Archive for "Jada Pinkett-Smith"

The Smiths and The Carters Team For Film Venture

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 8:44 am.

Looks like Tyler Perry won’t be the only one having control over his own films. Will and Jada Smith are teaming up with Beyonce and Jay-Z for a joint film venture, which will start with Willow Smith starring in a remake of Annie. Jay-Z said in a recent statement, “The Overbrook Entertainment family and I have a unified vision. We’ve already produced a Tony Award-winning play and we’re developing a true superstar in Willow. This venture into film development and production is a perfect next step with teams that are accomplished, creative and innovative.”

They already teamed together for the Tony Award-winning Fela!. In addition, Overbrook Entertainment has been behind films like I Am Legend, Hancock and last year’s blockbuster The Karate Kid.  This seems like a venture built in cinematic heaven.  Will Smith is one of the top grossing actors of all time and knows a good movie when he sees it.  Jay-Z is clearly a powerful business man — being behind Fela!, which was a risk that paid off, was extremely important, especially when Broadway shows about Black or African culture is rare.


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10 Actors Who Turned Down Famous Roles

Published by Clay Cane on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 12:00 am.

Roles make the rounds in Hollywood several times before it lands its actor.  Check out some of the huge films that big stars passed by; some for the good and some for the bad.

10. Denzel Washington as Curtis in Dreamgirls (2006)?

I could not see Denzel Washington playing Curtis in Dreamgirls, but it would’ve made the cast even more A-list.  Dreamgirls was “The Jennifer Hudson Movie,” saving the entire story. Nonetheless, Washington gave the right answer on this one and Jamie Foxx took the role.

9. Halle Berry in Gigli (2003)?

The movie that nearly ruined Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s careers is a role that Berry thankfully passed on. She was offered to play Lopez’s character. While she passed on Gigli, Catwoman was released in 2004… no comment.

8. Samuel L. Jackson as Morpheus in The Matrix (1999)?

We always think Sam Jackson never turns down a role, but he actually rejected Morpheus from The Matrix. The film went on to become one of the most successful films of all time.

7. Dave Chappelle as Bubba in Forrest Gump (1994)?

David Chappelle turned down the role as the shrimp-obsessed Bubba in Forrest Gump. He supposedly said no because he thought the film would “bomb.” Bad call!

6. Tina Turner as Shug Avery in The Color Purple (1985)?

Steven Spielberg campaigned to get Tina Turner to play Shug Avery in The Color Purple. Anna Mae declined saying she lived that life with Ike Turner. Spielberg had the right vision; Turner would’ve channeled her country roots and sang “Sister” from her Nutbush, Tennessee soul. Nonetheless, Margaret Avery was spectacular and nominated for an Oscar.

5. Jada Pinkett Smith in Charlie’s Angels (2000)?

Jada Pinkett Smith was the original angel, in the movie that starred Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore. Jada declined and starred in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2000). Bamboozled was a critical and box office disaster; however, it is one of my favorite Spike Lee films and I adored Jada in the role. Plus, Jada is Mrs. Smith… ain’t like she is struggling. Lucy Liu took Jada’s role in Charlie’s Angels.

4. Queen Latifah in Monster’s Ball (2001)?

Rumors have buzzed for years that Angela Bassett was truly offered the lead (the creators claimed Bassett was never approached for the role) in Monster’s Ball and turned it down because she felt it portrayed Black women in a negative light. Queen Latifah is the only actress who clearly said she had the role and wanted it, “I actually had that role before Halle. But they couldn’t set it up. It would have been me, Sean Penn and Robert De Niro.”

3. Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Amistad (1997)?

Spielberg wanted Cuba Gooding, Jr. to play Djimon Hounsou’s role in Amistad. A regretful Gooding once said, “Steven Spielberg came to me and said, ‘I want you to be in Amistad,’ and I said, ‘It’s a slave role; show me the money. I’m so a big thing,’ and he goes, ‘I can direct you,’ and I said, ‘No, I have to pass.’” Cuba admits he was too big-headed after winning the Oscar for Jerry Maguire.

2. Lauryn Hill as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls (2006)?

Over ten years ago, word on the street was that Lauryn Hill was picked to play Deena Jones (played by Beyonce) in the film version of Dreamgirls.  However, it fell through. I think Hill would’ve been a stellar pick for Deena Jones. She is immensely talented and more focused on the art than awards.

