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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Airplane Bloggin’: Desert Sunrise Edition

We did the North American premiere of My Brother last nite, in our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C. with Special Olympics National and chapters from all around the world. It was a great experience, having a room full of people for whom this is such an important movie – not only those with intellectual disabilities but others in their lives who are inspired by what these athletes do, by their bravery. We got quite the round of applause from this admittedly stacked audience that even included Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, and her husband Sargent Shriver. They offered to throw a part for the movie at their place in the next few weeks. Even if it doesn’t happen, it was nice to get the offer. I ended up hosting the Q&A with Tony (the director), Vanessa, and the rest of the cast, which was interesting to do in front of a pretty packed house. I still got it.

Whatever that is, I have no idea.

The past few days have been super stressful – number of things going on, including switching to a new publicity team for My Brother, for the final pitch (the team that did Dreamgirls). This was problematic because of the publicist with whom we’d been working for so long, and who has done a bunch for the movie without being paid – but it was jointly decided that we needed new blood for the final push to have Vanessa on talk shows before the movie opens. A lot of nasty language was back and forth after the announcement to our old team, and I took the high road on most of it. (I know, hard to believe).

Also been trying to move forward on Slaughter, and though we’ve had a few road bumps, I think we’re basically OK and headed in the right direction. Bobby and Nathan sent over a treatment with some great new improvements, and I am thrilled to see it coming along.

After the late nite in DC with the premiere, we had a seven fifteen flight direct to Phoenix from Baltimore, which turned about to be farther enough from where we were in DC so that we could just miss our direct flight. The airline accommodatingly booked us on another airline, not direct but without any extra charge. We landed in Denver a couple of hours ago, had a bit of lunch, I answered email and phone, and now we’re twenty minutes into the way to Phoenix. Once we hit Phoenix, we’ll be renting a car and driving to the desert, to Sedona, a small but very well sponsored film festival. I am excited to be going, relaxing, etc. They do room and board, so I don’t even have to split a room. And we have a print of the movie. What I mean by that is that we have the film as a movie on reels, not as a DVD or tape. Now admittedly, it’s a test print, and has a flew glitches, and the timing (color grades) are a bit off, with the whites being too bright, and the darks too dark, but it looks so much better than showing a DVD. If you’ve never seen one, the movie reels (six reels, at 20 minutes each, the last two reels of My Brother being short), the reels are heavy and carried around in these metal cans that protect the film from being damaged. And they weigh a shitload, but at least you can check them with the rest of the baggage- the cans are pretty sturdy.
And that’s where we are – up in the air, 30,000 feet up, its sixty degrees in Phoenix now, and we’ll have to get the movie up to the projectionist for the festival by about seven so it can be assembled for viewing. We have a screening today and another on Friday, and it will be cool to be at a festival with the print, a festival where everyone does their own thing while out there.

Its been really busy, and Im doing regular 14 hour days, so though there is a lot to talk about, I just haven’t had time to write much. Except on the plane trips, where I have a moment to reflect and complain.

Doing the redeye back to NYC on Saturday nite, and then have a friend coming to visit NYC for six days or so. She gets in Sunday afternoon, and I get in at 6AM. Either I am gonna be really tired, or the apt. is gonna be a mess. Either way, we’ll deal.

She actually set up a premiere for My Brother in Kansas City MO, with huge press coverage, that will take place while she in in NY. Sounds like its going to be great. It’s the second movie Fox4 (the television station promoting it) is doing in this series, the first was the Terence Howard movie, Pride, that opens in March as well. I think we’ll be booking Kansas City as a result of this screening, because Fox is doing 6o radio spots and 20 TV spots to cover it.

Well, I am about of current news, since I don’t blog on my sex life anymore. If I eat any peyote in the desert….Oh wait, forgot to mention, I am a seriously nervous flyer. A friend gave me two Xanax for the flight and wow-eee, do those work. I slept 75 percent of the way to Denver and I am still totally non-plussed by the bumpy ride. Pretty awesome stuff, and given the travel schedule,, back to NY, then Houston, back to NYC, then Houston, and then Florida (I think), it might make sense to get a hold of some of this stuff. I don’t even feel stressed out, even though I should be,.

