Category Archives: Hollywood

The lack of color in the Hollywood writers’ room

I read a very good article at Slate.com about the lack of diversity in the Hollywood writing room. The article talks about how Hollywood is progressing when it comes to hiring actors of color in front of the screen. But apparently when it comes to the writers room it’s a different story.

On screen, things are looking up for people of color in the television industry. Thank the “Shonda Effect,” a term inspired by Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes’ commitment to casting people of color in lead roles in all of her hit shows. Hollywood has taken note of Rhimes’ ascendance, as well as her outspoken insistence on diversity in her work. The success of Scandal in particular—when it premiered in 2012, it was the first network drama with a black woman as its lead in nearly four decades—seems to have prompted a call for more stories centered around people of color. It’s safe to say that if it weren’t for Rhimes and her eclectic casts (and writers’ rooms), we would never have gotten so many shows rich with people of color on screen and off.

But the view behind the scenes is less encouraging. Setting aside the impressively diverse staffs of those few Rhimes and Rhimes-adjacent series, writers’ rooms, like the one Gray was in on Dog With a Blog, are still overwhelmingly white and male, as are the high-powered positions of showrunner and executive producer. A Writers’ Guild of America report released earlier this year noted that staff employment for people of color actually decreased between the 2011–12 season and 2013–14 season, from a peak of 15.6 percent to 13.7 percent. The number of executive producers of color also decreased in those seasons, from 7.8 percent to 5.5 percent. While the 2014–15 season may have seen those numbers increase thanks to the addition of a few shows with diverse casts, such sharp declines demonstrate how tenuous progress in Hollywood can be.

The article also mentions the struggles that different black writers have experienced in Hollywood, the different writing diversity programs available and the advantages of having writers of color on shows featuring a large number of minority actors and actresses.

Check out Aisha Harris’s entire column at the Slate.com.

White superheroes, white privilege and Hollywood whitewashing

Read an excellent article at The Root by Kirsten West Savali titled Why Do All the Superheroes Have To Be White and All The Thugs Black? She talks about the casting of actor Michael B. Jordan who was cast as Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) in the upcoming Marvel film Fantastic Four. Michael B. Jordan starred in the critically acclaimed film Fruitvale Station based on the real life story of Oscar Grant who was fatally shot by a BART police officer. I first laid eyes on him in HBO’s The Wire.

Michael’s casting as Johnny Storm has caused controversy amongst Marvel fans because Johnny Storm is white. Some white folks don’t take too kindly to their white superhero characters being portrayed by black actors.

It seems as if some white people have had a deep investment in the “white superhero” since the creation of blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus, and now that noxious narcissism has spilled over into pushback against Marvel’s Fantastic Four.

Michael B. Jordan, who rose to fame portraying 22-year-old Oscar Grant in 2013’s Fruitvale Station, has been tapped to play Johnny Storm (“the Human Torch”) in the popular film franchise. Since the news broke, racist trolls, mostly white men, have come out of the woodwork in comment sections and on social media, decrying the lack of “authenticity” of a black Storm. He must remain blond-haired and blue-eyed, or else. Because, clearly, no little white boy feverishly reading his comic books under the covers with a flashlight dreams of one day being a powerful black man, right?

Ms. Savali also goes on to discuss how the media has portrayed blacks in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore. But what really caught my eye was when she mentioned how CNN actually had an article about the one of the 2 black bikers in the Waco Shootout.

Martin_Lewis

This dogged determination to negatively stereotype black people—first in Ferguson, Mo., then in Baltimore—has become craftier in recent weeks. In the Waco, Texas, “Wild West” shootout between rival biker gangs, esteemed outlets such as CNN went out of their way to profile one African-American biker out of 170 men arrested, the vast majority of them white.

You mean to tell me that out of all the bikers who were arrested at the Waco Shootout CNN could only talk about one of the 2 black bikers?  Really?  They might as well have written an article about the other black biker.

An ex-vice detective who embraced the culture of a reputed outlaw biker gang.

A 62-year-old who posts images of his ailing mother with her pooch in one Facebook post and raunchy sex jokes in the next.

A man who poses alongside his son, middle finger to the air, then lauds his work with special needs children and extols the blessing of healthy grandchildren.

Much like the black-and-white goatee he has been rocking since at least 2013, Marty Lewis represents a dichotomy.

Lewis is one of the 170 bikers arrested and charged with engaging in organized criminal activity after a brawl and shootout at a Waco, Texas, restaurant left nine bikers dead. He remained in the McLennan County Jail on Wednesday with many of his biker brethren, unable to post the $1 million bail set by a judge.

