The Kansas City Star from Kansas City, Missouri on October 25, 1999 · 36
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The Kansas City Star from Kansas City, Missouri · 36

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Kansas City, Missouri
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Monday, October 25, 1999
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36
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E 6 fyi THE KANSAS CITY STAB Monday October -2811)1)1) By FRAZIER MOORE Th Aiioelaicd Prcn NEWYORK— WeVe been had Even the most progressive Amcrl- cans might recognize Afrlcancul-ture chiefly for its artistic flair exotic rituais and the sort of rousing music made famous on "Graceland" by New York City white boy Paul Si- v mon Many of the rest of us see Africa ' in die words of Skip Gates as little more than a repository of “poverty flies famine war disease and maybe some big game” (kites wants to show us what's wrong with this picture a picture that generations of historians have -blandly misleadingly painted for us as “the dark continent" “We were' raised to thmk that- Africans were just savages waiting i to discover them and on Europeans to discover them educate them in the University of Slavery” said the 49-year-old Gates is black man whose particular upbringing was in a small town in West Virginia Wrong “Africans have been creating civilizations for 5000 yean” Otherwise known as Dr Henry Louis Gates Jr this celebrated WB’s ‘Safe Harbor By RICHARD HUFF New York Dally New - Location shooting has its problems lust ask Brenda Hampton the executive producer of die WB's family dramas “7th Heaven and “Safe Harbor:' : Last month Hurricane Floyd forced die cast and crew of “Safe Harbor” to evacuate their Florida location And last week) seaside sets for the series were changed abruptly when Florida was hit by red tide an outbreak of micro- 1 scopic creatures that turned the shore into muck and sent red particles airborne However unsafe the shore “Safe I larbor” is staying put for now - Backdrops aside Hampton's two series are different from most simply because they're designed to draw families to the set together: a task that has been hampered by the growing of multi-TV hones and the narrowing of target audiences But at least wid I with “7th Heaven” Hamnton lias been able to buck die trend In its four years on the ait it has become The WB's best-rated show and a critical darling On the flip side ‘7th Heaven” lacks the buzz of such WB series such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and "Dawson's Creek1 Director knew he had a good-looking movie with ‘The Best Man’ happens to be Malcolm D Lee's cousin While the younger Lee who worked on several Spike Lee “joint!" (hewas assistant director on “Girl 6 and “Clockers”) acknowledges his cousin's importance as role model and mentor amongthem— in Malcolm D Leek altar-affairs as -“My Best Friend's— “The Best Man”-stands on its You're not going to find a hand- somer bunch of foespianslhan the gang— Taye Dig's Nia Long Mor—slance— - -- — — ris Chestnut and Sanaa Lathan Inspired in spirit by such at-the- bright bawdy The Best Man" ‘I dont think I could've gotten a better-looking cast or a more tal ented cast” says Lee who makes his directorial debut wit t with the film released everywhere Friday Lee al-so takes pride in the fact the roles in his film which he wrote are smart driven successful and African-American "Herek a chance to play real mul- t T't v Jj ‘‘pAT jN Quality Products By E 9 ip mmnr MBMarw Henry Louis Gates lb pictured at the Blue Nile Mis below Ethiopia Lake Hum Gates explores Africa culture and history In a three-part — series starting tonlghL writer and Harvard University pro- demies who only talk to each oth-fessor takes us on an eye-opening a" he said in a recentinterview odyssey through Africa's neglected 1 Extending himself to a general present and forgotten past in “Wm- ders of the African World” His re- markable six-part series airs tonight ion book Wonders of the African through Wednesday on PBS World published by Knopf He co- “This is stuff that nobody knows edited i CD-ROM reference “En-about other than a handful of aca- carta Africana” released by Mi itself in risky waters T watch everything with my daughter” Hampton said “When you watch together: you can watch anything on TV If thereVsomething you thfok is wrong you can talk about it or change it aer said than done Watch- Thart easier dog groups often slam networks for not defivering shows that appeal to all audiences and are not finered with foul language and sex reflMnces And in recent years viewers haven't rushed to embrace family series Being clean and attempting to reach aU viewers poses other prob-lenis WB hasn't quite figured out how to promote “7th Heaven’ and now “Safe Harbor: The former has at times been pitched as a teen se-ries with some spots pushing the younger cast members “7th Heaven! stars Stephen Collins as a married minister attempting to rear afamily “Safe Harbor stan Gregory Harrison as a single father of four boys The shows air Monday nit at 7 and 8 respectively “I would promote '7th Heaven' as a family show” Hampton said “I -think people want family shovs I'd give it a 'TV-CS' rating: Warning this episode contains a story’ ' While “7th Heaven is The WB’s unsung hit “Safe Harbor" has hit trouble Early reviews