weinstein got his car, he offered them a lift, remarking of the moving evening, "This is what it’s all about."

Other contenders who were present included The Imitation Game actor Keira Knightley and composer Alexandre Desplat; The Judge actor Robert Duvall; Fury actor Logan Lerman; Fort Bliss actor Michelle Monaghan; Belle actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies actor Andy Serkis; The Theory of Everything actors Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones; Into the Woods actors Emily Blunt and James Corden; Whiplash writer-director Damien Chazelle and actor J.K. Simmons; A Most Violent Year writer-director J.C. Chandor and actor Oscar Isaac; Obvious Child actress Jenny Slate; Snowpiercer actress Tilda Swinton; Cake actor Jennifer Aniston; Boyhood writer-director Richard Linklater and actors Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette; Two Days, One Night directors Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne and actress Marion Cotillard; Foxcatcher director Bennett Miller and actors Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo; Black and White writer-director Mike Binder and actors Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer; The Homesman actress Hilary Swank and composer Marco Beltrami; Big Eyes actor Christoph Waltz; Wild director Jean-Marc Vallee; Get On Up director Tate Taylor; How to Train Your Dragon 2 director Dean DeBlois; American Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall; The Lego Movie writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller; Inherent Vice actor Katherine Waterston; Gone Girl composer Atticus Ross; and The Human Capital director Paolo Virzi.

Reggie and Harry Belefonte

Reggie and Harry Belefonte

Reggie and Harry Belefonte

A memorable conversation with Mr. Belafonte during rehearsal the day before the show.  Thank you to his wife Pamela Belafonte for the photos!

Chris Rock celebrates Harry Belafonte as only he can.

Susan Sarandon introduced Harry Belafonte.

The speech of the night….of the season! 

Belafonte Electrifies Governors Awards, Issues Challenge to Hollywood

Tim Gray, Awards Editor, @timgray_variety

Harry Belafonte gave one of the all-time great acceptance speeches at Saturday night’s Governors Awards, citing Hollywood’s often-shameful power to influence attitudes, and challenging the heavy-hitters in the room to instead create works that allow global audiences “to see the better side of who we are as a species.”

The performer, receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, pulled no punches, and his words were all the more effective because of the soft, even tone in his voice and the cautious optimism that concluded his speech.

The occasion was the sixth annual Governors Awards, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland, an annual gathering that always mixes a celebration of Hollywood’s past, some words of encouragement to the room’s artists, and a heavy dose of awards-schmoozing.

The three recipients of Honorary Oscars — Maureen O’Hara, Hayao Miyazaki and Jean-Claude Carriere — all provided moments that were touching and charming. But, concluding the evening with a long and electric speech, Belafonte took things to a whole other level.

He reminded the crowd about “Birth of a Nation,” the early “Tarzan” films (depicting “inept, ignorant Africans”) and “i,” as well as the industry’s cowardice during the McCarthy hearings. He also referred to the industry’s decades-long treatment of Native Americans in films, “and at the moment, Arabs aren’t looking so good.” The industry doesn’t like trouble-makers and “on occasion, I have been one of its targets.”

But he said that “today’s harvest of films yields sweeter fruit,” citing “Schindler’s List,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “12 Years a Slave” as examples. He also thanked such inspirations as Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Eleanor Roosevelt and Paul Robeson, quoting the latter’s statement that “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth” as well as the radical voice of civilization.

He then called Sidney Poitier to the stage, recognizing the actor’s role in changing public attitudes toward blacks. And he added that he hopes things will improve this century: “Maybe it could be a civilization game-changer.”

The first recipient of the evening was Maureen O’Hara, now 94, who came onstage in a wheelchair and charmed everyone by singing a few lines of “Danny Boy.” She read her thanks and when her escort asked her to stand and take a bow, she said “Oh, no!” saying she intended to stay another 10 minutes onstage and tell her life story. She got partway through it, talking about growing up in the FitzSimons family in Ireland, but eventually her mike was removed and she exited the stage in a bittersweet moment.

Hayao Miyazaki, speaking with a translator, said he feels “lucky to be part of the last era when we can make films with paper, pencils and film.” Introducing him, John Lasseter hailed the Japanese filmmaker as one of animation’s greats, along with Walt Disney, and said Miyazaki has directed 11 animated features, more than anyone else in history.

