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Monday, December 29, 2008

THE PROBLEM WITH NOLLYWOOD...salvaging a dying industry


Pic-Olu Jacobs

Until few years ago, the world knew only two flourishing film blocks. Then it was Hollywood of the United States and Bollywood of Indian. The Nigerian Nollywood joined the fray 16 years ago and showed much promise.



While Nollywood blossomed, many star actresses and actors were discovered. Many of them have even made in-road to Hollywood. Such star actors and actresses include Genevieve Nnaji, who rose to become the Face of Lux; Rita Dominic, Emeka Ike, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde; Ramsey Noah; Jim Iyke; Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Stella Damasus-Aboderin, Ini Edo, Uche Jumbo, Oby Edozieh etc.Other acting icons, who had made waves in the film industry, joined Nollywood to give it boost and impetus.



These include Pete Edochie; Sam Loco-Efe, Ejike Asiegbu, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Bob Manuel-Udokwu, Bimbo Manuel, Segun Arinze; Richard Mofe-Damijo; Enebeli Elebuwa; Joke Silva; Olu Jacobs, Clarion Chukwurah, Eucharia Anunobi, Ngozi Ezeonu etc.Over the years, Nollywood grew in leaps and bounds. Films or home videos were produced in their numbers and the industry became a toast across the world, as the films produced tell the African story to the world that had seen the continent as backward and barbaric.




Actress, Joke Silva

Indeed, there is hardly any part of the world where films produced in Nollywood are not in circulation. In the United States and Britain, Nollywood products are seen as collectors’ items. However, it appears that Nollywood has reached a point of diminishing return. The industry has been hit by many problems and has therefore started a decline. First, there was the problem of quality, as the producers were accused of churning out films every other week, without caring much about the standard. Second, amateurs joined the industry as actors and actresses, without the requisite training. Three, some of the star actors and actresses got swollen-headed and started breaching contracts after collecting their fees. This led to the delisting of such actors and actresses by producers. Four, pirates swooped on the industry and reaped where they did not sow. Fifth, actors and actresses from neighbouring Ghana became more professional and started dwarfing, as it were, their Nigerian counterparts. Indeed, in recent times, the Nigerian motion picture industry, has come under severe criticisms, from both stakeholders and keen followers. Their endless worries and fears are premised on the fact that an industry, which began in 1992, with so many promises, is gradually heading for ruins, if urgent and drastic measures are not taken, towards salvaging it.



Observers and pundits are worried that the industry, which started on a very sound footing and reached its peak, between 1998 and 2003, is fast declining and losing patronage, even among its pioneer practitioners.Indeed, practitioners and bookmakers have attributed several factors as among the reasons the industry, which according to the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), the apex film regulatory body in Nigeria, is worth between 250 and 300 million dollars on an annual basis, is gradually going down the drain.




Actor, Bob Manuel Udokwu

Speaking recently at the international summit organized by the Movie Reporters Guild of Nigeria (MORGON), and tagged: "Nollywood Our Nollywood," Mr. Adim Williams, a leading filmmaker and the vice president of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), in his paper entitled: "Dwindling Fortunes of Nollywood: Who takes the blame? lamented heavily on the sorry and deteriorating state of Nollywood.Expatiating more on his thought provoking paper, Williams painstakingly traced the genesis of the problems bedeviling the industry to several man-made impediments.



He further itemized how the decay in the industry, which is regarded, as the third biggest after US’ Hollywood and India’s Bollywood, reached an abysmal level.In his submission, Williams, a University of Calabar Theatre Arts graduate, blamed the government, those in the private sector, as well as practitioners, stakeholders and entertainment journalists, adding that they should be held responsible for the dwindling fortunes of the once vibrant and very promising Nollywood.



"Sincerely speaking, Nollywood is on the verge of a total collapse, if urgent salvaging measures are not taken with immediate effect. Our fortunes have drastically dwindled and this concerns the producer, director, actor, scriptwriter, cinematographer, costumier, make-up artist and the rest of the thousands of men and women involved in this incredibly daunting process of making movies in Nigeria. Disorder and lack of professionalism are the bane of Nollywood," he insisted.



Embittered Williams went further to state other factors militating against the growth of Nollywood, which has, no doubt, helped to positively launder the once battered image of Nigeria, especially on the foreign scene. They include the unending ignorance of most filmmakers, the filmmakers who, he argued, could not control the phenomenal success Nollywood brought them at its initial stage; the Nigerian factor, which usually brings about the proliferation of any booming business by most Nigerians, coupled with the ego-tripping of the industry elites, petty jealousy and mutual suspicion. He further blamed part of the failure of Nollywood on lack of stability and structure in the industry, arrogance and failure of the marketers’ union, constant neglect by government and its agencies as well as other corporate bodies.



"We should also distance ourselves from multiplicity of associations and guilds, which are all working at cross-purposes to achieve seemingly similar goals. A creative industry, like Nollywood does not need to be organized along tribal or sectional lines, but rather along structure, standards, professionalism and proper legislation," he said.



Williams, is however, happy that despite all these challenges, viewers’ interests in Nollywood movies had not diminished, meaning that the industry could still be salvaged and moved to the highest height, with all hands on deck. Attestation to this fact, is that today, there are several cable stations globally that depend on 24hour transmission of Nollywood movies and contents. Sadly too, most of them give nothing in return to the industry, thus further contributing to its dwindling fortunes.Hear Williams again: "What had diminished is the revenue that accrues to the filmmaker and by extension his ability and capacity to continue making good movies in the midst of all these challenges. The talent and ingenuity of the professionals have not diminished. It is only the participation of trained and sound minds in today’s filmmaking concept that has diminished," he pointed out.