weren't positive and “7th Heaven" viewers aren't sticking around for “Safe Harbor" The latter series routinely loses 40 percent of its "7th Heaven" lead- tilayered characters which black ' actors rarely get to do” Lee says “They get to play a lot of marginal-ized stereotypical roles the side: ' kick roles roles with not much sub- Wedding" and “Four Weddings and a Funeral” Leek pic is about kwe of course — but also about male bonding ‘I really wanted an opportunity to do that because we don't get to see ourselves like that" he says “You never see black men bond like they do in this movie” Credited as a producer on “The Best Man" is one Spike Lee who Are ypur shower walls damaged? Is your shower base hard to clean? Is your bathroom downright — — 0 — embarrassing? Take tbe first step to a better bqUmorn with replacement options to fit your specific needs Let us tun your problem bathroom Into a bright clean pleasant place to Oort your day! m A hxtuir ftr JV Phunhinx manat ’ 'fts tin is a new TV- Wiw audience is Gates' multifaceted mission He has written a compan- finds in audience— the sort of thing that makes programmers think twice about keeping a show on the air “Wrie off to a rougi start" Hampton conceded “My first question was would Emilies watchashowat8pLin7 It seems to me families go to bed at 8 d dock Itkaverytougi time siotWrie up against another family show (CBS' “Everybody Loves Raymond") we're just getting the pants beat off u& From the story standpoint Hampton said there isn't much more she can do to make “Safe Harbor compatible with ‘7th Heaven” And she is concerned that the show won’t be around all season - “I dont know what the network intends to do” she said “Even with our huge drop-off we're doing as well as the other shows they have I dont know if they’ll stay with it” The producer also Is upset with the way the show has been attacked for not having a more diverse cast Itfeacharge Hampton takes seriously anl says is false An African-American child actor Orlando Brown was added before the hubbub over casting became an issue therek a prominent Latino role and behind foe scenes are a coupfe of key minority writers' T “I have given the public another family show and we have made it very colorful” Hampton said “It would be nice that instead of get- ting criticism for something we didn't do for people to band together and support the show” own “Spike was on the set foe first day and that was it Lee says Tie knew it was important to not be a big presence on the set because hek an icon now It wouldn't have benefited anybody for him to be around because it quite possibly could have compromised my vision And not just from him saying anything just from him being there letter Baths has a customized sotafoB for every mnwdHing badge! F1EE Goasabdoas and Mi I tracks I'Sinr: Itgif auiaiwimD1 HfSJb oo fc v “Wooden of the African World” airs at 8 pjn Channel 19 tonight through Wednesday The show will also be available Bar high-definition TV set ownenon Channel 18 crosoft And next month brings his a 2100-page richly illustrated encyclopedia published by Basic Qvilas Books Now his documentary series the product of six months filming in 12 countries offers the viewer many pleasures Among them is the chance to ac-' company Gates to remote destinations such as ancient Nubia which ruled all of Egypt in the 8th century B£ and today rewards its few visitors with the sight of pyramids ' where 40 generations of black kings “Even today a lot of and queens are buried Or Ethiopia where in the ancient - city of Aium a tiny fence-enclosed sanctuary is said to hold the Ark of the Covenant the chest containing the stones inscribed with the Ten Commandments Are they really in thereT Ethiopians Gates notes have fervently believed so for 2000 years Gates makes his most joyous encounter in Timbuktu site of a great Melissa Joan Hart is the latest former child star to share too much of her womanhood By TAMARA IKENBERG Til Baltimore San For anyone who grew up watching '80s prime-time sitcoms using zit cream and believing in the purity of Sabrina the Teenage Witdi a glance at the magazine racks recently was enough to provoke some deep soul-search- 1 COMMENT- fog' On foe cov- of Stuff magazine Alyssa Milano formerly the sweet Samantha Micelli of “Whok the Boss7“ made sultry in a drenched white tank topi Nearby Rebecca Gayheart the former ‘Noxzema Girl appeared (air-' brushed to death) topless in leather pants bn the cover of Details Most wicked of all though was the Image of Melissa Joan Hart star ofABCk uber-whofesome “Sabrina the Tteenage Witch' flaunting herself on boy magazines Maxim (foe ‘bare witch” in black lingerie) and Bikini (the wet witch ia well a bikini) The startling images alone elicited winces But in her pinup-accompanying “interviews” Hart also offered up some disturbing dish like an episode of tequila-induced vomiting and the difference between good and great sex You could hardly think back on her old Nickelodeon kiddie sitcom "Clarissa Explains It All” without feeling dirty — Nubile starlets appearing semi-nude on magazine covers is nothing shocking t new: And any leap -from ingenue to sex kitten is a calculated risk something Hart seemed to have in mind wfoeri she declared on CNN’s 'Showbiz Today “You know itk something I just decided to do I'm 23 1 can do what I want Itk my career" But this little witch