Yes he was an ex vice cop. So what. Why did CNN focus only on Mr. Lewis? What about the other bikers/thugs who were arrested?  Not one white biker was interesting enough for CNN do write about?

Biker gang arrests in connection with multiple fatality melee

Ms. Savali coninues in her column about how Hollywood is steadfast in making every character in Hollywood white even when the movie is based on a person of color.

Typically, Hollywood executives will find a way to make a character white—accuracy be damned. We’ve seen it with Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart, Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra and the whitewashing of the Exodus cast, because who cares about geography when there is a prime opportunity to paint black characters as the thugs of Mesopotamia.

I blogged about the whitewashing of the movie 21 in 2008. The main characters in that real life story were Asian Americans yet Hollywood as usual cast white actors in the lead role. Of course the reasoning was to bring in more folks to the movie theaters cause who wants to see Asian Americans in leading roles?  Do people who complain about their favorite white superheroes being portrayed by black actors ever complain about Hollywood whitewashing?  I doubt it.  You will see plenty of comments about how Hollywood is all about making money.  As Ms. Savali says “accuracy be damned.”

You can read more about Hollywood whitewashing at the Huffington Post.  And you can read Ms. Savali’s entire column at The Root.

Leaving the Weave Protection Program

Actress Chelsea Harris wrote a very good article about how Hollywood is slowly accepting black actresses wearing their natural hair instead of weaves.  Ms. Harris talks about her experiences in Hollywood when it comes to her hair.

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15th Annual Essence Awards

It’s no secret that television is more diverse than ever, with more roles written exclusively for non-Caucasian actors and more actors of color cast in traditionally white roles. In tandem with the so-called pendulum of ethnic casting, I’ve witnessed a more subtle (though also long overdue) change: the acceptance of natural hair on actresses of color.

It wasn’t always this way. Hollywood taught me to hate my tiny, kinky corkscrew curls long before I started working there. I grew up in the South during a time when natural hair was considered “nappy,” and my mother would religiously take me to the salon every six weeks to get my kinky new growth smoothed out. I genuinely didn’t know any other way. I’d never seen a sophisticated lady with natural hair before. I wanted to look like Tyra Banks, Gabrielle Union, and Tia and Tamera Mowry, who all had long, straight, luxurious locks.

When I moved to Los Angeles at age 15, I was lucky to become a series regular on the Nickelodeon show Just Jordan. At the time, my hair was shoulder length, pressed, and my own. Producers decided my character needed the classic long hair extensions and, to a certain extent, they were right. My character was a model, and an African-American model in 2006 wouldn’t have had any look but that. Even at my auditions, everyone’s hair looked the same: silky-straight and Europe-grown.

I remember watching an episode of How Get Away With Murder when Viola Davis took off her wig. That was a very powerful move to take place on television.

Check out Chelsea’s article here at Buzz Feed.

Liberal Hollywood’s dirty little secret

I was checking out Racialicious and saw this post about a Fade In Magazine article, Minority Report:  Liberal Hollywood’s Dirty Little Secret. We all know about so called liberal Hollywood.  After reading this article, it all comes to light as to why television and film is pretty much dominated by white males and why quality scripted television shows with a predominantly black cast have pretty much disappeared from network television.  People of color are still on television, but we’re pretty much relegated to supporting characters with a few lines thrown in or we’re just there looking like we’re a part of the furniture.  And let’s not forget the whitewashing that goes on in film.

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I have blogged/bitched about the continuing whitewashing that goes on in Hollywood and this article just proves that it ain’t going away anytime soon.

Check out some of the comments from folks who work in Hollywood:

Screenwriter “Hollywood’s not liberal. That is such an oxymoron; such a joke. There are so many things… I don’t even know where to begin, because it’s so pinned up, because you have to control it. One of the things that Hollywood, along with society, has successfully done is blame the victim. You’re the victim of racism, but they blame you if you say anything. You will never be able to get behind a computer again in your life.

“Hollywood is anything but liberal. I call them liberal bigots. Hollywood is filled with liberal bigots, and they use the thing of being liberal as a reason for being bigoted, for if they’d listen to themselves talk, and listen to their friends talk, they would find that they tell way too many black jokes, ethnic jokes.”

