Hudlin Entertainment

SDCC: Milestone Generations Documentary Coming To HBO Max!

Linda Elliot | My Droll

HBO Max Acquires Streaming Rights for MILESTONE GENERATIONS, A Documentary Film About DC and The First Black-Owned Comic Book Company, Milestone Media

The Film, Directed by Justice A. Whitaker, Produced by Courageous Studios and Presented by Ally, Is Available to Stream July 29 on HBO Max

BURBANK, Calif. (July 22, 2022) – Today at San Diego Comic-Con as a part of DC’s Jim Lee and Friends panel, Milestone co-founder Denys Cowan and DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee announced the forthcoming documentary MILESTONE GENERATIONS, a film directed by Justice A. Whitaker. The film will be available to stream on HBO Max beginning July 29. An extended trailer for the film was debuted exclusively to Comic-Con audiences:

Narrated by award winning actor and musician Cliff ‘Method Man’ Smith, MILESTONE GENERATIONS chronicles the relaunch of Milestone Comics and Milestone Media’s mission to address not only the lack of superheroes of color in comics, but also the lack of storytellers of color creating the content.

Milestone Media – co-founded in 1993 by artist Denys Cowan, writers Dwayne McDuffie and Michael T. Davis and Black Enterprise EVP/Chief Content Officer Derek T. Dingle – collaborated with DC to create the fictional city of Dakota, and some of the most unique and innovative characters in comics, such as Static, Icon, Hardware, Blood Syndicate and more. Last year Cowan, alongside Milestone Media partner and award-winning producer Reginald Hudlin, relaunched Milestone Comics with DC to continue the Milestone mission in the future. 

The film examines the founders’ trajectory throughout the last 30 years, detailing their unwavering commitment, passion and perseverance to rise to the top of the comic book industry as black creators. With tenacity and dynamic artistic expression, the creators of Milestone Media continue to influence culture and ignite revolutionary change through characters that reflect the lived, black experience.

MILESTONE GENERATIONS connects to the present industry need to identify, support and elevate emerging diverse writers and artists within the comic book world, highlighting The Milestone Initiative, a program from DC, Milestone Media, Warner Bros. Discovery and Ally that aims to empower the next generation of Black and diverse comic book creators.

Cartoonist and writer Ivan Velez Jr. (“Tales of the Closet,” Blood Syndicate,” “Ballad of Wham Kabam”); DC Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee; writer and widow of Dwayne McDuffie, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie; DC Senior Art Director Curtis King Jr.; voice actor Phil LaMarr (“Static Shock!,” “Justice League,” “Justice League Unlimited,” “Samurai Jack”); former DC President and Publisher Paul Levitz; journalist and author Angélique Roché (“My Super Hero is Black”); Milestone Media artist and color editor Jason Scott Jones; and filmmaker and author Dr. Sheena Howard (“Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation”) are among those interviewed for the project.

The film was produced by Courageous Studios – working with DC and Ally, the presenting sponsor – and was directed by Justice A. Whitaker (“Restrictions Apply”/Vice News, Untitled Full Circle Documentary/WestBrook Studios).

Learn more about The Milestone Initiative here.

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BLACK MOVIE SOUNDTRACK IV

Wed Aug 24th, 2022 at 8:00PM

Hollywood Bowl 
2301 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90068

PURCHASE TICKETS

The history of music in Black film is so rich, it demands a fourth tribute at the Hollywood Bowl. Following the first three wildly popular installations in 2014, 2016, and 2019, Reginald Hudlin’s Black Movie Soundtrack returns for another evening of music, movies, and more! Grammy-winning musical director Marcus Miller returns to run the show, and comedian Craig Robinson will reprise his role as host.

Featured performances will include tributes to SIDNEY POITIER and celebrating the 30th anniversary of BOOMERANG! 

PERFORMERS INCLUDE: 

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BABYFACE!

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BEBE WINANS!

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ERIC BENET!

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KID AND PLAY!

And more to come!

Programs, artists, dates, prices, and availability subject to change.

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A Great Day in Animation

I’ve done a lot of animated projects over the years – BEBE’S KIDS, the first African American animated feature film, BOONDOCKS, the BLACK PANTHER animated series, PAWS OF FURY (coming out this summer)….so it was nice to be included in this historic photo.