1. Dorothy Dandridge as Tuptim in The King and I (1956)?

This probably isn’t a movie you’ve seen, but the legendary Dorothy Dandridge pursued the role. When she discovered the role was not the lead and a slave role, she turned it down with her management’s advice. Dandridge, like many Black actresses of her time, was torn with playing a slave or maid. As Hattie McDaniel once said, “I’d rather play a maid then be one!” The iconic Rita Moreno took the role Tuptim and it was an international success. Dandridge once said she believed her turning down that character was the beginning of her downfall in Hollywood.

Still, Dandridge was one of the Black actors who set a standard and was selective of their movies. We don’t have to take what we don’t want. From Cuba to Tina, this is our decision… even if they made some regrets along the way.
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This Day in Film: ‘Set It Off’

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 8:00 am.

Fourteen years ago today, the action-crime drama Set It Off opened in theaters nationwide.  This was F. Gary Gray’s second film, the first being Friday in 1995.  In many ways, Set It Off was a first of its kind, starring four Black women as bank robbers.  Also, it didn’t hurt that the film featured some of the favorite Black actresses of the time, Vivica Fox, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and newcomer Kimberly Elise.

The ladies played women who were stuck in the poverty of Los Angeles, California. Ironically, none of the leads were from California. After Fox’s character is blamed for a robbery at the bank she worked at and is wrongfully fired from her job, the women start robbing banks on their own, hoping it will be a way out of their neighborhood.

The movie stirred some controversy with Queen Latifah playing a lesbian character, causing many to question her sexuality.  Fans credit her performance as Cleo as one of the best in her career.

The film was extremely violent for its time and had some hardcore action scenes. But, at its heart the storyline focused on friendship, and with its tear-jerker ending, Set It Off grossed nearly $42 million.

Check out the vintage trailer below.

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Jada Talks Open Marriage Rumors

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm.

People have been trying to say for years that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are in an open marriage or bisexual. Recently, Jada, whose second season of Hawthrone debuted this week, candidly dealt with the rumors.

We always have people that were attracted to that we talk about. That don’t stop just because your married. Somebody’s always gonna catch your eye. That’s real. Somebody’s gonna always be prettier than me, and somebody’s always gonna be more in awe of him than me and he gonna be like [in Will's voice] ‘yo she really like me,’ but as far as somebody being right for us…is there somebody right for a nice night? Maybe. But somebody that can sustain our life and sustain what we’ve built together, absolutely not!”

Sounds like a solid answer to me and a great way to have honesty in their relationship. Back up off Will and Jada!

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Movie Review: ‘The Karate Kid’

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 12:00 am.

Summary: Loosely based on the 1984 original, Jaden Smith is Dre Parker, a 12-year-old from Detroit who moves to Beijing because of his mother’s (Taraji P. Henson) job. Not fitting in with the kids in Beijing and being harassed by bullies, Dre takes up karate, taught by Mr. Han (Jackie Chan).

Review: Remakes are risky territory. Very few films get it right. Sometimes the era of that particular film is gone no matter how good the script. But, judging by the $56 million the flick brought in opening weekend, The Karate Kid overcame the remake curse.

While the 2010 version doesn’t have the heart of the original, this is a joyride flick that establishes Jaden Smith as a star in his own right. Expect several sequels, however, beware; the original Karate Kid was a box office and pop culture success that garnered an Oscar nod for Pat Morita, while the Karate Kids that followed were commercial and critical bombs. Read the rest of this entry »

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This Day in Film: Menace II Society

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 8:19 am.

menace_ii_societyExactly 17 years ago today the urban-hood drama, Menace II Society, hit theatres nationwide. The film was Allen and Albert Hughes‘ directorial debut, when they were only 20 years old and made on a budget of $3.5 million. Surprising to some, the Hughes Brothers were not from South Central, Los Angeles, which is where the movie was based, but raised in Detroit, Michigan and an area east of Los Angeles called Pomona. Also, they have a diverse background, their father being African-American and mother Armenian.

