How Physics Turns The World Around

1250 words - 5 pages

Eons before Nick Cannon made a star turn in the hit movie "Drumline," and ages before his eponymous sketch comedy show began airing on Nickelodeon, and way before he was polishing his upcoming rap album and two more major motion pictures, he was just a teenage wannabe comedian.The San Diego native's stand-up routine -- mostly digs at Michael Jackson and riffs on roach life -- didn't always go over well. At his worst, he stank up the place so bad not even his mom had his back."My mother didn't think I was funny at the time," Cannon recalled this week. Once, "I got booed off the stage. . . . I try to forget about that."It has been only six years, but forgetting has become easy for the 22-year-old as he cruises Los Angeles in his shiny new Cadillac Escalade, his pockets fat with a $1.5 million check from Miramax for another film, the rapper 50 Cent blasting on the SUV's stereo.These days he might be found chilling in New York with P. Diddy's Bad Boy crew one minute, jetting to Aspen for his mentor Will Smith's posh New Year's bash the next -- all the while watching the returns come in for "Drumline."The critically hailed film about a black college's marching band is in its fourth week and has pulled in nearly $50 million -- a feat that's impressive when you consider that it's showing on 1,600 screens -- about half as many as the rest of the Top 10 movies.In "Drumline," Cannon plays Devon Miles, a hardheaded Harlem drum prodigy who is recruited to the fictional Atlanta A&T. There, he loses the ego (mostly) and gains much-needed discipline."It's a solid coming-of-age story," Cannon says, on the phone from his home in Los Angeles. He didn't always feel that way. Before "Drumline," Cannon, like much of the world, was stuck on the "band geek" stereotype. "When you first hear about a movie about marching bands, you're like, 'Yeah, that's exciting,' " he says. "That's corny."Many a romantically challenged band geek is thanking Cannon right about now. Getting some play just got easier after his portrayal of the lip-curling Devon, whose street-but-sweet persona and chemistry with the love interest crackle across the big screen.Marching band musicians have long been big cheeses on black college campuses. Since integration, those schools' athletic programs have suffered as bigger, richer programs at majority-white colleges raid the most talented prospects. As a result, sassy, spirited marching bands belting out the latest hits and doing elaborate formations at halftime have come to rival -- and often replace -- athletes as the main attraction.Other elements of black college subculture were mainstreamed by Spike Lee's 1988 movie "School Daze" and the 1987-93 TV sitcom "A Different World.""I remember watching 'School Daze' and thinking, 'Wow, there are schools like that?' " Cannon recalls. "It was hot for that time. 'Drumline' is this generation's urban college film."For impact and reach, Cannon figures "Drumline" -- directed by Chuck Stone, who launched...

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