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A Slate to Celebrate Black Heritage

9 Dec, 2005 By: John Latchem

DVD suppliers are readying a slew of content to celebrate Black History Month in February. The following comedies, dramas, documentaries and biographies run the gamut of black achievement and represent just a few ideas to liven up any retail display.

  • 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
    A slew of new and repriced titles star some of the biggest African-American names in Hollywood. All the following titles street Jan. 10 (prebook Dec. 14). Repriced to $9.98 are Carmen Jones, Claudine, The Jackie Robinson Story, Light It Up, Michael Jordan to the Max, Our Friend Martin and Sugar Hill.
    Titles repromoted at $14.98 include Antwone Fisher, Black Knight, Brown Sugar, Courage Under Fire, Drumline, Gas, The Great White Hope, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Kingdom Come, Like Mike, Men of Honor, Never Die Alone, Nora's Hair Salon, Soul Food, Trouble Man, Volcano High and Waiting to Exhale.
    Also on this list is the special edition DVD of Big Momma's House, which includes a ticket to the sequel that hits theaters Jan. 27. The list also includes titles with a particular connection to current events. The Siege, starring Denzel Washington, is about the internment of Arab-Americans following a terrorist attack in New York City. Redemption stars Jamie Foxx as Crips gang founder Stan “Tookie” Williams, who recently fought to have his death sentence commuted.
    Stand-up comedy titles listed at $14.98 include Bill Cosby: Himself, and the “Platinum Comedy Series” performances of Cedric the Entertainer, Earthquake and Steve Harvey.
    Repriced to $19.98 are Fat Albert, Johnson Family Vacation, Man on Fire, Taxi and I, Robot.
    New $19.98 DVDs debuting Jan. 10 include three from the “Cinema Classics Collection”: 1943's Stormy Weather, 1949's Pinky and 1957's Island in the Sun. Also streeting Jan. 10 is The Five Heartbeats: 15th Anniversary Edition, a Robert Townsend-directed movie about five friends seeking Motown glory.

  • Acorn Media
    Now available is the 1979 miniseries Backstairs at the White House. The four-disc set ($24.99) tells the story of Lillian Rogers Parks, who with her mother combined to serve 52 years as servants at the White House. The cast includes Olivia Cole, Leslie Uggams and Louis Gossett Jr.

  • Buena Vista Home Entertainment
    The telefilm Their Eyes Were Watching God, starring Halle Berry as a woman searching for happiness, is on shelves (DVD $29.99).
    Streeting Jan. 17 from Miramax is the Nick Cannon comedy Underclassman (DVD $29.99).
    Arriving March 14 (prebook Jan. 31) are extended editions of two films starring Denzel Washington. Hollywood Pictures presents Crimson Tide — Unrated Extended Edition, about a mutiny on an American nuclear submarine. Walt Disney Home Entertainment presents the high-school football drama Remember the Titans — Director's Cut. Both are on DVD and UMD for $19.99.

  • First Look Home Entertainment
    Oprah Winfrey narrates Emmanuel's Gift (DVD $26.98), the inspiring story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah. The boy was born with a deformed leg and was abandoned by his father. Despite the odds against him, he persevered, riding his bicycle 600 kilometers across Ghana to prove he could make a difference. The film streets Feb. 14 (prebook Jan. 17).

  • HBO Video
    Yesterday, a 2004 Zulu-language film from South Africa, streets on DVD Jan. 10 at $19.95. The story of a woman dealing with HIV was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign-language film.

  • Image Entertainment
    Due Jan. 3 is A Great Day in Harlem (two-DVD set $24.99), which profiles the 57 musicians who showed up for a picture in front of a Harlem brownstone in August 1958; the film is narrated by Quincy Jones. Arriving Jan. 24 (prebook Dec. 27) is the $19.95 set Treasures in Black Cinema, a quartet of films hosted by Richard Roundtree. Included are The Devil's Daughter, Gang War, The Bronze Buckaroo and Up in the Air. Streeting Feb. 7 (prebook Jan. 10) is Roy Jones Jr.: Heart of a Champion, in which Jones trains for his rematch against Antonio Tarver. Feb. 14 (prebook Jan. 17) comes One Love 2: True Ballin' (DVD $14.99), featuring high-school highlights of NBA stars.

  • Koch Entertainment
    Due Feb. 7 (prebook Jan. 10) is Ghetto Celebrities: Volume 2 — Mac Dre (DVD $19.98). Streeting the same day from Koch Vision is Crunk & Famous (DVD $14.98).