Actress, Clarion Chukwurah

Williams, is of the view that true professionals constantly working for the success of the industry, could reinvent, repackage and reposition the brand Nollywood and take it to the highest level. But without passion, professionalism and total commitment, the above cannot be achieved."With the cooperation and support of all stakeholders, government and corporate bodies, we can rekindle the fire in Nollywood and hoist its glorious flag higher into the sky for the rest of the world to see, emulate and applaud," he submitted.



During a recent visit to The Sun Newspaper, Mr. Emeka Mba, the Director General of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), who spoke on the strategic importance of the agency’s newly introduced Framework Distribution Policy, argued that Nollywood would immediately bounce back the moment practitioners fully embrace the frame-work and professionalize their art. He further stated that lack of structure, as enshrined in the new Framework Policy, would never guarantee growth in any film industry, especially Nollywood.



"We need to have these fundamentals right; no film industry, globally, has survived without a structure. We want more sense of responsibility in filmmaking by our filmmakers; all these are the factors that will help salvage Nollywood and help make it a global brand. We also want to promote ideals that are beneficial to the industry," he told Saturday Sun.The bespectacled DG further called on the Nigerian viewing public to be conscious and always take cognizance of the six major classification symbols, especially as it concerns what children and teenagers watch.As part of its efforts at regulating and salvaging the industry, the board usually takes critical look at five thematic materials whenever a film is submitted for censorship. These are in the areas of context and impact and include: sex, nudity, violence, drug and imitable techniques. In all of these, the key is context and how the movies impact on the audience.



Also proffering solutions on how to salvage Nollywood and bring it back to its early days of glory, Mr. John Odey, former Minister of Information and Communication, while delivering a speech at the recent presentation of licences to film distributors by the NFVCB in Lagos, maintained that the film industry holds the key to the next level of Nigerian global engagement and economic growth.In his address entitled, "Driving Sustainable Growth in the Nigerian Film Industry," Odey noted that the government owed the film sector more than a passing interest, if it must be truly salvaged," adding: "The opportunities in the film industry are enormous and require the strategic partnership of both the private sector and the government to fully harness. We want our contents to be able to command the respect and envy of its global competitors like Hollywood and Bollywood.



"At the moment, the only assurance that this is possible is through the institutionalization of the goals and visions of the film video-licensing framework.I wish to assure you that the future government support for the industry will be through the structures of this licensing project, so that we will be able to plan effectively with the knowledge of who is who in the industry, based on correct data and statistics, which at present are evidently lacking."Odey, also stressed that distribution is truly the engine room of any film industry, warning that failure to properly harness and manage it effectively, would automatically lead to decline in sales, thus leading to loss in revenue.



He further said globally, a movie is regarded as a gold mine, adding that the key to unlocking such goldmine lies in a robust distribution system, which not only determines the direction and strength, but the contents as well.Delivering a paper, entitled "Investment in Film Production," at an event organized by the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) and held at the National Theatre, Lagos, Mr. Andrien Gbinigie, a financial consultant and Nollywood executive producer, highlighted some of the major challenges facing filmmakers in Nigeria.According to him, film financing is one of the most difficult and least understood challenges facing a producer and it is fraught with perils for the unwary.



He said: "Investing in film is risky and factors like piracy, absence of coordinated organized distribution system, insincerity of producers and government neglect are all affecting investment in the Nigerian film industry." To salvage the critical situation, Gbinigie, said that filmmakers should immediately constitute a formidable alliance devoid of tribal or ethnic bias, with a view to presenting a strong position to government.He also said that there was the need to cultivate an aggressive media campaign aimed at informing the public about the negative effects of piracy and penalties for offenders.He also called on producers to raise the standard of their productions, in order to increase viewers’ confidence and interest, as well as improve on distribution, which he argued, was key, if the industry must move to the next level.



Gbinigie also urged practitioners to immediately draw up a code of practice and ethics, as another means of salvaging the industry and raising the bar of the profession.In the words of respected filmmaker and critic, Zik Zulu Okafor, in a paper he presented at the dinner marking the end of the Workshop of the Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria (SWGN), at the Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, Lagos,Okafor, one of the few voices always speaking out against bad practices in Nollywood, said: "Nollywood still remains a lonely island in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity called corporate Nigeria. Corporate organizations in Nigeria still remain largely aloof, standing on the sidewalk and peeping through a prism of suspicion and reservation".



The above statement succinctly captures the tragedy of our once buoyant industry, which is daily collapsing, due to neglect and disorder inherent in the system.Also lending his voice, cerebral scholar and director of the Lagos Business School, Prof. Pat Utomi, unarguably one of the few corporate Nigerians who have passion and high hopes for Nollywood, despite its dwindling fortunes, is optimistic the industry will not die.Delivering his extempore address as the Guest Speaker at the MORGON international summit on Nollywood, on November 20, 2008, at Ojez, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, Utomi, in his speech tagged: "Nollywood and Business Opportunities," described the motion picture industry as a very serious business that must be treated at such.



