Edutainment – Blacklisted

Photo credit - CBS News Archive/Getty Images
Photo credit – CBS News Archive/Getty Images

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

This term is thrown around loosely nowadays.  In general, it usually refers to anyone who has been kept out of something or deprived of something for their beliefs or political stance that is unacceptable by a majority.  However, this word is deeply rooted in the Joseph McCarthy era in which communist ‘witch hunts’ ran rampant.  There was a general fear back in the 1940s that communists were infiltrating Hollywood and as a result, certain film professionals were added to a list called a blacklist and prevented from obtaining work.  This months term comes from BFI Screen Online.


“[c. 1940s]. . .hundreds of writers, actors, directors and producers were identified as communists and/or pressurized to reveal the names of communist sympathizers. Those who chose not to co-operate with HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) found themselves on a ‘blacklist’ preventing their working with any Hollywood studio.”

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



The Afterthought – Blood and Oil Television Review

Photo Credit - ABC
Photo Credit – ABC

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


I’ll admit that this television show is not something that I would typically watch but I was intrigued by the previews.  Initial reviews on the show claimed that this show is like the 80s television show Dynasty; however this is not what drew me in.  I think what sparked my interest was seeing Don Johnson on screen doing a show in a small town.  This is quite a drastic change from his role in his younger years on Miami Vice.  So, I tuned into it and this is what I got from it.

My Synopsis of the Episode

Cody and Billy are a young married couple who set out to start a family business in Patchwork, North Dakota.  The episode seems to gain traction when Cody and Billy are on the way to North Dakota and flip their pickup truck carrying their product. Luckily, they don’t sustain major injuries from the accident but it does cause a setback for them in terms of their entrepreneurial dreams.  They arrive in town, desperately looking for a place to stay and jobs.  Cody finds a job at a local pharmacy and asks for an advance on her paycheck to purchase a place for them to live.  Billy finds a job as a day laborer moving mud for oil tycoon Hap Briggs.  Unfortunately, he is fired the same day due to a mishap with Hap’s son, Wick.  This news is disappointing for his wife because she finds out the same day that she is pregnant.  Billy assures her that they will make something happen despite seemingly endless streak of bad news.

Fearful of what the future will hold for her and their unborn baby, Cody is ready to give up until she overhears a customer at the pharmacy talking about the “McCutchen Land.”  This is land that Hap Briggs plans to buy in order to dig for oil.  She figures that if Billy could buy the land and intercept the deal, they could make a small fortune for themselves and get back on track to living their entrepreneurial dreams.  Of course acquiring the easement isn’t easy considering Billy and Cody don’t have any major collateral.  However, Billy’s quick thinking  and Cody’s gold and diamond necklace allow them to raise the money necessary to close the deal before the Briggs company representatives could.

Billy and Cody successfully intercept the deal and make 1 million dollars and also talk Hap Briggs into giving up 5 percent on any oil that they discover on the land.  This brings the two families closer together as business partners leaving Hap’s son permanently out of the picture.  Wick despises his father and his new wife, Darla, and after having been disowned by his father, he wants nothing more than to get back at them by stealing their oil to start his own business.  The episode ends with Wick’s plan to steal oil foiling.  Caught red-handed, Wick points a gun at his father but Billy knocks him down and tries to wrestle the gun from Wick.   The gun is accidentally discharged and  a spark from the gun sets the oil on fire leaving the audience on edge from this major cliff hanger – will the two of them burn up in the fire?

The Afterthought – My Take on the Season Premiere

As I said before, this show is not something that I would normally watch but I’m glad I did.  The first thing that struck me is how beautiful the backdrop for this TV show is.  The North Dakota landscape is simply breathtaking.  Another thing that I liked was the small-town feel that came across the screen.  City life is pretty much all I am accustomed to, so it was interesting to get a glimpse of small town life through this interesting tale.

