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Introducing FunkTV & Fried Chicken Cinema, Courtesy Of Regi Allen

Introducing FunkTV & Fried Chicken Cinema, Courtesy Of Regi Allen

I met Regi Allen, the mastermind behind FunkTV and Fried Chicken Cinema back in April, at the New School conference here in NYC that I was a panelist for. We had a great conversation; Regi shared his enthusiasm for Shadow And Act, as well as his ideas for an alternate black TV network; we talked about our mutual belief in progress through collective action, and much more. His excitement for what could be, was infectious and contagious; And, as we discussed, a day or so after, Regi sent me, via email, a reminder of our conversation, as well as links to his brainchild, FunkTV, requesting that I take a look, offer commentary, and hopefully continue the conversation we started at the conference.

Upon receiving Regi’s email, I flagged it to return to it at a later date. I receive a lot of emails daily, and that has proven to be somewhat of an effective method of tracking what’s important, and what will need my attention at some point, even if it’s not that specific day of receipt. However, the problem sometimes is that my list of flagged items grows rather rapidly, day after day, email after email, and thus, some items get buried in the deluge, with my plans to attend to them further postponed in favor of others. Which is what exactly happened to Regi’s.

What can I say? I REALLY could use an assistant! Especially with all the growth and increased visibility the site has seen so far this year, partly brought on by the move to the indieWIRE Network.

All that to say that I really should have shared this with you 2 months ago, but I’m only now doing so, because I was reminded of it when THIS article on the Washington City Paper website showed up in my Google alerts; I have alerts set for a variety of black actors, actresses, filmmakers, etc, and in the Washington City Paper piece, a couple of those names were flagged, and so the article was immediately forwarded, thanks to Google, to my inbox, earlier today.

And so here we are… the article is essentially a profile of Allen and his creations, FunkTV and Fried Chicken Cinema, from thought, to his struggles in getting them picked up by a TV network, and more. It’s a nice long read, and you’re encouraged to take a look at it when you have a moment, so you can learn more about the man and his ideas – ideas I liked from the moments he shared them with me back in April.

I haven’t been in touch with Regi since then, but I’ll reach out to him again, and maybe have him on the podcast for a chat, instead of trying to summarize it all here. This is definitely a cat we all should know about.

For now, as I said, you’re encouraged to read the article first to provide some context (HERE), then check out the websites for FunkTV HERE, and Fried Chicken Cinema HERE, and finally, watch the below preview of the latter below:

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In the door, Mr. Allen is a very dangerous black man because he’s intelligent, articulate, insightful, strong-minded, an award-winning senior editor who is unafraid to claim his blackness, in all it’s glory. A critical thinker, with an education and loads of experience…. FIRE!

Tambay, I had this long ass comment, but it fell dismally short of expressing my full exuberance, excitement, love, concerns and questions, so I put it in file 13. There was simply too many issues (including questions to him) I wanted to talk about, and I didn’t think this small box did them justice.

But, I do have a modified version. :-)

Now, let me start from the top. In my opinion, his concept is a stroke of genius, which to a large degree puts him in the top ten of black men to fear. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t fear him, I’d support him. I’m referring to a certain group of blacks, who some would classify as old school black snobs and/or stuck in the mud negroes.

Mr. Allen is knocking on a door that has huge potential. And (I believe he knows this) there’s a huge base of old-school-stuck-in-the-mud-snobby- political-wannabe-M-PO-TENT- “we need quality” negroes- who would die a slow death if this magnificent brain-child ever makes it way to fruition. Consequently, they are going to bitch and moan. conive & lie, and call their congressmen, much like the NAACP did in opposition of the old television series Amos & Andy.

Let me go back and go off on that mindset (the NAACP and others with similar “blue eyed” concerns) ONE MO TIME!

Although Mr. Allen’s planned show/network is not exactly like that old series, however, in an intellectual way, they bare many similarities. And if I have to explain why, I am talking to the wrong crowd. But to those who understand and can see Mr. Allen’s vision, here’s where I am at. The Amos & Andy series originated on radio (1928-1943) over WMAQ (Chicago), where it had a loyal following. Two white men (Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll) created and performed the title characters, pretending to be black, and the series kept generations laughing with delight.

The series jumped to television @ CBS on June 28, 1951, with a black cast.
Story-lines centered around the friendships between the Brothers of the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge Hall and the home life of George “Kingfish” Stevens and his wife Sapphire. Kingfish and Andy’s antics were usually off-centered by the fairness, judgment and charm of cabdriver Amos Jones.

But listen, some of those fat heads in the NAACP were instrumental in getting the series banned from television, and now we have Mr. Brown and Medea… go figure. And who wins all the image awards? Yeah, go figure. I wonder if Tyler’s money has any influence on black folk’s state of affairs? I don’t know, but back then, at a time of emerging Civil Rights, the characters were seen as gullible, conniving and lazy. Looking at the show today, none of the plots were ever based on race; and in fact, Blacks were seen for the first time as doctors, lawyers and leaders in the community. The problem was in the balance. There were simply no other shows during that time period to compare against the characters on Amos ‘n Andy. Civil Rights leaders saw Amos ‘n Andy as “inappropriate”, saying that it had to be taken off the air.

So I am thinking, “Uuuuuummm, inappropriate, how so?”. Nevertheless, in walks Mr. Allen with “Fried Chicken Cinema” in his hands, geared toward a young, quirky, well-educated black audience. OH LORD, WE CAN’T HAVE THAT!

Tambay, you gotta get a young Eddie Lavert looking Mr. Allen in a podcast. I read the article, visited the blog and watch the clip, now I’d like to see what’s inside his brain, and I have many questions.

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