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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oun P - Impossible

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John Singleton on his 'Hustle & Flow' suit against Paramount



EXCLUSIVE

"Hustle & Flow" was such a sensation at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival that John Singleton, who produced and financed the film himself, had a host of studios bidding for the film. Even though other studios offered more money, Singleton says he went with Paramount Pictures because it not only agreed to pay $9 million for the film, but also pledged to finance and distribute two films of Singleton's choosing, with $3.5-million budgets.

"Hustle & Flow" went on to make $22 million in the United States, earned glowing reviews and won an Oscar. But more than six years after the deal was signed, Singleton is suing Paramount for $20 million, saying the studio failed to live up to its end of the bargain, having never made either picture in the agreement (which is known in Hollywood as a "put" deal).

"I'd always had a great relationship with Paramount, going back to being an intern on the lot when I was at USC," Singleton told me. "But a deal's a deal and they didn't honor the deal. I could have sold 'Hustle & Flow' for more money to someone else, but Paramount promised something special — giving me the ability to make two low-budget films with young filmmakers and great talent. All I've ever done is make money for Paramount. I've lived up to all the deals I've signed and it should work both ways."

Responding to the suit, which was filed Wednesday morning in Los Angeles County Superior Court, a Paramount representative said: “Paramount was hoping that John Singleton would produce two more pictures before his agreement with our studio ended in 2010, but that did not happen. Instead, he went on to direct 'Abduction' for Lionsgate. Paramount fulfilled all of its obligations and his claims have absolutely no merit."



Best known for his groundbreaking 1991 debut film, "Boyz N' the Hood," Singleton had carved out a successful career as a filmmaker by the time he took "Hustle & Flow" to Sundance, having directed a number of commercial pictures, including a remake of "Shaft" at Paramount. But his goal was to become a producer, overseeing modestly budgeted, multicultural genre films that he believed would fill a void in the marketplace.

When he couldn't find financing for "Hustle & Flow," which starred Terrence Howard as a Memphis pimp who after a midlife crisis embarks on a career as a hip-hop emcee, Singleton put up $5 million of his own money to bankroll the project. He also mentored Craig Brewer, the film's first-time director, who also made his second film, "Black Snake Moan," with Singleton as producer. Brewer just directed the remake of "Footloose," also at Paramount.

After "Hustle & Flow's" first Sundance screening, four studios — New Line, Columbia, Focus Features and Paramount — were in a spirited bidding war to buy the film. According to press reports at the time, New Line offered $10 million for the film, but Singleton opted for Paramount's $9-million offer, believing that its sweetener — the two put pictures — gave him a real opportunity to pursue his goal of producing genre films. Singleton had a 4 a.m. conversation with Paramount chief Brad Grey, who was personally involved in making the offer of the put projects.

Singleton is represented by Marty Singer and Stephen D. Barnes. Singer is one of the top litigators in show business, having represented the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlie Sheen and Quentin Tarantino, who once had Singer file suit against Tarantino's neighbor, the writer Alan Ball, claiming that Ball's screeching macaws were preventing Tarantino from working. Singer said the suit was amicably resolved.

Singleton believed the Paramount put deal would give him an opportunity to showcase his talent as a producer. "The model I wanted to set up is a lot like the model other people are going after — to make small movies that have a real pop-culture value," says Singleton, whose thriller "Abduction" starred Taylor Lautner. "It's worked with films like 'Juno' and 'Paranormal Activity' because there's a niche audience that just isn't served by the big Hollywood franchises."

But after several years of submitting projects to Paramount, both in the form of sketched-out ideas and in the form of packaged films, with talent attached, Singleton said he became concerned that Paramount seemed uninterested in anything he wanted to make. "They just kept thwarting my efforts to make any of the movies," he says. "I gave them a number of projects and they were all rejected. It became plain that they weren't going to honor the deal."

Singleton's suit contends that after years of haggling, Paramount began "asserting self-imposed, non-existent conditions on the puts that prevented Singleton from making the pictures." The biggest bone of contention is that roughly four years after the deal was signed, when Singleton's representatives began showing concern about the deal being honored, Paramount told them that Singleton had to deliver scripted, fully completed films by Jan. 22, 2010 — five years after the original deal was signed.

The lawsuit contends that none of these conditions were in the original agreement, saying that Paramount "actively concealed and failed to disclose these conditions" to Singleton at the time of the "Hustle & Flow" negotiations.

"This is about me as a producer and a business person," Singleton says. "I invested my time and money in this project. It was about being an entrepreneur. I thought I had a partner in Paramount, but that's not what happened. Whatever films I wanted to make there, it feels like no one was ever listening."

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Future Explains Working With Drake; Dungeon Family




Atlanta rapper Future recently explained the making of the remix to his hit single “Tony Montana,” with chart topping rapper Drake.

