Interview with Former CNN Anchorman Daniel Viotto

Photo credit - CNN
Photo credit – CNN

Sir Anthony Hopkins.  Denzel Washington.  Tom Cruise.  Will Smith.  These are top billing Hollywood actors that we love to watch on-screen either for their raw talent or sex appeal; or a little bit of both.  Being on television or on the big screen is not reserved for top billing actors; however.  There are some television personalities that are not traditional actors as we know it but still have a certain level of prestige for their career in television.

One such person is former CNN Espanol anchor Daniel Viotto.  Although Daniel is now retired from CNN, he is still in the reporting business.  He currently works as the digital content manager for a local Hispanic newspaper called Mundo Hispanico which is a subsidiary of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  This week, Daniel will tell Reel Focus what it was like to be an anchorman for one of the most powerful international news shows in the world; and, what life is like after CNN.


Daniel thank you for joining us this week. A lot of Reel Focus readers are in film or television or are aspiring to be in film or television. Being a television anchor is a very important part of the television experience; therefore, tell our readers how you became an anchor for television.


If I were to say that becoming a TV anchor was destiny I would be lying. I would also be lying if I were to say that I was a born journalist. I will say that I have always been curious and concerned about communication among people and across cultures and languages.  I was motivated to become a journalist in order to explore human behavior, communication and emotions in depth. It is my personal belief that most of the amazing accomplishments and even the tragic events we have experienced have to do in one way or another with human communication [or miscommunication].  However, when we are able to communicate effectively with one another something amazing always happens–solidarity, space travel, peace, new discoveries, environmental protection, and justice are all possible when we communicate to share common human values instead of labeling groups of people as “this or that.”  These are some of the reasons that I became a journalist and decided not to pursue a career in architecture – although one day I still may [pursue an architecture degree].

After graduating from college in Mendoza, Argentina I worked for few years in radio and television.  However, I wanted more.  I wanted to travel to other countries and see beyond my immediate surroundings with my own eyes. I landed at LAX airport in Los Angeles in March 1991 and was greeted with a simple, spontaneous ceremony in which myself and my luggage were welcomed by a good friend who allowed me to stay in his house. This friend then put me in contact with people that eventually became good friends. In hindsight, I am deeply appreciative to all of them. I was a stranger and they opened their homes to me when I needed it the most. They are extraordinary, unforgettable people.

Soon after, I become a permanent resident by a program called Lottery of visas. I was lucky enough to win one of thousands of resident visas. A year later, I was an intern and then freelancer with Univision 34. A year after that, I signed my first contract with Telemundo 52 and worked under the remarkable and successful news director, Sandra Thomas, who believed in me and allowed me to join her team of field reporters.  Two years later, I was hired by CNN when they were launching CNN in Spanish for all Latin America viewers. I worked for CNN for 14 years until I decided to take a break from news and explore other options.


What was it like working for CNN?


Working for CNN was like being in the school of real life for me. It opened my eyes to a very complex and dynamic world.  I learned a great deal and became interconnected to human events and occurrences. While working as a news anchor, I also realized that not only politicians and world leaders have to fix the problems of the world; journalists too, can make a difference but we have a lot of work ahead of us to do.  I was part of an organization that proved over and over again its leadership in journalism. CNN continues to embrace high standards in journalism and CNN en Espanol keeps bringing people together all over the continent. I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn everything during my time at CNN and there is a lot more to come, but let me tell you, it was a great learning experience and such a journey to share.


How important is what you do as a journalist?


I became an anchor at a time when social media was conceived. At first it was entertaining and kind of senseless–yes senseless– that is until the platforms became the massive media phenomenon they are today. As social media grew, narcissism also grew, using these platforms to expose absolutely nothing but out of control ambition and a constant craving for reaffirmation by audiences. While we can use less of the narcissism, I am convinced that the world does need more leaders and less followers but journalists need to be involved in this process because at the end of the day we play a key role in communicating the people’s needs. The day journalism no longer delivers people’s message it will become obsolete.


What’s life like for you after CNN?


Life’s fantastic but boring in so many ways. I tasted freedom by leaving and becoming an entrepreneur. I took a much-needed break from listening to my producer in my ear every day or explaining to the news director why I said what I said the day before that made some people so angry.