He said: "The influential way of motion picture makes it a serious business."Utomi further added that culture and not politics promotes progress in a society. He also called for the setting up of a private film fund for the industry, as one of the ways of revamping and consolidating its threatened growth.The erudite scholar, however, urged government, at all levels, as well as the private sector to support the industry through finances, logistics and any other incentives, for its continued and effective existence.



While speaking at the same event, Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, the national president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), challenged his colleagues to always think of what they can do for the industry, instead of always looking for ways of short changing the sector, for their own selfish needs.Asiegbu, further condemned the activities of pirates and quacks masquerading as filmmakers, adding that salvaging Nollywood, should be the collective responsibility of all stakeholders and practitioners, irrespective of their guilds, backgrounds or associations.He was also optimistic that the industry would rise again and take its rightful place in the comity of filmmaking nations globally, if all hands are on deck.



"It is incontestable that Nollywood is the pride of Africa and would continue to maintain its lead in Africa and the world in general," he said.Asiegbu, also frowned at the indiscriminate cutting of movies into several parts, recycling of old stories as well as re-entitling old movies in new jackets for selfish commercial purposes. He insisted that such bad practices would never aid growth and professionalism in Nollywood.He repeatedly warned gatecrashers and those without any meaningful contributions to Nollywood, to leave immediately, adding that the industry is not an all comers’ affairs or dumping ground for ne’er-do-wells.



"Our Special Task Force members are already going round and fishing out these bad eggs. AGN is out to help sanitize this great industry," he told Saturday Sun.The popular actor further kicked against the indiscriminate rental of Nollywood movies by unregistered video clubs as well as unauthorized cable TV stations feeding fat on Nollywood contents, warning that the long arms of the law would soon catch up with them and their cronies.He made a bold promise and even prophesied that Nollywood would stand tall again, the moment all these unwholesome practices impeding its growth are checked and properly controlled.

Monday, December 22, 2008

XMAS SPECIAL:

Elebuwa forgives attacker @ Xmas


Pic-Elebuwa

In the spirit of the Yuletide season, veteran actor Enebeli Elebuwa, to the consternation of many, especially his teeming fans, recently announced publicly that he has forgiven, Onyeka Dike, his attacker.
According to the tested and trusted thespian, who is still recuperating, he decided to forgive his attacker, in the spirit of Xmas, coupled with the fact that his doctors have confirmed and assured that he would see again with the battered eye.
He further revealed his anger with the government of Delta, his state of origin as well as the federal government, whom he served meritoriously for 30 years, for abandoning him, since the wicked attack took place. Elebuwa, also thanked the millions of Nigerians and those in the Diaspora, who stood and are still standing by him since the attack.

Emeka Enyiocha finds love @ Xmas


Pic-Behold Mr and Mrs Enyiocha!

Top actor and one of the leading hunks in Nollywood, Emeka Enyiocha, finally said “I do”, to Stella, his pretty wife, in a well attended white wedding. The star-studded reception held at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos.
The event tagged: Yuletide Nuptial, was beautifully anchored by actor/director, Charles Inojie. Aside Enyiocha’s colleagues from tinsel town, his friends, fans and well-wishers also graced the high octane event that had plenty to eat and drink.
Meanwhile, a lavish post wedding reception was organized for the newest couple in Nollywood, by Anayo Odobeatu, the honcho of Ojez Entertainment Centre, Surulere, Lagos, penultimate Sunday.
The fun filled evening was equally well attended, with Enyiocha and his lawyer wife, thanking all those that honoured them immensely

Oby Edozieh’s special Xmas gift


Pic-Oby

Sexy actress turned producer, Oby Gold Edozieh is still cruising and painting town in all the colours of the rainbow, with her latest acquisition for the Xmas season. In case you are not aware, the leggy thespian recently spoilt herself with a glittering Murano SUV.

Pic-A Murano SUV model


And since the arrival of the wonders-on-wheel, Edozieh, also a gospel act, has not stopped celebrating and displaying the “Special Xmas Gift,” to her colleagues and pals.
And for your info, she says it’s a little Christmas gift for herself, having worked hard, since the beginning of the year.

Asiegbu spreads love @ Xmas

The national president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, has called on Nigerians, especially his colleagues in the creative and entertainment industries to show undying love to people, this Yuletide season.
Asiegbu, who also thanked his members for supporting and believing in his leadership since assumption of office, maintained that the industry could only get better with their collective support and sincere commitment.
He further called on members to be more dedicated in the coming year, adding that Nollywood has come to stay and would continue to be a global force.
He also wished movie buffs and his colleagues, a scintillating Xmas and prosperous New Year.

Ojez lights Xmas candle for Mitchell Obi

All is now set for the post Xmas Entertainment Forum being put together for ace sports journalist, Mitchell Obi, by the management of Ojez Entertainment Centre, national stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
The revered evening event, also the last for the year, holds elaborately this Sunday, December, 28, 2008, amid grandeur and glitz. And as usual, live music would be supplied by the rejuvenated In-House, Ojez Band, to be ably supported on stage by highlife maestro, Fatai Rolling Dollar.
According to Anayo Odobeatu, the boss of the upscale hangout and prime mover of the forthcoming event, they are fully prepared to celebrate Obi this Yuletide season, because of his immense contributions to the growth of sports and general entertainment in Nigeria and beyond.