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Screenwriter “I wrote a very celebrated movie. I busted my ass, worked hard. I would meet with the director from nine o’clock in the morning – to talk, not to write – until about twelve or one o’clock in the morning. Now, it took that long, because he was on the phone, all of the time, chitchatting with his friends. It should have been a shorter meeting. Then I would write until two or three o’clock in the morning. I finish the script and do all of this work, and then him and another white guy lie and say they wrote it! And white Hollywood believed them over me. I couldn’t fight it, because if I tried to fight it, if I were to scream racism, I’m done. He did something on the set that pushed me to the point as a man where I could have kicked his ass. Then what would have happened is the owners would have been on me: ‘Violent black writer loses his temper and beats up white director.’ Even though all of Hollywood knows that this guy is a jerk.

“Then I had to go through the whole shame of going to meetings where people were asking me, ‘So did you really write this? Can we see samples of other stuff you did?’ Even though this guy has never written anything that they can point to and go, ‘Oh, well, he’s written this.’ Since then, he hasn’t written anything, but because he was white… He said in the arbitration letter, ‘I didn’t want anybody to know my efforts were being done because I didn’t want to undermine Mr. [name withheld].’ Can you believe that? I literally cried when I read the arbitration letter. So he played the affirmative action card, [claiming] that I was an affirmative action writer. There are whites in this town who still to this day believe that this white man [wrote the script].”

I wonder who this mystery screenwriter is? I would be pissed off if some idiot took credit for my script.

Screenwriter “I went to a meeting at Warner Bros., with a producer and a director and an exec. I’m sitting there, and I’m a black writer going to write about this black guy. I won’t say what he did, because that’d give away who it was. So before the meeting started, the three white guys started telling towelhead jokes: ‘This towelhead this, this towelhead that.’ And I’m sitting there listening to them tell these towelhead jokes. The Warner Bros. exec started it, and then the producer and this director chimed in on it. I couldn’t believe this was taking place. I didn’t say a word; you know I’m not going to say an N-word joke or tell a towelhead joke because I’m next. So I’m listening to this. Then, afterwards, they then start talking about this black project, which I had no interest in pitching, because I thought, ‘You’re some of the most insincere sons of bitches I ever met in my life’ – motherfuckers is the better word. I had another life before I became a writer, and I’d never heard any shit like this before. I probably gave them one of the most insincere pitches I ever gave in my life because I didn’t want to be a part of [anything with] these three assholes. I couldn’t believe they were doing it. It was totally unnecessary.”

Producer “I remember when I produced my very first movie. I was sitting in a room with a very famous director and his development staff. I was the only female in the room, and I kept making suggestions to cut different scenes, [like] one too many funerals. And I was completely ignored. Cut to this very famous director. He would say the same exact thing that I had said, not even a minute after I said it. And everyone at the meeting would be like, ‘Oh, yes. Good idea. That’s what we should do!’ It was like I never said it. I was invisible. I don’t know if that was sexism, but it sure felt like it. My opinion didn’t matter. Why was I talking?

“So there are those instances, and then there are other scenarios where I’ve had many projects, in particular dramas, that either told black history or featured black actors. It’s virtually impossible to get them made unless they’re comedies. So sexism and racism exist, and Hollywood is hypocritical. I don’t know if it will ever change, sadly. How many female directors do you see out there? How many female producers? There’re a few, but not very many. You see what they do to actresses after a certain age, and what they do to any project that stars an actress. Those films are very hard to get made. The only instance where things have changed with respect to black films is if and when they find a way to make money off of them. Then all they want is that particular kind of film.

“A lot of times I don’t think that the upper echelon of Hollywood are leaders but followers, because they always follow what makes money, and that’s due to the corporatization of the business. What makes money is typically these franchises and testosterone-filled movies based on games. Only when they see something profit do they think, ‘Oh, we should make more movies like that.’ So the reality is that people came out for Obama. If they came out for films, good films instead of just shit films, or the films that have the most marketing, then maybe these other films would have a chance. But they don’t. They don’t come out for movies that feature women, they don’t come out and support or champion films that are directed or produced by women. So until such a time that there’s a revolution, like there just was, then I don’t really see it changing.”

Executive “The television industry is much more homogenous than the film industry. And someone needs to talk about it. Look at who’s coming up in the rank and file. There’s no one, when it comes to executives and when it comes to writers. Why’s Shonda Rhimes such a big story? Because she’s one of two thousand writers in the Guild that are working, that are showrunner level. I love the way agents pitch black writers in their cover letters… They’re always ‘urban writers,’ even if they grew up in suburbia. It’s so insulting.”

