Monday, February 28, 2011

Shonda Rhimes New Show has a Title & New Co-Stars

The previously untitled Shonda Rhimes' ABC pilot AKA "the fixer show" , now has a title--Damage Control.

Tony Goldwyn (Ghost, pictured bottom left)  is the latest addition to Damage Control.

Based on the life of PR guru Judy Smith, Damage Control centers on a crisis management professional (Kerry Washington, pictured top left) and her dysfunctional staff.
Goldwyn, also a director and producer in film and television, will play President Fitzgerald Grant.

Guillermo Diaz (Pictured right) was also cast in the pilot in an undefined role.

Read the initial post about the show here

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cool Black's Oscar picks 2011

Of the ten pictures nominated for "Best Picture" I have seen eight of them and they are (pictured above left to right, top, True Grit, The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone, Toy Story 3, (left to right, bottom)The King's Speech, Inception, Black Swan and The Social Network.) My picks for the Oscars will be from those pictures. (I will also bold the correlating nominations.)

My pick will be under “Cool Black’s Oscar Pick:” These are NOT who I think will win; it’s who I think SHOULD win based on my opinion and those who know me, know I am quite discerning.

As a screenwriter two of my favorite categories are the two screenwriting ones. For the record:
The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best script not based upon previously published material and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source (usually a novel, play, or short story but also sometimes another film). All sequels are automatically considered adaptations by this standard (since the sequel must be based on the original story).

Best Writing – Original Screenplay

Another Year – Mike Leigh

The Fighter – Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson

Inception – Christopher Nolan

The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg

The King's Speech – David Seidler

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Christopher Nolan for Inception. Of the original screenplays Inception was just a trip…a mind trip and while it was full of hard to grasp concepts it had an underlying storyline that was pretty easy to follow.

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay

127 Hours – Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy from Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston

The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin from The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich

Toy Story 3 – Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich; characters based on Toy Story and Toy Story 2

True Grit – Ethan Coen and Joel Coen from True Grit by Charles Portis

Winter's Bone – Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini from Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network. Sorkin wrote one of the smartest screenplays in modern history. Not only is it smart, it made “geek speak” not so boring by combining it with whip fire dialogue, wit and sarcasm.

Best Cinematography

Black Swan – Matthew Libatique

Inception – Wally Pfister

The King's Speech – Danny Cohen

The Social Network – Jeff Cronenweth

True Grit – Roger Deakins

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: (Cinematography is the making of lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for the cinema. It is closely related to the art of still photography.)

Hard, hard category. Having seen all of these pictures I’m going to say that ALL are worthy nominations, but I have to go with a TIE for Wally Pfister for Inception and Danny Cohen for The King's Speech.

Best Film Editing

127 Hours – Jon Harris

Black Swan – Andrew Weisblum

The Fighter – Pamela Martin

The King's Speech – Tariq Anwar

The Social Network – Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: I’m going with Andrew Weisblum for Black Swan.

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale – The Fighter as Dicky Eklund

John Hawkes – Winter's Bone as Teardrop

Jeremy Renner – The Town as James "Gem" Coughlin

Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right as Paul

Geoffrey Rush – The King's Speech as Lionel Logue

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech as Lionel Logue. Again PITCH PERFECT acting!

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams – The Fighter as Charlene Fleming

Helena Bonham Carter – The King's Speech as Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon / Queen Elizabeth

Melissa Leo – The Fighter as Alice Ward

Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit as Mattie Ross

Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom as Janine "Smurf" Cody

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: I refuse to pick Hailee Steinfeld in this category because I stated above she deserved to be in the “Best Actress” category so I’m going with Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech as Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon / Queen Elizabeth.

Best Actor

Javier Bardem – Biutiful as Uxbal

Jeff Bridges – True Grit as Rooster Cogburn

Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network as Mark Zuckerberg

Colin Firth – The King's Speech as Prince Albert / King George VI

James Franco – 127 Hours as Aron Ralston

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: I heard this category referred to as Colin Firth and everyone who will lose against him. I totally agree. PITCH PERFECT acting!

Best Actress

Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right as Nic

Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole as Becca Corbett

Jennifer Lawrence – Winter's Bone as Ree Dolly

Natalie Portman – Black Swan as Nina Sayers

Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine as Cindy

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: First, I totally have to say that Hailee Steinfeld (the little girl from True Grit) deserves to be in this category! She was absolutely fantastic in that film and had such a large role (like every scene). She was nominated for “Best Supporting Actress” for that role, but…I just don’t have the words.