Chioma Toplis moves Nollywood to Abia for Xmas

London based Nollywood top actress Chioma Toplis has concluded plans to ‘relocate’ the entire Nollywood to Umuahia, Abia State, for the 50th birthday bash of her in law and mentor, Chief Uche James Akwukwaegbu.
The two-day non-stop event, holds on December 25 and 26, and would be graced by dignitaries from the private and public sectors as well as top celebrities and entertainers. Actors Guild president, Ejike Asiegbu, is expected to lead a powerful Nollywood delegation to the event.
While Toplis, married to a white Briton, is gracing the rollercoaster groove with her pals and business partners from London and other parts of Europe and US. The celebrant is the honcho of Bawas Oil and happily married to Toplis’ eldest sister, Grace Uche, a member of the Abia State House of Assembly.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inyanya wins Projects Fame West Africa 2008



Pic-Face of a winner, Inyanya expresses joy as Nii applauds

After 10 weeks of interesting musical dsiplays and severe contest, Inyanya Mbuk, 22 of Nigeria finally emerged the winner of the MTN Project Fame West Africa.

Inyanya was declared winner on Sunday 7th of December 2008, at the Ultima Studio in Ogba, Lagos, venue of the Finals of the show, after defeating the other three finalists including hot favourites, Nii (Ghana), Praise (Ngr) and the last standing girl, Annette (Ngr)to the ultimate prize of N2.5M, an international recording deal and a 2008 Toyota Rav 4.

However, it was not a winner-gets-all show as Ghanaian born Nii Anka, the first runner up, was also presented with the sum of N2 Million and a 2008 model Toyota Corolla. Also Praise Adejo of Nigeria, the second runner up went home with N1.5 Million and a 2008 model Toyota Yaris while Annette Cookie of Nigeria, the third runner up and went home with 1 million Naira only.


Pic-Are the looks added advantage?

The winner was decided strictly by viewers' votes which were been collated in the last one week till 8pm on Saturday, 6 December, verified and presented by Alexander Forbes Consulting, a leading human resources and employee benefit firm in Nigeria. The result of the votes was delivered by Mr Femi Oyetunji representing the Alexandre Forbes Consulting, who gave the host Dare Art Alade the envelop containing the names of the Winners according to their votes.

The contest which started about ten weeks ago, 28th of September to be specific, with 15 talented contestants chosen among the final 18 that were short listed from the thousands of entries across West Africa and were made to step into the musical academy and be exposed to the several weeks of training in different areas of musical performances, voice training, showmanship, character and personality building, stage control, dance and choreography, and every other aspect of the business of music, also saw all the eleven evicted contestants of the academy, coming to celebrate the victory of one of their very own.

Expressesing his profound joy and gratitude to both the organizers and viewers, Inyanya said, “ I am very thankful to MTN and other organizers of the show for giving me the wonderful opportunity. I can bet you guys that the Inyanya I am today is not the Inyanya you used to know in terms of music. I am really grateful to God who has allowed what happened today to be. This is just the beginning of greater things in my life. At first I was scared because at a point I saw somebody who has never been on probation before being evicted from the academy, but I kept believing in God, I kept believing in myself and I kept believing in the wonderful people around the world that are showing faith in me."

On his opponents in the contest, Iyanya maintained, “everybody was a strong opponent because everybody in the academy has a unique quality but all I had to do was to work harder, listen to the faculty of the academy and do what they ask me to do, and that was what got me to this end”.

The final show featured special perfomances by Naeto C, Artquake and Faze.

The Experience 2008 concert records huge crowd in Lagos




Pix-(I) Aerial view of the crowd, (II)Pastor Paul Adefarasin flanked by Donnie McLurkin, Don Moen and Fred Hammond at the pre-event briefing

Several thousands of people from within and outside Lagos defied a heavy downpour to be part of the gospel concert tagged The Experience 2008 which held last Friday at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Onikan, Lagos.

According to organizers, this year’s edition which is the third attracted an estimated 330, 000 people from within and outside Lagos and beyond the shores of Nigeria. The TBS main arena as well as the cricket pitch were reportedly filled to capacity by the time the event went full swing.

The event had several international gospel acts such as Don Moen, Donnie McLurkin, Kirk Franklin, Tye Tybrett, Chevelle Franklin, Fred Hammond and the duo of Mary Mary. Also Nigerian gospel acts such as UK Based Muyiwa Olanrewaju as well as music quartet of Midnight Crew and Dekunle Fuji equally proved their mettle.

Compered by respected human resource person and motivational speaker, Fela Durotoye, the concert also witnessed comic relief from multi-talented comedian, Gordons who is a regular feature at the event.

Nigerian acts led by Olanrewaju, Midnight Crew and Dekunle Fuji in quick succession raised the tempo of the night with an inspiring performances. While Midnight Crew confirmed their popularity among the audience with their hits Igwe and Kene, Dekunle Fuji’s less than impressive performance obviously did not go well with the audience. The NMA Best Fuji Musician of the Year had earlier revealed at the pre-event briefing that he had been rehearsing for the past four weeks.

One after the other, the international acts justified the huge expectations on them when some of them, such as Chevelle Franklin and Tye Tibbretts apart from their original songs, sang Nigerian gospel songs while the duo of Mary Mary gave a brilliant rendition of the Nigerian National Anthem.

However, the heavy down pour which began around 2am almost marred the remainder of the event as the sound system provided by foremost sound equipment companies like GQ Acoustics and Meyer Sounds began showing signs of weariness. Artistes such as Don Moen, Donnie McLurkin, Isreal Houton and Kurt Karr could only make brief appearances before the event was eventually called off around 4am when it appeared the rains would not subside.

