Category Archives: hollywood

Don Cheadle, Kerry Washington talk race, activism, gender and Hollywood

Above, actors Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Don Cheadle (House of Lies) speak with Variety magazine.  The conversation includes the following exchange:

When people reference your race when describing your career, is that a point of pride, or is it something that you think is overplayed in the media as part of your story?

DC: I think I’m somewhat defined by my race for sure, and I’m good with that and I actually want that to be a part. … I think that should be fodder for our work — we should use all aspects of ourselves. I’m always trying to find a place where that’s actually an impact on what I’m doing as opposed to going, “Well, we’re all just people and we’re the same.”

KW: I agree. I think it’s relevant. I think gender is relevant. I bring something to the table as a woman; I bring something to the table as a woman of color. So I feel like, if it’s the only thing you focus on, then it’s a danger, and if you never talk about it then it’s a danger.

More excerpts here.

The Racialcious Entertainment Roundup: June 3-9

By Kendra James

A few weeks back I suggested that you might want to catch up on BBC 1’s Luther, starring Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson, before the premiere of the show’s third series in July. This week brought us the first trailer for the summer season (above), so I repeat: Watch Luther. We’re a country with eighteen thousand different Law and Orders, a million CSIs, and nine seasons of Criminal Minds. This show should be way more mainstream than it is.

(Video heavy under the cut this week, folks, so hold onto your computers!)

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The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup: Welcoming in June

Child’s Tonto costume, via. the Disney Store

By Kendra James

Halloween’s gonna be a doozy this year.

Instead of just selling the usual generic “Sexy Native Princess” or “Indian Brave” costumes, Disney  gets to go a step further! We have the upcoming film The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp‘s portrayal of Tonto –complete with styrofoam crow– to thank for that. You can find this child-sized costume online for order here on The Disney Store website, along with several other pieces of questionable taste. The movie hasn’t even opened yet, and I can only imagine this is just rubbing salt in the wound for those who have openly addressed Disney with their concerns over the film.

While Tonto’s costume is available in full, you can only buy The Lone Ranger’s hat. I guess a blue shirt and a black mask weren’t exotic enough for the studio merchandisers, who are probably banking on sales to bolster a film whose production supposedly went way over their $250 million budget.

Unfortunately I don’t think merchandising is going to help Will and Jaden Smith’s After Earthwhich opened in a disappointing 3rd place this weekend with a domestic box office of $27 million. Personally, I don’t think the film didn’t look all that interesting or complicated. Professionals agreed, and the film led Adam Thompson of Shadow and Act to question Smith’s apparent aversion to controversial roles:

What’s surprising then is the lack of “risky” roles in Mister Smith’s nevertheless glorious resume. The nineteen films he’s starred in have grossed a total of almost six billion dollars, but only one of them – to my mind, at least – can be considered controversial. Six Degrees of Separation (photo above) based on a John Guare play – itself based on the antics of real-life con man David Hampton (with whom I share a birthday) – introduced Smith as a serious dramatic actor who could sink his teeth into a nuanced role. Stockard Channing got the Oscar nod but it was “Big Willie” who stole the show.

Despite the opportunity, Smith refused to kiss (in character) another man (fellow thespian Anthony Michael Hall).  Instead, the two actors were filmed at an angle that implied a kiss. Smith’s reasoning, later blasted by Sir Ian McKellen as “the disease” of homophobia, was that his kissing another man would “gross out” his fans. Smith wasn’t the first actor to “go gay” for a major film role (think Al Pacino in Cruising); in fact, playing a homosexual while being straight nowadays can actually up one’s acting cred  – you’re welcome, Jake Gyllenhaal. (It should also be noted that Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the duo behind Independence Day, specifically cited Six Degrees as the reason they picked Smith for the breakout role of Capt. Steven Hiller.)

I’m not saying Mister Smith or any other actor has to play it grimy for accolades, but it’s a shame that the star of Pursuit of Happyness hasn’t at least tried to take on more risky roles. Besides Six Degrees, the only other “controversial” movie I could even point to would be Ali, and even then only with regard to past issues of race in America and concerns about historical accuracy. All the great actors have played against type, showing the range that the truly talented chameleons are blessed with. If Smith counts himself among them, I implore him to consider going in a direction opposite that of a Hancock or Robert Neville or Agent J. In other words, don’t turn down another Django!

After Earth certainly wasn’t going to rock any boats (unless you count the rumblings that it proves the Smith family’s Scientologist leanings, mentioned in almost every major review), and this desire to blend in and stay bankable seems to have been a desire from the first ‘Big Willie Summer’. His Independence Day co-star Vivica A. Fox had this to say at the NYC premiere of After Earth: ‘“Will Smith told me years ago when we were doing Independence Day to become colorless to people. Yes we are African-American… that is who we are. But when people internationally can love you, trust you deliver a good film, trust you to save the world, it’s a good day.” 

