“Kendrick Lamar Interviews N.W.A About Coming ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and Changing the World”

When Kendrick Lamar arrives this Friday evening at a cavernous photo studio in the flatlands of industrial Hollywood, he’s 30 minutes early. And the occasion has been nearly 25 years in the making: Lamar, 28, is here to interview the four living members of N.W.A for their first magazine cover together since Ice Cube went solo in 1991 and the group collapsed into a famously bitter feud. Eazy-E died in 1995, at 31.

But today, Lamar meets with four men who defined his hometown of Compton, Calif., as a cradle of politically engaged, uncompromisingly hardcore hip-hop. With a modest demeanor that suggests nothing of his status as rap’s leading visionary and an entourage numbering just two associates and a publicist, he seems genuinely humbled to be here. When the group arrives, he is quick to pay his respects: first to Dr. Dre, then Ice Cube, then DJ Yella and MC Ren. They all share warm smiles and hugs.

“Ain’t nobody we’d rather have do this interview,” says Cube, 46.

“Have you seen the movie?” asks Dre, 50.

“Not yet,” answers Lamar. “Didn’t want to go to a preview and see it in a privileged setting. Would rather wait for it to come to the neighborhood and see it with everyone else. That way it’ll mean the most to me.”

The movie is Straight Outta Compton, which on Aug. 14 emerges from 13 years in development purgatory. Universal ultimately green-lit the project with a budget of $29 million; a screenwriter, Jonathan Herman; and a director, F. Gary Gray, all orchestrated with close oversight by Cube and Dre. (Cube is played by his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., 24.)

The result is a hard-hitting narrative replete with the conviction and turmoil that typified N.W.A in its heyday.

That heyday kicked off in 1988 — the same year Lamar turned 1 — with the release of the movie’s namesake album. No one had yet seen how Los Angeles could contribute to the simmering rap culture. And Compton, a gang stronghold just south of Watts, held no place in the American imagination…”


“BBC Details Steve McQueen Drama; Sets Motown-Themed Series”

“As the BBC faces an uncertain future with the government assessing its remit, BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore touted the channel’s record breaking year this morning in Edinburgh, and unveiled an upcoming slate of dramas. Moore is in town for the Guardian Edinburgh Interational TV Festival where she spilled details on the previously mooted Steve McQueen-created drama, as well as a new musical drama that incorporates the anthems of Motown, and a one-off adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The 12 Years A Slave helmer’s untitled six-part drama will tell the stories of a West Indian community in London whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will. Beginning in 1968 and running through the 80s, it starts at the moment of Enoch Powell’s notorious River of Blood speech. In the same year, a small restaurant called The Mangrove opens in Ladbroke Grove; a place of cameraderie and friendship that becomes a social heart for the community — and, over time, a flashpoint for resistance. Rainmark Films is producing for BBC One with cast and timeline to come.

McQueen calls the stories “passionate, personal and unique. They are testimony to the truth of real lives and urgently need to be told. This is about a legacy which has not only made my life as an artist possible, but also has shaped the Britain that we live in today…”


“The Best and Worst TV Shows for Female, Minority Directors: DGA Study”

“The Directors Guild of America has released its best and worst lists of TV shows that hire female and minority directors.

Four out of the 27 worst violators — shows that had no minorities or women directing — were HBO productions, including “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Brink,” “The Comeback” and Cinemax/HBO’s “Banshee.”

The year’s top network in diverse hires was BET, which had three shows — “Being Mary Jane,” “The Game,” “Single Ladies” — with 100% minority or female directors. CBS’ “The McCarthys” came in at No. 4 at 93%. (See full list below)

Overall, female directors are seeing a modest gain in employment on television as the number of episodes directed by women rose to 16% from 14% for the 2014-15 season, the DGA report shows.

But DGA president Paris Barclay, a veteran TV director and showrunner, said much more needs to be done. “The uptick in the number of episodes directed by women — modest but hopeful — is just a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done by studios, networks and showrunners before we can begin to realize equal opportunities in television for our members,” he said in a statement.

“With so many more episodes and work opportunities, employers should seize the opportunity for diversity with their choices, especially when it comes to first-time episodic directors. Without employers making a concerted effort to bringing a more diverse mix of new entrants to the hiring pool, we won’t see meaningful and lasting change.”

Bethany Rooney and Todd Holland, co-chairs of the DGA’s Diversity Task Force, said in a statement that the networks need to step up their efforts: “We hear a lot of reasons from studios, networks and series showrunners about why they are powerless to make a change when it comes to diverse hiring. It’s time for everyone to look closely at exactly how hiring decisions are made, and for employers to take ownership and develop plans outlining the steps they will take to bring their hiring practices into the twenty-first century.”