An obviously overwhelmed duo of Mary Mary could not hide their feelings when they said “America most take note of this gathering that has successfully brought hundreds of thousands of people under one roof from night till dawn.”

Meanwhile, the night was not only about music, as prayers led by Pastor Kole Adeboboye and Amb. Moses Ihonde were also offered for the development of Nigeria and Lagos State just as political leaders in the country and the economy were also committed into the hands of the almighty God.

While promising a better package in the future, Pastor Paul Adefarasin who commended the government of Lagos State said several alternatives such as simulcasting in different locations in the country will be considered.

Personalities who witnessed the event included first ladies of Lagos and Cross River states respectively, Mrs Abimbola Fashola and Mrs Obioma Lyele Imoke, fomer Nigerian first lady, Mrs Victoria Gowon and respected entrepreneur, Gamaliel Onosode and Pat Utomi, a former Presidential aspirant.

Others were Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, President, Pentecostal Federation of Nigeria (PFN), Mrs Hilda Adefarasin, mother of Pastor Paul Adefarasin, as well as siblings, Pastor Wale Adefarasin, Chairman, PFN Lagos chapter and Pastor Yemi Adefarasin.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wicked Nigerian batters veteran actor, Enebeli

…may go blind



Pic-Enebeli four days after the incidence

Nigeria may soon lose the services of one of its finest entertainers, Enebeli Elebuwa, if urgent medical attention is not provided for his left eye, which was recently battered by a heartless Nigerian, Onyeka Dike. In a voice filled with tears and regret, the veteran actor, who became famous in the “Andrew Wants To Check Out”, TV re-orientation promo, in the 80’s, narrated how his ordeal began in the hands of 47 year old Dike, an auto dealer at Berger, Apapa, Lagos.
According to Elebuwa, 62, “ What you are looking at (removing his dark spectacle to reveal a battered left eye), happened in the evening of Friday, November 28, 2008, at the Mobil Filling Station, Aguda, Surulere, Lagos”.
Explaining further, now weeping Elebuwa, who was also writhing in pains said: “ We were on a moving queue when this young man came from nowhere and wanted to jump the queue with his car, but other law abiding motorists protested but the man refused. That was when I alighted from my car and was trying to plead with him to follow due process. But to my consternation, he started cursing and shouting my full name and told me to get out of his sight. When I tried again to calm him down, he started abusing me and boasted that my being an actor does not mean he cannot deal with me and nothing would happen. I later got closer and asked him, if I was not old enough to be his father. I had not finished saying this when he brought out a sharp object and stabbed me in the eyes at a close range and I immediately passed out.”




Elebuwa, further disclosed that when this happened, an angry mob that had already gathered descended on Dike, and were about lynching him, when some plain clothes policemen came and whisked him away to Aguda Police Station, Surulere.
Though, at the station, during our visit, an officer who pleaded for anonymity confirmed the incident and disclosed that Dike was detained for three days, before being released on bail. He referred us to the office of the Lagos State Force PRO, for more information on the case.
Elebuwa, also called on well meaning Nigerians to immediately come to his aid, adding that his doctor had advised him to travel abroad for further treatment, but he could not afford the bills. I’m totally helpless now and cannot even work due to my condition, and have spent so much on the eye. Well meaning Nigerians should come to my aid, I do not want to go blind,” he pleaded.
While condemning the unwholesome attack on Elebuwa, Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, the national president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), also urged the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, to ensure that the suspect does not go scot free. “ We are appealing to the police authority to ensure that the man that perpetrated this evil act does not go free. The security agencies should do something, because attacks on entertainers, especially our people in Nollywood are on the increase. We are just entertainers doing our best to help re brand and repackage the image of this country through our creative arts, but some social misfits and disgruntled Nigerians, are not happy with our collective efforts, its uncalled for.”
Also speaking, Mr. Adim Williams, the vice president of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), said his association and all the other bodies in Nollywood condemned the attack in its entirety, adding that the suspect must be immediately brought to justice. “We want this man to be quickly charged to court, and jailed if found guilty, at least, that will serve as a deterrent to others still lurking behind.”

Utomi, NFC, NFVCB, AGN, AMAA, others shine @ Nollywood summit


Pic-Utomi speaking at the event

History was re-written in Nollywood penultimate week, when the Movie Reporters Guild of Nigeria (MORGON), the umbrella body of all the entertainment journalists covering Nollywood, gathered stakeholders from within and outside the industry, for an international summit.
Tagged: Nollywood Our Nollywood, the first of its kind event, primarily aimed at moving the industry forward, was chaired by Prof.
Pat Utomi, the cerebral Director of the Lagos Business School and former presidential candidate.
Utomi, also a Nollywood enthusiast, in his paper entitled; Nollywood and Business Opportunities, spoke extensively on how the industry could be moved to the next level, with the right business opportunities from stakeholders and practitioners.
In the course of his presentation, Utomi who spoke extempore, promised to set up a private film fund soon, as well as a private film village, arguing that they are huge business and investment opportunities needed by the nation’s motion picture industry, if it must be seen as a global money spinner. He ended his well-applauded speech by urging filmmakers to always promote our rich cultural heritage in their works, adding that the heart of social progress is culture.
Other speakers at the event include: Mr. Kene Mkparu, the first Black General Manager of Odeon cinemas, UK, now the managing director of Genesis Deluxe Cinemas. Mkparu, spoke on: Nollywood and the Global Film Industry. Mrs. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, the honcho of AMAA, delivered a riveting paper tagged: Repositioning Nollywood Through Film Festivals and Awards, while Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, the AGN president, spoke on: Nollywood and Entertainment Journalists: A Partnership That Works. However, the controversial and thought provoking paper of Mr. Adim Williams, vice president of AMP, generated so many crises in the capacity filled hall. It was tagged: Dwindling Fortunes of Nollywood: Who To Blame. Also, the representatives of both the DG and MD of the National Film and Video Censors Board and the Nigerian Film Corporation, delivered papers on: Nollywood and The New Distribution Framework and Government’s Good Intentions For The Industry, respectively. Several Nollywood stars and practitioners that spoke at the event commended MORGON, for coming up with the laudable initiative, which is currently setting agenda for discourse within and outside Nollywood.