Jean-Claude Carriere, who boasts 139 credits, said he was particularly pleased that an award was given to a scripter. “Very often screenwriters are like shadows passing through the history of cinema,” he said, accepting the award on behalf of all his fellow scribes throughout the world.

Clips of all the speeches are at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences website,

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs opened the evening by saluting the four honorees, who represent “the amazing global diversity of our industry.” (Later, Chris Rock got off the evening’s best one-liner by congratulating Boone Isaacs on her work: “It’s nice to see a black president that America still likes.”)

Among those in attendance were Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, the board of governors, Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, studio honchos and a heavy dose of industry creatives. Megan Colligan, Paramount’s president of worldwide distribution and marketing, summed up the mood by saying “There’s always a real sense of community.”

That’s true even among the many awards hopefuls that were working the room. The event has become a key campaign stop for contenders, a chance to rub elbows with Academy voters and journalists.

There was a lot of cheery schmoozing. Producers Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrovsky (“The Imitation Game”) chatted with Bruna Papandrea (“Wild”), while animation directors Dean DeBlois (“How to Train Your Dragon 2″) palled around with Chris Williams (“Big Hero Six”).

Among attendees were directors Clint Eastwood, Richard Linklater, Rob Marshall, Bennett Miller, Morten Tyldum and Jean-Marc Vallée; and writers Dan Gilroy, Jason Dean Hall and Mike Binder.

There was an all-star lineup of actors, including Jennifer Aniston, Patricia Arquette, Steve Carell, Jessica Chastain, Kevin Costner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Laura Dern, Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Felicity Jones, Michael Keaton, Keira Knightley, Logan Lerman, Edward Norton, David Oyelowo, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Ruffalo, J.K. Simmons, Timothy Spall, Octavia Spencer, Hilary Swank, Christoph Waltz and Reese Witherspoon. Composers included Alexandre Desplat, Atticus Ross and John Powell.

Producer of the event was Reginald Hudlin.

Ray Chew and the band

Ray Chew and his amazing band, which blew award the crowd with their renditions of Oscar songs, from Moon River to Live and Let Die to West Side Story to Shaft.

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Django/Zorro #1

It’s out!  Available in stores, online and of course at! Check out the first installment of DJANGO/ZORRO, the comic book sequel to DJANGO UNCHAINED. 

I am executive editor of the book, and could not be more proud of the series. Here’s the opening pages with commentary from writer Matt Wagner:

Writer’s Commentary – Django / Zorro #1 By Matt Wagner

I first met Quentin Tarantino when we got together to discuss the possibility of co-writing the first official sequel to any of his films, a comic-book adventure that would match the title character of DJANGO UNCHAINED with a classic character that I had helped redefine in recent years—the original masked-and-caped crusader, ZORRO! Our connection was immediate and genuine and I knew that would translate into the adventures of our respective characters. Since the time frames of these two narratives were off by many years, I figured we’d need to invent a legacy version of Zorro—an all new character who takes up the masked identity for whatever reason in the years just preceding the American Civil War. But Quentin was adamant that we use the original Don Diego de la Vega in our tale. “No, no, no,” he insisted, “It’s gotta be the original Zorro! It’s gotta be your Zorro!” I immediately saw how well such a scenario could work; in the film, Django Freeman enjoys a close relationship with another older man who serves as something of a mentor during his budding days as a bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz. This motif provided us with an easy basis for our heroes’ interaction and, just like that, our story was up and running!

Django / Zorro #1 pg.1

PG. 1—One of the things that intrigued us was the longterm effect of Diego’s masquerade on his personality. We immediately get from the narration that, despite his age, Diego has never really stopped his crusade as Zorro. To a great extent, Zorro is his truer persona—dashing, adventurous, always fighting for the cause of justice. But how would several decades of acting the part of the foppish aristocrat version of Don Diego affect him? To some degree…he must actually become that person as well. It’s an interesting concept…when does the man become the masquerade and the masquerade become the man? Thus, we hear Diego’s fussy and somewhat cantankerous commentary to his driver and milk-brother, Bernardo…who obviously enjoys pushing his friend’s buttons to some degree. Bernardo is also our initial narrator; as I had established in my first arc on writing Zorro, he has taken it upon to himself to act as chronicler for his hermano’s many astounding adventures.