Phoenix is 60 plus and sunny. Hope you’re keepin’ warm.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Multiple Award Winning Movie "My Brother" starring Vanessa Williams - Theatrical Release in 19 Cities, March 16th - Please read and forward

Please read and forward-
From the Producer of My Brother:

Friends,
I am writing this letter because I’ve had the good fortune to produce the multiple award winning movie, “My Brother,” which was conceived, written and directed by Academy award-nominee Anthony Lover, and stars Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty), Nashawn Kearse (Desperate Housewives), Tatum O’Neal (Dancing With The Stars, Rescue Me), Rodney Henry (The Lion King) and Fredro Starr (Save the Last Dance). The actors I just mentioned are names that you know for their work in other shows. We chose them because we thought they were great in what they had done before in their careers. But producing this movie has been a life-changing experience, different from other films I've produced, because of the participation of two newcomers to the movie industry.

These are the two lead performers in the movie to whom at I want to introduce you, Chris Scott and Donovan Jennings. They each are now accomplished performers themselves, with Chris winning the Founder’s Award at the HBO American Black Film Festival (the film won Best Picture honors there as well) and Donovan winning the Youth Spirit Award at the International Family Film Festival.

Neither Chris nor Donovan had ever acted before My Brother. But they have more in common – Chris and Donovan both have Downs Syndrome. They are the first African Americans with a developmental disability ever to play lead roles in a feature motion picture. And with their awards (they have won awards and the movie has won 26 awards to date in film festivals and screenings across the country, making it the most celebrated film targeting African American audiences since The Color Purple), and the way that they have touched audiences around the country, they also have proved, together, that given the opportunity and support, people of all kinds can achieve things that are beyond what many of us can imagine. Never having worked before My Brother with people with developmental disabilities, I am just one person that gained this understanding from this movie.

Because of their truly stunning performances, we now are getting the word out about My Brother with different organizations all over the country, including the Special Olympics and the National Institute for People With Disabilities. We’ll be doing premieres for My Brother with the Special Olympics on February 27th in Washington, D.C., and thereafter in Houston, where Christopher lives and works as a teacher’s assistant, and New York. We're also marketing the movie with other partners - e.g., Reverend Jesse Jackson has called the movie "A must see for African Americans."

My Brother comes out in theaters in March 16th. Organizations around the country, whether in health care or education, like the NIPD and the Rize School, are organizing group parties for the movie and buying groups of tickets in blocks to see it in the nineteen cities in which it is being released (a list of theaters is attached). Because of the way that the movie business works, for the movie to get the fullest rollout possible, its important that people go see it on its opening weekend, and not to wait until even the second or third weekend.

Please take the time and have a look at our website, www.mybrotherthemovie.com, and our myspace page, www.myspace.com/mybrotherthemovie. Check out the trailer and behind the scenes documentary for the movie. And more importantly, spread the word and join the thousands of people that have been amazed and touched by Donovan and Chris. A list of the theaters where we open March 16th is attached.

Thanks for your time,

Gregory Segal
Producer – “My Brother”

SOUTHLAKE PAVILION 24 Atlanta
MAGIC JOHNSON CAP CNTR 12 Washington DC
EMPIRE 25 New York
SOUTHFIELD 20 Detroit
STONECREST MEGASTAR 16 Atlanta
HOFFMAN 22 Richmond
WHITE MARSH 16 Baltimore
OWINGS MILLS 17 Baltimore
JERSEY GARDEN 20 Elizabeth NJ
MAGIC JOHNSON 9 NY - Harlem
FAIRLANE 21 Detroit
COUNTRY CLUB HILLS 16 Chicago
AVENTURA MALL 24 Miami
WESTBANK 16 New Orleans
REGENCY 24 Jacksonville FL
HAMPTON TOWNE CENTRE 24 Richmond/Hampton VA
CHERRY HILL 24 Cherry Hill NJ
MAGIC JOHN. GREENBRIAR 12 Atlanta
MAGIC JOHNSON 15 Los Angeles
34TH STREET 14 New York
MESQUITE 30 Dallas
GULF POINTE 30 Houston
CRESTWOOD 18 Chicago
BAY STREET 16 Oakland
TALLAHASSEE MALL 20 Tallahassee FL
NORTH DEKALB 16 Atlanta
STUDIO 30 HOU. Houston
BAY PLAZA 13 NY / Bronx
CONCORD MILLS 24 Charlotte
600 NORTH MICHIGAN 9 Chicago
FORD CITY 14 Chicago
EASTON 30 Columbus OH
ORANGE PARK 24 Jacksonville
ONTARIO MILLS 30 Los Angeles
POTOMAC MILLS 18 richmond/Norfolk VA?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Airplane Bloggin: Delayed in Phoenix Addition