Aside from the beautiful cinematography, I think that the first episode panned out like any other new show.  It really wasn’t intense but it was just enough to make you want more.  So far, we know that Hap Briggs’s son, Wick,  is a disgruntled troublemaker that keeps making his millionaire father look bad.  Hap disowns him after the accident on the land that ends up costing him over a million dollars.  From that point on, Wick is determined to carve out a niche for himself in order to compete effectively with his father.  While tension is building in the Briggs family between father and son, Cody and Billy too are desperately trying to carve out a niche for themselves using the Briggs name.  Their motives, though underhanded, aren’t as malicious as Wick Briggs’ motives are.  Although Billy is new to this entrepreneurship thing, I think he does a good job at purchasing the McCutchen land from Mr. Lundgren and selling it to the Briggs family, making a huge profit for himself in the process.  His wife Cody’s smart thinking allowed for this deal to be possible.  Hap is impressed with this young man’s bold business move and he welcomes Billy in as the son he wish he had.

At the end of the episode, we see Wick trying to break into Hap’s oil brigg and take steal some oil along with an acquaintance but they are intercepted by Hap and Billy.  Wick discharges a gun and the spark from the electricity lands in the oil that Billy and Wick are wrestling in and sets the pool of oil on fire.  Will they burn up?  Obviously not because then the show would have no purpose but I really want to know how they got out of the oil before it caught on fire.  This is where the first episode ended and that was quite enough to make me tune in next week.  This show left me realizing that small town drama can be more exciting that I initially assumed.

IMDb TV Show Synopsis

A couple looks to cash in on the modern-day oil boom in North Dakota.

TV Show Directors

Jonas Pate, Mikael Salomon

TV Show Writer(s)

Rodes Fishburne, Josh Pate

Main Actors/Actresses

Don Johnson, Chace Crawford, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Amber Valletta, Scott Michael Foster, India de Beaufort, Adan Canto, Miranda Rae Mayo , Delroy Lindo, Paul Rae, Keston John, Yaani King




The Afterthought – The Player Television Show Review

Photo credit - NBC
Photo credit – NBC

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

There has been some talk that ‘The Player’ may not be a good as all the hype surrounding it.  Variety didn’t seem to be so fond of the show saying ‘the premiere talks a lot about gambling, in terms of a second season, don’t bet on it.’  On a much more positive note, Deadline Hollywood paints a rosier picture saying ‘the well-honed skills and sheer star muscle of  Wesley Snipes– which lifts the drama to a much more interesting place than you’d first expect.’  Clearly, I’m torn right down the middle.  So, instead of dealing with the good or the bad hype, I decided to watch it for myself to find out what’s really going on.  Here’s what I came up with.

My Synopsis of the Episode

The pilot show started out with Alex Kane protecting an international family at a prestigious hotel.  This hotel was supposed to be airtight with its security but in the first scene someone breached security and places the family at risk.  Alex Kane of course saves the day by thinking fast and outsmarting the criminal who tries to kill the family.  In the nick of time, he breaks through a window and tackles the bad guy. Well this is how it begins – in high action – so you know this is how the show must proceed through this episode and throughout its duration on television; otherwise it will get boring.

Luckily, it didn’t get boring for me.  The high action continued.  Seemingly every scene was full of thrills that kept me interested.  After his brief encounter with danger, Alex faces another dilemma.  His girlfriend who loves him dearly ends up murdered by an intruder and the cops try to pin it on him because he is the only one who supposedly witnesses this intruder.  After this scene, a mysterious woman named Cassandra King who is a part of a criminal organization appears and ‘kidnaps’ Alex.  She takes him to meet, Mr. Johnson, the leader of the organization that intends to make Alex a player in a vicious game of betting on whether a crime will occur or not.  The only way the crime will not happen is if Alex can intervene in time.

After his first test bet at the casino, the head of the organization welcomes him to their headquarters to explain more to him about the origins of their organization.  Alex becomes disgruntled after what they reveal because he feels they could have kept his girlfriend from getting murdered since they seem to know beforehand about a crime before it takes place. After their brief discussion and a brief struggle, Alex goes back out on a mission to save the daughter of the international family who had been kidnapped and held for ransom.  Kane realizes that the breach of security that keeps occurring must be because of an insider and the trail leads right to the head of their security team who had been orchestrating these security breaches.  Alex must intervene to save their daughter before the culprits kill her. He does but the cops come pouring in to arrest him.  Ironically, the FBI exonerates him and who is the head of the FBI.  Why Mr. Johnson of course.