Django / Zorro #1 pg.2

PG. 2—Here we see some of the secretive language that Diego and Bernardo (who is mute) have used since they were children. In this case, a coded knock that lets Diego know that they have encountered someone…unexpected. And, just like that, our two heroes’ paths converge.

Django / Zorro #1 pg.3

PG. 3—As he offers this dusty stranger a ride, the shadow from the carriage’s curtain mimics the shape of Zorro’s traditional mask on Diego’s face. Django, so used to racial segregation (at best) naturally assumes he’s supposed to ride up front with the driver.

Django / Zorro #1 pg.4

PG. 4—But, much to his surprise, this white man is seemingly devoid of racial prejudice and invites him to share his carriage compartment as an honored guest. I just love that final panel where we see the rough-and-tumble Django somewhat awkwardly holding a fine china tea-cup in one hand and a cucumber canapé in the other!

Django / Zorro #1 pg.5

PG. 5—One of the things we decided early on was to not waste any time presenting these characters as if to new readers. If you’re buying and reading this comic at all, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ve seen Django Unchained and, let’s face it, who doesn’t know who Zorro is? So…on this page we realize that Django isn’t being entirely upfront with his host by claiming to be a prospector. But Diego isn’t so easily fooled.

Django / Zorro #1 pg.6

PG. 6—Django finds himself intrigued by this unassuming gentleman whom, he admits, reminds him of King. Then suddenly, this getting-to-know-you session is interrupted by another knock from Bernardo. But this is a different knock. A different code. Trouble brewing. And Django seems to have actually been ready and waiting for just such an intrusion.

Django / Zorro #1 pg.6

For more on Django / Zorro #1, click here.

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The Black Movie Soundtrack Photos

At The Hollywood Bowl

PE and Me

PE and ME!  We’ve known each other for years, and they delivered a crucial song for the HOUSE PARTY soundtrack, but this is our first photo together. They are really both lovely guys and great to work with. It’s nice to be a fan of the artist and the person. 

Hollywood Bowl Marquis

Hollywood Bowl Marquis

I’ve gone to Hollywood Bowl shows since I came to Los Angeles, but to finally have my own show on the marquee is a charge I haven’t felt since I started making movies and would see film titles on a cinema marquee.  

Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard

photo cred: @pose4rose IG

The Whitney Houston tribute was a highlight of the night. The orchestra provided live accompaniment to clips of her performing in THE BODYGUARD. The audience fell in love with her all over again.  

Blaxploitation montage

photo cred: Chanel Landreaux

The Blaxploitation medley had many musical favorites like Theme From Shaft, Freddie’s Dead from Superfly, and Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man. The clips were from all three films plus the filmographies of Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, Jim Kelly and the inimitable Rudy Ray Moore. 

Marcus Miller, Craig Robinson, Bilal, Lelah Hathaway

Musical mastermind Marcus Miller, host with the most Craig Robinson, the eclectic and electric Bilal and the lovely Lalah Hathaway

Lelah Hathaway and Maya Rudolph

Daughters of R & B Royalty – Lalah Hathaway and Maya Rudolph

Cindy Herron, Reggie, Terry Ellis, Rhona Bennett (Flavor Flav) 

Me and the lovely ladies of En Vogue who sound and look great. Note Flav in the background. 

Lalah Hathaway and Bilal

Lalah Hathaway and Bilal

Reggie and Maya Rudolph

Maya’s dad Richard Rudolph convinced her to perform at the show. Thanks Richard!  

We took this picture intending to clown around but it turned out very beautiful. Bibi Green, who took most of the pictures you see here, isn’t just a great manager – she’s a heck of a photographer as well!

Craig Robinson, Marcus Miller, Paul Jackson Jr., Reggie, Wah Wah Watson

Practice was going so well I called Craig Robinson to stop by. He felt the fire coming from Marcus Miller, Paul Jackson Jr. and Wah Wah Watson and hung for hours.  

Anthony Hamilton, Bilal, Wah Wah Watson

Soul men Anthony Hamilton, Bilal and Wah Wah Watson taking a break at rehearsal. 

Princess performing Purple Rain 

Princess (Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum) lit up the Hollywood Bowl on "Purple Rain"! Thousands of cell phones waved to the groove of the Oscar winning masterpiece as Paul Jackson Jr recreated Prince’s guitar solo perfectly. 

The Hollywood Bowl

For those who have never been, this is what the Bowl looks like. Large amphitheater with center and side screens for clips and shots of the performers. Thanks Nefetari Spencer for the picture!

Marcus Miller, Craig Robinson, Laura Connelly, Reggie

At practice with musical director Marcus Miller, host Craig Robinson, Laura Connelly of the Hollywood Bowl (with Brain Grohl of the Bowl blocked by my head). 

The Hollywood Bowl stage

The Hollywood Bowl stage on show day. The quiet before the groove. 

Pre-show at the Hollywood Bowl

The audience gets to the venue way early and has a nice meal with a little vino before the show starts. Several longtime Bowl subscribers were impressed that the audience didn’t talk or eat through the show. Instead they were pumping it up regardless of age or race!  

John Beasley, Marcus Miller, Anthony Hamilton, Ramon Yslas (in front), Wah Wah Watson, Paul Jackson Jr, Kris Bowers and Louis Cato

John Beasley, keyboards, Marcus Miller, bass and vision, Anthony Hamilton, percussionist Ramon Yslas (in front), the legendary Wah Wah Watson, guitar virtuoso Paul Jackson Jr, and next generation killers Kris Bowers on keys and Louis Cato on drums.  

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The Academy Celebrates The Black Movie Soundtrack

The Hollywood Bowl, September 3rd

The Black Movie Soundtrack

Here are some of the songs you’ll hear in the show interspersed with an essay I wrote on the show.  

Stormy Weather – Jumping Jive

The Black Movie Soundtrack was born with the advent of sound in movies itself. When Al Jolson speaks directly to the audience and says “you ain’t heard nothing yet” before launching into a ragtime, Black music in movies is established as a signifier of what is modern and hip. As musical styles evolved, from jazz to soul to hip hop, the significance of Black music in movies, regardless of the race of film’s cast, has been a dominant force in American cinema for nearly 100 years. This is why tonight’s celebration of The Black Movie Soundtrack is so important. We will be showcasing some of the greatest music ever made. In fact, often, the music is better than the movies that showcase it. But in some ways, that is an unfair comparison. Black music is arguably the most sophisticated form of artistic expression in our culture. Movies are pretty great too, but it’s hard to compete with composers who wrote for film like Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Oliver Nelson, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Marcus Miller, LA Reid & Babyface, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and Pharrell Williams.

In The Heat Of The Night

When I sat down to make a list of tunes to be featured in this evening’s program, the first pass was 130 songs long. Knowing that we would be lucky to fit 20 songs into the evening’s program, I had to accept the idea that an audience member would be disappointed by the absence of the their favorite jam in the lineup, so I apologize but it could not be helped. The good news is that the playlist was a bounty of riches, and could be edited in any number of ways. We could do a night of jazz tunes. We could have done three nights focusing on the great music soundtracks of the 1970s. We could do an evening of Prince’s music in movies alone. We could do a night of hip-hop in cinema. While those are all programs that we might try to execute in the future, we thought that it would be best to start with an overview of Black music in movies for the last 75 years. 

Earth, Wind And Fire – Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song

My first phone call was to my favorite music collaborator, the brilliant Marcus Miller. When we first started working together on the soundtrack of House Party, he told me about a week into his teenage years, when he was invited to join three bands: Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, and Weather Report. He chose Miles Davis and went on to produce several albums for him. With extraordinary dexterity, he was also Luther Vandross’ producer for his illustrious career. He also has a long career as a film composer for many directors including myself. Marcus quickly fell into a working groove with Hollywood Bowl conductor Vincent Mendoza. 

Rose Royce – Car Wash

Usually classic Black music is not revived, and if it is, it is stripped of its lush ornamentation.  Not tonight.  You will hear songs like Theme From Shaft with a full string orchestra! We are also making a point to feature score and not just hit songs in tonight’s program. You will be hearing some great score cues from movies like Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song, Boomerang and He Got Game.

Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead

In the same way Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington and Oliver Nelson were the most prominent composers of early black film soundtracks, the work of Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye dominates the 1970s “Blaxploitation” era.  

Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft

If there is a single song that personifies the idea of The Black Movie Soundtrack, it is Isaac Hayes’Theme From Shaft. A legendary songwriter with Stax records turned solo artist, for Isaac Hayes, Shaft was the perfect canvas to express his widescreen sonic ambitions with music that harnessed the power of an orchestra with the groove of state of the art soul music to make an enduring classic that won one for the most deserved best song Oscars in Academy history.

En Vogue – Giving Him Something He Can Feel

Sparkle was one of three soundtracks by Curtis Mayfield. He was already a legend from his work with The Impressions, with songs like People Get Ready and Gypsy Woman, as well as huge solo career. But one could argue that Curtis Mayfield’s work on Superfly was his masterpiece. The lyrics of the soundtrack create a great chorus effect that critiques the story and the characters on screen. The combination of the music, the fashions, and the timely storyline all combine to make Superfly one of the most important films of its era. In addition to Superfly and Sparkle, Curtis Mayfield famously collaborated with Gladys Knight on the soundtrack to Claudine, another beloved film whose music is integral to the popularity of the film.

Marvin Gaye – Trouble Man 

Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man is an underrated soundtrack, although aficionados of the genre love it. Marvin was not happy with the soundtrack for Trouble Man, so he rerecorded it entirely before it was released commercially; meaning the music in the film is quite different from the music on the album. Years later, John Singleton used large chunks of the score for his action film Four Brothers.

Prince – Let’s Go Crazy

The next Black artist to receive an Oscar for best song is Prince for Purple Rain. All of his soundtrack albums – Purple Rain, Parade, Batman And Graffitti Bridge – capture a genius at the peak of his talents. 

Public Enemy – Fight The Power

I was a fan of Public Enemy from their debut. Their music felt like the summation of all the potential of hip hop both musically and lyrically. Public Enemy has done a lot of significant movies, including the song ‘Bring The Noise’ from the movie Less Than Zero, as well as songs in many films by Spike Lee. I was fortunate enough to work with Public Enemy on my first feature film, where they delivered yet another amazing song called ‘I Can’t Do Nothin’ For You Man.’ 

Pharrell – Happy

The beat goes on with Pharrell, whose work on the Despicable Me franchise is as impactful as his hit records with Jay Z, Snoop and his own solo career. Happy is one of the most accurately named songs in history, and it achieves the goal of any artist – to bring the whole world together on the One. 

Marcus Miller – Boomerang

I would like to thank the Academy of Motion Pictures, the Hollywood Bowl, Laura Connelly, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Marcus Miller, Vince Mendoza, Jeff Kent and our host Craig Robinson for making a dream come true.

Anthony Hamilton – Freedom

The Academy Celebrates The Black Movie Soundtrack

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 8 pm

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Behind The Scenes Of This Year’s Image Awards

 I wanted to post these earlier, but I was too busy making the doggone show!

Stevie Wonder NAACP Image Awards rehearsal

Here’s Stevie Wonder, America’s National Treasure, in rehearsal. One of the keyboardists in his band was jamming one of my favorite songs, Weather Report’s YOUNG AND FINE to warm up.

After hearing Stevie run it down, I made the executive decision to give him more time and add one more song to the medley. More is always more with Stevie. 

NAACP Image Awards rehearsal seating

These signs help the crew in rehearsal so they know how to position themselves to capture crowd reactions and winners as they walk to the stage. 

California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Godchildren

California Attorney General Kamala Harris with her very adorable Godchildren being interviewed on the Red Carpet by Kevin Frazier.

Reginald and John Ridley at NAACP Image Awards

During the Red Carpet show (a NAACP Award first!), I ran into screenwriter John Ridley, who won an Image Award and an Oscar for 12 YEARS A SLAVE.

Kevin Hart and Tyler Perry backstage at NAACP Image Awards

When I saw two the biggest stars in Hollywood talking backstage, I had to capture Kevin Hart and Tyler Perry together. Kevin was the big winner of the night with awards for best actor in a sitcom, best sitcom for REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD and Entertainer of the Year.

NAACP Image Awards producers with friends and family

After the show, me and fellow producers Phil Gurin and Byron Phillips took a picture with friends and family. Many of these people grew up with me in East St. Louis. Others are more recent but no less dear. These people are what it’s all about.

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