What Ini, Dauda, AY, Anih have in common


Pic-AY and Mabel at Chris Okotie's Household of God Church,venue of the wedding

Well, with the above headline, you might be wondering what actually these Nollywood quartet have in common. For those of you still guessing, the answer is very simple. They are now happily married, thus becoming the latest and hottest husbands, wife and expectant daddies and mum in Tinsel town.


Comedian, Dauda and wife at Ojez' Restuarant venue of wedding reception

The duo of comedian Kingsley Ogbonna (Dauda) and Tony Anih, the president of the Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria, wedded their lovely wives on November 22, 2008, respectively.
Top actress Ini Edo, finally said “I do”, the traditional way, to her US based heartthrob, Philip Ehiagwina, in her Akwa Ibom state of origin on November 29. Same day, fast rising comedian, AY, walked down the aisle with Mabel, his sweetheart, at Kris Okotie’s Household of God.
The four nuptials are still titillating Nollywood. Also remember you are reading it here first that Dauda, would soon be a proud father. Reason? Chinyere, his lovely wife is heavily pregnant. Another top secret, AY, just bought a glittering Infiniti Jeep, with a customized number, for himself, as a special birthday gift. Can you beat that?

Editor's Note-Pics Later

Fantastic four jostle for crown @ Fame Academy


Pic-Annette Cookey,21, Nigerian is the last girl standing

It is no longer news that the best four contestants of the MTN Project Fame West Africa, have eventually emerged out of the fifteen lucky talents that slugged it out at the academy when it began over nine weeks ago.
The contestants, unarguably, had been through a very tough drilling process in the musical talent hunt show, before being reduced to the last four, already dubbed: Fantastic Four, from the initial five that remained the previous week, following the eviction of Nigerian born Abisola Aiyeola. Now the battle for the supreme prize would be keenly fought by the quartet of: Praise Adejo, Inyanya Mbuk, Nii Ankra, and Annette Cookey.

Pic-Nii keeps the Ghanaian flag flying


Performing before the massive studio audience, prior to the last eviction, the contestants were all too hot to handle as they thrilled the crowd with some of the finest movie soundtrack hits in the world. But these were not enough to take away the inevitable fact that one of the five contestants with the least votes from the viewers must be evicted from the academy that night. And surprisingly, the lot fell on Bisola.
Speaking on stage shortly after her eviction, sexy Bisola, whom many had earlier thought was good enough for the ultimate prize, expressed mixed feelings of pain and appreciation to the viewers, the organizers, and her faculty for bringing out the best in her. In her words, “it pained me, but at the same time, I am happy that I made it this far in the competition. To be sincere, I never thought that I could go this far and I am particularly grateful to the sponsors of the show, MTN Nigeria, and the organizers, for giving us this wonderful opportunity to build our God given talents. I have learnt a whole lot of things in the academy.”
The fantastic four however, reaffirmed their readiness for the final battle, holding this Sunday, December 7, 2008

Music group Safari, drags firm to court

For violating and infringing on the copyright of “One Day Ego Better” one of the wave making songs in its current work entitled Turn By Turn, the singing duo of Safari, has dragged the NLPC Pension Funds to court.
The embittered duo, who have already taken their case to the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN), are also demanding for I00 Million Naira, as damages, since the unending war started.
According to a reliable insider, the firm used the song extensively on radio stations across the nation, while promoting their products and services without the authorization of the copyright owners.
However, we tried reaching both warring parties, whom we also gathered might settle out of court, for their own sides of the story, but did not make any headway before going to press. That notwithstanding, we will definitely keep you darling readers posted as the show of shame unfolds.

Kefee set for album unveiling party


Pic-Kefee

Branama crooner, gospel-music artiste and the founder of the Kefee Peace Foundation (KPF), Irikefe Obareki Kefee has concluded arrangements towards the formal unveiling of her latest album, entitled Kefee: 5 Years of a Phenomenon.
The forthcoming event holds on December 14, 2008 at the upscale Niteshift Coliseum, Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos. The sexy crooner and dancer is also expected to officially present to the public and the media, the Kefee Peace Foundation, at the occasion.
Part of the activities lined up for the day include: live performances by many of Kefee's friends and colleagues including Blaise, Bouqui, Emem, Sasha, Timaya, Dekunle Fuji, Rooftop Mcs, Nigga Raw, Segun Arinze, and a host of others.
Interestingly, her colleagues from other parts of Africa, especially: Kay & Halima Kiwanuka from Uganda, Sandra from Rwanda, and Ghanaian superstar, the lady Philipa Baafi, would further help to light up the day.
Invite for the event is already circulating within and outside the entertainment terrain.
Meanwhile, Kefee: 5 Years of a Phenomenon, would be released on the label of Branama Afrique, owned by the accomplished vocalist, and is her third effort, coming after Branama (2003) and its continuation, Branama Trinity (2005).
"The core message is of course gospel ministry; however, besides making people happy, I also wrote the songs for hearts that are hurting; I am hoping the lyrics would heal these hearts and put smile on the faces of those that will hear it."

