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Television and Film Producer Will Packer to Receive “Distinguished ABFF Alumni Award” at the 2016 ABFF Honors

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LOS ANGELES, CA (FNN NEWS) – The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Honors is proud to announce it will be presenting television and film producer Will Packer with the “Distinguished ABFF Alumni Award” at the 2016 ABFF Honors. The awards gala will be held February 21, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.

ABFF Honors’ mission is to celebrate Black culture by honoring individuals, movies and television shows that have had a significant impact on American entertainment, as well as the people who are proponents of championing diversity and inclusion in Hollywood. This year’s event will be hosted by actor and comedian Mike Epps.

“We are very excited about ABFF Honors this year, and the opportunity to pay tribute to my friend Will, who got his start at the ABFF, and who continues to support the efforts and mission of the festival,” said Jeff Friday, President and CEO, ABFF Ventures.

Packer’s long-standing history and relationship with the American Black Film Festival began in 1999 when his independent film Trois premiered at the ABFF. It became the fastest African American distributed film to surpass $1 million in sales. Since then, Will Packer has premiered and screened six other films at the ABFF including This Christmas and Takers. Most recently, Think Like A Man Too opened the festival in 2014.

Producer Will Packer has established himself as one of Hollywood’s blockbuster hit makers. In 2014, he accomplished the rare feat of producing two of the top six films at the box office, and is one of the only African American producers to have seven films debut at number one during opening weekend.

In 2013, Packer signed first;look production deals with Universal Pictures and Universal Television. Under both deals he develops new projects for the studios under his Will Packer Productions company.

His most successful film to date is Ride Along, starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, that debuted number one at the box office in 2014, with record;breaking receipts totaling over $48 million during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend opening of the film, making it one of the biggest January opening box office tallies of all time. The film also went on to be number one at the box office for three consecutive weeks and grossed over $154 million worldwide. Packer also executive produced the box office hit Straight Outta Compton, which has grossed over $200 million to date and is the highest grossing music biopic on record.

Packer’s number one films also include No Good Deed (2014), Think Like A Man Too (2014), Think Like A Man (2012), Takers (2010), Obsessed (2008) and Stomp The Yard (2007). His most recent release this year, The Wedding Ringer, starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad, holds the world record as the #1 R-rated comedy opening in January. His next film, Ride Along 2, will debut in theaters on January 15, 2016, followed by A Meyers Christmas, that hits theaters November 11, 2016.

Collectively, Packer’s films have grossed over $780 million, making him one of Hollywood’s most bankable producers.

Also making a major foray into prime time TV, Packer is the executive producer of two new comedies, Truth Be Told (NBC) that premiered in 2015 and Uncle Buck (ABC), that will debut in early 2016. Packer is also set to executive produce Roots, a remake of one of the most celebrated TV programs of all time as an event series that will air simultaneously on The History Channel, A&E and Lifetime networks in 2017.

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Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell Announces Leadership Team

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) today announced the appointment of the following Democratic Representatives to serve on the House Democratic Caucus leadership team for the 2022-24 legislative term:

  • Leader Pro Tempore: Representative Dotie Joseph (D-Miami);
  • Policy Chair: Representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton);
  • Floor Leader: Representative Michael “Mike” Gottlieb (D-Davie); and
  • Whip: Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland).

“The House Democratic Caucus is made up of some of the strongest, most fierce champions of the people in the entire state,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “It is an honor and great pleasure to work with these individuals in this new capacity, and all of them are prepared to lead the Caucus in the face of the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

As Leader Pro Tempore, Representative Joseph will assist the Democratic Leader in carrying out designated responsibilities and perform such Leadership responsibilities as are assigned, including stepping in for the Leader as needed.

“I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Representative Joseph for over 20 years. From the time we were at Georgetown Law to now, she has always been a consistent champion for justice. The issues she advocates for on behalf of all Floridians makes Representative Joseph an invaluable asset in defending Floridians against extremist Republican policies,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “I look forward to Representative Joseph’s leadership as a key member of my team over the next two years.”

In her role as the Caucus Policy Chair, Representative Skidmore will be responsible for ensuring the Caucus continues to champion legislation that positively impacts all Floridians, and will lead discussions about bills before the House at Caucus meetings.

“As the previous Policy Chair for the Caucus, I know what is needed to do this job. Appointing Representative Skidmore as Policy Chair was an easy choice,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “She stood out as a prime member in understanding policy during the last legislative term. Representative Skidmore also brings with her a wealth of experience as both a former House and Senate staffer and House member. Applying her unique skillset to this new role will benefit the Caucus and all Floridians.”

In his role as Floor Leader, Representative Gottlieb will be responsible in interpreting the House Rules, ensuring the Caucus adheres to the agreed upon rules, and working with his Republican counterpart in advocating for fair amounts of time be allotted to the Caucus in debating different pieces of legislation.

“Two things I greatly appreciate about Representative Gottlieb are his refreshing candor and strong fortitude,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “As the minority party in the Legislature, we’re aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. What we need right now is someone who is unwavering under extreme pressure to help guide our Caucus during difficult moments. Representative Gottlieb is perfectly suited for this role.”

As Whip, Representative Hunschofsky will be responsible for keeping all Democratic Caucus members apprised of Caucus policy on any bills or issues before the House.

Representative Hunschofsky has an amazing ability to get things done,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “Not only does Representative Hunschofsky possess a wealth of knowledge due to her experience as the former mayor of Parkland, Florida, she is also a champion of many initiatives close to Floridians’ hearts, such as expanding access to quality mental health care. I know Representative Hunschofsky’s knowledge and ability will help prepare our Caucus for the challenges of the next two year.”

The Florida House Democratic Caucus will convene during Organizational Session taking place Nov. 21-22, 2022 in advance of the 2023 Legislative Session scheduled to begin on March 7, 2023.

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VIDEO: State Rep. Dianne Hart elected chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus

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ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Dianne Hart (D-Tampa), incoming Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, talks briefly with Florida National News on the importance of the Florida Blue Florida Classic at Camping World Stadium in Orlando Saturday. The Florida Classic is an annual college football rivalry game between Bethune–Cookman University and Florida A&M University.

Hart’s Twitter Statement:

Hart’s statement: “I’m honored to have been elected as the Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus.” “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support and for trusting me to move this important caucus forward.”

During the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions, Rep. Hart served on the following House committees, including Democratic Ranking Member of the Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, Judiciary Committee, Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight, Ways & Means Committee, Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee and Select Subcommittee on Authorized Gaming Activity.

Hart was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018. She is also the CEO of the East Tampa Business and Civic Association.

 

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Former State Rep. Bruce Antone Ready To Rejoin Florida House

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Former State Representative Bruce Antone respond to questions by CFABJ, NAACP, and the Florida Voters League panel during a candidates forum in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Former Florida State Representative Bruce Antone served 12 years (six terms) in the Florida House of Representatives and defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Travaris McCurdy during the August primary election to represent Orange County in the newly draw District 41 House seat.

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

Antone was among eleven candidates seeking election to county, state and Congressional seats participating in a candidate forum hosted by CFABJ, NAACP and the Florida Voters League, Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

Green Party nominee Robin Denise Harris is the only potential road block in Antone’s return to Tallahassee and faces off with him in the November general election. The District 41 House seat has an overwhelmingly Democratic voter base.

During his time in the Florida House, Antone was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the 29-member Florida Legislative Black Caucus.

The general election is Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

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