I left anchoring and became part of the audience–a listener, a reader, a news consumer. For the first time, I was away from the energy of a newsroom. I was no longer addicted to the camera and I no longer had to pretend to know everything.

Working for CNN was exiting, challenging, fun and sometimes dangerous, but after being away for 5 years, in retrospect, it looks even more fascinating. I do miss it, though.

8/11/2008 Atlanta, Ga. Names: Daniel Viotto Anchor, CNN en Espanol Photo: Mark Hill/CNN en Espanol














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Edutainment – Script v. Screenplay









Edutainment – learning about film and television one word at a time.

These two words – script and screenplay – are used erroneously in the world of film and television interchangeably.  Although these words are very similar, they are  distinct.  The definitions of these words below come from the IMDb Glossary page.


“A general term for a written work detailing story, setting, and dialogue. A script may take the form of a screenplay, shooting script, lined script, continuity script, or  a spec script.”


“A script written to be produced as a movie.”


Both of these written documents help an actor and a film crew to remain organized throughout the course of recording a motion picture or television show.  However, as you can see from the definitions above, a screenplay is a description only for film and a script can be used to describe a variety of scripts.  Although a script can describe a screenplay, the opposite isn’t true – a screenplay can’t describe a script unless it is a film script.

“Words are power.  Use your words and your power wisely.”




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The Afterthought – Born Again Virgin Television Show Review

Photo credit - TVOne
Photo credit – TVOne

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.


I really like watching some of the shows on TVOne particularly the show Fatal Attraction, which reminds me of the television show on Oxygen called Snapped. I can also catch some of my other favorites such as Unsung, A Different World and Martin Lawrence on this network. While recently watching my favorite shows, I kept seeing promos for a new show called Born Again Virgin. I must say, commercials do have a hypnotizing effect because upon watching the promo initially, I had no intention of watching it. However, a few days prior to the show’s premiere, I couldn’t resist the idea of watching it – at least once.  I also discovered that this is a show filmed in Georgia so I had to show my support for it.


My Synopsis of Episode 1 – “No New Friends”

Although the main character, Jenna (Danielle Nicolet) is practicing celibacy, the show ironically opens up with her dreaming of erotic ecstasy with a man by the name of Donovan (played by singer Tank).  She is awakened by her friend and roommate, Kelly (Meagan Holder) who catches her in the throws of ecstasy with a pillow while she is sleeping.  Jenna is upset with Kelly for interrupting her during her only time that she is allowed to escape from her self-imposed decision to not have sex. The show is primarily about Jenna and her issues with sex but we do also get a glimpse into the lives of her roommates.  Kelly is a successful businesswoman who is great at what she does but continues to suffer from the glass-ceiling effect.  Despite being like “one of the boys” and being just as competitive as men are in business, she is still facing career blockages that men usually don’t face in business.  A new co-worker, Gina (Valerie Payton), who was recently hired at the firm takes interest in being OBF’s (office buddies forever) with Kelly and tries to persuade her to be more feminine and lady-like.  Jenna’s other roommate Tara (Eva Marcille) is also dealing with career issues.  She is an aspiring actress that can’t seem to catch a lucky break.  The class that she attends for improvisation is completely stupid according to her, not to mention creepy. The episode concludes with Jenna hosting at her apartment a session of her virgin-only class that she recently joined.  The teacher of the class, Renee, is played by a familiar face that we have seen here on Reel Focus, Tinashe Kajese (click link to see her article).  Tara and Kelly burst in on the meeting and Tara, who is practicing being more open, reveals to Jenna’s class that she is not a virgin nor is Jenna and that Jenna has been with many men but is now reclaiming her virginity.  This disgusts all members of the class and all of them leave except Angel (Chrystee Pharris) who is a 35 year old virgin that wants to experience sex for the first time and wants Jenna to prepare her to attract a suitor.  Ironically, after helping Angel get fixed up, she loses her virginity to the same man that Jenna secretly craves – Donovan.


