Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wet, Gray, Boring Day!

So it's another wet, cold, gray day here in NYC. We've been infiltrated by KFC-Taco Bell loving rats...and what else is new?

I got this in my email and it seems pretty cool:

We invite you to experience the brilliant imagery of Mi Puerto Rico: Master Painters of the Island, 1780-1952, now through April 15th at The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey.

It's the first major art exhibition in the continental United States devoted to Puerto Rico's three greatest masters: Jose Campeche, Francisco Oller and Miguel Pou. Their paintings offer an extraordinary glimpse into the rich artistic heritage of this Commonwealth of the United States.
Mi Puerto Rico: Master Painters of the Island, 1780-1952 is on view through April 15th at The Newark Museum, where you can enjoy 80 galleries of inspiration and exploration. Get more information about The Newark Museum by going online to The Newark Museum.


And here is an interesting article about the Oscars & all the Latino nominees:

Racism lingers in Hollywood

BY KEVIN ROSS, Guest Columnist

LA Daily News

IN 1996, I lamented the dearth of minorities, particularly African-Americans, in the movie industry. This was obviously pre-Forest Whitaker's winning portrayal of Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland." It was a decade prior to Halle Berry's historic nod, or Jennifer Hudson's much-deserved Oscar for her supreme, show-stopping performance in "Dreamgirls." It was two lifetimes before rap artists 360 Mafia made pimpin' a little easier.

Of the 166 Academy Award nominees that year, only one was African-American. Sure, Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg presided over the festivities, with Quincy Jones serving as the show's co-producer. The disturbing message sent in 1996, however, was as clear as the image of separate water fountains, of fire hoses, police attack dogs or treating segments of society as if they were invisible. The message was: Whites only.

What a difference a decade can make!

This year's 79th annual awards show was the most globally diverse in the history of the Academy.

Sunday's international broadcast showcased 20 outstanding nominees in the acting categories. Of them, five were of African descent. Overall, blacks fared well, receiving a total of eight nominations and three wins.

Latino filmmakers brought their A-game as well, garnering 16 nominations and four wins, three for Guillermo Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" and one for Gustavo Santaolalla in the best music score category for "Babel."

With an acting nomination for a descendant of Japan and a best-short-documentary win for Chinese director Ruby Yang, Asians didn't go home empty-handed, either.
But my favorite part of the ceremony - aside from director Michael Mann's film montage showcasing diversity in cinema and Whitaker's touching acceptance speech - came in the opening monologue. That's when quirky host Ellen DeGeneres stated, "If there were no blacks, Jews or gays, there would be no Oscars."

Of course she was being sarcastic - the part about blacks, that is.

Each year, studies are done, statistics are collected, commitments are made and, ultimately, promises are broken. A decade ago, fewer than 150 - or 3.9 percent - of the then-5,043 Academy members who nominate and choose Oscar winners were black. Only 2.3 percent of the Directors Guild membership was black. A mere 2.6 percent of the Writers Guild was African-American. Blacks accounted for less than 2 percent of the 4,000-member union of set decorators and property masters. For other minorities, the numbers were equally disgraceful.
In 2007, those stats really haven't budged much.

You would think liberal Hollywood would have recognized by now that mining for greater minority participation in front of and behind the camera could dramatically increase its bottom line. A highly sought-after export, entertainment is an American commodity yielding solid returns. Films with a global reach seem like a no-brainer.

The bottom line, however, is that many in the industry - consciously or otherwise - continue to arrogantly shun the gifts minorities have to offer. The result is less potential revenue, fewer jobs, fan stagnation, and more international trepidation about the United States and all that we allegedly stand for.

So while we revel in the awesome splendor of Oscar, we know why everyone is still not invited to the Governor's Ball or Vanity Fair's soiree. And the reason has to do with basic tenets of equality.

Actor Edward James Olmos' assertion that "All of the Oscar-nominated pictures put together give lots of hope to diversity in general, and world cinema in particular," means nothing unless moviemakers come out of preproduction and get the cameras rolling in Africa, Latin America, China and "other" parts of America.

If it's true that Hollywood is a place where money doesn't talk but screams, add my voice to the choir on set shouting at the top of its lungs, "ACTION!"
For me, it always speaks louder than words.

Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin Ross is a past president of the Organization of Black Screenwriters.

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