All Articles Tagged "cuba gooding jr"

The Smiths Called It: Hollywood’s New Emphasis On Diversity

October 6th, 2016 - By Charing Ball
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When Jada Pinkett-Smith put the call out to Black Hollywood to boycott the Academy Awards, very few of us took it seriously.

Not even Janet Hubert and she hasn’t worked in years.

Nor did we give too much weight to the #OscarSoWhite social media campaign, which publicly shamed and criticized the Academy for its lack of color.

During that time, most folks thought it was a big waste of time.

But it seems that the threat of a boycott by Black Hollywood’s most influential stars, (including Jada’s mega-star husband Will, who later joined his wife in her Oscars boycott,) might have “inspired” some folks in Hollywood into action.

In short, there is no shortage of Black film and Black folks in film in 2016. Even more surprising, most of those projects have nothing to do with Tyler Perry (although some do. No shade).

In fact, in the last few months alone, Hollywood has either announced or released dozens of new and ambitious projects, which feature African-Americas in either lead roles, or at the helm.

This year, we are saw a return of Black Hollywood heavyweights like Denzel Washington in the western remake of The Magnificent Seven, Vivica Fox in the sequel to Independence Day and Halle Berry in the soon-to-be-released soccer mom-centered action flick Kidnap.

But we have also seen us taking on roles in big budget productions normally not offered to us like Idris Elba’s villainous role in Star Trek: Beyond and Viola Davis, Will Smith and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje playing bad-ass heroes in Suicide Squad.

Films like Southside With You (inspired by Michelle and Barack Obama), the erotic all-Black cast thriller When the Bough Breaks and Loving, which tells the true story of a couple in 1950s Virginia jailed for violating the state’s law prohibiting interracial marriage, have added new perspective to how Hollywood has always done romance.

While films like Queen of Katwe (starring Lupito Nyong’o and David Oyelowo,) Hidden Figures (Taraji P. Henson and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer) and Fences (Denzel Washington and Viola Davis) are giving serious Oscars vibes.

Also up for Oscar consideration is the Nate Parker written and directed biopic The Birth of a Nation, which comes out this Friday. If you recall, the slave rebellion film found itself at the center of a bidding war during its screening at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Eventually the film inked a landmark $75 million distribution deal with FOX Searchlight

And of course, there is Boo! Madea…

Although some of these projects have been in production prior to the OscarsSoWhite social media campaign and Pinkett-Smith boycott, Hollywood’s colorful film roster may not be a coincidence.

In March of this year, The Hollywood Reporter ran an article about Tinsel Town’s casting blitz for talent of color.

More specifically, the article noted:

“Since the Oscar nominations were announced Jan. 14, a slew of diverse stories and color-blind castings have gained momentum. Newly announced projects include the young Barack Obama movie Barry and Disney’s immigrant story Dr. Q. (Those come on the heels of the record-breaking $17.5 million Sundance deal for Nate Parker’s slave drama The Birth of a Nation).

“There’s definitely a big conversation taking place right now in our business,” says Management 360 partner Darin Friedman. “From both the filmmaker side and the buyer side, there’s a push for more diverse stories. It’s happening in a genuine way: an understanding that the cast or the directors who get hired should reflect the way the world looks.”

The article also featured comments from JJ Abrams, Hollywood producer and founder of the Bad Robot production company (Cloverfield, Star Trek, Super 8), who added: “The Oscars controversy was a wake-up call to examine our role in expanding opportunities internally at Bad Robot and externally with our content and partners…It’s good for audiences, and it’s good for the bottom line.”

It should be noted that Hollywood’s emphasis on diversity is not just happening in front of the big screen. According to The New York Times, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has invited twice as many women and minorities to join its voting pool than it has in previous years. And regular followers of Shadow & Act will note that over the last few months, a number of Black writers, directors and producers have been snatching up development deals.

This includes the recently announced partnership between Jay Z and the Weinstein Group. It should also be mentioned that The Brooklyn rapper-turned media mogul will also be partnering with Will Smith on an Emmitt Till mini-series for HBO.