Anyway, my picks are again a TIE Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone as Ree Dolly and Natalie Portman for Black Swan as Nina Sayers.

Natalie Portman did give the performance of her career, but so did Jennifer Lawrence. While Natalie’s was frenetic, Jennifer’s was just the embodiment of distress.

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen – True Grit

David Fincher – The Social Network

Tom Hooper – The King's Speech

David O. Russell – The Fighter

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Not really a hard choice, I think all four I did see did great jobs, but my pick is David Fincher for The Social Network.

Best Picture

127 Hours – Danny Boyle and Christian Colson

Black Swan – Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, and Brian Oliver

The Fighter – David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, and Mark Wahlberg

Inception – Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas

The Kids Are All Right – Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, and Celine Rattray

The King's Speech – Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, and Gareth Unwin

The Social Network – Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca, and Scott Rudin

Toy Story 3 – Darla K. Anderson

True Grit – Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, and Scott Rudin

Winter's Bone – Alix Madigan and Anne Rosellini

Cool Black’s Oscar Pick: Like I stated at the beginning, I have seen eight of these ten pictures and each one worthy of the nomination. While I personally thought Inception and The Social Network were the best films I saw last year I have to pick The Social Network as Best Picture.

So that’s it, my picks this year with only two travesties Hailee Steinfeld not nominated for “Best Actress” and Christopher Nolan not nominated as “Best Director” for Inception.

List of ALL the Cool Black’s Oscar Picks
Best Writing – Original Screenplay - Christopher Nolan for Inception

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay - Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

Best Cinematography - TIE for Wally Pfister for Inception and Danny Cohen for The King's Speech

Best Film Editing - Andrew Weisblum for Black Swan

Best Supporting Actor - Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech as Lionel Logue

Best Supporting Actress - Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech as Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon / Queen Elizabeth

Best Actor - Colin Firth – The King's Speech as Prince Albert / King George VI

Best Actress - TIE Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone as Ree Dolly and Natalie Portman for Black Swan as Nina Sayers

Best Picture - The Social Network


Now that I have seen ALL TEN of the Best Picture nominees I do have TWO changes and they are both from The Fighter.

Best Supporting Actor - Christian Bale – The Fighter as Dicky Eklund

Best Supporting Actress - Amy Adams – The Fighter as Charlene Fleming

My other choices above haven’t changed and I have written about each ten and my cumulative thoughts here

Related posts-

Lack of Diversity at the Oscars 2011

African Americans at the Academy Awards

Cool Black's Oscar Recap Past & Present

Cool Black's Entertainment Review 2010-Best Movie

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Tupac Shakur biopic


Tupac Shakur Biopic ‘All Eyez On Me’ Gets Summer Release From Lionsgate’s Summit

Anita Busch, Deadline
January 17, 2017

The Tupac Shakur biopic from Morgan Creek has been given a summer release date, opening wide on June 16, 2017. Summit Entertainment is distributing All Eyez On Me, which chronicles the rapper’s life and legacy including his rise to superstardom as a hip-hop artist and actor as well as his imprisonment and prolific, controversial time at Death Row Records, where he was steeped in the East Coast/West Coast rap war.

Directed by Benny Boom from a script by Ed Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft, the film stars Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Tupac. Danai Gurira, Kat Graham, Annie Ilonzeh, Dominic L. Santana, Jamal Woolard, Keith Robinson and Cory Hardrict co-star.

It seems to be a wide-open date for film as it will bow during a weekend that sees Sony’s release of the Scarlett Johansson-Zoë Kravitz-Kate McKinnon comedy Rock That Body and the wide bow of Disney’s animated Cars 3. All the films are targeted at different demographics.


Tupac Biopic Set for Spring 2014 Shoot
by Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter
November 12, 2013

The long-gestating project has gotten the green light from producers Morgan Creek and Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films.

The long-gestating Tupac biopic has finally set a shooting date, with producers/financiers Morgan Creek and Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films announcing plans to begin principal photography on the film next spring.

The two companies held a reception for friends and supporters of the late, great hip-hop artist at the Zanzibar in Santa Monica last Thursday where producer Randall Emmett confirmed the 2014 shoot is a go.