Menace II Society is the story of Caine Lawson, a recent high school graduate who is desperate to escape the violence and poverty of South Central, Los Angeles. Told through voice overs and in retrospect, the film depicted the disturbing reality of urban neighborhoods with extreme violence that topped the other films of its kind — Menace II Society made Boyz ‘N The Hood seem like a Disney movie. The flick made a record for its time by using the F-word 300 times in a 97-minute film.

Menace II Society came out in time when “gangsta” films were all the rage and making tons of money at the box office. Boyz ‘N the Hood and New Jack City were released just a couple years before and everyone wanted to duplicate it. However, the Hughes Brothers managed to find a unique and fresh way to tell the story, which resonated with audiences across all walks of life.

While the movie was hit with heavy criticism for supposedly glamorizing violence, the story scored well with the critics and grossed just short of $28 million at the box office. Menace II Society also won best movie at the 1994 MTV Movie Awards.

The flick launched the film career of Jada Pinkett and made Larenz Tate one of the most popular Black actors of the ’90s. Originally, 2pac was supposed to play the lead role but after he got into a fight with Allen Hughes, he was dropped from the project. Tyrin Turner replaced 2Pac.

Menace II Society is considered an urban classic. Check out the trailer!

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This Day In Film: The Matrix

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 12:00 am.

matrix3Eleven years ago today, The Matrix opened in theaters nationwide changing the trajectory of sci-fi films forever. Staring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, the Wachowski brothers flick captivated the globe with it’s philosophical plot line — humans are being controlled by robots and living in a fake world known as the Matrix. This false reality must be destroyed and “The One” is the only person who can accomplish this task.

Originally, The Matrix seemed like an implausible idea. A-list stars like Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery, Sandra Bullock and Will Smith all turned down roles. However, when the film hit theaters it was showered with rave reviews and ended up racking in over 460 million dollars nationwide. In addition, The Matrix won four Academy Awards for sound, editing and visuals.

Two more followed, none equaling the critical or box office success as the original. Nonetheless, the series continued with a diverse cast which included Jada Pinkett Smith, Mary Alice, Nona Gay, Roy Jones, Jr. and even Cornell West.

The Matrix is an undeniable classic. Check out the clip below.

The Matrix – Subway Fight
Uploaded by stoinstoin. – Classic TV and last night’s shows, online.

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Jada clears up the rumors…

Published by Clay Cane on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 12:00 am.

jadaIn an interview with NPR, Jada Pinkett Smith opened up about the rumors that have surrounded her nearly 12 year marriage with Will Smith. One, is that her and Will Smith have an “open” marriage and that they are secretly gay. Jada says as clear as humanly possible, “I don’t have an open marriage, No, we’re not gay — and you don’t trust that? Well then there’s nothing that I really have to say to anybody about anything, because at the end of the day, I’m living my life, and I’m happy.

Then, to add even more clarity she axes out that she practices Scientology, the religion that is widely popularized by Tom Cruise.  She says she is not teaching Scientology in her new school even though the school practices the L. Ron Hubbard method, who is the founder of Scientology.  Jada said many schools in Los Angeles teach this method.  She stresses Scientology is not taught in the school, and she or Will have no desire to teach Scientology. Just to make things crystal clear, the Matrix diva reiterated, “Our school is not and I repeat – NOT – a Scientology school.

Jada Pinkett Smith is returning to television for the TNT drama Hawthorne, in which she is the star and Executive Producer.

Click here to listen to the full interview from NPR.

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Beyonce as Angela Davis?

Published by Clay Cane on Monday, February 9, 2009 at 12:03 am.

abeyI’m sure you’ve heard the news that there is an Angela Davis biopic in the works. The director, Franco-Algerian Rachid Bouchareb, has his eye on Beyonce Knowles to play the legendary civil rights leader.

According to the Hollywood Reporter.

“Bouchareb, who will produce the movie through his French production company, plans to shoot in summer 2010 with a budget in the region of $20 million-$30 million, and is lining up a major French backer. The script is by novelist  Yasmina Khadra, whose book ‘The Attack’ has been optioned by Focus Features. No cast is yet attached but Bouchareb has his lead actress firmly in mind: ‘I want Beyonce Knowles to play Angela Davis,’ he said. ‘It’s a great dramatic role for her.’”