Director “Nobody has sort of blatantly been racist to me in the room. I’m a big African-American male who’s known to have a volatile sort of disposition, so people don’t really tend to do that shit to me in the room because I’ll punch a motherfucker out. People have said shit to me that I consider racist – not really racist, but you know the way they value the picture… ‘Black films have no foreign value, they’re only good for this amount.’

“You try to get done what you can, but what you sort of have to remember is that even people like Will Smith or Denzel Washington fought tremendously hard to get to where they’re at. You’ve got to remember, there’s only one of them, and there’s millions of us, so they do what they can. Like The Secret Life of Bees. They were instrumentally involved in that picture getting made. But name another movie this year where you have four black women in it. There ain’t even any other pictures made with four black men in it. Well, Miracle at St. Anna. OK? That’s not the way it works. They make whatever becomes hot. The problem is getting someone to take a chance. Back when they did Boyz n the Hood, they kept wanting to make that type of picture. Now that Tyler Perry is doing these other types of pictures that are garnering money, they only make that type of picture. It’s the same as the old sort of argument. Is Hollywood racist? Absolutely. Can I point to any one specific thing? No. It’s societal. It’s so ingrained in the fabric of it that you can’t really put your finger on it. Do they limit the budgets of African-American pictures? Absolutely. You almost start at a disadvantage.”

I was reading this article on the subway last week and all I could do was shake my head in disgust.  I feel sorry for women and folks of color who have to put up with this nonsense.  And you thought things were bad in the corporate world for regular folks.  I remember reading an interview by a black actress a few years ago who stated that Hollywood seems to be the only place where folks who do the hiring when it comes to casting tv shows and movies can actually get away with saying we’re not hiring any blacks, latinos or asians.

Anyway this is just a snippet of the quotes in that article. Check out this link to read the entire article and you might have to buy the magazine to read it in it’s entirety since at the bottom of the article it states that to read more of the article subscribe here. You can buy Fade In Magazine at Barnes & Noble and Borders Bookstore.   Look for actor Daniel Craig on the cover of this issue.

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The Princess and The Frog: An American Fairy Tale

A year or so ago there was much fanfare over the new Disney film The Princess and The Frog: An American Fairy Tale. This Disney film would become the first to ever have a black princess.

When Disney announced it was casting its first black princess for its latest animation film, the African-American heroine was hailed as a positive role model for little girls and an ambitious marketing ploy, not to mention an attempt to ward off the allegations of racism that have lurked since the heyday of Walt Disney Productions in the 1940s and 1950s.

But now the film studio finds itself fending off a chorus of accusations of racial stereotyping in its forthcoming big-budget cartoon, The Princess and The Frog: An American Fairy Tale, which marks a return to hand-drawn animation.

A musical set in 1920s New Orleans, the film was supposed to feature Maddy, a black chambermaid working for a spoilt, white Southern debutante. Maddy was to be helped by a voodoo priestess fairy godmother to win the heart of a white prince, after he rescued her from the clutches of a voodoo magician.

But there were issues about this film from some in the black community. Some black folks took issue with her name. Her name was originally Maddy. Some folks thought it was too close to the name Mammy. Huh, you say? Yeah I know. As the article states:

Disney’s original storyboard is believed to have been torn up after criticism that the lead character was a clichéd subservient role with echoes of slavery, and whose name sounded too much like “Mammy” – a unwelcome reminder of America’s Deep South before the civil rights movement swept away segregation.

The heroine has been recast as Tiana, a 19-year-old in a country that has never had a monarchy. She is now slated to live “happily ever after” with a handsome fellow who is not black – with leaks suggesting that he will be of Middle Eastern heritage and called Naveen. The race of the villain in the cartoon is reported to have also been revised.

The film studio began making changes a year ago, first to its title, The Frog Princess, which some had interpreted as a slur. Amendments to the plot followed.

I saw nothing wrong with the name Maddy. For some it’s short for Madison or Madeline. Oh well. So the name has been changed to Tiana. Wait a minute. You mean no one has complained that Tiana sounds too much like Tijuana? The movie title has changed too. It was originally titled The Frog Princess. Some were offended by that title. Well now according to The Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia the movie is called The Princess & The Frog.

