I’ve always wanted to make a “secret” movie, one I did on the down low that no one knew about until it was about to come out. Well, I’ve finally done it. For the past three years, I’ve been shooting my first documentary feature film, and it will be released worldwide on June 7th! We literally just finished it and turned it over to Netflix, who financed and is releasing the film.
The movie is called THE BLACK GODFATHER and I promise it’s gonna blow your mind. Here’s an article about it from BILLBOARD magazine:
Industry Pioneer Clarence Avant Spotlighted in Netflix Doc ‘The Black Godfather’: Exclusive
Clarence Avant poses for a portrait during the 41st NAACP Image awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on Feb. 26, 2010 in Los Angeles.
Feature-length project bows June 7
Music industry legend Clarence
Avant is the focus of the forthcoming Netflix documentary The Black Godfather. Produced by Avant’s
daughter Nicole Avant and directed by Reggie Hudlin, the feature-length
documentary will premiere June 7.
The documentary’s title is derived from Avant’s longtime—and well-deserved—nickname: the “Godfather of Black Music.” During a multi-faceted career that dates back to the racially charged ‘60s, Avant defied convention and perception by parlaying his natural talent as a powerhouse negotiator into successful tenures as an artist manager, label executive, radio broadcaster, music publisher and ongoing social activist/philanthropist.
In addition to mentoring hitmaking producers and executives such as Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Sony/ATV chairman/CEO Jon Platt, Avant has played a key, behind-the-scenes role for a diverse list of celebs, sports figures and dignitaries that includes Quincy Jones, Bill Withers, Muhammad Ali and Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
The Black Godfather chronicles Avant’s colorful, barrier-breaking career and enduring legacy through insightful interviews with an industry who’s who. Among those paying tribute are Snoop Dogg, Sean “Diddy” Combs, hit songwriter Diane Warren, Lionel Richie, David Geffen, music/film producer Suzanne de Passe, Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge, actress Cicely Tyson and Jamie Foxx. Avant received the Industry Icons Award at the 2019 Pre-Grammy Gala in February. He was also presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016.
Michael Koskoff and his son
Jake wrote the screenplay for my movie, MARSHALL. Please read the New York Times Obit printed
below to truly appreciate what an amazing man he was.
While he was a successful
trial lawyer, his kids were into show business.
So he decided he would write a script.
He knew Thurgood Marshall had a significant case in his town, so he
researched it and with the help of his son, wrote an amazing script that
actually got produced! It’s a miracle of
a story but when you read his life story it’s not surprising.
Mike was always a joy to be around. Always happy, hard working and always with his wonderful wife. I’m grateful to say he was my friend.
The lawyer Michael Koskoff in 2016 at his home in Westport, Conn. An author described his courtroom techniques as “raw theater.”
By Sam Robert – April 26, 2019
Michael P. Koskoff, a renowned and dogged Connecticut litigator who defended Black Panthers, won record malpractice awards, mounted racial job-discrimination battles and sued gunmakers whose weapons were used in the Sandy Hook school massacre, died on Wednesday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 77.
The cause was complications of
pancreatic cancer, his son Jacob, a screenwriter, said. He and his father
collaborated on the screenplay for “Marshall” (2017), a feature film
about the 1941 trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman. The
defendant was represented by a future Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.
Michael Koskoff advised his other
son, Joshua, a senior partner in the Connecticut firm of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, in litigation against companies that manufactured and sold the
semiautomatic rifle used by the gunman in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary
School in 2012.
Last month, the Connecticut Supreme Court created a potential opening for victims’ families to hold the companies — including Remington Arms, which made the rifle — liable for the attack.
Mr. Koskoff, who lived in
Westport, Conn., was the scion of a family of performers who starred on
disparate stages. Some were actors, singers and musicians. (A cousin was Alfred Newman, the
celebrated Hollywood composer.) Others were litigators who held forth in
courtrooms. His father, Theodore, was both his law
partner and a cellist.
“We’re show people,” Michael
Koskoff once explained.
Mr. Koskoff won record
settlements in Connecticut negligence and malpractice cases by coupling skills
he had acquired in training to be a Shakespearean actor with a lifelong
antagonism toward corporate greed.
He also pioneered the use of
vivid courtroom videos delivered in a documentary format.
In 1979, Mr. Koskoff persuaded a
jury in Danbury, Conn., to award his client $1.8 million in a wrongful-death
case — Connecticut’s first verdict of more than $1 million in such a suit.
In 1999, jurors awarded $27 million for
what he had demonstrated was a bungled heart operation at Yale-New Haven
Hospital, which left a 29-year-old man permanently blind and brain-damaged. At
the time, it was the biggest personal injury verdict in the state’s history.
That same year, Mr. Koskoff was lead counsel in a class-action case against the state for illegal wiretapping of calls between clients and their lawyers. It ended with a $17 million settlement.
In a medical malpractice case
that became the subject of a book, “Damages: One Family’s Legal Struggles in
the World of Medicine” (1998), by Barry Werth, a couple represented by Mr.
Koskoff settled for $6.25 million in the early 1990s nine years after their
baby, who had severe cerebral palsy and developmental disabilities, was born at
Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. (The child’s twin brother had been stillborn
Perri Klass, acknowledging that “while it may be difficult for a practicing physician like me to see a malpractice lawyer as a hero,” wrote in The New York Times Book Review that “Damages” did “full justice to Michael Koskoff’s skills, and to the mix of personal history, political fire and competitive zeal that sends him into court.”