My Synopsis of Episode 2 – “Go Hard or Go Home”

In the next episode, we get to see more of Jenna’s profession.  She opens up the episode with the decision to start adding video messages to her blog.  This results in a lot of unrelated video messaging added to her sites from subscribers. Jenna’s roommates are continuing to go through career woes.  Kelly gets her hand on a big contract promoting a video game by Omari Wilkes’, a famous basketball player.  After beating him at his own video game, he decides that he doesn’t want to do business with her firm.  Devastated, Kelly, who is mocked by her co-workers and her boss for allowing such an important contract to slip through her hands, goes to the gym to have a heart-to-heart with Omari to insist to him that she is the right promoter for his new video game.  Luckily, he gives her another chance to represent him. Tara is so determined to get her acting career underway she calls up Lisa Woo, another TVOne star on the show “Hollywood Divas,” to help her get a reality show gig lined up.  Tara takes her phone and video tapes herself doing outlandish things in order to convince Lisa that she can have her own reality show called the “Tara Dome.”  After Lisa sees her video, she tells Tara to give up on the reality show business because it takes away opportunities from current reality stars like herself. The episode ends with Jenna finally receiving a legitimate blog video message from a troubled girl.  She records a message for the teen telling her how to deal with the issue of celibacy.


The Afterthought – My Take on the Show

Just like with any new show, this show has promise and deserves a chance.  The writers seemed to focus on African American women’s issues in a funny way.  One major issue that stood out for me is the issue of being torn between being “lady-like” and a competitive professional business woman.  Two other issues that were raised were the struggles of trying to be an entrepreneur as witnessed in Jenna’s character as a career blogger; and the issue of trying to be successful in the world of acting as witnessed by Tara’s character.  The cinematography was great and of course I was excited to see scenes of Atlanta scattered in between scenes.  Overall, I think the first few episodes introduced the characters well but I am hoping that as we get to know more about the ladies that the plot will thicken and the tension will build each week.


IMDb Show Synopsis

Jenna (Danielle Nicolet), a 34 year-old up-and-coming blogger, decides to become celibate when she finds her body count is starting to trump her age. Using her blog as encouragement for her newly adapted sex diet and also as a sounding board for her girlfriends’ often amusing “sexcapades,” Jenna is determined to make the blog a success and transform her friends in the process.


Show Directors

Russ Par & Rashidi Natara Harper


Show Writers

Glenda Richardson, Aeysha Carr, Valencia Parker, Ranada Shepard, Meg Deloatch






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Te Ata – Highlighting Chickasaw Nation’s Legendary Actress

Photo credit Te Ata Movie Facebook page
Photo credit Te Ata Movie Facebook page.



Reel Focus readers, one thing that you may not know about me is that history, not film, was my first love. Like an archeologist, I have a knack for exploring some of the most little known topics imaginable. So, it should come as no surprise that when I was looking for an interesting piece to present to you this week, I searched high and low for something that many people may not know about. I came across a website called Chickasaw TV and started crawling through it searching for something that could make an interesting blog article.

The Chickasaw Nation is a large community of Native Americans who reside primarily in Oklahoma. This nation of Native Americans belonged to one of the Five Civilized Tribes that used to reside east of the Mississippi river, spread across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida before the Trail of Tears led them to their new home out west. As I continued to peruse their website, which is a great display of their culture, I came across an interesting person by the name of Te Ata Fisher. She was a Chickasaw actress and storyteller who used her acting skills to spread knowledge about the culture of American Indians, particularly the Chickasaw Nation. Coming across Te Ata’s profile was a great discovery, especially for our organization – Women in Film and Television Atlanta.

What I love about Te Ata is her tenacity. Even as a youth, she did not buy in to the stereotypes of what a woman should be in the community. She desired to do something out of the ordinary – especially for Native American women – and headed to Broadway to begin her career as an actress. Her desire to be a success didn’t make her a push-over, however. Te Ata adamantly refused to take on roles on Broadway that portrayed her or her race in a negative or stereotypical way. As a result of her refusing big Broadway roles that could have led her down the path of commercial success, Te Ata opted to go a different route. Instead, she used acting as an educational opportunity, performing as a one-woman show to enlighten audiences in New York and around the world about Native American Indian heritage.

Now, in honor of her legacy, a production is in development in order to tell about her rise to fame. Nathan Frankowski, is directing Te Ata which is currently in post-production. Paul Sirmons is the producer for Te Ata. Q’orianka Kilcher is the actress that will play as Te Ata. Some other big name actors and actresses that will appear in this film are Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, and Brigid Brannagh to name a few.

Te Ata was and still is a beacon to her people and to women around the world who fight against the odds and use their talent to improve the plight of other women.  This film will shine light on this little known actress whose name means “bearer of the morning.”


Nathan Frankowski
Q'orianka Kilcher
Q’orianka Kilcher




Graham Greene
Graham Greene
Gil Birmingham
Gil Birmingham





For more information and updates about this film, visit

A special thanks to Tony Choate, Media Relations Director – The Chickasaw Nation.



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Reel Focus Comedy Showcase 2015 – Sierra Katow

Photo credit - Saad Amer.
Photo credit – Saad Amer.

I’m so sad to see this year’s comedy showcase come to an end; but all good things must come to an end. We will end the week with a bang by “passing the mic” to a newcomer to the comedy scene, current Harvard student Sierra Katow.


Thank you Sierra for your contribution to our blog this week.  I want to begin by first asking what do you think is the hardest part about being a female comedian?


When I first started, I always looked very different from all the other comics at open mics: 5’ tall, girl, Asian, teenager. People tended to remember if they’d met me before, so it felt easier to make an impression. However, as I became more serious about comedy, I realize now that it’s limiting and hard as hell to be a woman in the comedy world. There are so many men in comedy that it feels like it’s their place and when you look around in a room full of comics and don’t see anyone who could be you, it seems like you don’t belong. This is, of course, all bogus. I think one of my biggest challenges has been getting over that intimidation and realizing that I can hold my own as a comic. There are always small comments that I have to ignore, but I think there is so much happening for everyone in comedy now and seeing people like Amy Schumer and Whitney Cummings really make an impact on the comedy world makes it feel possible!


How do you come up with material?


I’m still figuring out the best way to come up with material and write comedy. I keep notes on my phone and make sure to record ideas whenever I can, which is a tactic a lot of comedians swear by. Then, I’ll try to sit down and form actual jokes from the sporadic ideas. Sometimes I’ll keep my phone by my bed and actually wake up to find that I wrote really strange ideas down. One note just says “Bbertha” (yes, that’s not a typo) and I still can’t figure out to this day what I meant by that. I still just have a lot of gibberish saved on my phone that haven’t yet turned into jokes but hopefully someday I’ll be able to use them!


What career aspirations with comedy do you have -stand-up only or film and television too?


I really love performing stand-up, so I want to continue with it and go as far as I can. I’d certainly love to explore film and television. I really haven’t done anything with either film or tv outside of stand-up related television type things, but I’m open to anything. I’d also like to keep writing comedy in some form, even if it’s just for myself.


What advice do you have or those who are considering a career in comedy?


I’d say go for it if it’s what you love. It can be terrifying, and I’m currently in college, so I still haven’t begun to really feel what it means to do it full-time. It took me awhile to convince myself to go for it. Nearly everyone I go to school with will have a nice job, working somewhere that pays a regular salary, so it often feels like I must be doing something wrong by turning down stability for telling jokes. But I would tell anyone who wants to do it to just get started right away. Open mics are readily available for anyone who is willing and even just writing funny things on Twitter or in a blog, no matter who is reading, is a great way to start. Of course, it’s important to watch all sorts of comedy because laughing often makes me more motivated to turn around and make others laugh! Also, the comedy world seems to be constantly changing and advice can get outdated fast, so take mine with a grain of salt!


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Reel Focus Comedy Showcase 2015 – Comedian EB4Real






There is so much to choose from on television and the big screen that I am often times overwhelmed by what to watch. I usually opt for dramatic or adventurous shows and I have my favorite dramatic actors and actresses that I love to watch. I’m usually so wrapped up in looking for a great drama that I forget about how important comedy is to television and film. Comedians play an integral role in making us laugh whether they are on stage, on television, or in a motion picture. Continuing this week’s comedy showcase, we are going to ‘turn the mic over to’ a rising star in comedy – EB4Real to tell us more about his career as a comedian.

About me. . .

‘Hi Reel Focus readers. My name is Eric Brown but I go by the stage name EB4REAL. I was born and raised in San Diego, California and as far back as I can remember I have always been funny – if I must say so myself.  To be precise, I have to say that I became interested in making people laugh around 12 years old. I would play this game with my friends that we over here on the West Coast call “snappin’ in the street.” For those that don’t know what this is, snappin’ is when you go back and forth ‘snappin’ on your friends, finding things about them to joke about – their clothes, their looks, their hair. We also would play a game called “playin’ the round table” which is roasting game similar to ‘snappin.’ Aside from these games I played with my friends, I used to go to school and amuse my school friends with my jokes. I was quick-witted and when my teachers said something to me, I would have a hilarious comeback that would often amuse my friends and annoy my teachers. So as you can guess, I was a class clown in school. I am a natural born jokester and I recall when I was 18, my girlfriend Carmen – now my wife – couldn’t stop laughing at me and asked “How many jokes do you have?” My response to her was “I have a million of ‘em'”and they still haven’t stopped coming out.

