February 3, 2008
For Immediate Release
Jesulu Productions' new suspense-comedy feature film, Lady Magdalene's, was awarded "Best Cutting Edge Film" presented during the 2008 San Diego Black Film Festival Awards Party, Saturday evening February 2nd at the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center. The award was presented after nominations were read in that category for Lady Magdalene's and five other films screening at the festival.
The award placque and a bottle of Tommy Bahama rum was accepted by the film's executive producer, director, writer, and supporting actor ("Ali the American"), J. Neil Schulman, who used his acceptance speech to praise the movie's title star and other executive producer, Nichelle Nichols, not only for her artistic contributions to the film, but also for her stellar career as a black civil rights icon.
The award closely followed the world-premiere screening of Lady Magdalene's earlier that evening at the San Diego Black Film Festival, which ran from January 31 to February 3, 2008, at the Regal United Artists 14 Theatres in Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego, CA.
In addition to Nichelle Nichols and J. Neil Schulman, the Lady Magdalene's premiere screening was also attended by co-executive producer and cast member ("Grandma"), Betty Schulman; by associate producer and editor, J. Kent Hastings; by cast member, Marian Michaels ("Senior Flight Attendant"), and by soundtrack singer/songwriter ("Escape") and cast member ("'Say Cheese' Girl"), Soleil O'Neal Schulman.
Nichelle Nichols did Q&A regarding her career before the screening, and answered questions about the film itself, afterwards to an appreciative and enthusiastic audience.
Earlier that day, J. Neil Schulman gave an hour-long presentation titled "Making Movies: The Scary Part" for the San Diego Black Film Festival in a room packed with independent filmmakers at Borders Books and Music at G Street and Sixth Avenue in downtown San Diego. In this presentation, Schulman discussed the many challenges he'd overcome while making the movie, from initial idea to post-production and marketing. "It's an indication of Nichelle Nichols' starpower," Schulman said during this presentation, "that just this morning at my hotel's restaurant I had a chance encounter with a man who wasn't even attending the film festival who, when I mentioned I was premiering a movie starring Nichelle Nichols, told me his sister had been named after Nichelle."
This presentation was followed by another in which Schulman interviewed Danny Rodriquez, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions for Polychrome Pictures, on the subject of "How to Get Distribution for Your Independent Film."
Out of a field of over 100 films presented at the San Diego Black Film Festival, Lady Magdalene's was the movie generating the most media interest, sparking morning TV news interviews with J. Neil Schulman (and showing Lady Magdalene's' clips of Nichelle Nichols) on KGTV's morning news show with Lisa Lake and KUSI's "Good Morning, San Diego" with Dan Plante. San Diego CityBeat singled out Lady Magdalene's for special notice, running a photo of Nichelle Nichols from the movie as the only artwork for its story on the festival.
Nichelle Nichols, who stars in the title role of Lady Magdalene's, is the iconic actress who played "Uhura" on Star Trek, as well as being a singer discovered at age 16 by Duke Ellington.
Beginning in Fall 2007, Nichelle Nichols began appearing as "Nana Dawson," a recurring player on the NBC blockbuster television series, Heroes.
As well as starring in Lady Magdalene's, Nichelle Nichols contributed her talents behind the camera as choreographer, and composer of two original songs for the film, which she performed as well.
The San Diego Black Film Festival, originally known as the Noir Film Festival, was established in 2004. The event is a yearly fundraiser for the Black Historical Society of San Diego, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The Black Historical Society of San Diego is the largest black historical society in the country.
The San Diego Black Film Festival was established after several board members complained that though San Diego is the second largest city in California, as of 2003, it did not have a viable nor mainstream black film festival.Although Lady Magdalene's creators, cast, and crew are ethnically diverse, Lady Magdalene's was accepted to screen at the festival because of the principal part played in its production by Nichelle Nichols, well known as an icon to millions of women and minorities for her groundbreaking role on Star Trek. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., personally convinced Nichelle not to quit the show, saying her being a role model as a senior bridge officer on Star Trek made it one of the few TV series he'd allow his own children to watch.
