Monthly Archives: March 2016

Gugu Mbatha-Raw to star in Bad Robot’s “God Particle”

Several sites are reporting that David Oyelowo and Gugu Mbatha-Raw will be starring in JJ Abrams’s latest project God Particle. To sweeten the pot even further, Nigerian-American filmmaker Julius Onah is directing.

credit: thesource.com

As you may have guessed from the sciencey title, the movie is described a SciFi thriller. Yes folks, we are getting a diverse SciFi flick! Lord knows we need more visions of the future that include POC.

The synopsis for the film reads:

After a physics experiment with a large hadron accelerator causes the Earth to seemingly vanish completely, the terrified crew of an orbiting American space station is left floating in the middle of now-even-more-empty space. When a European spacecraft appears on their radar, the Americans must determine whether it’s their salvation, or a harbinger of doom.

It is unknown what parts Gugu and David will be playing at this time.

You may recall that Gugu has worked with Bad Robot before, starring in the short lived series Undercovers. God Particle is currently slated to release on Feb. 24, 2017.

Abrams has been very out spoken recently about the need to diversify Hollywood, and this casting indicates he is willing to walk the talk. Whatever you think of JJ and his projects, he is a major player in Tinsel Town and this is a positive step forward.

‘Shooter’ suddenly became much more interesting

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Looks like I’ll have another show to watch whenever Shooter premieres.

Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow) has been cast as the female lead opposite Ryan Phillippe in Shooter, USA Network’s upcoming drama series from Paramount TV and Universal Cable Prods. She replaces Emily Rios, who played the part in the pilot.

The thriller, based on Stephen Hunter’s novel Point Of Impact and the 2007 Paramount film starring Mark Wahlberg, is written by John Hlavin and executive produced by Wahlberg. It stars Phillippe as Bob Lee Swagger — the role played by Wahlberg in the movie — an expert marksman living in exile who is coaxed back into action after learning of a plot to kill the president.

Addai-Robinson will play FBI agent Nadine Memphis. Nadine has a strong intuition and dogged determination which has made her a rising star in the Bureau, but her headstrong personality has also landed her in trouble in the past. As the arresting officer of a would-be-assassin, she may have set her career back on the fast track, but her gut tells her there’s more to this case. Not realizing the depth of the conspiracy, she unwittingly puts both her investigation and her life in jeopardy. [Deadline]

Watch Lupita Nyong’o act out Maz Kanata

Remember when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was first released and there some foolishness going around the internet that Lupita “struggled” with her role and JJ Abrams was forced to cut several of her scenes from the movie? JJ himself slammed the rumors.

“In truth, her performance wasn’t satisfactory. It was spectacular. She has brought the character of Maz Kanata to life in the most wonderful, wise, touching, deep and funny way. Lupita never ceased to amaze me. Yes, we tried many approaches, and we finally landed on just what the film needed. She elevated all the scenes she is in, I’m forever grateful, and can’t wait for people to see her stunning performance.”

A video has surfaced showing Lupita acting in a motion capture similar to the ones Andy Serkis and Benedict Cumberbatch used to film the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit respectively. If anyone out there still think that Lupita struggled, this video should put the rumors to rest once and for all. Enjoy.

UCLA Proves Movies with Diverse Casts Do Better Globally

Conventional wisdom in Hollywood say that films with POC leads don’t do well overseas, so white washing is important to the bottom line.

Not so fast there.

According to no less of an authority than UCLA, the latest data shows the truth is actually 180 degrees from conventional wisdom. Diverse casts do BETTER in the global marketplace than all-white casts.

You can read Variety’s write-up here, which also includes a link to the study itself. I’m going to bookmark this sucker and throw it out every time someone tries to tell me that POC can’t open a movie overseas.

Ava DuVernay scores yet another new job

Ava needs to clone herself, that woman is busy! She has yet another project in the works.