The single is the second successful release for Future, who also hit big with the #1 single “Racks” with West Coast rapper YC.

“When I was making ‘Tony Montana,’ it was so far fetched for me to get Drake on the record,” Future said. “They called me and said ‘Drake wants to get on Tony.’ We had a long conversation. I sent it to him and he sent it back the same night. ‘Tony Montana’ is the ‘Scarface’ movie on wax.”

“Tony Montana” featuring Drake will be the first official single from Future’s debut album, Pluto.

Future’s roots in Atlanta hip-hop also run deep, as he is the cousin of producer Rico Wade of The Dungeon Family, who has crafted albums for Outkast, Big Boi, Cee Lo Green, TLC En Vogue, Ludacris and others.

Starting this week on VEVO, Future will be featured as the “Rising Icon” in Grey Goose Entertainment’s third season.

The new series will chronicle Future’s life on and off the stage

Historic Quad Studios To Reopen In New York City This Weekend




A legendary recording studio that is steeped in Hip-Hop folk lore will reopen this weekend in New York City.

Quad Studios will reopen their doors to unveil a brand new recording studio next weekend, in a newly renovated space in Times Square.

The recording studio is the site where legendary rap star Tupac Shakur was originally shot in 1994, setting off a chain of events that would eventually lead to the deaths of both Shakur (1996) and Biggie Smalls (1997).

Outside of the infamous incident involving Tupac, the Quad Studios was already historical studio that produced dozens of gold and platinum album over the past 30 years.

Artists like Rihanna, Coldplay, Whitney Houston, Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Shabba Ranks, Gerald Levert, Bob Dylan and others have recorded in the studio.

An invitation-only event will take place Friday (October 21) from 7:00PM-10:00PM.

For more info check out The Quad’s official website.

DMX Hires New Managers; Warns Against Fraudulent Bookings




Rapper DMX has issued a statement after missing several shows, due to confusion as to who is representing him in his professional career.

According to the rapper, people have been contacting his previous managers, without knowing that he has fired them all and has hired a new team to represent him.

“I fired my old management team the day I got out of prison,” DMX told AllHipHop.com in a statement. “My money and career have been sabotaged for long enough. Makin’ music and performing for my fans, that’s what I’m doin’ now. The Dog is back and I’ve cut these thieves out of my life.”

According to the press release, DMX is now being represented by Jason Fowler of J-Mike Management & Entertainment, based in Mesa, Arizona.

Fowler said that he would pursue legal action against anyone that accepted deposits on behalf of DMX.

“We’re hearing reports of people making deposits for shows, only to find out that it was a fraud,” Jason Fowler said. “All bookings must be through his new management team, because DMX is not responsible for any transactions that are not through J-Mike Management & Entertainment.”

DMX is working on a new album that is slated to be released this winter.

The rapper is also preparing to launch a tour.

Will & Jada Pinkett-Smith Invest In Philadelphia 76ers

Rapper Will Smith is among a group of investors who are now owners of the Philadelphia 76ers, it was announced today during a press conference.

The sale was unanimously approved by the NBA Board of Governors last week, to investors led by multibillionaire Joshua Harris.

“My partners and I are thrilled to have become owners of the Sixers,” Joshua Harris said in a statement.”It is an honor to become part of this storied franchise. We have a lot of work to do, but we have a rich history, a strong foundation and a bright future.”

Will Smith, a Philadelphia native, and his wife Jade Pinkett own undisclosed percentage of Philadelphia 76ers.

The investment makes Will Smith the second major record to have a significant stake in an NBA basketball team.

Jay-Z, who is working with the Smith’s to produce the a film version of “Annie,” also owns a percentage of the Brooklyn Nets.

Swizz Beatz, Rappers Joins Mayor Bloomberg To Denounce Violence




Super producer Swizz Beatz will join New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg in bringing awareness to New York City public healthcare and their upcoming Anti-Gun campaign, “Guns Down, Life Up.”

Swizz will be honored tonight (October 18) during The STAT! For New York City’s Public Hospitals! Gala Benefit taking place at the Bellevue Hospital Atrium.

In addition to the Mayor honoring Swizz for his philanthropic work, the Big Apple Circus Clown Unit will be recognized during the event, for entertaining hospitalized children at pediatric facilities around the country.

Additionally, Dr. Bruce Siegel M.D., M.P.H/CEO of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems will also be honored.

A number of other celebrities are expected to attend the event, including George Clinton, Sheila E., Doug E. Fresh, Questlove of The Roots, Marley Marl, Kangol Kid, Kool Herc, Bernie Worrell, Paul Shaffer, Hezekiah Walker, Meredith Vieira, Ray Chew and others.

A portion of the proceeds of the event tonight will support the launch of the “Guns Down, Life Up” the initiative to combat gun violence in New York City.

Mariah and Nick to Debut Their Twins

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