The Tupac film was original set to start filming back in 2011 after a lengthy legal battle between Morgan Creek and the rapper's mother, Afeni Shakur. Morgan Creek had sued Shakur, claiming she had continued to negotiate for creative control of the film after signing over rights to her son's music and story. Shakur countersued, claiming she had no deal in place with Morgan Creek. But the dispute was settled out of court and Shakur is now an executive producer on the film.

Still no word, however, on who will play the slain rapper in the film or who will direct.

Read older news on the project below


Synopsis And Character Breakdowns For Antoine Fuqua's Tupac Biopic
Katey Rich

I'll never really understand why the producers behind the Biggie biopic Notorious didn't just double down and produce one about Tupac Shakur at the same time, keeping all the same actors and sets and telling the parallel stories from the different points of view. Notorious was a decent-sized hit, after all, and they could have guaranteed themselves another one six months later by getting the Tupac biopic in the can while they were at it.

But nobody listens to me, of course, so now Training Day director Antoine Fuqua is moving ahead with his Shakur biopic, opening up the casting process and revealing, via Moviehole, the synopsis of the planned film and the descriptions of all the major characters. Of course, because these characters are all real people there aren't a ton of surprises-- Suge Knight is described as "an enormous, intimidating, larger-than-life man," Tupac is "extraordinarily talented"-- but Jada Pinkett shows up in there, having befriended Tupac in high school, and that at least was news to me.

Not to beat a dead horse, but Anthony Mackie played Tupac to perfection in Notorious and I'd love to see him return to the role, but he's probably a little too old at this point to pull off a teenage Shakur, and may be ready to move on to something else. Take a look at some of the character descriptions below-- head over to Moviehole for the full list-- and tell me if you can think of any actors more perfect for the part than Mackie.

“The rise and fall of TUPAC SHAKUR is chronicled, from his days attending the Baltimore School of the Arts as a teenager, to his decision to leave his mother’s dead-end life behind and embrace the Thug Life in California, to his wild success as a rapper and his dangerous war against the East Coast scene. A true poet who was waylaid by fame’s trappings, his earliest ambition was to change the world and make a difference in people’s lives, and before his tragic murder in Las Vegas in 1996, that’s exactly what 2Pac did…”


Seen from the ages of 17 to 25, an extraordinarily talented rapper, poet, musician and actor, he grows up in the Druid Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, where he attends the School of the Arts and stands out among his classmates as a force to watch. Tupac grows up without a father, and his mother — once a proud member of the Black Panthers — struggles with crack addiction. He escapes to California with virtually nothing to his name but his beloved composition book. Well-read and intense, Tupac initially sees himself as a truth-bringer, and he wants to change the world with his music and his message. As his star rises, and he finds fame throughout the entertainment industry, his priorities change, and he grows increasingly angry and paranoid. An attempt on his life and a stint in prison alter his personality further until he fully embraces the Death Row label and all it stands for. Still, before his death in 1996, Tupac’s on the verge of another resurrection — of his music and his soul. In his rapper persona he’s a thug: tough, defiant, confident, tattooed and ripped, “pure energy, frenetic, propulsive, irresistible”; but in his personal life, especially around women like Jada and Kidada, he can be pensive, thoughtful and vulnerable…


Early 30s, an enormous, intimidating, larger-than-life man with a stone countenance, never seen without his jewel-encrusted Death Row medallion or his thuggish bodyguards (all of whom are members of the Bloods), he’s the CEO of Death Row Records. At times a fearsome figure, and at other times a paternal, calming presence, Suge is proud of his authentic history; he grew up in Compton and built his label with his own hands, without any help from anyone. He believes that he and Tupac are kindred spirits, and he tries to lure Tupac away from Interscope. Suge gets his chance when he bails Tupac out of prison. Their legendary contract is signed on a napkin…


Seen from early 30's – 40's, Tupac’s mother, a strung-out wraith, emaciated by crack, she’s struggling to raise three kids on her own in the ghetto. Afeni was once a proud, dignified member of the Black Panthers. Arrested for supposedly participating in a terrorist conspiracy, she stood up to her accusers in court, eloquently refuted their claims, and won. Her legacy is something that young Tupac wishes to emulate, so her fall from grace is tough on him. After her son leaves Baltimore and becomes a star, Afeni manages to clean up her act, and by the time Tupac is facing a prison sentence of his own, Afeni is there to support him as a strong, healthy woman again…