On top of Sugar and A Wrinkle in Time, Ava will direct The Battle of Versailles about the 1973 fashion show at the historic palace that pitted the upstart American designers against the established French elite. By the end of the night the Americans scored a major victory and American fashion was raised to the world stage. This show was also notable for the fact that out of the 30 models used by the Americans, 10 of them were WOC. It was ground breaking.

Can’t you just see the visuals now? Ohmygod peeps, Ava is going to slay this!

Ava is also exec producing co-writing the flick for HBO. The film will be  based on the 2015 book The Battle Of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into The Spotlight And Made History by fashion journalist Robin Givhan.

This project is apparently still in the early development stages, so no word when we will actually get to see it yet. Stay tuned!

CBS whiffs on casting “diverse” Nancy Drew

Back in January I wrote about the new Nancy Drew series under development at CBS and I was skeptical about the whole concept. They basically took the whole idea of Nancy Drew and threw out everything that made her unique except her name. Instead of a clever 18 year old living in a white upper middle class suburb, she was going to be a world weary 30 something detective living in gritty New York.  However, even though I devoured the books as a pre-teen like a hungry tiger, I was willing to give it chance since the new president at CBS, Glen Geller, promised a “diverse” Nancy Drew.

“She is diverse, that is the way she is written,” says the CBS president. He doesn’t specify if she is African-American, Latina or Asian-American, but he does say she will not be Caucasian. “I’d be open to any ethnicity,” he adds.

I’m always down for another WOC in a lead role, but at the time I wrote the first post I asked the question, “Can they really make white bread Nancy Drew a real WOC?” While I was traveling on business last week I got my answer, and it was a resounding “No!”

Almost as soon as I left town, the news broke that Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest, Life) had been cast as the new “diverse” Nancy Drew. Despite the fact the woman is half Persian, this casting falls far short of the expectations Geller set back in January.

When you watch Shahi walk down the street, you do not look at her and think, “There goes a WOC.” She passes for white at first glance, and second glance, and third glance. You basically have to be told she’s WOC.  Given Geller’s insistence that Nancy Drew wasn’t going to be white, I was disappointed to see that he cast someone who passes very well as white. He might as well have gone with the traditional “titian” haired white girl.

They followed up casting Shahi by casting the very white Anthony Edwards as her father, Carson Drew. So our “diverse” heroine was adopted into a Wonder Bread family, which is fine if you’re watching Full House, but not when you’ve been promised a “diverse” heroine. I wasn’t expecting Fresh off the Boat, but I was hoping for something more colorful than Family Ties.

So where is the diversity? The Hollywood press has been eating this up extolling Shahi’s Persian heritage, but they completely miss the point. The diversity here is all smoke and mirrors. CBS slides by on the barest of technicalities. They found a WOC who doesn’t look WOC and gave her a white supporting cast. Shame on the Hollywood press for eating it up like toddlers with a birthday cake.

The Movie That Should Have Never Been Made

When I first heard about this movie a couple of years ago, I said the same thing everyone else said at the time: What the hell?  And now that the movie finally has a trailer and a release date, that sentiment hasn’t changed. Listen, I don’t begrudge any actress of color taking work where she can find it in the hellscape known as Hollywood, but this should have been a no-go from the start.

I was perplexed when I found out that Zoe Saldana was playing the role of the iconic Nina Simone because I just didn’t think she was right for the part. But my puzzlement over her casting turned into disgust and anger when I learned she had to have her skin darkened and a prosthetic nose applied in order to achieve Nina’s appearance. That was a deal breaker for me. And judging by the horrendous trailer that has recently been released, it should have also been a deal breaker for the filmmakers.

It’s so bad I suffer secondhand embarrassment every time I watch it.

Anyway, I’m not going to rehash a lot of what has been said about this movie. Most people aren’t happy that Zoe is playing the part, nor are they happy with Zoe for taking the part.  All I know for certain is that I’ll be skipping this one.  My money and time is better spent doing something else.  Anything else.

You can take a peek at the trailer here.