This Day I Tread

I hate days like today.

I feel like I'm treading water in a fog so thick I can barely see my hands. I'm unclear. And I ask myself constantly: Where I should go? What I should be doing?

It gets like this sometime, especially when I have no major projects I'm working on which normally lead me like a lighthouse beacon into a some kind of clear direction, some harbor. Sure I could do something--email, script rewrites, research--but what is the most important thing to do NOW? Oh I hear the chorus (lead by my friend Darryl) responding loudly: Do something that will get you some MONEY, now!

But what is the best way to do that now? For the past several years, I've hustled up dozens upon dozens of writing jobs--from academic papers to artist bios to scripts--but honestly, I'm tired of that particular hustle. It's like pitching pennies when I should be bowling for billions. I've got film projects ("Crossed," "Jade the Protector"), TV projects ("Sermons by Lavell"), animated projects ("The Circuit") all floundering on the waves, in that damn fog, waiting for the Hollywood lighthouse to bring them into harbor. And I have more projects I want to write which will undoubtedly add to my sea traffic.

But what do I need to do today, or tomorrow, or the next day? Do I create more stuff? Do I clean up the flotsam of business emails, phone calls or the jetsam of domestic duties? Do I attempt to steer the present projects into some kind of settled waters?

Or do I say the hell with these waves and start swimming toward different waters where Post Office buoys and other traditional nine-to-five flotels bob temptingly in waters I once pledged to never again tread?

I thank God for all my days, but I really hate the way this one is going.

First Runner Up is Good, Right?

By now most of you (who follow such things) know that Lavell Crawford was not the "last comic standing." That first place prize went to Jon Reep, along with $250,000. If you watched the show you could see the huge wave of disappointment wash over Lavell's face. It's understandable. I haven't called him yet. I'll wait a few days until the cacophony dies down. Undoubtedly, his climb to runner-up garnered him a lot of exposure. Maybe that will still translate into somebody wanting to center a show around him or feature him in a film. Only time will tell. Remember that "runner-up" in American Idol a couple season back? Clay Akins? The way he was positioned in the market, one might actually think HE won first place. So it's up to Lavell and his people to ride this wave as best and as long as they can. Congratulations Lavell!

Will Lavell Crawford Be The Last Comic Standing?

I've known comedian Lavell Crawford for several years. In fact, during one of the low times in my career (which one you say?), I crashed on his couch in Los Angeles for a few weeks. He was rooming with "Jammin'" Jay Lamont, a music-comedian, and an incredible talent in his own right. Weighing in at close to 400 pounds, Lavell can look quite intimidating, a beast--and indeed for hecklers he is!--but while I stayed in his apartment I came to discover that not only is he an incredibly nice and generous guy, but he's also a well-spring of creativity. He regaled me with movie ideas--one of which I turned into a screenplay entitled "Pimp Juice."

"Pimp Juice" is about Farnsworth, the grandson of a legendary pimp, who must return home, defeat an evil pimp and reclaim his heritage. I know, I know I hear you---but it's about "pimps" right? How can that be funny? Trust me it is. When Lavell pitched me the idea, I had my own reservations but as I heard his ideas I saw the humor. (My friend Phillip at Morehouse College says regardless of how funny it is he HATES the idea! Pimps Avery? Give me a break!)

It was during my stay at Lavell and Jay's apartment in Woodland Hills that I came up with a sitcom idea about a young preacher of a small church in a poor neighborhood who has two roomates: one a musician, the other a writer. I wrote it, infusing it with Lavell's comedy, and entitled it "Sermons By Lavell." Everyone that has read it says it's funny as hell. But "Sermons" or "Pimp Juice" never went anywhere because, well, Lavell and I didn't have any Hollywood juice, per se. However that tide may soon turn.

As some of you may know, Lavell has been a contestant on this season's "Last Comic Standing." Over the past several weeks he has weathered situational challenges, heckling, time constraints, odd costumes-- and yet each week he has come out on top, such that it's now down to only two contestants. The final is this WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. For those who don't know, the final contestants are selected by the public--not only here, but in places like Canada and Australia! So now, until September 19th, people around the world are calling and clicking their mice to vote for one of the two comedians. You can vote more than once too. Trust me. It's quick and easy. I hit my speed dial dozens of times a day. At the bottom of this post I'll provide the number so you can call in and vote or click on the hyperlink to NBC.

I really hope he wins. And who knows, if he is the last comic standing, perhaps "Pimp Juice" (sorry Phillip) or "Sermons By Lavell" will see the light of a studio's day and get made. Lavell Crawford is a talented guy who deserves a big break.

Heck, for that matter, so do I.

Call: 1-866-978-2702 or click here.

Exit Star Enter Hev

Heavy D called me yesterday to tell me that the "star" who was going to get on board "Crossed" has passed on the project. He offered no reason as to why. I think that exit was more of a blow to Heavy than he indicated to me because he is now making plans to do some music shows after several years of saying he's out of the music biz. However, the former overweight lover (remember he's lost a helluva lot of pounds) needs to make some money and to keep himself active. People have said to him that they'll come see his music shows when he mounts them (in a few select cities, beginning with LA) so we'll see. In the meantime, as we're still pushing "Crossed" and Heavy's gearing up for his show, what do I do?

I gotta eat too, so I have several projects hovering in the air that I will turn greater attention to. But instead of filling up this post with a laundry list of what they are, I'll discuss them individually in future posts. In the meantime, dust off your hip-hop shoes and get ready for "diggidy dee, diggidy dee."

Could "Crossed" Stars Finally Be Aligning?

A couple of years ago I wrote a movie called “Crossed” with my friend Heavy D. It’s a taught edgy little drama about a cop who may have crossed the line in his attempt to get at a notorious drug dealer. The cop will be played by Heavy D. Since it’s completion, “Crossed” has been read by a LOT of people including Will Smith, Alan Alda, Laurence Fishburne, Demi Moore, James Lassiter, Wood Harris, Antwone Fisher, Salli Richardson, Denzel Washington and Tim Story. Folks love the script--they really really do. Last year I met Denzel at a gathering at Morehouse wherein he said to me, “That cop story? You wrote that? That’s a good script man.” (I hoped he would call me “son” like he says to people in the movies.) Then he asked me had Heavy and I made the movie. Of course we hadn’t. But why hadn’t we-- especially if the script is that hot?

Well, this is Hollywood and oftentimes things don’t happen until the stars are in alignment. Really, THE stars--those that rest in the constellations of Beverly Hills, Malibu and the like. Heavy D is a very good actor. He won the Drama Desk award for his stage work in “Riff-Raff” and showed more than ample chops in the successful run of the two man stage play “Medal of Honor Rag.” However, no one was willing to bank on a movie starring Heavy--no matter how much they liked him as a person (which they do) or the script (which they do.)
Recently however a star has come into the “Crossed” universe. I can’t reveal who that is--at least not yet--until papers are signed and the orbit is actually in motion, but THIS STAR CAN GET “CROSSED” MADE.

Am I excited? Mmm. Somewhat. I remain cynical because this business is rife with so many disappointments that I refuse to mount my joy unnecessarily. However, as it moves closer to fruition I know I’ll shine brighter--like E.T.’s heart light-- and I’ll definitely keep you posted as to what’s happening.

In the meantime, I’ll be writing new stuff while keeping my feet on the ground and reaching for the, um, stars?