Brittany's Blog: Al Shearer and 5 Life-Changing Shows
June 15th, 2012 3:00pm EDT
This is my viewpoint, from the far end of the couch...and this week I talk to Al Shearer about his new mockumentary, as well as discussing the five TV shows and movies that changed my life.
This is Al Shearer. He is The Other Black Guy Running For President.
No, really. That's the title of his new mockumentary (now available on iTunes), where a frustrated Al decides that he's going to run for President in 2012. What results is pretty hilarious, both in its gags (one of the best involves randomly inserted pictures of Kanye West) to how strange and/or ignorant some of the people Al tries to talk with are.
Why make a movie like this? "I was kind of looking at everything falling apart at the seams, watching the big banks and corporations walk over the little guy," Al told me during a recent interview. "Kind of wanting to see change and see people take a stand. I wanted to shake people up and make them away in a comedic way. Enjoy this crazy world we live in but most importantly laugh at it."
So he decided to run for President, even if it meant crashing the Iowa straw poll, or acting as a faux debt collector trying to repossess people's cars. "I loved talking to each of the possible different parties, just to see their stance and take on life and politics, and just some of the outlandish things they would say," he said. "What they thought they could do to sway me to their side. The Tea Party guy was just kind of all over the place.
"Even talking to the actual candidates at the straw poll, you could tell they were robots," he added with a laugh. "We were at Michele Bachmann's rally and she was talking about something that had nothing to do with anything and people were just cheering her on."
As if that wasn't weird enough, he says there was a randomly appearing black baby at the rally that he's still trying to figure out. "I was the only black guy at the rally, and the baby was on this guy's shoulder," he explained. "It was just sitting up there and I was like, "What is this right now?" And then she looked over and saw me, and the baby was gone, and she started directing a lot of her speech toward me."
While The Other Black Guy Running For President is hilarious in how it pulls no punches pointing out how strange our country's political and economic scenes have become (just wait until you see what Al uses for write-in votes at the straw poll!) underneath the humor, there is a real point he's making.
"Figure out your stance on life, figure out your stance on politics, and go out and do something about it. Don't just fall victim to what the big banks or corporations dole out," he encouraged. "But figure out what it is you're being proactive about. With the Occupy movement, people were just occupying and they didn't know what they were occupying or why they were occupying. What are you occupying? Who is the leader? And a lot of people didn't know."
To promote the film, Al will be appearing on BET's 106 & Park on Wednesday, June 20 (check your local listings for time and channel). It's a welcome return for him, as he started his career on BET and later MTV. He was also one of the stars of the vastly underrated 2006 movie Glory Road, in which he played Nevil Shed.
I asked Al what it was like to make Glory Road, a film that had a profound impact on a number of people, myself included. "It's absolutely tremendous and phenomenal," he said. "[Producer] Jerry [Bruckheimer] is the kindest, sweetest guy on the planet and I'd work for him for free. Josh [Lucas] is the coolest motherf--er on the planet. All those guys are just supercool guys and we just hung out and did a basketball movie."
It also afforded him the opportunity to interact with people who were involved with the real 1966 NCAA championship. "We had 2 weeks of training camp with Pat Riley and Tim Floyd. Don Haskins came out and sat and observed, and it was an honor to be in his presence," he told me.
"The other thing is I was motivated. The only player to come down from the original team was Nevil Shed. He gave each person insight into the real person they were portraying. He walked in the gym, I'm walking off the court, we look at each other and have that moment," he added. "Two days before we started photography I broke my foot. I'm like, 'I'm going to tell Jerry I'm going to write off all liability because I want to be a part of this movie.' I'm not going to let this guy down."
He certainly didn't - his performance contributed to what stands as one of my all-time favorite films, one that made me and many other people aware of the 1966 Texas Western Miners and how they made an impact on sports and race relations in the 1960s. I had never heard that story before Glory Road, and I'm certainly glad that I did. Now Al's making an impact in a different way: by running for President. Anyone who says comedians aren't doing important things hasn't met Al Shearer. Now you have.
For more on The Other Black Guy Running For President, visit the official website or follow Al on Twitter (@HitsFromTheSt). Continue to the next page for my list of the five pieces of entertainment that changed my life, and how you can make your own list.
After interviewing Al, I couldn't help but think about Glory Road and other films and TV shows that have had an actual, tangible impact on my life. I was raised to believe that TV never did anything for you, but I've found that it (and all forms of entertainment) do, in fact, have the potential to change us for the better.
There are a lot of projects I can credit for various things in my life, but in chronological order, here are the 5 most important.
1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991): The first movie/TV show I ever remember seeing. I was five and Robert Patrick's performance at the T-1000 terrified me. I had nightmares about it. But once I calmed down, I was intrigued that something fictional could inspire such an emotional response in me...and my lifelong love of the media was born. As well as my early obsession with science-fiction and my being a lifetime Robert Patrick fan.
2. Law & Order (NBC, 1990-2010): When other kids were watching cartoons, I was watching syndicated reruns of Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street. This would go on to explain a lot about my childhood. EADA Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty) was the reason I grew up wanting to be a prosecuting attorney and almost went to law school.
3. Sports Night (ABC, 1998-2000): The reason I didn't go to law school and become a lawyer. Aaron Sorkin's trademark style showed me that I could write for television and do the kind of writing I loved doing. This show also introduced me to a number of people and other things I became a fan of, from its cast to the works of David Mamet to other movies I never would have watched. The list of things I owe to this show is ridiculous.
4. 24 (FOX, 2001-2010): As a fan, I was absolutely obsessed with this show. I only missed one episode in eight seasons. I yelled at the TV when it was on. I lost sleep trying to watch those "24 Hours of 24" marathons on FX. But as a writer, I also loved it for how it introduced me to the idea of real-time, and other innovative concepts along the way. I was inspired by it at the same time. I have many fond memories of this show...except for the forgettable final season.
5. Glory Road (2006): I only went to see this movie because Josh Lucas was in it...but I'm so glad that I did. It introduced me to the story of Don Haskins and the 1966 Texas Western Miners, and from there, I developed my love of college basketball. I went on to work with my college's own men's basketball team. I've accidentally stolen entire speeches from this movie. And the essay I wrote on this got me into graduate school.
What are some of the TV shows and/or movies that have had a tangible effect on your life? Not just ones you loved, but ones that made you think differently or furthered your life in some way? Leave your picks and stories in the comments. Until next week...
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my Starpulse writer page and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.
Photo Credits: PR Photos, Disney