The brand known as Tyler Perry has set the bar very high for film openings. Now, the venerable filmmaker is hoping to give a boost to another formidable brand, George Lucas. You know, producer of the Star Wars franchise.
Prior to a private screening of Lucas’ new film, Red Tails, a fictional account of the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen, Perry shared with the audience that Lucas could not get studio backing to make the film, so Lucas used 50 million dollars of his own money. Then once the film had been completed, he couldn’t get a distribution deal.
And this is the man who made Star Wars, Perry reminded the audience, and then paused to let the information sink in. Even Lucas, who is one of the most successful filmmakers in the business, could not get support to make a black film.
Perry exhorted the audience to prove the Hollywood machine wrong about black films not having international appeal — one of the reasons given for refusing help to Lucas — by supporting the film when it opens on Jan. 20, 2012, and encouraging their social networks to do the same.
The film is nothing short of gripping in showing the circumstances under which the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first all-black unit of fighter pilots, through their skill and bravery, proved themselves to be without peer.
After the screening, Perry introduced the director, Anthony Hemingway; and cast members: Nate Parker, David Oyelowo and Elijah Kelly. The film also stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard. But the most thunderous ovation was reserved for the Tuskegee Airmen who were in attendance.
The entire audience was then invited to join Perry at a reception at his “house.”
“House” is too pedestrian a term to describe an abode fit for Jesus himself. Mercy. We’re thinking castle in the sky might be more apropos. We know you can make good films Mr. Perry, but now we know you have exquisite taste in — everything.
First there was the long, winding climb through Perry’s private forest to the valet sign; said forest, of course, was trimmed in thousands of lights.
The Perry property is vast, so vast, in fact, that the guests’ cars — oh, 300 or so — were parked somewhere on the property — where exactly, we don’t know, no lot was visible from the house.
And then there was the impossibly wide marble staircase leading to the front door, alight with candles. And just beyond the threshold stood Perry, who greeted each guest with such warmth, it felt like a homecoming.
The soaring foyer has a double, winding staircase, with a library on one side, and an office on the other. Straight ahead is a formal living and dining room, filled with original artwork, sumptuous furnishings, fabrics and antiques. The kitchen and keeping room overlook the pool, and the pool overlooks the entire city of Atlanta. The hearth of the fireplace in the keeping room is about 30 feet tall. Maybe 50 feet. Then there’s the man cave, as one attendee put it, “This is a man cave that makes all other man caves jealous.” The man cave (and it did look literally like a cave) includes an intimate theater, wine room, Jacuzzi, fully equipped gym — pretty much everything a guy needs to get his chill on.
Did we mention the crystal chandeliers in nearly every room? If you’re thinking, “where are the pictures?” Sadly, no cameras were allowed. Pity. But the endless prawns, sushi and flowing champagne did take the sting out.
You gotta love a party that draws Ambassador Andrew Young, Ludacris, the Tuskegee Airmen and T.I. and Tiny. That’s one for the record books.
Here are eight of the films that launched the Tyler Perry entertainment empire and made his epically gorgeous manse possible: