Nollywood, the pride of Africa and the acclaimed third largest movie making industry in the world, recorded some remarkable events in 2006. It kicked off on a good pedestal, with the hosting of the second edition of African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State from April 25-29. The country and her motion picture industry were placed on the global platform when top Hollywood stars such as Vivica A. Fox, Louis Gossett jnr and several others graced the epoch event. The show, which equally assembled a number of Nollywood stars, saw top actor, Kanayo O. Kanayo, clinching the best actor award on the African continent.
However, what perhaps would go down in the annals of Nollywood as the biggest scandal in the past year was Anita Hogan's debacle of nude pictures widely displayed on the Internet and on the pages of some newspapers.
On August 11, an evening paper went to town with the sleaze photographs of Hogan and her Dutch lover. An embattled Hogan was widely criticized for the scandal, which ultimately snowballed into a national discourse. But somehow, the tragedy of her situation seemingly fizzled out when she finally wedded her lover, Ted Mark, on October 18, at the Ikoyi Marriage Registry.
And as if this was not enough a tragedy for Nollywood in 2006, barely a month after the Hogan saga, the industry recorded yet another tragedy with the sudden and untimely death of star actor J.T Tom West. Father of a son, who hailed from Rivers State, Tom West, died in an auto crash on September 28, while returning late from a movie location. Nollywood and well-wishers, came out enmasse to mourn his demise.
Also, in the last days of 2006, the cold fingers of death snatched away veteran actor Joe Layode, popularly known as Garuba in the defunct TV drama, Village Headmaster. Garba's death was considered a tragic blow as he was said to have died in penury, ironically he was a pioneer actor whose role endeared him the hearts of many entertainment lovers.
Again, another major disaster was averted when star actor, Ramsey Noah, miraculously survived a motorbike accident but lost a tooth in the crash. He was immediately flown abroad for proper treatment.
However, shock and shame enveloped the industry again in late 2006 when news filtered round that a top Yoruba actress, Wunmi, was arrested while carrying hard drugs on her to London. Wumi had allegedly swallowed the drug and was believed to be on her way to London. She was promptly apprehended and handed over to the NDLEA.
Moreover, another sour and ugly incident in the year was the unending battle in the leadership of Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN). In fact, the Ejike Asiegbu-led guild, as well as members of the Board of Trustees led by Prince Ifeanyi Dike, made police stations and the law courts their permanent abodes in the out gone year.
And even in the new year, the protracted crisis lingers with accusations and counter accusations of murder, visa racketeering and monumental fraudulent activities in the two camps.
However, aside scandals and tragedies, which equally saw star actress, Susan Patrick of the Sakobi fame, losing her pilot husband and becoming a widow like Stella Damasus and Patience Ozokwo, good news were also recorded in the sector.
For example, a number of popular acts who were banned for more than a year by marketers, owing to alleged unprofessional conducts, were pardoned in 2006. Among them were Richard Mofe-Damijo, Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Ekeinde, Stella Damasus-Aboderin and Ramsey Noah.
Moreso, the first ever Nollywood Gala Nite, a celebration of who-is-who in Nollywood held at the Coliseum Niteshift on September 10. Also in Abuja, Hollywood action hero-Wesley Snipes- visited and returned to base with a chieftaincy title.
Perhaps, the most intriguing event of the year was the engagement party which star actor, Chinedu Ikedieze of the Aki and Pawpaw fame, held for his fiancée Nkechi on December 10. To the consternation of many, the petit actor also announced his intention of walking his heartthrob down the aisles sometimes this year- with Pawpaw as his best man to be.
Against all odds, some pretty actresses in Tinsel town also broke the marriage jinx and smiled home with their long-awaited husbands. Among these are: Chioma Chukwuka, Georgina Onuoha and Oge Okoye. But incidentally, the year also witnessed the bitter separation of some of the finest couples due to irreconcilable differences.
Top on the list were: Obi and Uche Osotule, Fred and Agatha Amata. Even the rumour mill was agog that unrepentant bad girl actress Eucharia Anunobi and her hubby-Ekwu, went their separate ways.
Meanwhile, another shocking news that caught Nollywood practitioners napping was the sudden sack of Pastor Ope Banwo, the managing director of Dove Media, the entertainment outfit that redefined the art of movie marketing in Nollywood.
Miraculously too, the loquacious and top Yoruba actor, Saidi Balogun, survived an auto crash, leaving him bedridden for several months at a hospital.
Nevertheless, as stakeholders and practitioners earnestly crave good tidings in the industry in 2007, it is noteworthy that some quality movies were also released in 2006. On the list of movies are: Jadon, Amazing Grace, The Biggest Boy in Town, Untapped Gold, Widow and few others.
They were commended for raising the standard and quality of production and acting respectively. Although it is not yet uhuru for the fastest growing industry in the counry, practitioners and observers have agreed that things can still get better.