In his book, Mr. Werth described
Mr. Koskoff’s courtroom techniques as “raw theater.”
“Koskoff liked to depend on his own ‘visceral and instinctive reality’ of what was happening in a courtroom — was a witness nervous? arrogant? appealing? unappealing? — to decide how best to keep the drama fresh,” Mr. Werth wrote. “He also liked to keep the other side’s experts off balance by not letting them know what to expect of him. If he met them, he might like them, and that would dull his attack.”
Michael Peter Koskoff was born on March 19, 1942, in Bridgeport, Conn. His mother was Dorothy (Fuchs) Koskoff.
After graduating from the Cambridge School in Weston, Mass., he attended Brandeis University but left after a year to study at the American Shakespeare Academy in Stratford, Conn. Once he realized that he was unlikely to make a living on the stage (“Something about being a ‘bad actor’ deterred me from continuing,” he said), he enrolled in the University of Bridgeport. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1963 and earned a law degree in 1966 from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
In 1963, Mr. Koskoff married Rosalind Jacobs, who survives him. In addition to their sons, he is also survived by their two daughters, Sarah Koskoff, an actress and screenwriter, and Juliet Koskoff, a lawyer in New York; two sisters, Elizabeth Koskoff and Susan Glazer; and eight grandsons.
Proud to participate in the Skroll Institute study on the State of Social Impact Entertainment. Here I am with UCLA Dean of Theater, Film and Television Dean Teri Schwartz, CAA Michelle Kydd Lee, producer Cathy Schulman, moderator Ashe Lee and Skoll Center head Peter Bisanz.
What an amazing crowd! So many people came out to hear about such an important subject. I’m backed up by the amazing Michelle Kydd Lee.
John Singleton was the youngest member of our generation of black directors, which includes Spike Lee, Robert Townsend, Mario Van Peebles and me, among many others. Now he’s the first one of us to pass away. His death has been heavy on my head and heart ever since it happened, so I just started writing about it to process it.
I was living in New York when I first heard about John
Singleton. There was an incredible buzz
about his script BOYZ N THE HOOD and for good reason…it was flat out great!
I didn’t meet John until much later. I remember being at the at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles, and ran into John, who invited me to join him at the Sony studio lot to see the just finished BOYZ N THE HOOD final print. It was a spontaneous moment, and I rolled with it.
I sat alone in a large screening room, trying to maintain my
cool while this movie got all up in my feelings.
It was a huge critical and commercial hit, and well deserved. The movie launched so many stars, which John’s movies routinely did throughout his career. Making stars requires an eye for talent, writing star making moments, and directing them in a way that makes audiences remember those moments forever. John did that for so many actors that we love, like Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr, Nia Long, Regina King, Tyra Banks, Tyrese Gibson, Taraji Henson and so many more.
We shared many interests: movies, politics, comic books. But what I loved most about him is that he wasn’t sneaky or shady. He loved black people, he loved black cinema, and he supported anyone who was about that. He sincerely wanted everybody to do well.
Years later, when times were tough for all black filmmakers in the ‘00s, we ran into each other at the Golden Apple comic book store. He was in the front of the store, and I was in the back. Both of us, against the odds, had gotten a movie made that year so we both had new product coming out. Without saying a word, we walked across the room to each other and hugged for a long time. No words needed to be said. We were both so happy for each other. They couldn’t kill us.
I think about that moment all the time. It was true brotherhood.
I want to shine a light on two underrated parts of John’s body of work. One was the Afrofuturist music video for Michael Jackson’s REMEMBER THE TIME. I can’t think of a better example of a short film that should have been made into a feature length musical. The cast was a Mt. Rushmore of black excellence: Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Iman, Magic Johnson. It was funny, cool, magical and funky, with great choreography by Fatima Robinson. Can you think of another movie or TV show that showed what Egyptians really looked like?
The other film I want to highlight is BABY BOY. I remember all the controversy when it
debuted at my brother Warrington’s black film festival in Acapulco. The film’s unflinching and often hilarious
depiction of hood life and hood logic shocked a lot of people. But I thought it was brilliant and it has
stood the test of time.
The last time I hung out with John was at a screening for SPIDER MAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERSE.
But it wasn’t just our fandom that brought us to an advance
screening for the film. One of the
movies three directors, Peter Ramsey was a friend of both of ours. He had done storyboards for my debut feature
film, HOUSE PARTY, and John’s first feature, BOYZ IN THE HOOD.
Once I saw John sitting with his son Maasai, I plopped down in
the seat next to him. We had a running
commentary on how much we loved everything about the film as we watched
it. We told Peter we bruised each
other’s ribs from nudging each other through the movie.
I saw John one more time after that. The Oscars. With Black Panther, Black Klansman, Spider verse all nominated, along with the likely win of Regina King for best-supporting actress, there’s no way either one of us would miss the ceremony. We didn’t get a chance to talk, but when John and his longtime producer Paul Hall walked pass, I heard them say, “There’s Reggie. He gets things done behind the scenes.” What kind words.
I was fortunate to read two of John’s unproduced screenplays. They were both great and I couldn’t comprehend why they weren’t being financed. But I believed that eventually I would see them on the big screen because they were too good not to happen one day. Now he won’t be there to make those movies. That’s a damn shame and we are the poorer for it.
The idea that John is no longer with us is absurd. He had so much more to say. But we need to carry on, sharing the love of
black people and black cinema in the way he did his whole life.