The Afterthought – My Take on the Season Premiere

What can I say?  I like it.  I was worried when I read the initial critiques but I wasn’t displeased with the television pilot at all.  It left me wanting more.  As I revealed in a previous article, I’m not usually excited about network television shows but network TV is really upping their game this season.  Before watching the show, I was really excited about Wesley Snipes’ role.  However, upon watching it, I must say that Philip Winchester bought his A game too.  There was never a dull moment in this first episode and I hope that the writers can keep this momentum going.  I’m really looking forward to these fight scenes that Wesley Snipes is supposed to perform himself (not stunt men) according to what John Rogers informed us about in his article.  If you missed that interview, view it here.

Looks like to me, the cards were played right on this show – no pun intended.  I think this may be my new Thursday must-see television show.  I just hope others feel the same.

IMDb TV Show Synopsis

From the executive producers of The Blacklist comes a new edge-of-your-seat Las Vegas thrill ride starring Wesley Snipes and Philip Winchester. Running a high-stakes game of life and death, pit boss Mr. Johnson enlists Alex Kane, a former military man, to race against the clock to stop unthinkable crimes. Place your bets. 


TV Show Directors

Michael J. Bassett

Bharat Nalluri


TV Show Writer(s)

John Rogers

Main Actors/Actresses

Damon Gupton , Wesley Snipes , Charity Wakefield, Nick Wechsler, Philip Winchester , Chris Degner



Photo credit - NBC
Photo credit – NBC


The Afterthought – Empire Season Premiere Review

 Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX
Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX

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

Last season, I got into the “Empire” craze late.  I had heard rumors from friends and co-workers that this show is fantastic but I wasn’t eager to watch it because in the back of my mind I thought “It’s network television, how good could this show really be?”  Well it’s a good thing that I didn’t let my prejudice cause me to miss out on one of the hottest shows that I have ever seen on network television.  I couldn’t believe some of the things I saw unfold before my eyes on screen.  This show really pushes the limits of what has been standard television and I like it.  With shows like this coming back to television, I won’t have to rely so much on cable surfing to find a great thriller.

In the last episode, we witnessed Lucious Lyon get taken to jail and his oldest son, Andre committed a crime that we’re not entirely sure is actually a crime yet.  How did the season open up?  Let’s find out.

My Synopsis of the Episode

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so I will be very brief and mention the 6 most critical things that happened on the show.

  1.  Cookie Lyons opens up the episode with a ‘Free Lucious Concert’
  2. In jail, Lucious runs into an old dangerous acquaintance – Frank Gathers
  3. Mimi, a woman involved in helping Cookie perform a hostile takeover of Empire from Lucious is ironically working for Lucious – the family’s plan foils and Jamal is infuriated as a result of the family’s scheme
  4. Cookie is being viciously taunted by Frank Gathers even while he is jail so she visits Lucious to have him put a stop to it
  5. Frank and Lucious meet in jail and Frank wants his supposedly loyal jail mates to kill Luscious however they are loyal to Lucious and he has them to take care of Frank instead
  6. The episode ends with Jamal still brewing over the hostile takeover that Cookie schemed up and there is an implication that she has just incited a war, not with Lucious this time but with Jamal

The Afterthought – My Take on the Season Premiere

My, my, my!  What an opener!  I was amazingly calm throughout most of the episode.  I think this may have been what the production team wanted the audience to experience.  I felt like we were being eased back into the plot rather than hit with too much too fast.  Just as the ‘boat was steadied,’ it was shook up by the hostile takeover scene in which Cookie’s scheme to oust Lucious failed.  From that point on, we start to see the real Empire that we are accustomed to: the shadiness, the in-fighting, and most importantly Lucious handling business even while incarcerated.  Overall, I was very pleased with the opening episode and I certainly can’t wait to see what Jamal plans to do to get revenge on his mother for what she did.  It looks like the drama is getting ready to start cooking rather rapidly from now on and I hope that some of the stuff we’re still in the dark about will come to light soon enough.

 IMDb TV Show Synopsis

Lucious, the founder and CEO of a successful record label has been diagnosed with ALS. He must choose one of his three sons to take over the company when he dies. Meanwhile, his ex wife and co-founder, Cookie, has been released from prison and wants to reclaim her rightful place in the company.