Entertainers unite for Diamonds Awards for Comedy


Pic-Ladi Gombe, the host

All is now set for the maiden edition of the long awaited Diamond Awards For Comedy, being powered by Miss Ladi Gombe’s led Latsview Concept.
This first of its kind gathering that is aimed at recognizing and rewarding some of Nigeria’s finest rib crackers, especially those that have distinguished themselves over the years, holds on Saturday, December 6, 2008, at the Planet One, Maryland, Lagos, amid glamour, glitz and razzmatazz.

Pic-Julius Agwu

In the words of pretty Gombe, awards will be given in keenly contested categories like: Comedian of the year, Best new comedian, Best comedy show, Best stand up, Best comic act, Most creative and Best female comedienne.


Meanwhile, some of the big names already nominated and are jostling for these coveted crests include: Basorge Tariah, Okey Bakassi, Basketmouth, Victor Osuagwu, Nkem Owoh, Igo Dye, Gbenga Adeyinka, Tee A, Princess, AY, Julius Agwu and a host of other up and coming acts.

Odey, others for NFVCB licenses presentation


Pic-John Odey

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. John Odey, would be leading other dignitaries to the epoch presentation of licenses to distributors and exhibitors by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB).
The event holds today, Friday, December 5, 2008, at the Planet One, Maryland, Lagos.
The outing, according to Emeka Mba, the hard working honcho of the apex film regulatory body, is the first of its kind in the history of film and movie industry in Nigeria.
“It is a culmination of three years of hard work by the management of the National Film and Video Censors Board.
The process, which began with seminars, presentations, town hall meetings and road shows with stakeholders, is now complete with the selection of 36 national distributors and exhibitors and 80 regional distributors and exhibitors. The NFVCB in its effort to reform and properly regulate the movie industry in Nigeria initiated the distribution framework as a platform to build an industry of strategic national importance. The drive to build a sustainable structure and stimulate growth in the film and movie sector of the economy is the catalyst for this framework,” Mba stated.
He further added that they were at the verge of accomplishing the building of an industry of both national and international repute.
The ceremony is expected to attract participants from the legislature, government agencies under the Ministry of Information, corporate organizations as well as members of the public and the press. A workshop on film and media financing would also take place at the event, alongside video conferencing with three international resource persons.
The Hon Minister is expected to present the licenses personally as a way of encouragement and assurance of government’s support and interest in the sustainable growth of the industry

AMBO 4 thrills viewers on network TV

After a well-deserved long wait, the fourth season of the annual Amstel Malta Box Office (AMBO), has finally made a debut on network television stations. The final ten painstakingly selected from over 20,000 aspiring movie stars, from regional auditions are expected to thrill and entertain TV viewers both within and outside the country, for 21 days, starting from this week.
The exciting show already airing on AIT, NTA and Africa Magic, began with a review of the previous editions of AMBO, featuring winners such as Azizat Sadiq, Bhaira Mcwizu and OC Ukeje. They relieved their experiences at the AMBO House.
This year’s winner is expected to walk away with N2.5 million cash, a brand new car as well as play the lead in a bestseller movie, expected to top Nollywood chart.
The lucky ten are: Tiem Okori, Chukwudi Ubido, Chioma Ezeani, Ajibade Omisade and Adewale Ojo. Others include: Nnenna Udeh, Fatima Sheidu, Solafunmi Sosanya, Tope Alake and Uche Nwokocha.
You can also follow the action on www.amstelmaltaboxoffice.com

Uche Jombo on the move again


Pic-Jumbo

On the move actress Uche Jombo, has done it again. The mathematician turned actress from Abiriba, Abia State, just breezed in from the UK, where she won the Best English Actress Award, at the recently held Afro-Hollywood Awards.
Since her arrival, the fun-loving thespian, has not stopped celebrating and spreading the good news within and outside her domain. Interestingly, some of her pals and colleagues are planning a scintillating post award bash for her.
We would definitely keep you posted on the details. However, she has assured that it is not going to be an all night groove.
Congrats.

AMAA repositions with Town Hall meeting

In order to ensure hitch-free outings in the subsequent editions of the Africa Movie Academy Awards, the organizers recently gathered stakeholders and practitioners in the motion picture industry at a Town Hall Meeting dubbed: “Creating the platform of rewards”. The meeting held at the National Theatre, Lagos.

Pic-http:Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, AMAA boss

In her opening remarks, the honcho of AMAA, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, explained that so many measures have been put in place to curtail the lapses of the past editions. “We noticed that so many people come to the awards without invitations and these people end up causing problems for us. We also noticed that those we invite end up sleeping in the wrong rooms because their rooms were usually hijacked by uninvited visitors.” She further added that henceforth, they would be very strict in terms of accommodation, welfare, ticketing and transportation for the award ceremonies.
She also called on would be attendees, to always confirm their attendance, at least, one week before the event, to enable the organizers prepare adequately for all their needs.
Virtually all the stakeholders that spoke at the star-studded event unanimously concurred that the meeting was held at the appropriate time. They also hailed the organizers for a job well done and promised to cooperate with them towards making the next edition, which holds on Saturday, April 4, 2009, in Bayelsa State, a huge success.