After the mishaps of this past week (booking a car in the wrong airport), having only one way flight booked, and the early exodus (mixed bag there) of associate producer David, I ended up staying a few extras days because of the severe weather in NYC and my general flight malaise – I hate it, it makes me nervous, and I loathe the airport and waiting for flights. Besides, I still had some more work to do and it was only Monday. I took a few more meetings (fast growing sales agent and production company New Films among them) and booked for today, Thursday. Unfortunately, Jet Blue was sold out through Saturday and I didn’t have anywhere to stay beyond Thursday morning (I stayed with Jay, my former roommate, since vacating the Riot Hyatt (so its called because of Led Zeppelin fame) on Tuesday). The cheapest ticket I could get was US Air, but its through Phoenix, which means an extra hour or so and two takeoffs and two landings. Not my favorite. And now, I am delayed in Phoenix. At least the airport has wireless.

I actually have a free hotel room in Bev Hills all next week, courtesy of my publicist and her Oscar Party at the Beverly Wilshire (though the room is at the Luxe?? – same owners??) but since I have work to do in NYC and nowhere to stay over the weekend, and I’ve put myself on a strict budget, I am flying back.

Anyway, enough bitter-like detail. This is supposed to be interesting. Supposed-to-be. It hasn’t been, even Dawn doesn’t comment anymore. Who needs ambien? So I am talking to myself. Am I talking? Hello? Echo?

Moving on.

This week was momentous for one thing in particular. The My Brother trailer is live in 19 markets, in front of Tyler Perry’s movie, Daddy’s Little Girls, which opened yesterday across the country, and it expected to do minimum 30 million between Wednesday and Sunday. They are on 2200 screens or so, we’ll be on 35 to start (unless something magical happens). Still, though, the trailer placement in front of this very popular title in every theater in which we’ll be playing is huge, and despite our difficulties, our distribution team at Code Black deserves some kudos for making that happen with AMC (where we are exclusively playing our first phase release).

We are on a ridiculously tight budget marketing wise, and every cent is being allocated to driving the audience into the theaters for opening weekend. As a result, looks like no opening premieres in LA or in NYC. Rather, we have a big party with the Special Olympics in Washington DC on February 27th, and some kind of opening nite, non-red carpet reception for the movie in Houston, where co-star Christopher Scott and his family live. If you don’t know, Chris and Donovan Jennings, who portray the character James in the movie, at different ages, both have Downs Syndrome. They are the first African American actors with a developmental disability in history to portray leading roles in a feature motion picture. But they have more in common, now. They have both won acting awards at film festivals. Chris won the Founder’s Award for Acheivement in Independent Cinema at the HBO American Black Film Festival (where the movie took Best Picture honors) and Donovan won the Youth Spirit Award at the International Family Film Festival in Los Angeles. All in, the movie has won some 26 awards, making it perhaps the most awarded black film since The Color Purple. I think it has four best pictures, four best actors or actresses, and numerous other honors and recognitions. Vanessa Williams has been great, making efforts to attend as many festivals as possible. I think she is going to the Santa Barbara Black Film Series awards next week (schedule permitting) where My Brother is the Film of the Year and she has been awarded a humanitarian award for her work with individuals with a developmental disability. Go Wilhemina Slater.

