[08/12/05 - 12:00 AM]
Hallmark Channel Celebrates Unheralded Hollywood Pioneer at the 10th Annual Oscar Micheaux Film Festival

[via press release from The Hallmark Channel]


Network Premieres �The Reading Room,� Starring James Earl Jones, Georg Stanford Brown and Tim Reid at Event, August 11-13; Brown and Hallmark Channel Recognized on Oscar Micheaux�s Walk of Fame

Hallmark Channel proudly announces the world premiere of �The Reading Room� August 11-13 at the 10th Annual Oscar Micheaux Film Festival in Gregory, South Dakota. Micheaux, the most prolific African-American filmmaker in cinematic history, is not a household name. Micheaux was a trailblazer, the first African-American to produce a feature-length film and the first to produce a �talkie� motion picture.

A former homesteading farmer, Micheaux�s entrepreneurial spirit helped him work around the �Whites Only� mentality of the film industry: he started his own production company. He wrote all of his scripts from his own novels, and gained funding from owners of �black� theatres. The owners paid him upfront for first-run rights to the films, which allowed Micheaux to continue producing more films.

Micheaux�s films were shown in some 700 segregated black theaters throughout the country, and distributed internationally. In his lifetime, Micheaux wrote, produced and directed 27 silent films and 16 talkies, many of which dealt with heated topics including lynching, racial hate crimes and corruption among preachers. When the controversial film, Birth of a Nation came out in 1915, Micheaux created a response: 1920�s Within our Gates, a film that took the exact perspectives of D.W. Griffiths classic and turned the tables from black-on-white crime to white-on-black.

The Oscar Micheaux Film Festival, which occurs in the shadow of Micheaux�s South Dakota homestead shack, was created to celebrate this legacy. The festival features viewings of his films, speeches and discussions by scholars and historians, and performances by South Dakota�s Lakota Indian Tribe (seen most recently in TNT�s �Into The West�).

The feature event at this year�s festival is the world premiere of the Hallmark Channel Original movie, �The Reading Room,� which stars James Earl Jones, Tim Reid, Georg Stanford Brown (who also directed), Kathryne Dora Brown (Georg�s daughter with acclaimed actor Tyne Daly), Joanna Cassidy and Spencir Bridges. Georg Stanford Brown, Maya Angelou (another member of the Hallmark family) and the Hallmark Channel are some of the recipients of prestigious granite stones on the Oscar Micheaux �Walk of Fame.�

�Hallmark Channel is proud to premiere �The Reading Room� at the 10th Annual Oscar Micheaux Film Festival.� said David Kenin, Hallmark Channel EVP, programming.

Mr. Kenin concluded, �Hallmark Channel is humbled to be in Gregory, South Dakota, the heart of Oscar Micheaux country � a place where humanity, dignity and one man�s legacy (the theme of �The Reading Room�) is synonymous with the filmmaker who, through 44 films, courageously depicted the beauty of African-American society at a time when such eloquent art seemed impossible. Micheaux�s name and history should reside among the best of American cinema.�

�The Reading Room� will premiere only on Hallmark Channel, Saturday, November 26 (9/8 c).

Hallmark Channel is a 24-hour basic cable channel that provides a diverse slate of high-quality entertainment programming to a national audience of 69 million subscribers. The program service is distributed through 5,020 cable systems and communities as well as direct-to-home satellite services across the country. Crown Media Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: CRWN) owns and operates Hallmark Channel. In 2004, Crown launched its second 24-hour linear channel, Hallmark Movie Channel. Through its subsidiary, Crown Media Distribution, LLC, Crown also distributes titles from its awardwinning collection of movies, miniseries and films for exhibition in a variety of television media including broadcast, cable, Video-on-Demand and High Definition Television.


  [august 2005]  


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