Seen from his early to late 20s, with glasses and a goatee, he is Tupac’s half-brother who grew up with Tupac in Baltimore and eventually moves out to Oakland, California, to live with Tupac. A performer in his own right, Mopreme was the first to enter “the game” of music and he believes in creating a persona that’s separate from one’s real life. After Tupac gets shot, Mopreme tries to raise bail, and he’s concerned when Suge steps in; he doesn’t trust Suge and he’s also troubled by Tupac’s East Coast/West Coast war. The brothers’ once-close relationship is shattered when Suge turns the two young men against one another…


Updates On Antoine Fuqua’s Tupac Biopic…
By Tambay, on February 11th, 2011
Shadow & Act

Looks like this ship is moving full-speed ahead…

We already know Antoine Fuqua is working on a Tupac biopic. We also know that he would like to cast unknowns in several of the starring roles (Tupac, Marion “Suge” Knight, Jada Pinkett and Kidada Jones – both women reportedly will feature very prominently in the film; both women dated Tupac early in his career).

Fuqua said he was prepared to “go to the streets” to find his stars.

Morgan Creek Productions announced today that principal photography is scheduled to begin in late Spring/early Summer on Antoine Fuqua’s long-in-gestation biopic, to be titled, simply, Tupac.

The film will be shot on location in Los Angeles, New York, Georgia and Las Vegas and is currently being cast.

“I am confident that Morgan Creek will stay true to the common goal we share of depicting Tupac’s life in a way that will allow the world to see the authenticity of his artistry, his hopes, and his life goals,“ said Afeni Shakur-Davis. She will also serve as executive producer on the project.

The screenplay was written by Steve Bagatourian (American Gun), Stephen J. Rivele (Ali, Nixon) & Christopher Wilkinson (Ali, Nixon). Universal Pictures will distribute.

The official synopsis for the highly-anticipated film reads, “The rise and fall of Tupac Shakur is chronicled, from his days attending the Baltimore School of the Arts as a teenager, to his decision to leave his mother’s dead-end life behind and embrace the Thug Life in California, to his wild success as a rapper and his dangerous war against the East Coast scene.”

We should know who are actors are very soon, so stay tuned…

Online Casting Contest In The Works To Find Tupac Lead
By Cynthia, on February 14th, 2011
Shadow & Act

Looks like the casting process for new Tupac biopic being helmed by Antoine Fuqua and backed by Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakar, will get a little more interesting in a few weeks.

If you have some great acting chops and can spit a rhyme, you may have a chance to play the slain rapper in the film.

Morgan Creek Productions/Universal Pictures, Fuqua and have joined forces to create an online casting contest in an effort to find the right person to play Tupac.

Up-and-coming black actors will get a chance to upload their video and fans will get to vote on their favorite. This casting campaign will kick off later this month.

Now obviously, this is a great way to garner some publicity for the upcoming project and keep the anticipation, for the film and the winner of the contest, at a fever pitch.

So this might be the perfect time to call that cousin of yours–who swears he’s the reincarnated Tupac–and tell him to step up to the plate and put his talents to the test!

Some of the great info above from the great website Shadow & Act

Cool Black’s Mad Commentary: I totally agree with Fuqua casting unknowns in this movie. There are SO MANY talented actors out here and most studios are only looking for “a name”. Frankly the best thing about the Biggie movie (Notorious (2009) Read my review here ) was the unknown star Jamal Woolard. The biggest “name” in the film Angela Bassett wasn’t even all that great.

So far so good on the direction of this picture.


Antoine Fuqua: 'Tupac Biopic Is Still On Track'. Read it here


 CLICK the button to see all of
our blog posts about TUPAC SHAKUR

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shonda Rhimes new Fixer show

EXCLUSIVE: In her first regular TV series gig, Kerry Washington (pictured left) has signed on to topline Shonda Rhimes' untitled drama pilot for ABC aka In Crisis. Actor-dancer-choreographer Columbus Short (Stomp the Yard) is set to co-star in the pilot based on the career of famous crisis management consultant Judy Smith. The pilot, from ABC Studios, revolves around the life and work of professional fixer Olivia Price (Washington) and her dysfunctional staff. Olivia Price is described as something of a legend, a formidable, driven, insightful, intuitive and fearless woman. Short will play a lawyer on her team.

The series is based on the life of famous PR guru Judy Smith (pictured right), a former White House press aide under President George H. Bush; she also counseled Monica Lewinsky, Michael Vick, Senator Larry Craig, worked on the prosecution of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings, the Chandra Levy investigation and the Enron Congressional inquiry.