And speaking of television…

While network television has always been more diverse – but not by much – than its big screen counterpart, this year has seen a particularly diverse fall line-up.

Shonda Rhimes hopes to keep churning out the hits at ABC with the Romeo and Juliet-inspired drama Still Star-Crossed while Lee Daniels hopes for a second-time to shine at FOX with his new primetime drama Star.

Also making their debuts at FOX are Laverne Cox who will be starring in the remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Damon Wayans with a reboot of Lethal Weapon.

FOX is also the home to “Shots Fired,” starring Sanaa Lathan, “Pitch” which stars newcomer Kylie Bunbury and the critically acclaimed mini-series “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which starred Cuba Gooding Jr.

And while subscription channels have a better track record at reflecting diversity than its network and big screen counterparts, this year has been particularly fruitful for creatives of color. Series like “Insecure (HBO) “Atlanta” (FX), “Greenleaf” (OWN), “Survivor’s Remorse” (Starz), “Underground” (WGN) and “Queen Sugar (OWN) have not only added diversity to the fall line-up but have also produced some quality work as well.

Of course, we won’t know for sure just how much more diverse Hollywood has become until next year, when the various media watchdog groups release their reports. But if these new films and televisions shows are any indication, Tinsel Town might be ready to turn over a new inclusive leaf.

Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and the reigning queen of unpopular opinions. She is also from Philadelphia. To learn more, visit

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of Lee Daniels’ The Butler

August 24th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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The Butler poster

He’s very much into television these days as both Empire and the upcoming Star suggest, but three years ago, writer and director Lee Daniels released his fourth film as director, The Butler. It is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, a Virginia native turned Washington, D.C. transplant who served in the White House as a butler for more than three decades. The film was a favorite among critics and filmgoers alike. Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker starred as Cecil Gaines, a married father and White House butler who experiences a total of eight presidencies, up close and personal. The civil rights movement, wars, riots, presidential history – Gaines had a front-row seat for every major political or social event. But that’s not all you need to know about the movie or its characters. Here are some secrets behind the making of Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

“I Couldn’t Stop Crying” Cuba Gooding Jr. Said He Had An Emotional Breakdown Portraying O.J. Simpson

January 12th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Cuba Gooding Jr. Said He Had An Emotional Breakdown Portraying O.J. Simpson

Hollywood Reporter

Last month, we wrote about the incredibly gripping trailer for FX’s new series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: An American Crime Story.”

The miniseries will unfold in 10 episodes and represent the first installment in an anthology of American crime stories. The next one will center around Hurricane Katrina, which executive producer Ryan Murphy says “Katrina was a f—ing crime — a crime against a lot of people who didn’t have a strong voice, and we’re going to treat it as a crime. That’s what this show is all about.”

But let me not get ahead of myself. Before Katrina, FX is taking on O.J. Simpson and more specifically the racial implications of his trial in this country.

In the cover story for The Hollywood Reporter, the author notes that according to a “Washington Post poll, taken at the time of the verdict, 72 percent of whites thought Simpson was guilty, while 71 percent of African-Americans believed him innocent.” 

Cuba Gooding Jr, who was raised in Los Angeles, was certainly among that latter number.

“Back then, I was just so relieved that another black man got away from the injustice that was the LAPD. I was just so relieved that they didn’t screw us over again.”

But during the monthslong process of becoming Simpson, Gooding said his views changed and he had a bit of an emotional breakdown.

“There was one day after filming that I went to my trailer and I couldn’t stop crying because I realized I never [even considered the loss] for the Goldman or Brown family.”

That’s precisely what producers hope to do with the story, tell it from all angles so that people who once held very strong convictions about Simpson’s guilt or innocence may be able to see the story from another perspective in the retelling of it.

Initially, producers planned on shying away from the racial component. But when the deaths and subsequent trials for the murders of Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and many others took dominance over the news cycles, producer Brad Simpson said their series started to feel less and less historical.

One of the reasons Johnnie Cochran was so successful in his defense of Simpson was that he recognized the enormity of the racial component from day one.

According to HR: During the course of the eight-month criminal trial, Cochran, a longtime crusader for justice in the black community and the flashy leader of Simpson’s “dream team” of attorneys, successfully transformed the case into a referendum on race. With a jury of nine blacks, two whites and one Hispanic, he got the verdict he wanted in less than four hours of deliberation.

Courtney B. Vance, who will portray Cochran, said, “Unlike others, who got surprised by the moment and found themselves trying to catch up, Johnnie recognized that this case was absolutely about race and not about anything else, and his whole professional life to that point had been about that.”

One might think that since this trial was so consuming and ubiquitous, audiences might not be interested. But New Yorker legal writer, Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote the book for which the series is based, says that’s just not true. Having poured himself over the details of this case, Toobin said: “Much of what you thought you knew about this story is either wrong or vastly oversimplified.” 

I don’t think audience engagement will be an issue. Every little tidbit that comes out about the project, from the trailer to the actors’ process is making headlines and becoming water cooler talk.

Like the bit about David Schwimmer, who plays Robert Kardashian, not wanting to be meet with the Kardashian family about his role. According to Schwimmer, that’s partially true. He told HR that he did speak to Kris Jenner, Kardashian’s ex-wife, for two hours. During that time he says he learned “how much a man of faith Robert was, how he prayed at every meal and before every big business meeting and how he was this very compassionate, generous guy. Then Schwimmer adds with a chuckle: “The producers of [Keeping Up With the Kardashians] had asked me if I wanted to talk to the daughters, too, but I didn’t feel that was necessary. And they wanted to do it on camera.”

He wasn’t the only one, Gooding had no desire to contact O.J. either. But his reason is a bit different. Since Simpson is now serving a 33-year sentence in Nevada, for felonies including kidnapping and armed robbery, Gooding recognizes that he’s likely in a different mental space these days.

“I have a lot of friends and family who are incarcerated, and I know what that jail cell does to your psyche. I didn’t want him to take me into that frame of mind,” says the actor, noting that the Simpson that he’d been cast to play was at a very different stage of his life. “He was the O.J. Simpson whom everyone loved — not just an athlete but a movie star — and in that cage, he’s a broken man. Now, if I did a movie about O.J. Simpson in jail, I would do everything I could to sit with him and get into his mindset today, but I wanted to understand who he was when this crime happened.”

“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” will premiere on Feb. 2 on FX.

You can read the full Hollywood Reporter article here. 

You Must Watch This Trailer For “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

December 18th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Last year, I reported that Cuba Gooding Jr. was cast as O.J. Simpson in FX’s upcoming series, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” Since then, I have literally been salivating at the mere thought of how amazing this series has the potential to be.

The network has finally blessed us with an official trailer for the show, which is set to premiere in February, and it’s everything I knew that it could be.

As previously reported, Courtney B. Vance has been cast to play Johnnie Cochran, and John Travolta will be playing Robert Shapiro. It’s executive produced by America Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy. A brief synopsis reads:

“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is a limited series that takes you inside the O.J. Simpson trial with a riveting look at the legal teams battling to convict or acquit the football legend of double homicide. Based on the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin, it explores the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and maneuvering on both sides of the court, and how a combination of prosecution overconfidence, defense shrewdness, and the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community gave a jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.

In one disturbing scene from the trailer, Robert Kardashian—who defended Simpson—is seen trying to talk the disturbed athlete out of killing himself in his daughter Kim Kardashian’s bedroom.

“Do not kill yourself in Kimmy’s bedroom,” Kardashian tells Simpson.

The 10-part miniseries airs Tuesday, February 2 on FX.

Peep the trailer below. Will you be watching?

Courtney B. Vance Signs On To Play Johnnie Cochran

February 8th, 2015 - By Toya Sharee
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courtney b. vance to play johnnie cochran


In addition to Cuba Gooding Jr. being cast as OJ Simpson in the FX production American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, actor Courtney B. Vance has just signed on to play legal head honcho, Johnnie Cochran. The 10-episode series will explore “The Trial of the Century” from the eyes of both the defense and the prosecutors and will reveal the crazy behind the scenes antics of OJ’s legal team.

OJ’s dream team will consist of John Travolta as Robert Shapiro and David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian. Ryan Murphy is serving as executive producer on the series after previously working with Vance’s wife, Angela Bassett on the latest season of American Horror Story.

FX describes the show as a tale of “how a combination of prosecution confidence, defense wiliness, and the Los Angeles police’s history with the city’s African-American community gave a jury just what it needed: reasonable doubt.”

I can see Courtney B. Vance really killing the role as Johnnie Cochran, but the rest of the casting might be a little questionable. Either way it will be interesting to see the biggest crime story of my childhood re-enacted from the infamous white Bronco chase to “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Cuba Gooding Jr. Cast To Play O.J. Simpson

December 10th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. has been cast to play O.J. Simpson FX’s new crime series, “American Crime Story,” Time reports. The series’ first season has been titled “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” and will center around the 1995 murder trial of the troubled ex-athlete.

The series will be based on CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin’s 1996 book on the trial, The Run for His Life. Sarah Paulson from the network’s “American Horror Story” has been cast to play prosecutor Marcia Clark. This particular story will be “told from the perspective of the lawyers that explores the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and maneuvering on both sides of the court, and how a combination of prosecution confidence, defense wiliness, and the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community gave a jury what it needed: reasonable doubt,” a statement reads.

According to the series’ executive producer Ryan Murphy, “American Crime Story” doesn’t have an official premiere date as of yet, but it may make its network debut in January of 2016. He adds that each season following the debut season will focus on a different trial that garnered public attention.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this will be Cuba’s first leading TV role.

It sounds pretty interesting. Are you here for this?

Watch The Trailer For “The Book Of Negroes” A 6 Part Miniseries Coming To BET

October 13th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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The Book Of Negroes

Source: Entertainment One

I’m sure some of you clicked on this post just to complain about the title of this new series. “The Book of Negroes” is certainly eye-brow raising. And while I personally don’t have a problem with it, you wouldn’t be the first person to have an aversion to it. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the content first, shall we?

“The Book of Negroes” is based on Lawrence Hill’s novel of the same name. The story is about Aminata Diallo, played by Aunjanue Ellis, an African woman kidnapped by slave traders in West Africa and sold into slavery in South Carolina. Somehow she manages to navigate her way through the American Revolution where she secures her freedom and travels to England to fight for the British army.

The story is certainly intriguing. Clement Virgo, director of the six part miniseries, found the same thing. Initially, even Virgo had an aversion to the title. But after reading it, he said “He couldn’t imagine the novel being called anything else.”

Which is why he chose to use it for the miniseries. And not just to provoke or disturb. Instead the title refers to a book of genealogy kept by the British Navy on the slaves who left their captors to serve with the red coats in the Revolutionary War. It documented each former slave’s country of origin. And when the British lost, they honored their promise to free the African soldiers after the war.

Initially in 2010, Virgo tried to turn the story into a feature length film but distributors didn’t think audiences would take to it. It was Canadian broadcasters who saw it as a miniseries and decided to make it. And after BET aired Roots for the first time, attracting 4 million viewers, distributors knew it would do well with American audiences too. It also didn’t hurt that 12 Years A Slave took home the Oscar for best picture last year.

Now, “The Book of Negroes” will air in six parts on BET in February, presumably for Black History Month.

And while this is another slave story, Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays Samuel Fraunces, in the miniseries, says it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

“It’s told from a female perspective with a sense of empowerment. Through Aminata’s journey we see the strength of her character. I didn’t know anything about The Book of Negroes, or the slaves participation with the British and upon hearing this–it always upsets me when I hear about something I didn’t know: Like The Tuskegee Airmen, The Book Of Negroes is another upsetting moment for African Americans, when we have made a positive impact on the building of America, but our history hasn’t been told. Hearing this tale of strength moved me.”

I feel that.

Plus, the trailer makes it look absolutely amazing. Take a look below and kudos to BET for getting behind such a much-needed project.

Cuba Gooding Jr. And Wife, Sara Kapfer, Separate After 20 Years Of Marriage

April 23rd, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

After two decades of marriage, it looks like another celebrity couple is throwing in the towel.

Sara Kapfer, wife of actor Cuba Good Jr., filed for legal separation with the L.A. County Superior Court yesterday, TMZ reports. It’s unclear specifically what caused Sara to want out of the 20-year marriage, but in her divorce filing, she cites irreconcilable differences. The estranged couple share three children together, two of which are minors. She is requesting joint physical and legal custody of the children. According to court documents, child support arrangements will be determined at a later date.

Cuba and Sara were high school sweethearts. They officially tied the knot in 1994. Just last year the actor gushed to “The View” hosts about celebrating his 20-year anniversary with Sara.

“She has been changing to this other woman that I have to introduce myself to every few years,” Cuba explained during the 2013 interview. “And thank god I’ve fallen in love with each one. It’s true. I’m lucky that way.”

As sweet as that sounds, he did, however, jokingly add:

“I want to kill her sometimes.”

It’s unfortunate that these two couldn’t find something in their 20-year marriage worth saving, but maybe this decision is for the best.

Girls Like Ball Too! 15 Of The Best Football Movies Ever

January 29th, 2014 - By Iva Anthony
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Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner and in honor of the biggest game of the year, here are some of our favorite football movies.

"Any Given Sunday pf"

Any Given Sunday

Famed director Oliver Stone decided to enlist an all-star cast to focus on the game of football for the film Any Given Sunday. Al Pacino plays coach Tony D’Amato who’s in charge of motivating an embattled team with the new owner (Cameron Diaz) breathing down his neck. With their star quarterback out, he has no choice but to turn to the nervous third-string quarterback Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx). The cast included James Wood, Dennis Quaid and LL Cool J along with legendary NFL Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor.

KeKe Palmer And Blair Underwood Join Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams In “The Trip To Bountiful” Movie

November 6th, 2013 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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 Joseph Marzullo/

Joseph Marzullo/

We informed you last week of the fact that the popular Broadway show, A Trip to Bountiful, starring Tony-winner Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams, was going to become a Lifetime movie. A Trip to Bountiful started off as a TV-movie, then made its way to Broadway before becoming an Academy-Award winning film in 1985 starring Geraldine Page. After returning to Broadway in April and having an extremely successful run (including having its run on the Great White Way extended twice), the play will turn into a Lifetime movie with Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams reprising their roles as Carrie Watts and Jessie Mae Watts. But according to Shadow and Act, Blair Underwood and KeKe Palmer will also be joining the cast, most likely to play Ludie Watts (Carrie’s son) and Thelma, the young woman Carrie met and befriended. The film will be shot this month in Atlanta and will be helmed by Michael Wilson, who also directed the play. Here’s a quick synopsis of the whole thing if you haven’t heard about A Trip to Bountiful. SPOILER ALERT!

“Set in the 1940s, the play tells the story of an elderly woman, Carrie Watts, who wants to return home to the small town where she grew up, but is frequently stopped from leaving Houston, Texas by her daughter-in-law, and an overprotective son who won’t let her travel alone. However, old Mrs. Watts is determined to outwit her son and bossy daughter-in-law, and sets out to catch a train, only to find that trains don’t go to Bountiful anymore. She eventually boards a bus to a town near her childhood home. On the journey, she befriends a girl traveling alone and reminisces about her younger years and grieves for her lost relatives. Her son and daughter-in-law eventually track her down, with the help of the local police force. However, Mrs. Watts is determined. The local sheriff, moved by her yearning to visit her girlhood home, offers to drive her out to what remains of Bountiful. The village is deserted, and the few remaining houses are derelict. Mrs. Watts is moved to tears as she surveys her father’s land and the remains of the family home. Her son eventually turns up, and drives her back to Houston.”

As someone who was blessed with the chance to see the play here in New York with Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, Condola Rashad (as Thelma) and Cuba Gooding, Jr. (as Ludie), I can say that it was an amazing production, well-acted with a great balance of both humor and sadness. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see the Lifetime movie and see the legendary Ms. Tyson do her thing once again.