Bouchareb is from France so maybe he doesn’t realize there are actually other black actresses in the world other than Beyonce. Sure, she is a talented singer and dancer, but playing the role of Ms. Davis should be reserved for a stone-cold actress. Also, if you think Etta James got mad with Beyonce, you don’t want a former Black Panther who was once on the FBI’s most wanted list to have it in for Bey — she might stage a protest outside of the House of Dereon headquarters!

So, in the event that Bouchareb doesn’t know any better, here are a few names that would be better consideration. Please feel free to spread the word!

Thandie Newton

With an afro, Newton would probably look the most similar to Angela Davis. She is also becoming more of a bankable actress having recently appeared in crossover roles like RocknRolla and W., where she played Condoleezza Rice.






Taraji P. Henson

Taraji could be the next Halle Berry. She is an Oscar nominee and has a degree in theatre arts from Howard University.








Kerry Washington

You can’t go wrong with Kerry Washington. She is well-informed with politics, which one would need for this political role, and was amazing in films like The Last King of Scottland and Ray.







Regina King

King is a Screen Actors Guild nominee and has appeared in movies like Ray and Jerry Maguire. Pick Regina and the film just might be Oscar worthy — not Razzie worthy.







Jada Pinkett Smith

Will Smith’s wife might just be your number one pick. She is excels in aggressive female roles, a household name and might be willing to take a pay cut if there is a strong script — she ain’t struggling for cash with Big Willie.

Take notice!

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Top ten performances of 2008

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 12:05 am.

Well, the year is officially over.  2008 has been a quiet year for African-Americans in film.  Last year we had The Great Debaters, American Gangster, Talk to Me — however, this year there were very films telling stories about African-American life.  Still, you can’t ignore the performances, whether heavy and emotional or fun and fashionable.  Here are the best performances from African-American actors in 2008:

10. Will Smith in Seven Pounds

While not the best film, Smith still gave a great performance.  If anything was right about Seven Pounds, it was Will Smith.

9. Jada Pinkett Smith in The Women

Okay, I know The Women was an awful movie.  Nonetheless, it was Jada’s character that gave the film some life.  She played a lesbian, which was not in the original movie and managed to add some soul to a drab cast and trite script.  Jada makes anything look good.

8. Jennifer Hudson in Sex and the City

J-Hud beat out Kelly Rowland for this role and while some criticized her for taking a supporting role after winning an Oscar, this was a good look.  She played the role of Louise, who was Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant.

7.  Brandon T. Jackson in Tropic Thunder

Jackson held his own with comedic legends like Ben Stiller and Robert Downey, Jr. Tropic Thunder wasn’t without its controversy (Downey playing a white guy who is playing black), Jackson’s character said everything black audiences were thinking.  Hopefully we will see more from Jackson in the not so distant future.

6. Douglas Silva in City of Men

Douglas Silva is a Brazilian actor who starred in the critically acclaimed City of God and the television series City of MenCity of Men the film was released in the U.S. this year, which tells the story of Acerola (Silva) and his best friend turning eighteen.  A drug war breaks out and the two friends are tested beyond their limits.

5. Thandie Newton in Rocknrolla

The always stunning Newton gave a sizzling performance as the sassy and edgy Stella in Guy Ritchie’s Rocknrolla.  The Brit action-comedy revolves around clumsy criminals trying to get rich quick.

4. Sophie Okonedo in Secret Life of Bees

Okonedo is another underrated actress and her brilliance is hard to deny in any film.  She was the standout in Secret Life of Bees, holding her own among Grammy and Oscar winners.

3. Viola Davis in Doubt

Davis has been in film and television for over ten years and is just getting the attention she deserves.  Her performance in Doubt has already earned her a Golden Globe nomination and an Oscar nod is a strong possibility.

2. Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Taraji P. Henson might possibly be the next Halle Berry. She has grown from her days in 2001’s Baby Boy.  Now, she is getting recognition across the world for her performance as Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Henson received a SAG nomination and might battle out the Oscar with Viola Davis.

1. Jeffrey Wright in Cadillac Records

Littered with mixed reviews, Cadillac Records wasn’t the smash hit everyone hoped for. Whatever the case, you can’t ignore Wright’s performance as the legendary Muddy Waters.  Nearly every review praised his skills and he definitely has a bright future in Hollywood. If Cadillac Records would’ve been better written and executed, Wright would’ve had the year Jamie Foxx had with 2005’s Ray.

See you in the ‘09!

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