The survey included more than 3,900 episodes produced in the 2014-15 network television season and the 2014 cable television season from more than 270 scripted series. Minorities (male and female) directed 18% of all episodes, representing a 1% decrease over the prior year…”


“Mockingbird/Lance Hunter ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Spin-Off Possible Once Again”

“Back in April it was reported that an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff was possible and likely to feature Adrianne Palicki’s Mockingbird and Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter. We then immediately discovered this wasn’t happening and we’d only see a third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a second season of Agent Carter.

Variety has just reported that the project might be back on except it’s kind of not really a spinoff.

Apparently ABC is about to close a deal to order a pilot that would center on the two characters. The show would be titled Marvel’s Most Wanted. It’s two characters from S.H.I.E.L.D. yet it’s not a spinoff?

Insiders say the series is not a spinoff, per se, but rather an entirely new project solely focused on the two characters to continue their story. Though plot details are scarce at this point, “Marvel’s Most Wanted” will follow the pair and their adventures together.

The producers of S.H.I.E.L.D., Jeffrey Bell and Paul Zbyszewski would co-write the pilot and serve as showrunners and executive producers with Jeph Loeb also executive producing. It’s not clear when or where it would premiere and whether or not it’d be introduced through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We’ll update as soon as more information is announced.

While it’d be a shame to lose these two on the show, AoS is becoming a little crowded. With the possible new direction focusing on the Secret Warriors, Inhumans, and the Caterpillar files, it makes some sense to move these characters to their own show.”


“Marvel and Netflix’s ‘Luke Cage’ Casts Alfre Woodward”

“Netflix’s Marvel series “Luke Cage” has added Alfre Woodward to the cast, TheWrap has learned.

Details of her character are being kept under wraps.

Mike Colter stars on the third collaboration between Marvel and Netflix, following “Daredevil,” which aired earlier this year, and “Jessica Jones,” which will be released in the fall. Colter’s superhero alter-ego will first appear on “Jessica Jones,” which stars Krysten Ritter.

“Fans have longed to see Luke Cage brought, and in Mike we’ve found the perfect actor,” said Jeph Loeb, executive producer and Marvel’s head of television, at the time of Colter’s casting. “Viewers will get to meet Luke Cage in ‘Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones,’ and experience why he is such an important super hero in the Marvel mythos.”

“Luke Cage” is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios for Netflix.”


“Yvonne Craig who, as Batgirl, Was a Pioneer of Female Superheroes Passes Away”

“Before Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, before Joanna Cameron’s Isis, before Scarlett Johannsson’s Black Widow, Yvonne Craig was a pioneer of female superheroes on screen.  As an actress, she originated the role of Batgirl in the 1960s “Batman” television series. As a trained dancer, she did her own stunts.

Craig died this week after a long two-year battle with breast cancer. She was 78.  The cancer metastasized to her liver, and she died Monday in her home in Pacific Palisades.

“She had been in chemo almost continuously for the past two plus years since being diagnosed and that had weakened her immune system as well as her body,” her family said in a statement late Tuesday night. “This didn’t dampen her sense of humor or her spirit, she intended to fight and win this battle. In the end, her mind still wanted to fight but her body had given up.”

Craig originated the role of Batgirl in the show’s third and final season in 1967, kapowing and zzonking the bad guys alongside Adam West and Burt Ward’s dynamic duo of Batman and Robin.

“I hear from women that I was their role model,” she told CNN in an interview earlier this year. “‘When I was a little girl, I realized that girls could kick butt just like guys,’ [they’d say].”

She also had a memorable role as the green-skinned Orion slave girl Marta who wanted to kill Captain Kirk in a third-season episode of “Star Trek.”  But even beyond those two well-remembered roles, Craig had a long and illustrious career that began as the youngest member of a ballet company.

Accidental actress

In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Craig explained how she got into acting while she was still touring as a dancer.

“I was invited to dinner by a man who was a producer, who wanted to put me in movies and I said I wasn’t interested,” she said. “[Director] John Ford’s son walked by and asked ‘Excuse me, are you an actress?’ And as I shook my head and tried to swallow, [the producer said], ‘She is and I’m her manager. What can I do for you?’ Typical Hollywood.

“They were doing a movie with John Wayne’s son Patrick, and they were looking for a leading lady. And I became it.”  That was 1959’s “The Young Land.”

