Archive for November, 2008

4REAL Keeps it Real (Huffington Post)

Eva Mendez walks an alley in Vancouver searching for dirty needles. Joaquin Phoenix receives a ceremonial whacking by a heavy reed from a member of the Yawanawa tribe in the Amazon. Cameron Diaz celebrates the winter solstice in the mountains of Peru. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist, Flea, weighs babies and mashes bread fruit in Haiti. M.I.A paints playground equipment in Liberia. Mos Def skateboards through the dodgy streets of City of God, Brazil. These aren’t your typical celebrity activities, but in the new CW Network show, 4REAL, performers are joining some incredible activists to shine the light on how every day people are changing the world.

Passion is at the core of everything you see on the half-hour doc-series 4REAL. Co-creators Sol Guy, a music producer/manager, and Josh Thome, a social entrepreneur, wondered what it would take to answer the question, “How can you fuse entertainment with social change in a way that would affect a community, a nation or even the world?” They looked to what they loved for the answer and created 4REAL by fusing their talents. “There’s a disconnect between art and activism and our idea was to help give the social change community a platform usually reserved for celebrities and pop culture, because these community leaders shouldn’t have to work as hard as they do to be recognized. Using celebrity in a positive way encourages viewers to find a cause or a social issue with which they can connect and get involved.

“I’m not really interested in simply talking about the issues anymore, I want to make the world a better place through action,” says Sal. Involvement and the passion to act are what make the series so intriguing. The artists who participate in 4REAL are not paid monetarily, rather they sign on purely because they are passionate about the trip and the idea of having a the life-changing experience. There are also some celebrity rules: “They can bring one person, but not an entourage,” Sol explains. “No hair or make-up, and accommodations can range from a great hotel to a tent or even a hammock, we don’t always know what we’ll get.”

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NVision featured in the Boston Globe

Sol Guy understands why people are skeptical of charities endorsed by celebrities. “A lot of times, a famous face is slapped on a cause without any real connection,” said the host of “4Real,” a new TV show combining celebrity and social change. “Young people aren’t buying the Sally Struthers commercial anymore.” The half-hour show, which airs Sundays on the CW network, follows stars such as Eva Mendes, Cameron Diaz, Flea, Mos Def, and Casey Affleck as they travel to remote locations to meet with locals tackling tough problems. “We don’t pay these people and we tell them they can bring one friend – no entourage, and no hair and makeup,” Guy told us. “Also, 50 percent of the show’s profits go to the local initiatives.” In Affleck’s case, the actor visited the Pawnee reservation (above) in Oklahoma. (Casey’s married to Summer Phoenix, sister of “4Real” executive producer Joaquin Phoenix.) In the episode, airing Dec. 7, Affleck meets with Crystal Echo Hawk, whose organization NVision helps develop young Native leaders. What about that mohawk he was sporting? “It was for a movie,” said Guy, laughing. “The Pawnee teased him a bit. They said this isn’t Mohawk territory. It was all in fun.”

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