  • Lions Gate Home Entertainment
    Now available is Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman (DVD $28.98). Also available is the Tyler Perry Collection (four-DVD set $64.98), which includes Madea's Class Reunion, Madea's Family Reunion, Meet the Browns and I Can Do Bad All By Myself. Each DVD in the set is priced individually at $19.98.

  • Monterey Video
    Arriving Jan. 31 (prebook Dec. 20) is the two-disc concert DVD Legends of Gospel ($24.95), featuring performances by the Rev. James Cleveland, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Walter Hawkins and the Hawkins Family, The Clark Sisters and Shirley Caesar. Other Black History Month titles include the $24.95 DVDs The Sky Is Gray and Almos' a Man, and the $19.95 DVDs Children's Stories From Africa, Go Tell It on the Mountain and Solomon Northrup's Odyssey.

  • MPI Home Video
    Streeting Jan. 31 (prebook Dec. 26) is the 1963 film Purlie Victorious (DVD $14.98), written by and starring Ossie Davis as a black preacher who returns home to rural Georgia to claim an inheritance and bring down the ruthless plantation owner he once served. The cast includes Ruby Dee, Alan Alda and Sorrell Booke of “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

  • Music Video Distributors
    MVD has the $16.95 DVD Michael Franti & Spearhead: Live in Sydney and the $19.95 DVDs Roy Ayers: In Concert — Ohne Filter and Bobby Womack: Soul Seduction Supreme.

  • New Line Home Entertainment
    The unauthorized biography 50 Cent: Refuse to Die (DVD $19.97) is available.

  • New Video
    From the Scholastic Video Collection comes Martin's Big Words … And More Stories From the African-American Tradition, on DVD Dec. 27 for $14.95. Slated for Jan. 31 (prebook Jan. 3) is The History Channel Presents: The Civil Rights Movement (two-DVD set $29.95).

  • Paramount Home Entertainment
    Due Dec. 20 is the John Singleton-directed film Four Brothers (DVD $29.99). Arriving Jan. 10 is Hustle & Flow (DVD $29.99) and the Samuel L. Jackson Ultimate Collection (three-DVD set $39.99), which contains Coach Carter, Rules of Engagement and Shaft.

  • Roan Group
    The 1939 musical Way Down South hits shelves Feb. 7 (prebook Jan. 10) for $14.98. The story of an orphan living in pre-Civil War Louisiana was co-written by Clarence Muse and celebrated black poet Langston Hughes.

  • S'More Entertainment
    Wilma, the story of 1960 U.S. Olympian Wilma Rudolph, streets Jan. 17 (prebook Dec. 20) for $14.99.
    The three-DVD set That's Black Entertainment ($29.99) arrives the same day and features rare footage of major black entertainers from the early years of cinema. Mario Van Peebles hosts the special, which originally aired on Black Starz.

  • Screen Media Films
    Clifton Davis, Stacey Dash and Charles Shaughnessy star in Soldiers of Change (DVD $27.98), the story of a soldier torn between his duty to serve his country in Vietnam and his need to participate in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The title streets Feb. 28 (prebook Feb. 7).

  • Showtime Entertainment
    A selection of $9.99 DVDs streets Jan. 31 (prebook Jan. 3). Titles include Good Fences, with Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover; Deacons for Defense, with Forest Whitaker and Ossie Davis; Jasper, Texas, with Jon Voight and Louis Gossett Jr.; 3 A.M., with Danny Glover and Pam Grier; Bojangles, with Gregory Hines; and They Call Me Sirr, with Kente Scott and Michael Clarke Duncan.

  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
    Available are a pair of boxed sets celebrating two very different icons among the black filmmaking community. The VIBE Fox in a Box Featuring Pam Grier (four-DVD set $29.95) contains the 1970s films Coffy, Foxy Brown and Sheba, Baby. The John Singleton Gift Set (three-DVD set $34.95), celebrating the first black director nominated for an Academy Award, includes Boyz ‘N the Hood, Poetic Justice and Baby Boy.
    Due Jan. 3 is the Football Box Set (three-DVD set $24.96), which includes Radio, Jerry Maguire and Rudy.Also due Jan. 3 is The Gospel (DVD/UMD $28.95), starring Boris Kodjoe, Clifton Powell, Idris Elba and “American Idol's” Tamyra Gray. In the film, a successful young R&B singer who turned his back on God has an unlikely homecoming when his father, a church bishop, falls ill.