Nickelodeon Recreates Iconic ‘Great Day in Harlem’ Photograph With 54 Black Animation Professionals (EXCLUSIVE)

Selome Hailu | Variety
Randy Shropshire/Nickelodeon Animation/Paramount Animation

In 1958, Esquire published “A Great Day in Harlem,” a photo taken by Art Kane of 57 jazz musicians ranging from Thelonious Monk to Coleman Hawkins gathered together on a New York City stoop. In an homage to that historic picture, on June 5, 2022, Nickelodeon Animation and Paramount Pictures organized “A Great Day in Animation,” which features 54 Black professionals working in animation today. Taken by Randy Shropshire with Jeff Vespa as production lead and obtained exclusively by Variety, the photo is above.

Though Nickelodeon and Paramount put the event together and hosted it on the Paramount backlot, “A Great Day in Animation” includes artists from all across the industry. The idea for the photo came from Marlon West, a visual effects supervisor for Disney whose credits include “The Lion King,” “Encanto” and the upcoming Disney+ series “Iwájú.” For decades, West has been moved by “A Great Day in Harlem,” as well as Jean Bach’s Oscar-nominated film of the same name, which documents how the photo came to be.

“I’ve had a framed copy of that photo in my office or somewhere for 30 years,” West tells Variety. “And I thought it would be cool to do the same thing with Black animators.”

Aided by his friends and colleagues Bruce Smith, Peter Ramsey and Everett Downing Jr., West began putting together a list of animation professionals to include, aiming for legends like Floyd Norman, whose work on 1959’s “Sleeping Beauty” made him Disney’s first-ever Black animator, and his close collaborator Leo D. Sullivan.

“In the original photo, Coleman Hawkins is standing front and center. He was one of the elders of those folks,” West explains. “I just envisioned Floyd Norman standing in Coleman Hawkins’ spot, and all of us radiating out from him, and Leo Sullivan and other grandmasters who have upped the game.”

Left to right: Floyd Norman, Leo D. Sullivan

It was also important to West to invite up-and-comers such as Latoya Raveneau, who recently directed “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” and Chrystin Garland, a background painter and designer on series like “Solar Opposites.”

“If people look at this photo 10 or 20 years from now, [I hope] they’re like, ‘There’s so-and-so when they were just starting out!” West says.

After scouting around Los Angeles for different locations to take the photo, West was drawn to the New York-style buildings of the Paramount lot. (“And on a personal level, I was sleeping on floors of my friends’ apartments five blocks away from Paramount when I first moved to L.A.,” he adds.) He then reached out to the studio’s animation head Ramsey Naito, who sought the help of Camille Eden, Nickelodeon’s vice president of recruitment, talent development and outreach.

Eden had long been a fan of “A Great Day in Harlem.” “It has been long enough that I can admit this, but when the documentary came out about the photo, I actually skipped work to watch it in the theater,” she tells Variety over email. “When Ramsey Naito called to tell me about the project, I didn’t have to think twice. I immediately called my event manager, Robbie Siron, and let him know about the project. Robbie was on board, and we went for it. From the time Ramsey called, it took about five weeks to pull it all together.”

The day of the photo was emotional for many. For two and a half hours, 54 Black animation professionals (and one director’s child) met for the first time, had long-awaited reunions and shared their stories.

“The first person to show up was Leo Sullivan. He came with his family. He is such a legend, so to see him walking in was big,” Eden recalls. “Little by little, more people showed up, and I remember thinking, ‘This is really happening.’ I wish I could put into words what that felt like to see all this amazing Black talent gathering. Many hadn’t seen each other for years. Many met their idols and heroes in person for the first time.”

“Carole Holliday was there, and for the longest time she was the only Black woman I knew doing animation. I wanted to introduce her to some of these younger sisters, and it was beautiful to be able to do that,” West says. “To see her surrounded by folks who knew of her, or maybe even didn’t know they were standing on her shoulders. I was fighting back my knees knocking, my voice cracking and my eyes welling up.”

Like “A Great Day in Harlem,” “A Great Day in Animation” will stand to remind the industry that there is a wide wealth of Black artists excelling at their craft.

“I think people are going to look at this photo of 60 Black people and go, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that was that many,’ — and that’s a fraction of us,” West says. “In most of my career, I’m either the only brother in the room, or one of the few, and that was the experience of everybody there that day. So I think people are going to be surprised. It was almost [enough artists to staff] a studio standing there.”