How I got my start. . .

Fifteen years ago, I decided to take this natural gift to make people laugh and turn it into a profession. I wasn’t someone who kept up with the comedy scene or with who the famous comedians were; but, I knew deep down inside that I was a comedian and I wanted to share my talent with the world. At that time, I did my first 3 minute open mic at The Comedy Store in La Jolla, California. I admit that I waited impatiently outside for 3 hours to make my debut but when I finally hit the stage, it was a fun experience that I have cherished ever since. I would say that this first open mic was when my professional career as a comedian began. That first open mic is behind me now, but since that first audition, I started to write and work on more material once my son was school aged.

My Style. . .

My style of comedy is what I would call down home comedy – I observe people and things in everyday life and joke about it. My comedy is mature and meant for a sophisticated audience. I admit, being a comedian is not an easy profession. I often find that my biggest challenges are that there are too many cliques and not enough support to help me grow and develop my talent. The industry is very subjective but that doesn’t stop me from pursuing my passion.

My career aspiration. . .

There are many levels of performing stand-up comedy and it’s just about getting regular stage time for an audience who appreciates my brand. I am a big fan of Tyler Perry’s productions because he offers opportunity for exposure. In the future, I would like to explore a role in a romantic comedy either on television or on film.

My Advice to aspiring comedians. . .

DON’T DO IT!!!! (laugh) Just kidding but this is a difficult profession and if you’re going to pursue comedy as a profession then my advice is to get into the industry be serious about it. Don’t do it just because you enjoy watching comedy. That doesn’t mean you belong on stage. This is my passion, my way of life and the reason I wake up every day and keep pursuing it. I enjoy making people laugh and if you want to survive in this industry, you should too.


For more information on EB4reel, visit



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Reel Focus Comedy Showcase 2015 – The Improv Atlanta

The Improv Stage
Photo courtesy of The Improv Atlanta


Comedy has been a significant part of acting and theater since the ancient Athenians.  They often performed on stage using two types of masks to convey human emotion:  tragedy andcomedy tragedy mask comedy.   This week, Reel Focus will highlight comedy in its second annual comedy showcase.  We will feature The Improv Atlanta comedy club, comedian Eric Brown (a.k.a. EB4real), and comedienne, Sierra Katow.

The Improv is more than just a comedy club; it is a household name in the world of comedy.  Some of the most famous comedians we know today got their start or became a well-known act by performing on its stage.  Here to tell us more about The Improv comedy club located in Atlanta, Georgia is Stephen de Haan, President of Andrews Entertainment District.

Stephen, thank you for sharing this information with our readers.  First, tell us this comedy club’s connection to television and/or film, past or present. 

Budd Friendman
Photo of founder Budd Friedman courtesy of The Improv Atlanta

The Improv was founded 50 years ago in New York City by Budd Friedman.  Throughout that time, The Improv has been a proving ground for talent not only with its own TV program An Evening at The Improv on A&E, but also with original Improv staff members moving into film & TV, with one later becoming the head of HBO.

Who are some well-known guests that have made appearances or have gotten their start with The Improv

The Improv has always been where great comedians get their start.  Jay Leno, used to drive in from New Jersey hoping to get stage time at the Improv.  Others famous comedians who started at The Improv include Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Andy Kaufman just to name a few.  Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting Marlon Wayans and George Wallace in May for five shows and greats like Jim Breuer and Kevin Nealon booked for later this year.

George Wallace
Photo of George Wallace courtesy of The Improv Atlanta

How does The Improv compare to other local comedy clubs in Atlanta? 

The Improv is truly a national comedy brand with 24 US locations all striving to provide the best comedy experience available.  That goes from the amazing national headlining comedians that we fly in, to the large variety of food and beverage offerings, to the quality of the showrooms themselves.  We still make a poignant effort to support the local comedy community such as working in tandem with Laughing Skull Lounge to host the finals of their annual comedy festival.