I remember reading about this movie when word got out that Disney was doing a movie about its first black princess. But the comments from some black folks were unbelievable. Comments about the name of the main character, the main character being a chambermaid (the movie takes place during the 1920’s, not 2007) and the fact that her prince wasn’t black (god forbid a black woman fall in love with a man who ain’t black, despite the fact that there are more interracial marriages between black men and white women than vice versa). Anyway I’m glad to see that they’re continuing with the film despite the complaints. After all this Disney might not create another film starring black folks, animated or non-animated, since we are some hard to please folks.

Check out this previous article about the movie from 2007, Princess Maddy repairs Disney’s racist reputation.

Black presidents in Hollywood

Earlier this year I blogged about an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times about how Hollywood has already introduced the American public to black presidents. Well the Times has another article, this one written by Greg Braxton titled Blacks in Hollywood’s White House. This article also talks about how Hollywood has already beaten the real world when it comes to black presidents.

Blacks in Hollywood’s White House

Barack Obama may get there yet, but movies and television have beaten him to the punch.

By Greg Braxton
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 22, 2008

EARLY evening settles on a quiet suburb of spacious homes and lush lawns. Suddenly, an ominous voice pierces the tranquillity: America is about to elect the first black president of the United States.

Within seconds, the streets flood with hundreds of panicked white people running from their homes. One man stops and lifts his face to the heavens, his arms outstretched, face etched with fear.

The satiric scene is a climactic highlight of 2003’s “Head of State,” a comedy starring Chris Rock as a Washington, D.C., alderman who uses a hip-hop-flavored campaign and a grass-roots attack against government to rise to the highest office in the land. In the film’s DVD commentary, Rock said, “I don’t know if I’ll see a black president in my lifetime.”

One of the best portrayals of a president who just happens to be a black male is Dennis Haysbert who starred as President David Palmer in the tv series “24.”

Of the handful of portrayals of black presidents, few have made their mark on pop culture as much as Dennis Haysbert on Fox’s action-thriller “24.” In the drama’s first season, in 2001, Haysbert was introduced as David Palmer, a senator running for president. When the second season started, Palmer was in the White House. Some people — including Haysbert — believe the actor’s commanding and dignified portrayal of Palmer may have subliminally eased Obama’s path to his nomination.

“Frankly and honestly, what my role did and the way I was able to play it and the way the writers wrote it opened the eyes of the American public that a black president was viable and could happen,” said Haysbert, who currently stars in CBS’ “The Unit.” “It always made perfect sense to me. I never played it like it was fake.”

Making color ‘incidental’

HAYSBERT, WHO supports Obama, added that making Palmer’s race a nonissue was integral to making the character more realistic and ultimately more presidential. The role was embraced not only by American viewers but by European fans who would compliment and commend him in his travels overseas to promote the series. “I never looked on him as being a ‘black’ president,” he added. “He was simply the best man in the position. That’s what we’re getting with Barack. The color of his skin is incidental to how he is inside.”

The article starts out talking about a scene from the Chris Rock film “Head of State.” The end of the article has Head of State co-writer Ali LeRoi stating the following about what could happen if they did “Head of State 2.”

And with Obama’s rise, now might be the time for a “Head of State 2.” LeRoi already has the perfect ending.

“We could have it where the black president really worked out in turning things around and then have a white guy run against him,” he said. “Then we can have a scene where we have all the black people running out their homes, screaming, ‘Oh, no, not another white guy!’ “

Why is tv so white?

Entertainment Weekly had a very interesting article a couple of weeks ago titled Diversity in Entertainment: Why Is TV So White? The article talks about how of all the new network tv shows for the 2008/2009 fall season, none have any non white leading characters. As EW states the 14 new fall scripted shows look alarmingly pale. There is one show that has a leading black character. But that show won’t air until midseason. That new show is The Cleveland Show, a spin off of Family Guy.


A damn cartoon character will become the great black hope for television. Isn’t Hollywood just wonderful?

There was more diversity on tv during the 70’s, 80’s and up to the mid 90’s. Then tv started cancelling shows where blacks were the leading characters. Most network shows that have black characters relegate them to supporting or as the article states secondary roles.

Casts on fall shows are still being filled out — some have room left for minority casting, while others, such as CBS’ The Mentalist and NBC’s Knight Rider, already include secondary characters of color. But there’s that word again: secondary. After nearly 10 years of working with diversity reps and outreach programs, the networks still primarily solve the problem by sprinkling nonwhite actors into white-led shows — often as a comedic sidekick or in guy-who-helps-the-main-guy-solve-a-crime roles. Brock Akil calls the solution ”very transparent. I think the audience can see right through that. If it’s not organic, people are going to be like, ‘Oh, you’re just pandering to me.”’ Instead of pumping up their percentages with supporting characters, shouldn’t the networks be presenting more minority ”face of the show” leads?

