A native Chicagoan who is now a TV producer in Atlanta will be among the participants in the 79th Annual Bud Billiken Day Parade Saturday. Taking a break as executive producer for the popular TV show House of Payne, which airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on TBS,
A native Chicagoan who is now a TV producer in Atlanta will be among the participants in the 79th Annual Bud Billiken Day Parade Saturday.
Taking a break as executive producer for the popular TV show "House of Payne," which airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on TBS, is Reuben Cannon, 62, a former Chicago Defender paperboy.
“I have never marched in the Bud Billiken Parade, so I am very excited to be a part of it this year,” he told the Defender. “I am still trying to get Tyler Perry to join me and the cast of "House of Payne" in the parade, but so far his schedule remains tight.” Perry is the creator of "House of Payne" and several plays that were made into movies. They include Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea’s Family Reunion.
His most recent movie is Meet the Browns.
Working with Perry and the cast of "House of Payne" is a real joy, Cannon said.
Among the things Cannon plans to do this week while in Chicago is eat well.
“I plan to get me a good old-fashion Chicago hot dog with all the trimmings,” he said. “Chicago is my favorite city. I miss jogging along the lakefront, something else I plan to do while in town.”
Cannon grew up on the South Side in the Harold Ikes Homes, a public housing complex at 2326 S. Dearborn, and graduated from Dunbar high school.
“Chicago is a very special place for me because it is where I got my first break and where all of my family still lives,” Cannon told the Defender. “I left Chicago on faith that I would make it in Hollywood, and I did.”
Since leaving Chicago in 1971, Cannon has accumulated 37 years of entertainment experience.
After purchasing a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, he went looking for work in an usual way.
“A lot of employees take the day off after payday, and companies are usually short of help,” he said.
“So I had made it a practice when seeking employment to find out when their paydays are and then go apply the next day.”
This method paid off for him because he got hired in 1971 to work in the mailroom at Universal Studios.
A year later, he became a casting director trainee at Universal and then a casting director.
The first show he cast at Universal was "Ironside" and later for the TV shows "The Rockford Files" and "Beretta."
In 1978, he left Universal to become a casting director for Warner Bros. where he cast "Roots II: The Next Generation," the sequel to the 1977 mini-series "Roots."
In 1979, he started his own casting company–Reuben Cannon & Associates–which he still oversees today.
His other producer credits include the TV series "Amen" and the miniseries "The Women of Brewster Place."
One of the biggest obstacles for Black movie producers is financing, Cannnon said. That’s why he independently financed the 1996 movie "Get on the Bus," directed by Spike Lee.
Cannon raised $2.4 million to finance the movie after calling 15 Black businessmen and asking them to become investors. But before the movie was finished filming, Columbia Pictures purchased the film rights for $3.5 million.
Director John Singleton, a former Cannon intern, duplicated this model of financing when he invested $3.5 million into making the movie "Hustle and Flow," starring Terrence Howard.
If he were not in entertainment, Cannon said he would be teaching.
“I love teaching people new things and watching them take that knowledge to excel in life,” he said.
When the father of four adult children is not working, he enjoys reading, writing and listening to jazz.
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