a groundbreaking deal with UTV, India’s leading media company, to finance a slate of movies. They view the arrangement as a means to expand the international appeal for vehicles featuring diverse casts. For example, Bad Boys was only expected to gross about $5 million overseas but the film generated $75 million in international box-office receipts.
So what’s their long-term objective? To build Overbrook into a mammoth production company that will continue to develop high-quality films. Smith’s clout and Lassiter’s business acumen will be the elements that will help maintain Overbrook’s longevity.
— Nicole Marie Richardson
Byron Allen Chairman & CEO,Entertainment Studios o Age: 45 Why he’s powerful: Allen’s Entertainment Studios produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 15 television programs, making it among the largest independent producers and distributors of first-run syndicated programming. His millions of viewers receive an eclectic mix of entertainment, lifestyle, and motivational programs, including Comics Unleashed; Kickin’ It; Latin Lifestyles; and his flagship program, Entertainers with Byron Allen, which is now in its 12th season. A proponent of digital distribution, Allen offers content through his Website (entertainmentstudios.com), giving a legion of viewers access through their PCs, cell phones, and oth
er mobile devices. He runs a lean, profitable operation, producing his shows on a shoestring budget and dominating the wee-hour, low-traffic timeslots in major markets.
Stephen D. Barnes Partner, Barnes Morris Klein Mark Yorn Barnes & Levine Why he’s powerful: Since 2002, Barnes has been a partner at one of the nation’s premier entertainment law firms, representing top artists and companies in film and television. His A-list roster includes Chris Rock, John Singleton, Reginald Hudlin, Katherine Heigl, Vince Young, Nelson George, Mara Brock Akil, Carlos Watson, Brandy, and Jill Scott. Recently, Barnes closed a $16 million deal at Sundance, setting a record as the largest transaction ever completed at the independent film festival.
Mara Brock Akil Creator-Producer o Age: 36 When UPN and WB merged back in September to form The CW Television Network, it never occurred to Brock Akil to be worried that the show she created, writes, and executive produces about the lives of a group of African American women, Girlfriends, may end up on the chopping block. As it turned out, Brock Akil had nothing to fear. Not only did The CW pick up the popular series, but the network included her new sitcom, The Game, as part of the fall lineup. As a result, Brock Akil became the only African American to have two primetime shows on network television.
Brock Akil pitched Girlfriends to UPN in 1999 when the network came to her asking for a companion show to The Parkers. The former actress had worked with UPN for several years as a producer on Moesha and conjured up the idea for Girlfriends after watching an episode of Sex in the City, a show she admired, but was void of African Americans. Says Brock Akil: “I told UPN that I would deliver the dirty little secrets of black women, and the biggest secret is that we’re just human beings