News Column

Philadelphia Daily News Howard Gensler column

November 19, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 19--THE ROM-COM ensemble "The Best Man" was a surprise hit when released in 1999, winning the week against "Fight Club" and Martin Scorsese's "Bringing Out the Dead."

That's usually the prelude for a quick sequel, but it's taken a full 14 years for the follow-up, "Best Man Holiday," in part because writer-director Malcolm Lee didn't want to make a sequel back then.

"I was a young director. This was my first movie. I didn't want to get pigeon-holed. I wanted to try different things," Lee, in town Thursday to promote the movie, told Daily News movie critic Gary Thompson.

"But there's no question it made news. It was a movie that obviously connected with an audience that was seeing something they hadn't seen before. It really spoke to them, gave them an opportunity to see themselves," said Lee, who said that glamorous movies about affluent and sophisticated characters were a novelty to African-American moviegoers at the time.

Since then, Lee has made the underrated "Undercover Brother," "Soul Men," "Roll Bounce" and "Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins." But he always had the idea of revisiting his "Best Man" characters later in life, and in 2010, invited the original cast -- Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, Nia Long and others -- out to dinner to float the idea of a sequel, passing along his ideas for how the characters might have changed (the movie has more serious themes than the original).

"I could see right away everyone was excited about the idea," he said. "I thought a couple might say no, but everyone was on board."

Timing was key.

"I think I got them at a time when there had been a dearth of black movies," he said. "Between 2006 and 2010, there were some black movies that didn't perform well, including a couple of mine, and studios were a little nervous. So there weren't a ton of opportunities at the time.

"Morris said, 'We're all in, when do we start?' and I was more cautious," said Lee, who wanted to make his pitch when he had the example of another successful African-American movie to point to. That happened with "Jumping the Broom," and his meeting with Universal turned into a green light.

"This movie is different than the original, but in important ways the same. It's nice to see successful, career-oriented and educated African-Americans on screen, and it's not about them being black. It's about them being human beings."

One way "Best Man Holiday" is the same as the original: It was again a surprise hit, taking in more than $30 million this past weekend and finishing a strong second to "Thor: The Dark World."

The state of higher ed

Here's all you need to know about the continuing merger of education and entertainment:

According to StarPulse.com, Kanye West gave a speech at the Harvard School of Design over the weekend as part of the university's "DONDA Design Lecture" series.

Said Kanye: "I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be 'architected.' "

--In December, Emerson College will become a tool of Paramount Pictures' publicity machine and for one day rename its journalism school the Ron Burgundy School of Communication.

Burgundy (a/k/a Will Ferrell) also will speak to the students on Dec. 4 and "share his path to journalism greatness," the Hollywood Reporter reported. He'll also give a news conference in character.

Burgundy "understands the power of media, as well as hairspray, firsthand," said Emerson College president Lee Pelton.

"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" opens Dec. 20.

TATTBITS

--According to TMZ.com, that Friday night party that Justin Bieber threw, to which the police arrived uninvited three times, was filled with Justin BFFs Floyd Mayweather, Chris Brown, T.I., Trey Songz and Snoop Lion, and more pole dancers than at Delilah's on a game night.

Unnamed sources allegedly at the party told TMZ that there were at least 20 "big booty" strippers there and all the nudity reportedly made the dressed girls feel self-conscious so they also got naked.

Bieber, meanwhile, tossed more than $10,000 in small bills at the girls, with one dancer telling TMZ that she took home $1,300.

And Lord knows what else.

TMZ's sources also report that there were three open bars and lots of wacky tabacky for all of Justin's guests' glaucoma.

--Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" is getting its first official music video, nearly 50 years after the song was released.

The interactive video will premiere on Dylan's website today and marks the release of the new 47-disc box set "The Complete Album Collection Volume 1."

Forty-seven discs isn't a box set, it's a bookcase.

--Also celebrating 50 years? Dr. Who.

On Nov. 23, the British sci-fi TV show will celebrate half a century with a special episode, "The Day of the Doctor."

BBC America will simulcast the episode to more than 75 countries at 2:50 p.m. It also will be shown in select movie theaters.

--Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice and Teresa Giudice, two stars of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," are facing additional fraud charges.

The Giudices were indicted yesterday on one count of bank fraud and one count of loan-application fraud.

The couple was indicted in July on 39 counts, including bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud. Joe also was charged with failing to file tax returns from 2004 to 2008.

If convicted, Teresa could next be starring in "The Real Housewives of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women."

- Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

Phone: 215-854-5678

On Twitter: @DNTattle

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