Hollywood is going backwards. This mess should not be happening in the 21st century. The United States is more than 30% non white and the non white population is still growing. Hollywood needs to wake the hell up.

”It was always easy for whites to run black shows or get jobs on black shows, but it was always tough for the reverse. Very few blacks get jobs on nonblack shows. So with a lot of black shows going away, fewer and fewer black writers get opportunities, let alone get the chance to be mentored and learn how to run and create shows.”

It’s sad situations like this that really make me miss shows like Soul Food, Roc, Living Single, In Living Color, The Cosby Show, etc. At least you had a chance to see blacks in leading roles. Even latinos had leading roles in Showtime’s Resurrection Blvd, another good show. Thank goodness for dvds.

”Do I want to see any more shows where someone has a sassy black friend? No, because I’m nobody’s sassy black friend. I just want to see shows in which people get to be people and that look like the world we live in.”

I have no problem watching tv shows that have a predominantly white cast. Some of my favorite shows have included Silk Stalkings, Felicity, The Golden Girls, Family Ties, Knots Landing, Party of Five and Seinfeld, just to name a few. But what is wrong with wanting to see folks who look like me in leading roles on television as well. Blacks, latinos, asians and native americans would love to see folks who look like them in leading roles on television. Is that asking for too much?

Diversity in Entertainment: Why Is TV So White?

Cleveland Brown — a cartoon voiced by a white guy — is the only minority character to anchor a new series in 2008-09. What gives? As the broadcast networks prepare a predominantly white fall schedule, we examine where all the color has gone

By Jennifer Armstrong, Margeaux Watson

Cleveland Brown favors gentle words, and few words at that. He likes yellow T-shirts and baths. He is also fiercely proud of his African-American heritage, as evidenced by his ”Two Decades of Dignity” board game and that nice talk he had with a racist cop about how a black bowling ball might feel when surrounded by white pins. It’s a good thing, too, because Cleveland Brown is shaping up as network television’s great black hope for the 2008-09 season — he’s the only minority character anchoring a new series on the Big Five networks. Granted, his Family Guy spin-off, The Cleveland Show, didn’t even make it onto the fall schedule (it’s slated for midseason). Yes, Cleveland himself is merely a figment of animation. And true, the person who provides his voice, Mike Henry, is actually white. But hey, it’s a start, right?

These days, the networks need to ensure that even their cartoons of color count. After a period of making a public effort to focus on diversity in their casting — kickstarted by an NAACP outcry over the white TV landscape in 1999 — the networks have clearly started to lose that focus, and not just when it comes to African-Americans. Today the current prime-time lineup, including fall’s 14 new scripted shows, is looking alarmingly pale. According to an Entertainment Weekly study of scripted-programming casts for the upcoming fall 2008 season, each of the five major broadcast networks is whiter than the Caucasian percentage (66.2 percent) of the United States population, as per the 2007 census estimate. And all of the networks are representing considerably lower than the Latino population percentage of 15.2 percent, with The CW — whose only lead Latina star, JoAnna Garcia, will be playing a white character named Megan Smith on Surviving the Filthy Rich — registering just 3.8 percent. After the quiet and unceremonious departure this winter of eight-season hit Girlfriends (the No. 15 show in all prime time among African-American audiences), The CW’s black comedy block (inherited from predecessor UPN) has shrunk to just two sitcoms: critical darling Everybody Hates Chris (No. 29 among African-Americans) and The Game (No. 7 among African-Americans), which have both been relegated to the dead zone known as Friday nights this fall. And with very few exceptions (like black actress Niecy Nash, who costars with Jerry O’Connell in Fox’s hotel sitcom Do Not Disturb), spring’s annual presentation of the new lineups looked largely like a parade of Caucasian stars. When CBS, for example, introduced the main actors from their new series to the advertising community in May, it went something like this: Kyle Bornheimer — white. Simon Baker — white. Jay Mohr — white. Rufus Sewell — white. Elizabeth Reaser — white.

The NAACP has taken notice: It will release a new study later this month titled ”Out of Focus, Out of Sync — Take 4,” which calls for diversity not only on screen but also behind the scenes, where decisions are made and story lines are hatched. ”1 out of every 3 persons in the United States is a minority,” reads the report, an advance excerpt of which was provided to EW. ”One could argue that a third of all those working in Hollywood should be a minority. However…their presence is not accurately represented on-air and for the most part, their stories are secondary or non-existent. Behind the camera, the challenges facing minorities have been even greater and traditionally more difficult to overcome…. It is unconscionable and unacceptable that there is no new African American sitcom, or family drama for that matter, currently in the fall line up on any of the major broadcast networks.” Vicangelo Bulluck, executive director of the NAACP’s Hollywood bureau, says plainly, ”The trend definitely seems to be going in the wrong direction.”

You can read the entire article here at Entertainment Weekly.

Black actresses lose out again

Ain’t Hollywood grand? I was spitting nails after reading this.

Does anyone remember the case of Chante Mallard? She is the then 27 year old black woman who was convicted in the murder of a homeless man when she hit him with her car and then left him to die in her windshield. She was sentenced to 50 years. I definitely remember this case.

Motorist given 50 year-sentence in windshield murder trial

FORT WORTH, Texas (CNN) — Jurors Friday evening sentenced Chante Mallard to 50 years for the murder of a homeless man she hit with her car and then left to die embedded in the windshield.

Mallard was sentenced to 10 years for tampering with evidence. Her sentences will be served concurrently. She was not fined for either conviction.

Under Texas law a person must serve half the term before becoming eligible for parole.

Well there’s a new movie out based on this case called Stuck. It stars Caucasian actress Mena Suvari. Not exactly a big boxoffice name folks. So Angelina Jolie wasn’t available? Mena stars in a role that could have gone to a black actress but as usual black actresses lost out on a quality role based on a true story about a black woman. Mena even wears cornrows, smdh!!! I read about this in New York Magazine.

Mena Suvari in Cornrows Apparently Just As Marketable As Actual Black Actresses

Courtesy of THINKFilm

Jezebel smartly points out the ridiculousness of Mena Suvari being cast in Stuck, an independent film coming out tomorrow. In the film, Suvari plays Brandi, a young woman who hits a homeless man (Stephen Rea) with her car late one night and, panicking, drives home and parks in the garage with the clinging-to-life victim still embedded in her windshield. The movie is based on the true story of Chante Mallard, a black woman from Fort Worth, Texas who’s currently serving 50 years in prison. In playing the movie version of Chante, Suvari — in order to “establish Brandi as a particular kind of girl from a particular place” — wears her hair in cornrows and has “ghetto-fabulous nails.”

We don’t have a lot to add to Jezebel’s skewering of this casting move, in which a role that could have been played perfectly well by a black actress is given to a white one instead. But we do wonder — why Mena Suvari? We could almost understand this kind of move if you were trying to land an Oscar winner or a box-office draw (say, Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl). But Mena Suvari? She’s a fine but not great actor; her name puts zero butts in seats. So why not cast one of the many fantastic, underused black actresses with a fame level roughly equivalent to Suvari’s?

We would love to have seen, say, Viola Davis, or Sophie Okonedo, or Gina Torres, or N’Bushe Wright, or Sanaa Lathan, or Anika Noni Rose take on this part. (We came up with that list in like twenty seconds, by the way, so presumably professional casting directors could do even better.) Any one of these women likely would have been just as good as Suvari, would have resulted in a box office no worse than the meager box office this movie is likely to have anyway, and the whole thing wouldn’t make potential audience members like us — who would otherwise be interested in a crazy-creepy-sounding thriller like this — totally queasy.

You know me and my feelings on the lack of leading quality roles for black actresses. Black actresses are woefully underutilized in Hollywood. Like New York Magazine stated a slew of black actresses could have been considered for the role of Chante Mallard. Casting directors could have gone to my website Mahogany Cafe and found plenty of black actresses for that role. Black actresses have a difficult enough time in Hollywood as it is trying to find decent roles in tv and film. The few that do get hired get stuck in supporting roles as the best friend, the shoulder to cry on, the medical examiner or whatever background role they need to drop a black actress in. Is Tyler Perry the only person hiring black actresses for leading roles? Inquiring minds wanna know!!! And what do the powers that be in Hollywood continue to do? They whitewash every true story about folks of color.

Check out the website Angels Can’t Help But Laugh. This documentary talks about the struggles of black actresses in Hollywood.

The war on aging

The New York Times has linked to an MSNBC.com article about our country’s pursuit of youthful looks.

Pursuit of youth isn’t always pretty
By Julia Sommerfeld
Senior Health Editor
MSNBC

Wrinkles have become optional. So have age spots, forehead furrows and baggy eyelids.