According to Deadline, Rhimes explained: "My fixer is not necessarily Judy Smith but is based a lot on her... It revolves around the life of a fixer and her fairly dysfunctional staff based in Washington DC."

From the get-go, Washington had been a front-runner for the lead, which was written African American, something very unusual for a network drama. The rest of the roles on the pilot are being cast colorblind, which is also how Rhimes cast Grey's Anatomy. CAA-repped Washington, known for such movies as Ray and The Last King of Scotland, recently co-starred in For Colored Girls. On TV, she recurred on Boston Legal and 100 Centre Street. Short, repped by CAA and Brillstein, recurred on NBC's Aaron Sorkin drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

It was recently announced that Lost veteran Henry Ian Cusick (pictured left) is returning to ABC to join the pilot. Katie Lowes (CW's Easy Money, Pictured bottom right) has also joined the project.

Innovative-repped Cusick will play what is considered by some the male lead on the show, a handsome, intense and brilliant litigator who works for Olivia. Cusick started off as a recurring on Lost, landing a guest starring Emmy nomination for his role as former Scottish solder Desmond Hume, before getting promoted to regular in Season 3 of the island drama. Lowes, repped by Innovative and Sweeney Management, will play an ambitious and naive young lawyer recruited by Olivia to work for her. Lowes guest starred in this season's opener of Rhimes' Private Practice.


Cool Black's Mad Commentary: I'm a fan of Shonda Rhimes (Pictured left) DESPITE not watching any of her previous shows. Her “medical shows” just didn’t appeal to me. I’m a fan because of the moves she has made in Hollywood as a successful African American Executive Producer.

I’m also a fan of Kerry Washington having enjoyed her work in numerous films including the recent ‘Night Catches Us’ (You can read what I had to say about that film here ) I also like the additions of Columbus Short and Henry Ian Cusick and YES unlike her other shows the concept of this show does appeal to me.

Read more about Shonda Rhimes at Wikipedia

Update February 28, 2011:  Shonda Rhimes New Show has a Title and New Co-Stars

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lack of Diversity at the Oscars 2011

Where's the diversity at the Oscars?

(CNN) -- After the Academy Awards ceremony in 2010, there was a great deal of hope that the glass ceiling had finally been shattered in Hollywood.

"The Kathryn Bigelow" effect was coined by some industry observers who believed that her win for "The Hurt Locker," the first Oscar for a woman director, would open doors of opportunity for females behind the camera. The riveting film "Precious" yielded a best supporting actress win for African-American performer Mo'Nique, and the first ever statuette for an African-American screenwriter in the best adapted screenplay category went to Geoffrey Fletcher.

But that was last year.

This year there was a decided dearth of diversity in the Oscar nominations. There are no women or people of color among the director nominees, and the acting nominees are all white. Javier Bardem, who is up for best actor for his role in "Biutiful,' is a Spaniard and therefore European.

Which raises the question: Why in an era of ever increasing diversity among movie audiences is that not being reflected among the nominees for Hollywood's most prestigious award? Where are the diverse faces both in front of and behind the cameras?

It's a complex issue that involves both supply and demand.

More focus has been put on actors of color and women this year because of their stellar performances last year. African-Americans snagged nine nominations last year and, in addition to Mo'Nique and Fletcher, Roger Ross Williams won the award for best documentary (short subject) for "Music by Prudence."

But historically far fewer meaty dramatic roles, which are beloved by the academy, have been written for or awarded to actors of color, and women behind the camera are greatly outnumbered by men.

"The stories that we would really like to tell usually don't get greenlit," said Rocky Seker, a former creative developer for a director with Sony Pictures and now a film curator who runs Invisible Woman ... Black Cinema at Large. "We're just not taken seriously. It's all a moneymaking issue."

Both groups also find it difficult to break into the big-budget Hollywood films that garner the attention to carry the momentum needed for nominations. Seker said she often comes across wonderfully made black independent films that just aren't able to get big-studio backing or distribution deals.

While Debra Granik and Lisa Cholodenko have both received critical acclaim for their turns as directors of "Winter's Bone" and "The Kids Are All Right," respectively, their films did not enjoy the same media attention as "Black Swan" or "The Social Network," whose male directors were nominated. (Granik and Cholodenko both were nominated for their screenwriting efforts.)

