With Ice
Cube and Tyler Perry as the loudest voices of the moment, the state of mainstream
black filmmaking is so rancid that any new venture is likely to be met with
either open arms of joy or deep suspicion. (Spike can’t carry an entire culture on his shoulders, though I know he tries, and love him for it.)

So when I read in Variety that Mandalay Alliance Entertainment
has implemented a plan to produce films representing a ‘young, multicultural
lifestyle’ I’m split between conflicted approaches. But mostly, I feel like
that guy standing at the back of the room when an unknown stand-up hits the
stage, looking serious and waiting to be won over.

effort is getting under way with two films. One, a romantic comedy written by
and starring Omar Epps – an actor with a certain reserve of goodwill, memories
of The
Mod Squad
notwithstanding – called Love Can’t Hide. The other, Sundays
In Fort Greene
, stars and will be produced by the increasingly
ubiquitous Meagan Good, and directed by Ty Hodges, who also wrote and called
the shots on Good’s Miles From Home.

Say what
you will about the increasingly tired romantic comedy (usually, I’d say lots)
but I’ll take a half-dozen more over Tyler Perry’s recycled chitlin cinema in
the same way I wouldn’t pause before kicking Perry off a cliff.

the thing, though. Guys like Tyler Perry have done good for regional filmmaking;
I know a good number of crewpersons and several business ventures in the
Atlanta area who’ve made a good living
filling out the roster on one Perry production after another. So I’m psyched to
see that one of the minor financiers for
Mandalay’s output is Candescent Pictures
which is affiliated with Lab601, one of
Atlanta’s biggest post-production houses.
The plan is currently to put these films through post there. That makes me
suspect one of two things: either there’s a genuine commitment to making a
handful of films with a real voice, or Peter Guber, from his Mandalay
Entertainment Group chairman’s desk, has realized that Tyler Perry is making
money hand over fist and wants to clone the process.