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The Miami Beach Convention Center parking lot is an odd place to film a video. Certainly, walking along Meridian Avenue, you would never notice that amid an encirclement of big rig trucks and mobile homes sit iced-out rappers, dressed down in jeans shorts and sports jerseys, and scantily clad models in bikini underwear and halter tops bursting with cleavage.
Then again, you probably wouldn't care. Today is a sluggish, humid afternoon where only motorists safely ensconced in air-conditioned cars dare venture outside. Everyone on the set for "Gangsta Money," a new track by Big Tymers and a potential lead single for their upcoming album, Big Money Heavyweight,has retreated to a row of tents to amiably chitchat in dehydrated voices and scarf down catered food, Domino's Pizza, and water. For hours they patiently wait as Baby, Mannie Fresh, and guest vocalist R. Kelly shoot a scene on a nondescript bridge across town.
The Big Tymers' publicist tries to keep the few on-site journalists occupied by hustling them into a plush luxury bus stocked with brand-new baseball caps, two wide-screen TVs, and a phalanx of hangers-on to interview Cash Money Records co-CEO Ronald "Slim" Williams. As cameraman Jason Mutascio films the two, Mike Sherman, on-air host for the Mike Sherman Show, plops down next to Williams on the latter's king-size bed. He verbally cajoles and caresses him, then nonchalantly wonders out loud if Williams's plans to set up a gospel division of Cash Money Records are an attempt to capitalize on that market. After smoothing over that transgression by paying him a compliment -- "Thanks for inviting me into your cabin," smiles Sherman, "you're a straight-up gentleman" -- he lets off another zinger. "If you played Master P one-on-one in a basketball game, would you win?" he asks in a smart-ass reference to Cash Money's ongoing beef with the No Limit general.
"I'm all about the music and the business," reflects Sherman after leaving the tour bus. Despite his dyed blond hair, an orange Lucky Brand T-shirt, and a stocky build left over from his college football days for Florida Atlantic University, Sherman is an unlikely television personality. He usually works behind the scenes as a financier for a New York brokerage firm, pairing entrepreneur athletes with venture capitalists. "I've got a lot of friends in the entertainment business," he explains, "and for years they said, 'Sherm, you've got to do something in entertainment because your personality is so outgoing.'"
Sherman launched Mike Sherman Productions with vice president and fellow stockbroker Mutascio in Boca Raton at the beginning of the year. "I put upwards of six figures," he says. "Everything is privately funded by myself." In addition to The Mike Sherman Show,which features music videos and guest interviews, there's Soo Bee in the Sun, a tanning formula he's introducing to South Beach boutiques this summer.
But for now, the caravan of Ferraris and SUVs rolling into the parking lot means there are more celebrities to interview, including the much-coveted Big Tymers and R. Kelly. Still it will be several hours before the rappers or their video crew is ready to film some more scenes. People wander around in and out of conversations, momentarily pausing to stare at the sight of Baby vaunting around with his sweatpants hugging his calves. He's a welcome reminder that they're sitting in a dream factory instead of on a scorching hot patch of concrete.