Slaughter script notes came in from all sources, and we’re getting started on what I know will be a very productive rewrite. Bobby and Nathan have received the notes, and its spurred some ideas about ways to tighten up the story. I am excited about getting the next draft so we move that much closer to rolling the camera.

In other news, this damn cough is back. It disappeared in Park City, returned last week, and now its back with a vengeance. I thought maybe it was the cat at Liberty, but its been a problem in LA too. Im running out of ideas. Have any? I don’t smoke (nothing, for the most part) and I hack like a two packs of strikes a day man. Whats up with that. I don’t feel sick at least, but I sound like I have an incurable disease. Its quite the pick up line.

That’s all for now. Looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonite. If you’re cute and in NYC, drop me a line. I spoon to the left.

Grumpy.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Airplane Bloggin’: The Day After

So I spent most of the flight to Long Beach working on the tax credit for My Brother. I went through 100 pages of ledger reports of accounting entries and pulled every name and every dollar amount to make a list of how much each employee got paid. Thousands of entries, the kind of thing the accountant is supposed to prepare before they leave. Just in – boring, grueling and why we pay accountants. Did I mention that this could have been done with the push of a button if this unnamed asshole of an accountant did his job.

Guess what. He didn’t.

I kept doing it until my computer died about four hours into the flight. Since we were facing a 100mph headwind, it took six hours of flying time to get there, so I also got to watch most of the French Connection on the last two hours of the flight. I mean, my computer was dead. What else was I gonna do? The girl next to me had a great body, but she was with her boyfriend, so I just watched the movie. Low cut top though, whew-eee.

Anyway.

So how dumb am I. Sometimes quite dumb. I booked my flight weeks ago. Jet Blue. Miles and that whole thing. I was going to stay with my friend Jay, but was waiting to see if my quite wealthy Assoc. Producer David wanted to come along, which would make it possible to split a hotel room (not evenly either). He did, and we finally booked his travel this past Sunday, two days before departure. On Monday, we booked the hotel. Hyatt West Hollywood. Great location, middle of Sunset Strip, next to the comedy store, but very little else to recommend it. Not even free internet, so I am posting based on service from the Best Western (free internet) across the street. Loud, mushy beds, pretty lame. But a great location. 23 dollars for valet? Why not?

So here is the dumb part. We booked the hotel separately from the flights. On Expedia. And when they asked if we wanted a car, it seemed frugal to book that together with the hotel, so I did. Heres the brainstorm. Jet Blue flies into Long Beach. Guess where Expedia rented the car from, given an LA hotel stay.

Right-oo. LAX.

How pissed was I last nite? At myself?

50 bucks and a taxi to advantage rent a car (totally ghetto) later, we got in some weird ass PT Cruiser clone later, and made our way to West Hollywood.

Anyway, I am out here for the Pan African Film Festival. We have screenings of the movie on Friday (tomorrow) and Sunday at Crenshaw Hills Plaza at 3650 MLK Blvd. 7PM both nites, if you are joining us.

Otherwise, I’ll be meeting about getting Slaughter up and running with Maverick and Slamdance, and I was supposed to have a meeting with SONY about 4Chosen, but I think its been postponed.

TTFN.

Grumpy.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Various Images of Sundance and Slamdance

Laura Boersma, Producer, Steele Films, Valerie Jennings, Jennings PR and Marcus Lansdell, Head of Development, City Lights Media Group and Co-Producer, THE TEN.


Valerie Jennings and I, Main Street, Park City.


Slamdance Co-Founder Dan Mirvish and American Hardcore Director Paul Rachman at the Slamdance Sparky Awards.


Cheri Wozniak, Exec. VP Finance, Maverick Films, and jphn Stoddard, Director of the Slamdance Script Competition.


Dave Title, Head of Crossroads Films (Snow Angels) and I at Snow Angels Premiere Lounge Party


Main Street, Park City


Louie Lombardi (Sopranos, 24, and the Director of Dough Boys) at the Premiere Lounge Party for THE TEN


Valerie Jennings and I, fighting off potential colds


Cheri Wozniak and I at the Sparky Awards, with winning writers Nathan Brookes and Bobby Darby, who cowrote Slaughter


Some random images from Sundance And Slamdance...