In the late 1970's, under contract to NASA, Nichelle Nichols took on the daunting task to successfully recruit the first women and minority astronauts for the United States Space Shuttle program, for which she received NASA's Distinguished Public Service Award for her pioneering efforts. It was Nichelle Nichols who brought America its first six female astronauts including Dr. Sally K. Ride and Dr. Judith Resnick, and the first three male African-American astronauts, Dr. Ronald McNair, Col. Guion S. Bluford, Jr., and Frederick D. Gregory , later NASA Acting Administrator. The first Africal-American female astronaut, Mae C. Jemison, MD, was directly inspired to apply to NASA's space flight program because of Nichelle's role as Uhura on Star Trek.
On January 9, 1992, Nichelle was awarded her much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Just a few weeks before, she'd become the first African-American to place her handprints and signature in the cement walk of the world-famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
In 2004 Nichelle Nichols was selected as one of the International Human Rights Consortium's Fete d'Excellence laureate's. The citation reads: "You have been selected for the Medaille d'Excellence 2004 in the category of 'Edutainment.' This is in recognition of your being a true innovator, a woman of courage and commitment to the deepest values of excellence through your artistry within the world of entertainment and also as an innovative educator and patron to learning and inspiring the budding minds and hearts of youth."
Lady Magdalene's was written and directed by J. Neil Schulman, previously known as an award-winning novelist and journalist, and whose original screenplay "Profile in Silver," is one of the best-remembered episodes of CBS's 1980's Twilight Zone series. Schulman also contributed music and lyrics to five songs in the film, and played the role of Ali the American, an al-Qaeda terrorist.
Steve Miller, writing in a Rotten Tomatoes review, describes Lady Magdalene's as "a fun, fast-paced action comedy" that is "built like the classic comedies of the 1940s-1960s, complete with a musical number." Miller writes, "If writers of the modern thrillers could come up with twists and misdirections even a quarter as clever as Schulman does here, I wouldn't find myself wondering if the thriller is a dead genre." Miller also writes that Nichelle Nichols "gives a performance that is worthy of an actress of her veteran status. She is delightful in this film."
Bestselling author, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, in an advance review, writes that Lady Magdalene's is "action-humor reminiscent of a Bob Hope movie ... The casting is outstanding... The script had all the twists in the right places...powerful and so subtly written... It is purely character driven -- and that's what I loved about it. Definitely one that will etch itself into memory. It grows on you after you finish seeing it. I was still thinking about it a week later."Tay Zonday, singer/songwriter of the hit song, "Cherry Chocolate Rain" writes on Youtube: "I love seeing Nichelle in a more textured role."
Tom Long, writing in his Detroit News column, says Lady Magdalene's
"stars Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek. Talk about someone who can open a movie."
Rounding out Miss Nichols excellent performance is a fresh cast with backgrounds in movies, music, TV, modeling, and stage, including Groundlings alumnus Ethan Keogh (Bedazzled, Able Edwards) as Agent Jack Goldwater, Susan Smythe ("Best Actress" Award at the NY International Independent Film and Video Festival) as "Angel," Persian pop princess Claudia Lynx (West Wing, Legion of the Dead) as Scheherazade, former Calvin Klein model Alexander Wraith (Hitch, Royal Kill) as Yassin Salem, London Drama Centre alumnus Mark Gilvary (Puritan, The Bard: The Story of Robert Burns), doubling both as the Director of al Qaeda and as FBI agent Curtis Broderick, Mara Marini (Darkworld, Porntourage) as Nurse Gretchen, Miss Teen All American Hope McBane (MTV's TRL and Housebroken) as Sinead, and Michele Redmond (HBO's Cathouse) as Eden.
Lady Magdalene's log line is, "After a prostitute's murder, a disgraced federal agent buddies with a Nevada madam to unravel an al-Qaeda plot."
Lady Magdalene's has also been selected to screen on April 3, 2008 in its Los Angeles-area debut at the Backlot Film Festival, to be held between April 2-5, 2008, at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Culver City, CA, designated the "Heart of Screenland" because of its rich movie-making history. An additional screening for Lady Magdalene's will be announced by the festival later.
Lady Magdalene's is being represented for a sale to a theatrical distributor by Jeffrey Leavitt of the Leavitt Talent Group, who also represents Nichelle Nichols and J. Neil Schulman as their talent agents.
Opening day of the 2008 San Diego Black Film Festival, KGTV 10 Morning News anchor Lisa Lake interviews Lady Magdalene's' writer/director J. Neil Schulman, on the movie's premiere at the festival.
Lady Magdalene's at the Festival