How is The Improv preparing aspiring local Atlanta comedians for stardom? 

Performing at The Improv is a huge milestone in the career of a successful comedian. We offer open mic nights on Wednesdays as well as eight week stand up comedy class taught by nationally acclaimed comedian Josh Harris from NBC’s Stand Up for Diversity. Both opportunities help boost public speaking skills, become a funnier more confident person and strive to be a professional com

Marlon Wayans
Photo of Marlon Wayans courtesy of ChuckyFoto.

edian. The Improv hopes to continue to give upcoming comics a fantastic platform to hone their craft and deliver amazing laughs to our crowd.


For more information about The Improv Atlanta, visit





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CBS Presents the 69th Annual Tony Awards

Tony Vertical


CBS will be hosting another enchanting evening of the Tony Awards – its 69th enchanting evening to be precise.  The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre ceremony, better known as the Tony Award ceremony, will attract thousands of prestigious Broadway stars to Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015.

The ceremony will begin with the Red Carpet show – the first-ever in Tony Award history – and will feature hosts Darren Criss and Laura Osnes.

Courtesy of

The Tony Awards ceremony will be hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming.  Guest appearances will include Bradley Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, Jim Parsons, Kiefer Sutherland,  Sutton Foster, Taye Diggs, and Taylor Schilling to name a few.

There will also be a simulcast of the Tony Awards on Clear Channel live from Times Square featuring hosts recording artist, Deborah Cox and former American Idol and film star, Justin Guarini.

Debra Cox
Photo of Deborah Cox courtesy of


Justin Guarini
Photo of Justin Guarini courtesy of


A few of the nominees and categories included will be:

Best Choreography

Joshua Bergasse, On the Town
Christopher Gattelli, The King and I
Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations

Best Play

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Hand to God
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two

Best Direction of a Play

Stephen Daldry, Skylight
Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It with You
Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God

Best Musical

An American in Paris
Fun Home
Something Rotten!
The Visit


The show starts at 8:00 pm eastern time.


A walk down the Tony Award’s memory lane. . .

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) – Tony Award Winner for Best Play




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Lorielle Broussard On the State of Film in Atlanta

Lorielle Broussard

Revenue for film began to grow here in Georgia as early as 1972. As film began to generate a substantial amount of revenue – former Governor Sonny Purdue – revised the House Bill 610 (originally passed by Governor Roy Barnes) incorporating the revised Entertainment Industry Investment Act that we now have today. After that act was passed, Georgia began to change the game in the world of film. From being one of several top contenders vying for a number one spot outside of California and New York for film, it has outpaced the competition and is leading the way amassing over 5.1 billion in the last fiscal year alone.

Film is big Georgia business but as of 2013, it has become big Atlanta business. In order to step up efforts for film in the City of Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed called upon the expertise of LaRhonda Sutton, Director of the City of Atlanta Office of Entertainment, “to support the city’s rapidly expanding film industry.” This week, one of her dynamic team members, Lorielle Broussard – Marketing & Communications Manager – will share with Reel Focus readers what is going on in film with the City of Atlanta and how this office will help usher in developments in this industry.

Lorielle, it is an honor to have you on Reel Focus blog speaking to readers about the exciting things taking place in film in Atlanta. Tell our readers about how the office was started and what its vision is.

The Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment was started in July 2013 to provide a one-stop-shop for productions interested in filming in Atlanta. Our office acts as a facilitator for productions to usher them through the city of Atlanta offices that they need to go through in order to make their projects happen. In doing this, it was created to streamline the permitting system for film and TV productions, assist with facilitating employment of local talent, create production-related educational and training opportunities, and work with community leaders to safeguard the interests of residents and businesses affected by film productions.

Georgia has several cities within it, vying to be the film capital within Georgia. Does Atlanta plan to become the premier place for film in Georgia and if so, what initiative is it taking to become as popular for filming as Fayetteville, or Senoia, or Covington.

As of right now, 75 – 80% of filming already happens in the city of Atlanta but part of the vision for this office is for Atlanta to be the cultural, economic and entertainment center of the Southeast, the nation and then the world. I think several of the new developments that are creating connectivity and walkability within the city of Atlanta like the new streetcar, the beltline, redevelopment of the Underground, the new stadium, the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, Buckhead Atlanta, etc. are really making Atlanta the place to film in Georgia. I think one of the major attractions to film in Atlanta is that there are several locations within the city that can look like any other city in the world, which is a huge draw for productions and producers.

