Hidee ho all you boys and girls out there,
Geeze! It’s been too damn long since I’ve connected with you fine people. So let’s cut to the chase. Here’s what you can expect from this newsletter:
Looking back at the Tulsa Race Massacre and the importance of Critical Race Theory
The update on publishing my book and pitching the TV show
What I’ve been watching and what you should too
Tulsa, CRT, and the White Man’s “Burden”
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. On May 31, 1921, a mob of angry white men attacked, bombed, and burned down the Greenwood area of Tulsa after the (most likely false) accusation that a black shoeshiner assaulted a white woman elevator operator. What resulted was one of the bloodiest massacres of its kind on American soil.
And many of us never even knew about this event in history until it was portrayed in the opening episode of HBO’s Watchmen in the winter of 2019. This is just one of many examples of the history of slavery, Jim Crow, and other aspects of Black America that were either minimized or downright hidden.
Many of you have probably heard about Critical Race Theory (CRT). Some people (like a meme I recently saw on Facebook) claim it is racist propaganda against white men and America. In the wake of a threaded debate I had on that Facebook post, I wrote about Tulsa, CRT, and this fear of and myth that so many white people have regarding it. Take a read and let me know what you think [Medium friend link].
My Dungeons ‘n’ Durags Update
A lot is going on with my book, “Dungeons ‘n’ Durags.” First and foremost, a couple of weeks ago I officially signed the publishing contract! (Woot!) I had a meeting with my editor last Friday and based on the editing, art, development, publishing, and marketing timelines, the book won’t hit Amazon and other book stores until next year this month. Since wacky Trump supporters and racism are core themes of the book, I can only hope those two things will still be in existence next year at this time. 🤣🤣
In addition to that, my creative partners and I have been pitching the animated TV series to a number of producers and production companies. Some of the pitches have been for practice and feedback. Some have been to have the show picked up. We’ve pitched to writers and producers of HBO’s Insecure, to Funny or Die, Lena Waithe’s production company, Will Packer, and a few more writers/producers.
The overwhelming response has been great. Everyone has cracked up and have said they love the story and characters. Of all who’ve heard it, Funny or Die seemed the closest to actually biting. But they just don’t have the bandwidth.
I think if I were a known entity with TV showrunning experience, we would have been picked up by now. So, for now we’ll keep cranking away. Our current plan is to make a simple animated spec short to give potential buyers a better idea of how the show would look and feel. If you know of any animators, or voice actors who can do celebrity impressions, hook me up!
In a future newsletter I’ll share with you some of my top lessons learned pitching.
What I’ve been watching (and you should too)
There are a few shows I’ve recently finished watching that I cannot recommend enough.
Mare of Easttown (HBO)
If you have not already started this show, run, don’t walk, to your HBO subscription and fire up this incredible series. Kate Winslet gives a tour de force performance in the titular role as a badass and brilliant detective in the Del County town of Easttown, PA. It’s an enthralling “who dunnit” that bucks traditional tropes of the genre. Each of the first six of the seven episodes in this one-season series ends with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. And the final episode totally sticks both the emotional and mystery show landing. AVOID ALL SPOILERS! The whole cast is stellar, and includes Guy Pearce, Evan Peters (aka “Quick Silver” from The X-Men franchise), Julianne Nicholson, and the always incredible Jean Smart.
Speaking of Ms. Smart, she’s the main character in my second must-see recommendation, “Hacks” (also on HBO). Smart plays the “queen of Vegas,” a legendary stand up comic who, against her original wishes, is paired up with a millennial comic TV writer who’s been “canceled” due to a provocative tweet. This is a hilarious show filled with heart and surprising scenes of emotion. As of this writing, six 30-minute-ish episodes have aired (HBO posts two episodes a week on Thursday nights). You won’t be sorry. (Given Jean’s run on Watchmen, Mare, and Hacks, she is pretty much the “Queen” of HBO. You can expect her to get a whole bunch of awards this year!)
THEM (Amazon Prime)
I have to be honest. I’m a total scardy cat when it comes to horror flicks. They’re usually not my cup of tea. But given the social commentary on race relations, I decided to give “THEM” a try. And WOW! The cinematography and direction are master classes in filmmaking. The use of the horror genre to dive into the continuing discussions of race relations in America is expertly used. There are some very tough scenes to watch in a few episodes, as can be expected. But, if you were a fan of Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” or “Us,” you’ll love this. I would dare say this show does even a better job than those to films.
If you’re a fan of intelligent sci-fi thrillers grounded in reality, then look no further than Netflix’s "Stowaway.” Starring Ana Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Toni Collette, and Shamier Anderson, I think it’s the first movie I can think of entirely devoid of any white men. More amazing performances. It’ so good! It’s riveting and suspenseful. In the vein of "Apollo 13." A super, solid sci-fi entry that deserves to be on some top 10 or 20 lists this year.
Runner up Recommendations
A few shows worth diving into if you haven’t already:
Girls5Eva (on Peackock): what happens when four older, washed up girl-group members from the 90s attempt to recapture their fame? That’s what this show explores and it’s a joy, fille dwith smart writing. It’s way better than I imagined. Tina Fey is a co-creator and one of the main characters is Renée Elise Goldsberry, who played “Angelica Shculyer” on the original Broadway production of “Hamilton.”
The “Friends Reunion” (HBO): I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I was smiling or laughing throughout. If you were a fan of the show, you will enjoy this. I love how it bounces around from a behind the scenes walk-through of the old set, interviews with the original creators, a table-read with the cast doing famous scenes, and the couch interview with a live studio audience outside with James Corden in front of the famous opening titles fountain.
Chernobyl (HBO): I know this came out nearly two years ago, but damn! This show is freakin’ AH-MAZING. I’ve started watching it again. If you missed it the first time around, do it now. It’s only five episodes of suspense and drama. If you havenb’t seen it since it first aired, and are in need of something good to watch, revisit it.
Do you have any good recommendations for me? Reply (if you’re reading this via email), or leave a comment on the post.
That’s it for now. If you got through this whole thing, thank you. Since it’s been a while, I felt you needed a lot to sink your teeth into.
Until next time, be safe out there, get exercise, wear a mask, and stay connected to loved ones.
If you’ve found this online and would like to be on this list, go for it! All the cool kids are doing it!
Or share it with a friend.