Cathy Schulman is a producer of the Oscar-winning film "Crash" and president of Women In Film, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing sexual equality in filmmaking. She said that when there are 10 nominations for best film, but only five director nominees, invariably it means someone will be slighted.

"On the one hand, I am very encouraged to see that there are women sprinkled throughout most of the categories, with the continued strength as we've seen before in art direction, in music and in other areas that we have consistently seen a strength in," Schulman said. "What does disappoint is the lack of women in the writer, director, producer roles and some of the other key departments like cinematography and editorial, though there is one woman, Pamela Martin, who has been nominated for editorial (for "The Fighter") and that is certainly well-deserved."

Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, said, "There are lots of reasons at both the individual level as well as the industry level that converge to suppress diversity both on the screen and behind the scenes."

Lauzen added, "The film industry does not exist in a vacuum; it is part of a larger culture, and our attitudes about gender and race are extremely deeply held. Those attitudes don't change overnight or with an Oscar win."

Lauzen is set to release a study next week that will show the numbers on women have not changed significantly from her most recent survey, "The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in the Top 250 Films of 2009."

In 2010, woman accounted for 16% of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors, Lauzen said. Women accounted for 7% of directors, she said.

Schulman, the Women In Film president, said Tuesday's nominations -- or lack there of -- merely strengthened her resolve that there is much work to be done.

"Where I see this lack, it really solidifies my belief that we need to focus on getting women in at the ground level in these disciplines and getting them embraced and trained so that they can hone their skills to be included in this grouping and to stop this unfortunate lack in these top jobs on movies," she said.

For African-Americans, it's a matter of timing and a more systemic issue, said Gregg Kilday, film editor for The Hollywood Reporter.

"As we look at the movies this year, there really weren't movies in contention from African-American filmmakers," said Kilday, whose publication wrote a piece in September called "Whitest Oscars in 10 Years?" "It's not the academy's fault. It speaks to a larger issue in the industry in that it is still difficult for black filmmakers to do movies about black film matter."

Kilday said that while Tyler Perry's film "For Colored Girls" boasted an all-female, African-American cast, it opened to mixed reviews and never gained much traction as an Oscar contender. Likewise, while actress Halle Berry has been critically acclaimed for her portrayal as a stripper with multiple personality disorder in "Frankie & Alice," Kilday said that movie enjoyed a one-week limited release just to make it eligible for this year's awards season and there was little promotion behind it.

Kilday said the movies favored by the academy also factor in the lack of diversity.

"When you talk about academy movies, they have to be a specific type," he said. "A kind of mainstream commercial movie like a commercial comedy is never going to show up on the academy list. While I think the industry is pretty open on casting, it's not that open on making serious movies in general, and serious African-American movies are probably even harder to get financed."

Phil Yu, who runs the blog "Angry Asian Man," said he "follows the Oscars like sports fans follow the Super Bowl."

Yu said that because there are really no proven, bankable Asian actors he has little expectation of roles that might attract the academy going to Asian actors. He said this year he was also not surprised by the decided overall lack of diversity because there was no early buzz about any actors of color as potential nominees.

"Movies are a business," Yu said. "Consequently studios are as risk-averse as it gets, and they want to go with something tried and true."

Ava DuVernay is founder of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement -- a collective of black film festivals -- and the writer-director of the independent film "I Will Follow." DuVernay said the nominations ironically come at a time when she has jokingly been calling the Sundance Film Festival "Blackdance" because of its abundance of minority films this year.

"The Academy Awards represents what is being distributed and exhibited year-round," she said. "It's challenging when people expect to have this onslaught of diverse nominations when it hasn't been a diverse year."

DuVernay said films such as "Precious" and directors such as Bigelow are anomalies and that the nominations over the past few years have not been incredibly diverse. The atmosphere in the industry has not changed just because there are a few breakthroughs here and there, she said.

"Ultimately, if we have people that are serious about diversifying films, whether it be black films, women's films, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) films or Latino films, they have to be building those structures year-round," DuVernay said. "Then that becomes a conversation where there were these amazing black films, Latino films, LGBT films and films made and directed by women that were ignored."

Jeff Friday agrees.

He is the chief executive officer of Film Life and founder of the American Black Film Festival, which celebrates its 15 anniversary this year as a showcase for black film. While not an academy member, Friday said that if he were picking nominees his list would be similar to those announced Tuesday because there were so few films with people of color in principal roles or behind the scenes of movies that would be considered.

