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VOL. 121 | NO. 205 | Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Daily Digest

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New $2.5 Million Comedy to be Shot in Memphis

     A new comedy titled "Let's Ride" is slated to begin filming in Memphis in early November.
     The movie, by production company A Street Productions, has a $2.5 million budget. The production company's other work includes the 2004 comedy "Gas," "The Big Black Comedy Show," which airs on Showtime, and the movie "Julius Home," which is expected to be released in 2007. A Street also is working with clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger on a feature film titled "Rags," which takes a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry.
     Movie officials already have started arriving in the city to set up temporary offices and begin the work of scouting areas to film and hiring local talent for the cast of "Let's Ride."
     The movie, co-written by Ronnie Lewis and Jeff Etheridge, will feature celebrity actors Shar Jackson, Ray J, JoMarie Payton and Eddie "Grapevine" Fordham.
     Jackson, who had a recurring role in the television sitcom "Moesha" as Niecy Jackson, will play the lead female character, Erika.
     Erika, a Spellman College student, starts a rumor that Freaknik is being revived. Freaknik was a yearly gathering of black college students in Atlanta that began in 1982. It was last held in 1999.
     Erika convinces her cousin and a couple of his friends to drive down from Los Angeles for the event. The movie centers on their road trip.
     Director Dale S. Lewis was in Memphis about a month ago scouting locations for the film.
     While he hasn't solidified all the places that will be shot, he said he's found a rural area and some local rest stops that should work for the movie.
     "The only solidified location that we have is the University of Memphis," Lewis said.
     He said a crew is scheduled to begin shooting on the U of M campus beginning Nov. 13.
     "We're going to be using the dorms, shooting in the library, all of the University of Memphis," he said.
     One of the stars who has not yet arrived in the city, but says she's really looking forward to coming, is Jackson.
     "I cannot wait to come to Memphis," she said. "I have a bunch of friends that already live out there. And I have a lot of friends from there that tell me that I need to (go there), so the fact that I get to film out there is going to be incredible."
     Jackson is scheduled to arrive during the first week of November.
     She said at first she was a little unsure about leaving her four children, two of whom were fathered by ex-boyfriend and current husband of pop star Britney Spears, Kevin Federline.
     "But then I told my mom and she said Memphis is one of the coolest, most family-oriented places."
     Some of the cast members for the movie will be local hires. Jackson's best friend in the movie, Caroline, also will be a local hire.
     "I'm excited to meet whoever my new best friend is going to be," she said.
     Lewis said when he and others were scouting locations to film the movie, it came down to a choice between Atlanta and Memphis. But they chose Memphis because of its hospitality.
     "We felt wanted," he said. "Not that Atlanta didn't make us feel wanted. But people (in Memphis) just went above and beyond things they didn't really have to do to make us feel really comfortable."
     Rehearsals for the movie are set to begin Nov. 6. And the film's producer, Tony Smith, is arriving in Memphis today for a 2:30 meeting with Mayor Willie Herenton.
     The film is due in theaters in spring 2007.
     Casting officials are currently taking applications for general casting interns. To be considered, interested people should e-mail to monicacoopercasting@comcast.net.

88 Union Center Financed for $2.8 Million

     88 Union Center, a high-rise office building at the northwest corner of Union Avenue and South Main Street, has been financed through IDS Life Insurance Co. for $2.8 million.
     The transaction includes two related mortgages with a total recording amount of $2.8 million. Memphis Center City Revenue Finance Corp. (MCCRFC) filed a fee mortgage, one for which the collateral is the actual ownership of the land, and Three Sisters Partnership filed a leasehold mortgage, for which the collateral is the company's lease of the property.
     At 88 Union Ave., the 89,581-square-foot office building was built in 1927 on .2 acres and has views of the Mississippi River and Downtown. The refurbished skyscraper has 15 stories and a basement, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Shelby County Assessor's 2006 appraisal was $2.8 million.
     The property is part of a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement between Three Sisters and MCCRFC, which was originally signed in 1983 and has been revised several times. An amendment filed in 1999 lists the PILOT as running through December 2025.

Sharp Introduces New Branding Campaign

     Sharp Electronics Corp. yesterday unveiled a new branding campaign to drive home solar power sales at the Solar Power 2006 conference in San José, Calif.
     The campaign is composed of two elements - the "It's On" element, targeted at contractors and solar installers, and "Hello, Sunshine" for consumers.
     Sharp also announced that it will partner with CitiMortgage to provide home equity financing options for homeowners who install the new Solar Racking System.
     A company statement said the Solar Racking System "makes it easier to buy and install systems for both residential and commercial buildings" and "provides contractors with the unique advantage of simplified installation."
     The "Hello, Sunshine" campaign is in its initial stages, and the "idea is to educate the consumer about solar energy," said Sharp spokesperson Ann Billingsley.
     There are currently no plans to increase production at Sharp's Memphis facility, the company's first solar panel production facility outside of Japan.
     Sharp began manufacturing solar panels at its Memphis facility in October 2003, where it assembles 165-, 167- and 185-watt solar panels.

LeMoyne-Owen Hosts BEEP Executives

     Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will greet visiting black executives from across the nation as they arrive to take part in Career Week at LeMoyne-Owen College.
     Career Week, which runs through Friday, brings in executives to mentor LeMoyne-Owen students in the Annual Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP).
     The BEEP executives or "BEEPers" will conduct classroom visits, mock interviews and participate in panel discussions.
     Mark Monteverdi, the National Urban League's BEEP director, also will visit the campus.
     Companies that will be represented include United Parcel Service (UPS), the City of Memphis, Wells Fargo Financial and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
     Founded 35 years ago at Atlanta University, the BEEP program is affiliated with the National Urban League, which enlists the help of executives from government and private industry.

Sanford Joins International Association

     Jeff Sanford, president of the Memphis Center City Commission, has been named chairman of the International Downtown Association (IDA). Sanford officially was inducted at an IDA conference in Portland, Ore., last week.
     IDA is an international association comprised primarily of downtown revitalization professionals and is the leader of and champion for vital and livable urban centers around the globe, officials said in a statement.
     Downtown Memphis hosted the IDA Spring Conference in 2003 and was ranked as one of the best IDA spring conferences by its membership.
     "Jeff Sanford is the right person at the right time," said Dave Feehan, president of IDA, in the statement.
     Sanford is the second Memphian to take office as IDA chair. John Dudas, vice president and director of strategic planning for Belz Enterprises, served as IDA chair during his tenure as CCC president in 1987.

MBA Offers Mediation Seminar

     The Memphis Bar Association will sponsor a free seminar Thursday in conjunction with statewide Mediation Day.
     The day is meant to bring attention to alternative methods for conflict resolution.
     The seminar is at the University of Memphis' Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The seminar will explain the uses of mediation in courts in Shelby County.
     Mediators who have been approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court will discuss how mediation is used in many different situations, including civil suits, child custody matters and consumer complaints.
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