Oliver de Coque goes home in a blaze of glory

...Gov Obi, Donald Duke pay last respect


Pic-Oliver's Body being borne by Ebony Undertakers during wakekeep at National Stadium, Lagos.

The quiet town of Ezinifite, in Nnewi South, Anambra State, erupted in a blaze of glory on Friday, November 14, during the final burial ceremony of Oliver De Coque, the undisputed king of Ogene brand of Highlife music.
Governor of Anambra, Peter Obi, Donald Duke, ex-Gov Rivers State, Sen. Annie Okonkwo, CHika Okpala and PMAN delegation led by Judith Nwachukwu, Vice-President led several dignitaries that graced the carnival-like-burial.
De Coque, real names, Sunday Oliver Akanite, died on Saturday, June 21, 2008 at the age of 61. He recorded and released over one hundred albums, during his successful singing career, spanning over three decades.
May his soul rest in Peace.

Censors Board nabs illegal film marketer


Pix-Emeka Mba, DG, NFVCB

The concerted efforts of the National Film and Video Censors Board, which is aimed at sanitizing the nation’s motion picture industry, is gradually yielding results. Cheering news at our disposal has it that the Operations Department of the Board, recently arrested one Mr. Ifeanyi Okongwu, for illegal release of a film entitled “Silver and Gold” into the Nigerian market.
The alleged culprit, also the CEO of Ceaser Movies, based in Ghana, confirmed during interrogations in the Board’s office in Ikoyi, that the movie, which was shot and produced in Ghana, was never censored and approved for release by the Board.
In his words,"the film was released into the Ghanaian market in February, 2008 after meeting all their regulatory requirements.
But despite repeated warnings from marketers, including Mr. Chuks Anyiam of Spyder Films, Okongwu, threw caution to the winds and secretly released about 5,000 copies of the movie into the Nigerian market illegally.
Gathered that he was later arrested by the Operations Unit of the Board, led by Mr. Peace Anjorin, following intelligence reports, and immediately handed over to the Police, after making useful statements to the board.
Meanwhile, the Board has also promised to leave no stone unturned in fishing out offenders in the industry. The Board also appealed to members of the public to desist from patronizing the said film, pending when its legally censored and approved.
According to a signed release from Mr. Ogbonna Onwumere, Okongwu, has been remanded in Police custody, pending the conclusion of investigation.

New celebrity joint, Aqua 27, opens

Aqua 27, a new celebrity hangout, which the owners boasted represent a fresh approach to night life, especially for fun-seekers hibernating on the Island, has opened for business with a blast.
Surprisingly, the newest joint in town is unarguably, Nigeria’s first floating soul lounge. “Aqua 27, prides on its exceptional standard of service, as it doubles as a restaurant during the day and a dancing bar at night”, hinted one of its prime movers.
Tucked inside the Chase Mall on Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, the serene splendour of Aqua’s astonishing d├ęcor does not disappoint, coupled with its high calibre of upwardly mobile guests.
It also boasts of vast open space, secured parking lot, high ceiling and crystal clear water fountain that passes nicely for a world-class painting richly combined to create a cool sanctuary aimed at helping to calm the frayed nerves of its patrons and clientele.
No doubt, Aqua, has become the celebrity preferred get away location for a night of tremendous fun and high networking in a relaxed environment.

Ochendo returns with Da Cornerstone

Comic actor turned Dancehall/Ragga crooner Macsmith Ochendo, has concluded plans to release his overdue debut effort on shelves within and outside our shores.
Entitled: Da Cornerstone, the eight-tracker effort was produced by Marvelous Benji, and would be launched soon at an elaborate ceremony.
Speaking at a recent media parley, the Anambra State born gangling entertainer, disclosed that the music video of the beautiful work, would soon hit the airwaves.
“ I started this project a long time ago, but had to take a break, when it started clashing with my acting career, but thank God, I am fully back on the microphone and doing my own thing my own way.”
Dreadlocks donning Ochendo, also dismissed the rumour going round that he has abandoned acting for music, insisting that he is happy combining both.

Naija’s first actuality show set to debut

Do you want to be the future president of Nigeria? Well, if your answer is yes, then you can truly make it happen by being part of the first ever Actuality show that would soon make a debut on Nigerian TV stations. Tagged: If I Was President, according to the organizers, it was designed to create the right model of leadership for young people, not only in Nigeria, but also throughout the African continent and beyond. “We would try as much as possible to bring out the competitive edge among the contestants as they deal with decisions and choices that will reflect and bring to bear, their leadership traits. It will be a viewers delight”, they promised.
Proudly put together by Saints Media and Stripes Creative Media UK, the show, further aims at creating an enabling environment where it can be meaningfully utilized to inspire and bring about social development.
To participate, you must be between 18 and 35, while finalists would be selected from an audition that will be carried out across the major geographical zones of the country. For more info, visit www.ifiwaspresident.co.uk

Editors Note: azuhamatus.blogspot.com is really sorry for the lull in the past two weeks. We are however back with full force and good to go! Compliments of the season-The Crew