has more at LENEXA 9120 Marshall Dr (99th & 1-95) Underneath the (913) 310-0990 Islamic university that flourished centuries before Harvard was founded It is here that he beholds a few 6f 50000 manuscripts stored In private collections books set forth in Arabic by countless black scholars Ilis eyes shining bright through wire-rim glasses Gates recalled for a reporter the German philosopher Hegel who' in 1790 wrote that Africa has no historical place In the world “Istrt that amazing? life all part of this discourse designed to enslave Africa” Gates said “They took Africans out of history so they Qouki exploit them They took away Africans’ humanity by saying they flllnfr katia masnn ' didn't have reason This too-familiar doctrine is an enduring wedge in the racial divide ale believe-black people are probably genetically inferior: better at basketball than thinking Thatfe why Timbuktu is so important Gates smiled exultantly "In your face Hegel! I've got those books on camera!” The dear lesson of Gales’ spirited quest is that long before many others Africans gathered in societies that would lari for centuries Only later were their advances arrested ABC Melissa Joan Hart Is stripping way some of her reputation with racy mart magazine coven stake Like being the centerpiece of ABCk saccharine “TGIF" lineup — the birthplace of “Family Matters” “Step by Step” and ‘Boy Meets IlLJJ W - tfinAliAf And there's a reason most of her fans with the exception of those who play drinking games to the show before going out are home watching TV Friday nights They're 8 years old! Sabrina's a good witch Hart seemed like a grad gift Why go bad — even if you had a new movie the teen flick “Drive Me Crazy” to promote? fit didn't help: The movie bombed) j This is a gaihe of publicity It just elevates her status even more” says Neil Alperstein associate professor of popular culture at Loyola University He says stirring up the controversy caldron has peris for everyone Hart herself is luxuriating in the buzz and copies of Maxim are flying off foe shehes hungry young males Hart does stand to lose some less lusty Sabri-naphiles "Sometimes people will reject die celebrity when they do something so antithetical to their value sys- tern" says Loydak Alperstein Alter all Hart has two audiences to satisfy: the kids who watch her often past and obscured in large part by European colonization But as he proceeds to debunk his-' torical myths passed down from colonists to the present day Gates confronts something shocking He leamsthat blacks played a key role In the slave trade capturing fellow Africans by the millions for sale to European traders ‘Its easier just to blame Europeans” Gates conceded ‘But the truth is it wouldn't have happened without the Africans” Indeed in Zanzibar Gates meets a black woman whose great-greatgrandfather was a prominent slave trader He asks her how she feds' about it Her reply It was just busi-1 ness “It's possible” persists Gates a descendant of slaves “that some--' one in your family many many hundreds of years ago purchased and sold someone in my family “Quite possible” she says “I think we should treat that as a sorry part ' of history and that chapter is -l 1 1 i aOKCL Not likdy But they shake hands then hug anyway In his defiantly upbeat “Wonders Gates is propos- tag a new chapter: : and their parents - “If she rode Sabrina to success she owes something to that persona” sayS Sheri Parks co-host of a Baltimore radio show “Media Matters and a University of Maryland Is it unfair to shackle the young witch to this pristine image? Jim Kaminsky co-editor of Maxim thinks sa “It’s a good thing to let everyone know she’s an adult” he ' says - "Thatk a difficult thing to da Kaminsky added that offering his readers “your favorite witch without a stitch wasn't a random decision The magazine he says has a vocal readership and had received thousands of letters suggesting Hart grace the covet Not dial his magazine would pander to every kinky reader demand Kaminsky assures Maxim -would never feature an under-18 1 starlet on its cover he says as Details did earlier this year when “Eyes Wide Shut” ingenue Leeiee Sobies-ki displayed cleavage on its cover He also says there are no atm- twisting or tikis involved in getting women to pose for Maxim Hart ' and her man Ruila “Sabrinak executive producer seemed eager to do some high-profile image tweak- ' ing 1 Whatever Hart's fans (and business partnersl thirik of her abrupt image shift it illustrates that going nude or semi-nude still seems to be the way adolescent females demonstrate their “adulthood" There are exceptions to die rule (see Jodie Foster and Claire Danes) But there are far more tales of squeaky-dean sweethearts doing some serious re-vamping some tragically (Dana Plato) others tri- 1 umphandy (Drew Barrymore) ' Empowered exploited whatever For an actress facing this al- most inevitable rite of passage this is how it goes: Girl gets popular in wholesome role Gill dfypinpt Mvnrvlnry ihii al characteristics Girl appears on cover of testosterone-fueled ’zihe with only a sheet and a G-string covering secondary sexual charac- tensocs Think the Olsen twins will look good in leather? iM FITNESS IHSHOMSHINCSSCMIBI 21 Lenexa Water Tower - rr A u cr h st t d h ir rr Is d T D si b “i it tl ts'fi wid i I: A t K i -

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