"We have to challenge the studio system," Friday said. "Why are studios not making films that represent the people of this country?"

Find this article at:

UPDATE: I posted two blog entries on the issue of diversity at our main blog and you can read them at the links below

Also there is interesting editorial about this issue at another blog here

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tyler Perry replaces Idris Elba in Reboot

Tyler Perry in, Idris Elba out of Alex Cross reboot: Producer explains why -- EXCLUSIVE

by Mandi Bierly -Entertainment Weekly | Popwatch

Feb 1, 2011 - 06:15 PM ET
Last August, when news broke that The Wire‘s Idris Elba was to follow in the footsteps of Morgan Freeman (Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider) and reboot the James Patterson detective character Alex Cross on the big screen, we were psyched — and this was before we’d seen his Golden Globe-nominated turn as a detective in the miniseries Luther. EW chatted with Elba last October about the film, which was to then have been directed by David Twohy (A Perfect Getaway, Pitch Black), and all he would reveal was that the script was “phenomenal” and if he could pick his dream costar/nemesis, it’d be Joaquin Phoenix. So cut to the news today that cameras will be rolling this June on I, Alex Cross with Tyler Perry in the titular role and director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious and xXx) at the helm. What happened?

Elba’s rep had no comment, but Bill Block, CEO of QED International (District 9), which acquired the rights and the initial script by Kerry Williamson and Patterson late last year (and hired Marc Moss, who worked on the previous Cross films, to refine it for Perry and Cohen), just filled us in: “When we came on, we looked at it freshly, and just built it from the bottom up,” he tells EW. “Sure, Idris is a great actor; Tyler Perry is a phenomenon. Tyler Perry is one of the most significant entertainers in all of media. He is a huge cross-media talent and presence — and he’s a terrific actor whose range is going to be shown here. You’re going to see Tyler Perry like you haven’t seen him. He’s 6’5″, he is a linebacker. He is an awesome physical presence and is just going to tear it apart here. It’s an intense, dramatic role.” Block says the film — “a kickass, crusading action picture” — will be the first of several Alex Cross films. “This is going to be the new Tyler Perry franchise, a worldwide one,” he says. “That’s the other thing: Tyler Perry is going to take this to the worldwide audience. It’s just a very different, much bigger opportunity.” (It’s worth noting that Block was, in fact, phoning us as he arrived at the airport, about to fly to the European Film Market in Berlin to sell global distribution rights.) “We went to him,” Block says. “If you can get Tyler Perry or Will Smith, you try.”

Now I imagine most people, myself included, think of Elba and Perry as being two very different actors, and naturally find this to be a bemusing, almost amusing turn of events. The question is: Are you more or less interested in the film now? With Elba, I was looking forward to him getting a quality leading man role with mass appeal and bringing some heat. With Perry, I’m curious to see how he’ll handle a serious car chase (I assume there will be one), and whether his Madea fans will follow him when the makeup in the movie isn’t drag but deadly. Yes, we’ll all be dying to see the trailer. But is it the kind of curiosity that’s satisfied in two minutes or two hours?

While you ponder those questions, I’ll leave you with this: You can critique an actor’s performance after the film opens, but you can’t ever fault someone for wanting to try something new and show his range. I have no idea what kind of relationship Elba has with Perry, who directed him in 2007′s Daddy’s Little Girls, but that notion is something I’m confident Elba would agree with (at least on some level). Talking to us last October about the diversity in his credits, Elba said, “I would never be fearful of any character. I think there’s a tendency for actors like myself, and I don’t mean to generalize myself, but I’ve played ‘men’s men,’ if you will, characters that are simmering [with] rage and calculated. There’s a trend not to play anything that is opposed to that. I remember when I left Stringer [on HBO's The Wire], one of the films I did was Tyler Perry’s Daddy’ Little Girls, which was about a man doting over his three little girls. I remember there was talk, ‘Why? Why would you do that? Play gangsters. Play ruthless.’ It’s really funny because the same people who loved me as Stringer Bell were the same people that were watching Daddy’s Little Girls literally in tears. Some people don’t like the film, but some of the guys that came up to me and said, ‘Yo, I want to see you play gangsters’ were the same ones that were in tears because they had either strained relationships with their children, or they loved their children so much and they were watching a character that they could relate to. I don’t mind playing characters that are opposite of what people think I am.”