As we all know, Georgia is growing rapidly in film. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development website, television, film, music, and gaming and digital media are attracting many to Georgia, generating 5.1 billion dollars in FY 2014. Tell us how much of this can be attributed to the city of Atlanta and how the Atlanta Office of Entertainment plans to become an even more substantial part of Georgia’s earnings in this fiscal year.

I know that we had a hand in the increase in the revenue generated for the city and the state. We do provide all of the permits for every production that films on public property in the City of Atlanta. In FY14, the revenue generated from permitting was at about $494,070.00 and since filming is tripling this year in Georgia, I know that there will be a significant increase in the amount generated from permitting for FY15.




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An “Empire” of Her Own

Attica's Photo
Photo courtesy of Jenny Walters

I’m sure most of you have heard of the new hit series on Fox called Empire and you may be familiar with some of its characters – Lucious, Cookie, Jamal, Andre, and Hakeem. But one person you may not be familiar with is Attica Locke. Lucious and Cookie may be the face of the hit series but Attica is one of writers for the series. This week, Reel Focus will explore one of the geniuses behind this phenomenal new series and will focus on how she built an “Empire” of her own.

Attica thank you so much for talking to our Reel Focus readers. We all of course are excited about your recent success with the new show but I want us all to go back down memory lane and get to know Attica Locke. How did your writing career begin?

AL:  I have always been writing, even as a child. But somewhere around high school, when I saw Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, something clicked inside me and I wanted to be involved in film. I started writing scripts. I went to film school at Northwestern University in Chicago and then moved to LA as soon as I graduated. I wrote scripts exclusively at that time, but I was only thinking of them in terms of being a path to directing. I wasPleasantville a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab and came out of that with a movie deal, which collapsed shortly after. It broke my heart. I was 25 years old. I knew I could write but was not certain at that time that I would ever get my own movie made, or that Hollywood was interested in my kind of black stories. So I became a studio screenwriter. I made a lot of money writing scripts for every major studio. I did it for years, but nothing ever got made. I grew bored and disenchanted and decided to write a book. That was three books ago.

What is life like for you outside of Hollywood?

I am someone’s mother. So that’s mostly my life outside of Hollywood. Soccer games and play dates. And I read A LOT.TheCuttingSeason

I myself am a book writer and screenwriter and so I’m going to ask this question on behalf of me and other fellow novelist and screenwriters. How did you make the successful transition from a book writer to a screenwriter and what advice can you give to the ladies of Women in Film and Television Atlanta?

 As you see above, I was a screenwriter before I was a novelist. I came back to Hollywood because TV has gotten really interesting over the last decade or so. All the stuff I was doing as a feature writer – character dramas, political thrillers, etc. – has all moved to television. It’s hard to live off book money in Los Angeles, so I went to my agents and said I wanted to exploreBlackWaterRising TV. I went in with an idea for my own show, but I also told them I’d like to look at the pilots that were going to series, and I wanted to take meetings. I had never done TV, so I was stepping waaayyyy outside my comfort zone. But I kept saying to myself, almost like a mantra, “I’m willing to be uncomfortable.” When I read the script for Empire, I knew I wanted to be part of it from the first page. It took a lot of meetings, but then I got the job!

My best advice is always to write, write, write, and be willing to stretch yourself. Reach high and stay ambitious. And believe in the power of your own voice.


Finally, the moment we have all been waiting for. Let’s talk – brag about your involvement with Empire. According to IMDB, you have co-produced 11 of the episodes of the first season and have written one: “Our Dancing Days.” I will let you share what you like to about this episode or about the show in general.

I love the show because it’s so fresh, so unprecedented. I’ve never seen these characters on TV before. I’ve never seen a Cookie on TV, though I’ve known them in my real life. I’ve never seen a Jamal on TV before, though I know young men like him in my real life. It’s all a breath of fresh air. And I love the fact that the show lives in a kind of high, low place. We do big soap opera turns and crazy plot twists, but we also deal with social issues like homophobia, mental health, race, and class. My favorite part of the episode I wrote was when Cookie took over the stage and gave the speech to investors in Lucious’s place. It was pure Cookie.



For more information on Attica Locke visit

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