TV Show Directors

Lee Daniels, Sanaa Hamri, Debbie Allen, Michael Engler, Rob Hardy, Anthony Hemingway, Rosemary Rodriguez, John Singleton, Danny Strong, Mario Van Peebles

TV Show Writer(s)

Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Ilene Chaiken, Joshua Allen, Wendy Calhoun , Eddie Gonzalez , Jeremy Haft, Eric Haywood, Attica Locke, David Rambo, Malcolm Spellman

Main Actors/Actresses

Terrence Howard , Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey, Kaitlin Doubleday, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Gabourey Sidibe, Malik Yoba, Derek Luke



Screenwriter John Rogers Talks About His Latest Action Thriller – The Player on NBC

11/19/2008 - John Rogers - Electric Entertainment Celebrates TNT's "The Librarian 3" and "Leverage" - Arrivals - The Cabana Club - Hollywood, CA. USA - Keywords: John Rogers - False - - Photo Credit: Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827)


Reel focus readers I have a real treat for you.  A lot of great movies and shows are rolling out this season and I’ve been hot on the trail like a sleuth in a detective tale finding production people who can discuss their films or TV shows.  Ok so I am stretching the truth a little – I’ve been finding writers to discuss their films.  As you know, I’m a writer so I’m partial to other writers because I feel like most writers don’t get the accolades that they rightfully deserve.  So, pardon me if I show a lot of love to writers.

This week I have tracked down screenwriter John Rogers!  He is a powerhouse writer having written for a lot of films and television shows that we love – just check out his IMDb page here.  He has a new show debuting this week and let me tell you, I was floored when I saw Wesley Snipes in the previews.  Yes, Wesley Snipes will be making a comeback on Rogers’ new television show “The Player” on NBC.  I’m excited and can’t wait to see it but in the meantime, Rogers will tell us in his own words more about his career and more about “The Player.”

Tell us more about what television shows or films that you are known best for.

I’ve had a weird combo-burrito of a career, basically hopping from stand-up to TV to film and then back to TV, with a side trip into comic books. I created the animated show THE JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES, co-created LEVERAGE on TNT which just finished a five year run, developed and ran THE LIBRARIANS on TNT and currently have THE PLAYER premiering on NBC this Thursday. Oh, and I co-wrote the first TRANSFORMERS movie.


You have written for television and film.  Do you like or prefer one medium over the other in order to express your writing creativity?

Given the choice between film and television, I’d always go to TV. You can tell longer form stories, take characters through involved emotional journeys, and you make it. I mean, make it NOW! The fastest I ever got a movie made was three years. Sometimes in television you write pages that are shot the next day.

I also enjoy the writer’s role in TV production. I like working with actors over a longer term, crafting and growing the characters over multiple episodes and seasons. The script is the score. The actors should get to play it in their key.


What is your motivation for creating the new action thriller “The Player” on NBC?

THE PLAYER was born of a conversation between myself and John Fox, an old friend and producer on THE BLACKLIST. He’d had a conversation with a friend who was a gambler, talking about how you wind up chasing the thrill of bigger and bigger bets, weirder bets. It somehow turned to “Would you bet on crime?”, to which the gambler replied “Yeah, sure.”

John brought that idea to me, and together we crafted that world — what it would take to run a system that gambled on crime, who would do it, and what that system would imply about the rest of the world. THE PLAYER is a straight-up action thriller, but we really want to examine the nature of power. How its maintained, controlled, and how it can never really be destroyed. Alex Kane is the one man in the Game we’re all trapped in who knows what’s going on. How he decides to play that game, what it says about us, is the real point of the show.

This is a big come back for actor Wesley Snipes.  Tell us more about why he was chosen to be in this television series.

Mr. Snipes kept coming up in conversation as we talked about the character of Mister Johnson. We wanted a morally ambiguous character, who was a mess of contradictions. Precise but violent. Cool and street but can walk in the corridors of power. Not moral, but deeply ethical. As we talked about he character’s history, we were saying “You know, like those action-hero types of the 90’s. Wesley Snipes.” Finally somebody at Sony said “Hey, you really need someone with the buzz to break us out of the Fall pack, AND we could, ya’ know, just ask Wesley.”

So Bharat Nalluri — the pilot director — and I went to dinner with Mr. Snipes, talked to him about the character and how TV in general works these days, and got him interested. I can’t speak for him, of course, but he said he was fascinated by the idea of building a character over long the term rather than the one-and-done of movies. He’s very new to TV, and really peppered us with questions about every part of the process, that night and over the course of the pilot.

