|Blackflix Movie News Presents: Grand Opening Of Tyler Perry's New TV & Film Studio
Saturday, January 17, 2009
(BPRW) History was made recently, when 39-year-old Tyler Perry became the first African-American ever to launch his own major TV and film studio. The sprawling complex, which includes more than 200,000 square feet of studio and office space and sits on 30 acres that once housed Delta Air Lines' finance, reservation and computer center. Perry will shoot his TBS sitcoms House of Payne and Meet the Browns along with other film projects at the studio, reports the Associated Press. At one point, Perry unveiled a special surprise for veteran trailblazers Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Cicely Tyson: each actor has one out of five studio soundstages named after him and her. "Is this my wall?" joked Poitier – as Winfrey dissolved into tears. "I spent 56 years making movies and this is the reward that I have that means the most to me," said Poitier, 81, the first African-American to win a Best Actor Oscar, for 1963's Lilies of the Field. The fourth soundstage will be named after Quincy Jones while the fifth is still unnamed.
A New Orleans native with a troubled childhood, Perry, credited all of his guests with inspiring his life. Of Winfrey, who attended the celebration with longtime beau Stedman Graham and best friend Gayle King, Perry said, "She owns her life. I am learning that. I never would have shown this to people a few years ago. I was embarrassed by the success." As a large cast of attendants passed around champagne and tissues for the teary-eyed (who were many), Perry shared his rags-to-riches story over a large video screen that eventually gave way to a live singer and band delivering The Impossible Dream, followed by a fireworks display. Mary J. Blige, Patti Labelle and Gladys Knight also treated guests to separate performances. Will Smith, also in attendance, tipped his hat to
Perry who was accompanied by his girlfriend and model, Gelila Bekele. "I admire most that he can be that tall and wear a white suit," said Smith, 40, never to waste a punch line. "I usually have to avoid white. At this height, you don't tend to look sexy in white suits, but he pulled it off." All joking aside, it was Will Smith who best summed up Perry's accomplishment and the tide of change taking place in America today. "This is an American first, and the first in the universe," said the I Am Legend star. "There is something happening in America and in the world that's powerful. He is not letting anyone get in his way. Those are the wonderfully naïve, arrogant, humble, powerfully American concepts that make things powerful in this country. It's big."
Other celebrities in attendance included: David and Tamela Mann, Lamman Rucker, Tracey Edmonds, music mogul L.A. Reid (with his wife Erica), singer John Legend, America's Next Top Model winner Eva Pigford, with actor/boyfriend Lance Gross, Barry Bonds, Debbie Allen (with her daughter), Tasha Smith, Malik Yoba, Michael Jai White, Louis Gossett, Jr., Holly Robinson Peete (with her mother), Gary Sturges, Kirk Franklin (and his wife), Star Jones Reynolds, Nick Ashford and wife Valerie Simpson, Lynn Whitfield, Derek Luke, Jenifer Lewis, Cassi Davis, Boris Kodjoe and wife Nicole Ari Parker, Denise Laughton, Wesley Jonathan, Kimberly Elise, Terri J. Vaughn, Tom Joyner's wife, Donna Richardson, Allen Payne, LaVan Davis and many more.