“I hope that people interested in animation will see this photo and see several generations of people who look like them being successful and paving the way in animation,” Eden adds. “I hope that studios and executives will see this photo and think of all of the films and projects that each person in the photo had a part of and realize the impact and reach of Black talent in our industry.”

And for the people pictured, West hopes that “A Great Day in Animation” will be a worthy commemoration of a once-in-a-lifetime moment and the special nature of what they do.

“We’re in the business of making things out of thin air,” he says. “What we do does not exist [in advance]. We draw it. We build it. We sculpt it. We paint it.”

Floyd Norman during the “A Great Day in Animation” photo shoot.

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Reggie flanked by Bruce Smith, who directed Reggie’s film BEBE’S KIDS and co-created THE PROUD FAMILY; and Floyd Norman, the first Black animator at Disney – watch the documentary on his life!
Reggie and Ralph Farquhar, co-creator of THE PROUD FAMILY

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Milestones in History Uses Superheroes to Educate, Entertain Fans on Black History

The comic book anthology from Milestone Media and DC Comics features stories on Mae Jemison, the Queen of Sheba and Prince.
Stephanie Holland | The Root

As states across the country continue their attacks on Black History with racist and ridiculous anti-CRT laws, one of the biggest publishers in comic books is using its heroes to illustrate that Black history is World history.

Milestone Media and DC Comics are set to release the one-shot anthology Milestones in History. The 96-page book features eight stories chronicling the influence of Black people from the dawn of man in “Born in Africa – Mother of the World” through a celebration of Prince in “Controversy.” Icon, Rocket, Hardware and Static are the Milestone heroes featured in stories about the Queen of Sheba, World War I pilot Eugene Bullard, groundbreaking pilot Bessie Coleman and NASA astronaut Mae Jemison. Milestone partners Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan spoke with The Root about the book’s creation and importance.

As libraries and schools continue to remove books and lessons on Black history, Hudlin asserts that now is the perfect time for Milestones in History. In fact, he feels their approach will be even better than what schools are capable of, because they don’t have an angry mob of parents criticizing and censoring everything they write.

“These kinds of Black history comics had a huge impact on our childhoods. When Denys and I talked about relaunching Milestone, doing something like this was a high agenda item for us,” Hudlin said. “And thank goodness, because now we have a situation where 30-plus states are using CRT as an excuse to basically ban all Black history. We’re in a position via what we do in the media business, to supplement what’s being taken out of schools, and in some ways, doing it better. Because schools, God bless them, sometimes they just drain all the excitement out and we’re like, ‘No, let’s put the excitement back in. And let’s not half-step and worry about offending people. Let’s just tell the whole truth.”

For Cowan, the new book represents a return to the classic comics that got him interested in the genre in the first place.

“When we were growing up, it was like three comic book companies. There was Marvel, DC and Golden Legacy. And Golden Legacy were the ones that did the story of Benjamin Banneker, the story of Frederick Douglass, and they were all done in comic book form by professional artists,” Cowan said. “If you weren’t reading about Spider-Man, you were picking up one of those and that got you into Black history, learning about all that stuff at a very young age. I looked at it because it was comics. Anything comics I was in. And you know what, all these years later, I bet a lot of people still feel that way. So that was another reason why we did this.”

The first story in the book is “Born in Africa – Mother of the World,” which follows Raquel Ervin/Rocket as she explains the history of “‘Lucy,’ the collection of Australopithecus Afarensis fossil bones discovered in Ethiopia,” per a press release from DC Comics. From there, we get tales on author Alexandre Dumas’ family, military commander Hannibal and dancer Katharine Dunham. The intro has a line that says these won’t be the same old stories, and that’s definitely true.

“Give Reggie credit for the scope,” Cowan said. “Because when we first started talking about this, I wasn’t thinking about the dawn of man. But Reggie took it way back to the dawn of man and the birthplace of civilization, of human beings and then brought it up to Prince, which might be the cap of civilization.”

Hudlin and Cowan aren’t looking at Milestones in History as a project they necessarily want immediate success from. Obviously, they want the book to do well, but they also want it to leave a legacy that impacts readers long after they’ve enjoyed it.

“When someone reads this, this is some Johnny Appleseed stuff. You’re planting so many different ideas,” Hudlin said. “Each individual story, plus the idea that all these stories are collected. So we’re saying this is all your heritage, this is all your culture. And that’s going to change someone’s worldview. And that’s going to play itself out in a lot of interesting ways for the rest of their lives.”

Milestones in History is available Tuesday, June 21.

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