Wayans hope for two snaps up from city
Irreverent brothers propose film company for Oakland’s ex-Army
Cecily Burt, Oakland Tribune
June 8, 2005
– Emeryville has Pixar, San Francisco and Marin have Lucasfilm.
Could Oakland be in line for its own famous film production
company? Homey thinks so.
The details are murky, but apparently the wildly wacky Wayans
brothers, as in Keenen Ivory, Shawn and Marlon — notorious for
such gems as "White Chicks," "Scary Movie"
and "In Living Color" — are scouting a location on
the former Army base in West Oakland for a film and television
"That would be great, most definitely," said Bryan
Rawkon, 25, of Oakland, who said his favorite Wayans character
is probably Homey D. Clown, a parolee played by Damon Wayans
who is reluctantly forced to work as a clown on "In Living
Color," the brothers' ensemble break-out TV show.
Homey's signature line whenever he was asked to do something
a normal clown would do — "I don't think so ... Homey don't
play that" — helped make the irreverent series an overnight
On Tuesday, the city Community and Economic Development Committee
will decide whether to negotiate turning over to the Wayans
70 acres of vacant land on the former Army base for their film
and television production company, the Fulton Project Development
The Wayans brothers propose building a movie studio complex
including sound stages and production offices, retail and housing
for actors and production staff.
If the City Council goes along, the city will negotiate exclusively
with the development group for one year. Within 10 days of council
approval, the Wayans must pay $150,000 to cover outside consulting
Such a scenario thrills Rawkon, who got to chuckling at memories
of "White Chicks," where Shawn and Damon Wayans play
FBI agents who go undercover as white girls.
"Hell yeah, it was funny," Rawkon said. "Everything
they come out with is hilarious. There's no bad, all good. Anything
that's dealing with change — positive change — for Oakland is
a plus for me."
Although many of their films center on African-American urban
themes, no topic, character or ethnic group is immune from the
Wayans brothers' brand of comedy. They have poked fun at Little
Richard, the "Cosby Show," "Star Trek" and
Siskel and Ebert, with the two white movie critics replaced
by the black, very gay "Men on Film" duo with their
signature "two snaps up." They also spoofed the slasher
flick genre in "Scary Movie" and its sequels.
The brothers approached city officials about moving their operations
from Los Angeles to Oakland, where they would have room to grow,
said Dan Vanderpriem, city Redevelopment Agency director.
He said the brothers have already made a couple of trips north
to scope out the potential site.
The specific location for the production company has not been
selected, Vanderpriem said, but it will be on the south side
of West Grand Avenue, within about 125 acres the city received
from the Army after the base closed. City Councilmember Nancy
Nadel (Downtown-West Oakland) said the production company would
bring jobs to Oakland.
Former plans for the base included a casino, luxury hotel and
convention center, a big-box retail center and a technology
campus. But none of those panned out.
"(The Wayans' plan) very much fits in with job production,
which is a high priority, and job production that is not environmentally
damaging," Nadel said. "This would be a destination
site, a Universal Studios kind of thing."
Danyeal Bobino, 23, of Oakland, couldn't believe it. She liked
the "Wayans Brothers" TV show, and she owns the "In
Living Color" DVD. As a creative writer, she's already
thinking she'd like to write movie scripts for them.
According to city documents, the Wayans said they will work
with the community, especially youth, to help get them experience
and jobs in film and television production.
That was music to Cemara Griffith, 14, an eighth-grader at Chipman
Middle School in Alameda, who thinks it's about time more positive
things happen in Oakland.
One possible hitch is the city may have to make good on a promise
to accept a proposal from Opus/Legacy West Wind, which held
a now-expired exclusive negotiating agreement to develop the
former Army base.
It is not known whether Opus/Legacy West Wind still exists or
if it is still interested, Vanderpriem said.
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