That was really great — so many people come in from the film world and act like hey know how TV works. Mr. Snipes is a lifelong learner, and pulls apart a subject when it interests him. He’s been a great asset on the show, and every request he’s made has been about making the show better, never just about something for himself. It’s a pleasure to be working with him.

And he will knock your socks off. In the pilot, Mr. Johnson is very restrained, as it’s a story told through Alex’s POV. As the series goes on, you see him in action, both in the halls of power and some devastating action and fight scenes. Which, of course, he insists on doing himself. It’s just great.



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WIFTA Speed Networking

Get Hired By Women and Hire Women

There are so many amazing and talented Women in Film and Television in Atlanta that expand even beyond the organization, we believe it’s time we get to know each other and start networking within. We have members that are looking to get their films financed. Members have amazing projects that they need produced. Women are looking for their next role? There next job… We’re creating an unique networking opportunity and looking for members to volunteer.

Tasks May Include:

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Being part of a WIFTA committee is a great way to network and to truly get involved with the organization. So, join us!

Participate Today

Edutainment – Close Up

Angelina Jolie in 'Maleficent'
Angelina Jolie in ‘Maleficent’


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


Most writers for television or film will write a script or screenplay on spec.  However, much more advanced writers (or directors) may write what are called shooting scripts.  This type of script writing requires more than just writing skills; rather, it incorporates a firm understanding of filmmaking particularly as it relates to the camera itself.  If you are a new, inexperienced writer, you will not have to worry about shooting scripts; however, there are some times when you will come across a shooting script and wonder what the code words on the page mean.  This month’s term is one which may be found in a shooting script and comes from the Empire Film Studies 101 glossary.

Close Up

“A shot that keeps only the face full in the frame. Perhaps the most important building block in cinematic storytelling.”

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



The Afterthought – The Perfect Guy Film Review

Photo credit: Sony Pictures
Photo credit: Sony Pictures

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

A few weeks ago, I was watching television and the full trailer for “The Perfect Guy” flashed across the television.  I was immediately intrigued especially when I saw the leading men in the cast.  Since then, I have been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to see this movie and yes, it is as good as it looks in the previews.  This film was a little bit complicated for me primarily because I couldn’t stop staring at Morris Chestnut and Michael Ealy long enough to pay attention to the plot; however, I did get through it and here’s what I got from the film.Sanaa Lathan

Michael-EalyMy Synopsis of the Film

As a screenwriter, I’m always critically watching the first 10-15 minutes of a movie because this sets the tone and let’s me know if this will be a good, well-structured film.  This film passed the test because the first 10-15 minutes of the film went solidly in one direction and the first plot-point sent it hurling in the opposite direction according to screenplay rules.  In the first ten minutes of this film, as the title suggests, Carter Duncan (Michael Ealy) is depicted as the perfect guy – perfect mate, perfect potential son-in-law, and all-around perfect human being.  A few minutes later, things take a drastic turn for the worse and this drastic spin is what hooks the audience until the end.  After seeming so perfect to Leah Vaughn (Sanaa Lathan), she sees Carter snap and from there, she can’t believe that she has been so vulnerable to this charming, crazy man.  She no longer wants to have anything to do with him after witnessing his unbelievable behavior while returning from a brief trip to meet her parents and this is where the drama begins.  From this point on, the story unfolds as scene after scene of this obsessed man displaying more and more of his lunacy.  He does all that he can to instill fear into her to try to win her back through control but Leah is steadfast and strong.

The Afterthought – My Take on the Film

OMG! I loved this film!  Not only will you be tantalized by the eye candy on screen but the creepiness of Carter Duncan will have you twisting and turning in your seat. Morris Chestnut This is definitely one of those movies that will trigger audience reaction as I heard several people gasping and responding out loud in the theater to Carter’s well-planned, disturbing behavior.  When Leah gathers quiet strength to take back her life from this manic, you will really be on the edge of your seats and possibly hi-fiving your home-girls who accompany you to the theater.  I think that this is really a good film and definitely a change of pace for these leading African American stars.  If you haven’t seen it, brace yourself for a compelling joyride filled with lots of surprising twists and turns that will have you checking your closets and bathrooms once you get home to make sure no one is there.