  • ThinkFilm
    In August 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Louis Till was visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta when he was brutally murdered for whistling at a white woman. His killers were acquitted by an all-white jury. This helped sow the seeds of what would become the American civil rights movement.
    Documentarian Keith Beauchamp, in his film The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till (DVD $29.99), was able to uncover new information that led to the U.S. Department of Justice reopening the case. New indictments are expected early in 2006, about the time of the film's street date of Feb. 28 (prebook Feb. 2).

  • Troma Entertainment
    A double feature of classic urban titles, the Old Skool Buggin' 2-Pak (DVD $14.98), streets Feb. 7 (prebook Jan. 10). Included are Back Road Diner and Bugged! Extras include commentary, deleted scenes and other goodies.

  • Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    Streeting Jan. 17 (prebook Dec. 13) is a double feature of the Eddie Murphy comedies The Nutty Professor and its sequel (two-DVD set $19.98). Feb. 7 (prebook Jan. 3) comes The Richard Pryor 4-Movie Collection (DVD $26.98), which collects Brewster's Millions, Car Wash, Bustin' Loose and Which Way Is Up?

  • UrbanWorks Entertainment
    Available are two-packs of titles from the “Platinum Comedy Series,” featuring stand-up comedy performances. One $19.99 set includes Adele Givens and D.L. Hughley, the other features Mo'Nique and Bruce Bruce.
    Available Jan. 10 are two sets that chronicle individual achievements of noted African-Americans, in their own words. Journeys in Black: The Arts looks at some of the most gifted, talented and inspirational artists in the history of entertainment, including Luther Vandross, Ce Ce Winans, Kirk Franklin, Patti LaBelle and Jamie Foxx. Journeys in Black: The Visionaries looks at the entrepreneurs, role models and leaders of black America, such as Johnnie Cochran, Louis Farrakan, Al Sharpton, Master P and Russell Simmons. Each five-DVD set is $34.99.

  • Vintage Home Entertainment
    Now available is Millennium Men (DVD $6.97), which includes the sci-fi films Warriors of the Wasteland, Blood Tide and Street Wars. Stars include James Earl Jones, Fred Williamson and Alan Joseph.

  • Warner Home Video
    Eight films spanning the African-American experience street Jan. 10 (DVD $19.97 each). Some of the films reflect prejudices that were commonplace in American society when the films premiered in the early years of cinema. These include 1929's Hallelujah, 1936's The Green Pastures and 1943's Cabin in the Sky.
    Wattstax, a 1973 film chronicling a 1972 music festival in Los Angeles, is being released as a special edition DVD with new commentaries and footage. The event was known as the “Black Woodstock.”
    Other releases include the civil rights drama Freedom Song; the military tale Buffalo Soldiers, about black calvary troops who patrolled the wild west after the Civil War; Passing Glory, about an all-black basketball team challenging an all-white team in civil rights-era New Orleans; and Heat Wave, about a reporter covering the Watts riots of 1965.

  • Westlake Entertainment Group
    Fourteen hard-to-find titles hit shelves Jan. 10 for $9.98 each. Included are the comedies Lying Lips (1939) and Marching On (1943); the 1957 drama Mark of the Hawk, with Sidney Poitier and Eartha Kitt; the 1940 horror film Son of Ingangi; the mystery thriller Murder in Harlem (1935); and the 1941 religious-themed Blood of Jesus.
    Musicals on the list include Swing (1938), The Duke Is Tops (1938), Juke Joint (1947), Look Out Sister (1948) and Reet, Petite and Gone (1947). Westerns include Bronze Buckaroo (1938), Two-Gun Man From Harlem (1938) and Harlem Rides the Range (1939).

  • WGBH Boston
    The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry (DVD $19.95) is an “American Experience” documentary that chronicles the first northern black regiment, formed shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Members included Lewis and Charles Douglass, sons of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The title streets Jan. 3.

  • Wolfe Video
    Sundance Film Festival fave Brother to Brother (DVD $24.95), the story of a young gay black artist finding inspiration in the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance, is now available.

  • Xenon Pictures
    Available titles include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Historical Perspective; Nightfighters: The True Story of the Tuskegee Airmen; Raising Tennis Aces: The Williams Story; The Rosa Parks Story; Soul in the Hole; and The Women of Brewster Place (DVD $14.99 each).
    Available Jan. 17 (prebook Dec. 12) are the $9.99 DVDs Black Sister's Revenge and Soul Vengeance. Priced that day at $14.99 are Ill Gotten Gains, Race to Freedom, A Woman Called Moses and Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song.
    Arriving at $19.99 are Penitentiary and Penitentiary 2.

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