If by ‘colorless’ he meant ‘one of the blandest Hollywood careers of our time,’ then Smith is golden. If not, well… international superstar status aside, the color of his skin hasn’t changed and judging from that appearance on The Graham Norton Show, plus the nonstop world promotional tour for After Earth  international love isn’t too much of a problem. It’s understandable that as a Black man in Hollywood, Smith treads and plays the game carefully, but it’d be nice to see him pop up in a small indie or Sundance film. Something unexpected– the proverbial Magnolia, if you will, before his next summer action blockbuster.

I’m not sure if Forrest Whitaker’s casting as Martin Luther King Jr. for a new Paul Greengrass flick is anymore of a risk, but I’d lay down good money that it’ll be a better movie. More interesting is  J. August Richards‘ suddenly being on the television come up again. He’s been cast as lawyers in a few cancelled shows since Angel ended it’s run, but this year he’s involved with S.H.I.E.L.D  as we discussed here beforeand now there’s a rumored involvement (thanks to a series of tweets between Richards and cast member Sarah Paulson) in the new season of American Horror Story. Between Richards, Angela Bassett, and Gabourey Sidibe consider my interest piqued.

'American Horror Story' Twitter Exchange

Tweets between Sarah Paulson and J August Richards via International Business Times.

And I’d be remiss to let you go without mentioning the News Of The Weekend brought to us first via. Bleeding Cool: Matt Smith won’t be joining Doctor Who for an eighth season and this year’s Christmas Special will be our last outing with Eleven. The crossed fingers for a Twelve who’s not a white male begin now. Arturo will have more for you on Wednesday, but for now my two favorite tweet suggestions on the matter:

 

Open Table Call: On Race and Arrested Development

By Arturo R. García

The cast of “Arrested Development.” Image via jta.org

Like a lot of people this holiday weekend, I powered through all 15 episodes of the fourth season of Arrested Development. (Apparently I’m one of just 10 percent of viewers who finished the whole run by sundown. I don’t know if this is an honorific or a red flag.)

And as it turns out, there’s quite a bit to go through as regards the series’ treatment of people who aren’t the Bluths. But I want to try something a little different from our open threads — I’d like to crowd-source some reactions to some of the various depictions we saw this year. Spoilers and general guidelines under the cut.
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Table For Two: Star Trek Into Darkness

By Kendra James and Arturo R. García

Image via Collider.com

You know why we picked the poster for the 3D showings of Star Trek Into Darkness? Because that’s about two more dimensions than the story ended up having. Set phasers to spoilers under the cut, as we talk about Khan, Sulu, Uhura, and where the franchise might go after this — assuming the fan backlash doesn’t sink the new film series.

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Watch: Fruitvale Station Has A Trailer And An Opening Date

By Arturo R. García

When last we left Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale, it had earned both the top prizes and a distribution deal at the Sundance Film Festival.

Now known as Fruitvale Station, the film is continuing to win acclaim, this time at the Cannes Film Festival. As star Michael B. Jordan, who plays Oscar Grant, the victim of a police shooting on New Year’s Day 2009, told the Associated Press:

“It’s electric. It’s like March Madness. It’s that time of year where everyone’s just in it, talking about movies.

“I don’t want to be that ignorant American who comes over here and expects everyone to love it: ‘Oh, you got to love it because it’s hot over there. I want people to be excited about it because it really affects them.”

The trailer above offers a glimpse into not just the events leading up to Grant’s death, but the world he was trying to rebuild with himself, his mother (Octavia Spencer), his partner Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and their daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal). One thing that did strike me from the footage so far: we’re going to get at least some interpretation of how the shooting was captured on video by witnesses, and the police response.

Fruitvale opens on July 26, which places it in a relatively slow week in the middle of summer blockbuster season. The only “major” film opening that week appears to be Hugh Jackman’s The Wolverine. According to Movie Insider, the other films of note debuting are the Cate Blanchett/Alec Baldwin/Louis C.K. project Blue Jasmine and Blackfish, a documentary that uses the story of a killer whale responsible for the deaths of three trainers to shed light on how orcas are treated in captivity.

A Few Thoughts On Star Trek: Into Darkness

By Arturo R. García

Poster for “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Image via thetrekcollective.com

Kendra and I will have a more thorough discussion regarding Star Trek Into Darkness on Wednesday. But, now that the film is out and a rather big racebending cat is out of the bag, I figured we’d open things up for a bigger discussion. Spoilers under the cut.
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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Pilot Season 2013-2014

By Kendra James

Last year, around this time, I was nursing far too high expectations for a little pilot season pickup called Deception. This year I’m just really glad it’s been cancelled so that the actors involved can escape with some dignity intact. One can’t say the same about Community.

Yeah, it’s that time again. Most networks are at least 80% set with their 2013-2014 Fall/Winter lineups. For better worse you will be sitting through another season of potentially Harmon-less Community. As Abed might say, some stations just like to watch the world burn.

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