IMDb Film Synopsis

 In the film, Leah Vaughn (Lathan) appears to have the ideal life. She enjoys a challenging, fast-paced career as a lobbyist; Dave (Morris Chestnut), her longterm boyfriend loves her. And yet, at 36, she’s ready to move to the next phase. Marriage and a family seem a logical and welcome step. Dave is not so sure. A bit commitment phobic, his misgivings lead to a painful break up.

Enter Carter Duncan (Ealy), a handsome, charming stranger whose path keeps crossing with Leah’s. Caring and solicitous of Leah and her family and friends, their relationship rapidly progresses. It seems Leah has met the perfect guy. But if it seems too good to be true… Soon Carter’s protective nature morphs into something more sinister. It’s clear Leah has to end this new relationship and when she does, her onetime lover becomes her ultimate enemy. It will take every bit of her cunning and resolve to escape and outwit him.

Film Directors

David M. Rosenthal

Film Writer(s)

Tyger Williams

Main Actors/Actresses

Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut


Don’t forget to check out the interview with the screenwriter for this film Tyger Williams here.



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Behind the Scenes with Screenwriter Tyger Williams

Photo credit - Tyber Williams
Photo credit – Tyger Williams

We are just days from the highly anticipated film “The Perfect Guy” starring Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut and Michael Ealy.  I don’t know about you but I was intrigued by the trailer; intrigued enough to find out more about the movie and about the man behind the screenplay for the movie.Menace to Society

We know Tyger Williams best for his screenplay “Menace II Society” which was one of my favorite African American films from back in the day.  Tyger was among many of the African American writers of the 1990s that put African American culture on the map.  Now he is about to do it again, with something a little different – still keeping African American people center stage but focusing on the theme of obsession.

Tyger, thank you for accepting this invitation to share more about your career with Reel Focus readers. Of course we want to know more about the film but first I want to start with a little bit of your background in film.  Tell us how you became a screenwriter.

It was watching Star Wars as a child that made me fall in love with movies. I started writing short stories in middle school and high school with no intention of writing screenplays. In college I studied production and marketing with the intention of becoming a producer. While interning for a production company and doing lots of script coverage I read a book that said writing was the easiest way into the business and so I started writing screenplays, the third of which was Menace II Society. I ended up selling it before graduation. My advice to anyone wanting to become a screenwriter is to read TONS of scripts, rather than all those books on how to write. The more you read the more you recognize what works and doesn’t, and why. You also get a sense of all of the different styles and voices. This is invaluable in terms of figuring out your own identity as a writer.

What have you been doing since Menace II Society?

Lots of writing. I wrote a bunch of scripts for all of the studios, most of which ended up stuck in development. I also wrote a few TV pilots that never materialized. It was lucrative business but not entirely creatively fulfilling because nothing was getting made. I eventually connected with the Sundance Institute and began serving as a creative advisor to their Screenwriting and Directing Labs, which I continue to do still. That led to me teaching screenwriting at U.S.C. and all the while I’m still writing my own screenplays. Because that’s what a writer does, right? We write and write and continue to write.

Tell us more about “The Perfect Guy.”  What made you want to write such a thriller and what do you think it is about your screenplay that attracted such top-billing actors and actresses?

FOR FIRST USE IN USA TODAY - SNEAK PEEK ON JUNE 4, 2015 Sanaa Lathan (background left), Morris Chestnut (center) and Michael Ealy (right) star in the Screen Gems motion picture THE PERFECT GUY. Credit: Dan McFadden, Screen Gems ORG XMIT: Michael Ealy (Finalized); Morris [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

The Perfect Guy is a thrill ride. It’s romantic, sexy and scary all at once. I had been working with Screen Gems on another project for a couple of years. When that didn’t work out they asked me to write The Perfect Guy. I was intrigued and challenged by the idea of writing a thriller, and especially interested in writing a role specifically for Sanaa Lathan. I’d been a fan of hers for years and just knew it’d be a great fit. I also knew that nobody else in Hollywood was writing a movie like this for her and saw it as a great opportunity to present adult, out-of the-box roles for African-American actors. And then Michael Ealy and Morris Chestnut showed up!

Finally, what’s next for Tyger Williams – in film and in life in general?

I’m currently writing and producing a limited series for ABC Signature Studios and busy developing other projects, one of which I may end up directing. And I’ll continue working with Sundance and U.S.C. as long as they’ll have me because I have a great need to “give back” and be part of an artistic community. Life is good in general, the best approach being to enjoy each day.




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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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