Name a badge of aging and there’s a fix being peddled by your local dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Crow’s feet? Freeze them with Botox. Laugh lines? Inject them with Restylane. Saggy neck? Tighten and tuck with a scalpel.

But is all this really making us look younger? Or just weirder?

Tamara O’Connor, 48, says the latest and greatest in the anti-aging armory helped her win the battle against wrinkles. But the victory was nothing to smile about.

A couple of summers ago, O’Connor visited a shiny new medical spa in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for a consultation about the frown lines sprouting between her brows. She was starting to fret about such things since she’d recently gone through a divorce and was dating again.

After taking a series of close-up photos of O’Connor from every angle, the nurse proceeded to pick apart her every crease and crinkle. “I had never even noticed all this until they pointed it out. But after that I felt like jeez, I look old, I’ve got crow’s feet and apparently the corners of my mouth droop; I need some serious help,” recalls O’Connor, a project manager for an interior design company.

By the time she left, her face had been pumped full of $1,500 worth of Botox and the wrinkle-plumper Restylane. Within a day, the corners of her eyes and mouth were frozen and her smile lines were vanquished.

“Oh my God, I looked like a zombie. It wasn’t my face anymore,” O’Connor says. “You know when you’re mad and somebody tells you to smile so you flash them that purposely fake smile, where your lips move but you keep the rest of your face frozen? Well, that’s what my smile looked like all the time.”

Check out this picture of Priscilla Presley.


I remember watching Priscilla on Oprah a while ago and I was shocked. She looked so plastic looking it was almost scary. Another actress who shocked me was Lara Flynn Boyle. I saw her on an episode of Law & Order last year and talk about looking different. Why do white women who have naturally thin lips insist on constantly plumping up their lips and overdoing it? It looks so unnatural and all you can do is stare at them.

Anyway the article from MSNBC has a slideshow of different celebs who have been under the knife or who might just be aging gracefully with minor things like chemical peels. Dr Tony Youn, a Michigan plastic surgeon gives his opinion on what he thinks each celebrity has gone through. You can check out Dr. Youn’s site, Celebrity Cosmetic Surgery.

Where are the leading ladies in film?

You know how I bitch/blog about the lack of black actresses on the big screen. The New York Times has an interesting article about the lack of actresses period on the big screen, especially during the summer months. You know if white actresses have it bad in Hollywood, black actresses don’t have a chance. Despite the constant talk of there being more female executives in Hollywood, liberal Hollywood is still run by the good ole boys club.

Is There a Real Woman in This Multiplex?
By MANOHLA DARGIS

IRON MAN, Batman, Big Angry Green Man — to judge from the new popcorn season it seems as if Hollywood has realized that the best way to deal with its female troubles is to not have any, women, that is.

Not that it hasn’t tried to make nice with the leading ladies, in films like “The Invasion” (with Nicole Kidman) and “The Brave One” (Jodie Foster). Yet, after those Warner Brothers titles fizzled, the online chatter was that the studio’s president for production, Jeff Robinov, had vowed it would no longer make movies with female leads. A studio representative denied he made the comments. And, frankly, it is hard to believe that anyone in a position of Hollywood power would be so stupid as to actually say what many in that town think: Women can’t direct. Women can’t open movies. Women are a niche.

Nobody likes to admit the worst, even when it’s right up there on the screen, particularly women in the industry who clutch at every pitiful short straw, insisting that there are, for instance, more female executives in Hollywood than ever before. As if it’s done the rest of us any good. All you have to do is look at the movies themselves — at the decorative blondes and brunettes smiling and simpering at the edge of the frame — to see just how irrelevant we have become. That’s as true for the dumbest and smartest of comedies as for the most critically revered dramas, from “No Country for Old Men” (but especially for women) to “There Will Be Blood” (but no women). Welcome to the new, post-female American cinema.

Nowhere is our irrelevance more starkly apparent than during the summer, the ultimate boys’ club. Over the next few months the screens will reverberate with the romping-stomping of comic book titans like Iron Man and the Hulk. The sexagenarian Harrison Ford will be cracking his Indy whip (some old men get a pass, after all, especially when Steven Spielberg is on board) alongside the fast-talking sprout from “Transformers.” Hellboy will relock and load, tongue and cigar planted in cheek. Action heroes like Will Smith, Brendan Fraser, Nicolas Cage, Mark Wahlberg and Vin Diesel will run amok, as will funny guys like Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Jack Black and Seth Rogen.

You can read the entire article here.

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