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"There are so many hungry young artists and writers and directors and producers and actors who don’t have a voice. There’s really no one they can call with a great script idea or a great project concept. I wanna be that guy."
TURNER ENTERS DVD MELEE
Melee, DreamWorks Pact to Pack DVD Punch
Get those frozen hockey pucks and sticks out of storage, and crank out those old California Raisins spots. Bryan Turner’s back.

The rap pioneer, who headed the groundbreaking Priority Records label, has forged a partnership with DreamWorks Records for his new Melee Entertainment venture, which will concentrate on direct-to-DVD production.

The first release will be Entertainer’s Basketball Classic at Rucker Park: The Second Season, March 4, an “up-close and personal look at the world’s premier street basketball tournament.” The video features ballers Kobe Bryant, Stephon Marbury, Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Mark Jackson, Allen Iverson, Jamaal Tinsley and Ron Artest, joined by rappers Fat Joe, Jadakiss and radio DJ Ed Lover.

“This reminds me of where the record industry was in the ’80s,” says Turner. “It was full of independents, and we could do whatever we wanted. There were really no rules.”

Turner will bring former Priority senior execs Scott Aronson and Shellie Fontana with him, as well as film producer and former EMI Records Urban VP Marcus Morton. Housed in DreamWorks’ Beverly Hills offices, Melee is currently staffing a dedicated national sales department.

Melee’s DVD releases will focus on three areas: the work of recording artists who wish to explore the visual potential of the format; projects by filmmakers and other artists that do not fit the traditional parameters of the movie industry; and special-interest products, including sports-related, lifestyle and instructional titles. Turner eventually plans to release artist albums as well.

Initial projects include a TLC DVD that is part-concert, part Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes tribute, and Wayne Gretzky career highlights. Turner has no plans at present to release the X-rated California Raisins Gone Wild.

“I started Priority back in 1985 because I saw a lot of frustrated creative people who weren’t getting the opportunities they deserved,” Turner says. “There are so many hungry young artists and writers and directors and producers and actors who don’t have a voice. There’s really no one they can call with a great script idea or a great project concept. I wanna be that guy. And maybe we can find a coupla ringers to play for our office hockey team, too.”

Added DreamWorks Mo Ostin: “This is an important step in our development. It will complement our existing business by providing a new creative outlet for our artists, an additional A&R source for the label and enhanced revenue opportunities all around. Bryan’s history, experience and credibility have made him one of the most sought-after executives in entertainment. And maybe now Snoop Dogg will answer my phone calls.”

Turner’s indie Priority label made history when it released N.W.A’s historic Straight Outta Compton album in 1988, which he broke via innovative street marketing. In 1995, he funded and executive-produced Ice Cube and DJ Pooh’s film, Friday.

Turner is confident he can use the same methods to promote DVDs. “If you expand the guidelines dictating what can be done creatively, anything is possible. By the way, I can’t believe you guys are still around.”

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