Fatherhood with Will Smith & Tyler Perry

JOSEPH MEDIA, THE APOLLO THEATER FOUNDATION,
AND U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES PRESENT:
“MEETING THE FATHERHOOD CHALLENGE”


AN ALL-DAY CONFERENCE & FREE COMMUNITY EVENT
AT THE APOLLO THEATER: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2007


FEATURING A SCREENING OF “THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS,” STARRING WILL SMITH
AND A SNEAK PREVIEW OF SCENES FROM THE NEW TYLER PERRY FILM “DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS”

January 26, 2007 (New York) – Joseph Media, in conjunction with the Apollo Theater Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children and Families, today announced a one-day conference titled: “Meeting The Fatherhood Challenge: The Importance to Families, Kids, and Communities,” which will take place in Harlem, New York on Saturday, February 3rd, 2007, from 10am until 6pm. Admission is Free.

The conference, scheduled during the national celebration of African-American History in February, is designed to bring public awareness to the challenges that many young fathers face, and to assist in building healthy environments for families throughout New York, and the nation. Presenters and panelists comprise an array of achievers from the worlds of government, business, sports, and the arts. These luminaries include basketball all-star Allan Houston, noted urban family scholar Dr. Ronald Mincy, Alicia Crowe, attorney and author of “Real Dads Stand Up,” and filmmaker Tyler Perry who will address the audience with an inspiring message about family via video telecast.

Meeting The Fatherhood Challenge will also feature a viewing of two films. A screening of a current popular favorite, the Will Smith/Sony Pictures film, “The Pursuit Of Happyness” and the other a sneak preview of scenes from Tyler Perry's highly anticipated new film “Daddy's Little Girl.”

In “The Pursuit Of Happyness,” Will Smith plays the role of Chris Gardner, a bright and talented, but marginally employed salesman. Struggling to make ends meet, Gardner finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When Gardner lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships, including living in shelters, in pursuit of his dream of a better life for the two of them. Despite his troubles, Chris continues to honor his commitment as a loving and caring father, using the trust his son has placed in him as an impetus to overcome obstacles. In its first six weeks of release to theaters, “The Pursuit Of Happyness” has earned an amazing $146 million at the box office and received two Golden Globe nominations and an Academy Award nomination.

The second screening is an exclusive preview of the trailer for Tyler Perry/Lions Gate film “Daddy's Little Girls,” a romantic drama about family, community, and love against all odds starring Idris Elba (“The Wire”) and Gabrielle Union (“Bring It On” “Deliver Us From Eva”). A single father, Monty (Elba) is a garage mechanic who lives in a poor neighborhood and struggles to make ends meet as he raises his three young daughters on his own. But when the courts award custody of his daughters to his corrupt, drug-dealing ex-wife, Monty desperately tries to win them back, enlisting the help of Julia (Union), a beautiful — and hard-nosed — attorney he meets during his short stint as a chauffeur.

Black Entertainment Television (BET) will be covering the conference through its news division, and will also provide content from its library for the conference. Joseph Media and BET plan to produce a news special for the network, centered on how Hip Hop rappers and singers cope with family issues in their lives. That special will be distributed on DVD to community-based organizations that focus on issues of youth and family development.

“Meeting the Fatherhood Challenge” occurs at a moment of heightened interest in urban fatherhood. The overwhelming box office success of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” and the upcoming release of Tyler Perry's “Daddy's Little Girls,” reveal issues of fatherhood and family that present a crisis within the culture. According to a March 2006 New York Times article, “Plight Deepens For Black Men, Studies Warn”: “recent studies note the huge pool of poorly educated black men [who] are becoming ever more disconnected from the mainstream society, and to a far greater degree than comparable white or Hispanic men.” One of the earmarks of this crisis has been the marginalization of urban and low-income fathers. A by-product of which is that more than half of all black children today are being raised by single mothers.

“Having worked closely with many young rappers during the last 20 years, I can't overstate the amount of emotional and psychological damage that is done to young people who grow up in what are, in essence, fatherless neighborhoods,” says Joseph Media's Bill Stephney, one of the conference's organizers. “Young men seem to have no faith in their own potential so they adopt a “get rich or die trying” way of life. Young women have an idea of adult male parenting that is abstract at best, often resulting in unhealthy relationships and a distorted view of the relevance of males to their families and communities.”

Stephney is a longtime media/entertainment executive, best known for producing the rap group Public Enemy; running the eminent Hip Hop music label Def Jam Records; overseeing music for the films “Boomerang, “Clockers,” “CB4,” and “Shaft.” He has worked as a force in the industry of humor: producing the legendary stand-up comic Paul Mooney, and providing consultation for actor/comedian Chris Rock, and the cable network, Comedy Central. In 2006, Stephney was inducted into the Minority Media Telecommunications' Hall Of Fame.

“Funding for this project was provided, in part, by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant: 90XP0197. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.”

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