She went on to appear in several films, including two with Elvis Presley — “It Happened at the World’s Fair” and “Kissin’ Cousins.”  She then parlayed her success into television roles, guest starring in several series, most notably several episodes of “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” and “77 Sunset Strip.”

Then came her role as Batgirl.

A hero is born

DC Comics was asked to create a new Batgirl to help get the show a third season, and Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, Barbara, took on the identity of the newest masked avenger in Gotham City, both on TV and in the comic books.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Craig said.

As Batgirl, Yvonne Craig fought for equal pay

“The crew liked one another, the cast liked one another. It doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it’s a joy to go to work every day. I got to work with people that I would never have the chance to work with. We had Ethel Merman, I would never have met Milton Berle, I got to work with him, and he was a delight.”

Craig described the characters of Barbara Gordon and Batgirl as “very close to who I am…”


“Star Wars’ Fans Found Out About John Boyega’s Lightsaber Before His Own Dad”

“Now, I get to say I hold a lightsaber.”

Those are some of the first words Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor John Boyega told ETonline when we spoke over the weekend at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California.

During the stunning Live Action presentation on Saturday, an Episode VIIposter designed by famed artist Drew Struzan was revealed (and gifted) to the 7,500 attendees, confirming that Boyega’s character wields (and uses) the infamous blue lightsaber that once belonged to Luke Skywalker and his father Anakin (who later becomes Darth Vader).

“The fans get to know the blue lightsaber is back!” said Boyega. “And it just so happens to be in my hands. So, you know. Might as well use it.”

Finn’s tie to the infamous saber was hinted at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim in April, when concept art showed Boyega’s character with a lightsaber in tow. But suspicions are now confirmed: Finn will use a lightsaber in The Force Awakens, a secret he had no problem keeping from anyone and everyone.

“I actually haven’t told my dad,” said Boyega. “My dad’s been dying to know whether or not I hold a lightsaber, so after I go and talk to everyone I’m definitely going to go tell my dad, ‘Oh yeah, Dad. I hold a lightsaber!’”


“Club De Cuervos Is Netflix’s Freshest New Series of the Year”

“The first exclusively Spanish language series, shot entirely in Mexico and conceived/created in the United States, Club De Cuervos, Netflix’s brand new series is not only this summer’s most binge-worthy delight, but should be applauded as a game changer in the burgeoning world of globally-designed entertainment. The series, in which billionaire Mexican siblings feud over the family-owned soccer team (The Cuervos, Spanish for “the Crows”) was designed not just for a Mexican audience, but for the entire soccer-loving world, which let’s face it, is almost the entire world. Much like the Spanish cousin to Netflix’s current Emmy darling, Orange Is The New Black,Club De Cuervos oscillates brilliantly from laugh-out-loud comedy to poignant drama, while never dipping into Latin stereotypes or telenovela melodrama.

Created by former USC roommates, Gaz Alazraki and Michael Lam, Club De Cuervos‘ small, diverse writing staff, were Los Angeles based, and flown to Mexico for an extensive research trip and production shoots. A unique and unprecedented approach. Alazraki, well established in Mexico for his mega-successful film, Nosotros Los Nobles, insisted on Hollywood-trained comedy room writers who were familiar with the kind of scripted, appointment television that he liked to watch. Something that doesn’t exist in quite the same way in Mexico. He cast a wide net in Hollywood. Alazraki wasn’t necessarily even looking for Spanish speaking writers, he was just looking for the right writers.

One of those writers was Alessia Costantini, who became the only female on the staff and the show’s Co-Executive Producer. Costantini began nearly ten years ago as a television production assistant, earned her stripes in many writers rooms as a writers’ assistant, and was staffed on the final season of Scrubs. She also wrote for Everybody Hates Chris, and has sold original comedy pilots, including Building Slut to Sony. She is currently the head writer and Co-Executive Producer of CMT’s scripted debut series, Still The King, with Billy Ray Cyrus.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Costantini, whose previous career was industrial engineering in her native Detroit – worlds away from the Hollywood comedy writer’s room.

Xaque Gruber: You are one of five writers on Club De Cuervos. Did you feel you had a certain role in the writers’ room being the only female in the bunch?

Alessia Costantini: This writing team — Gaz, Jay Dyer, Mike Lam and Russell Eida — was phenomenal. We were such a family. Because I was the only female in the room, part of my marching orders were to keep an eye on the way that women were depicted on the show. I was honored to have that responsibility. It was challenging because I knew we were facing a culture that had certain stereotypes in place…”


“Netflix Teases Updated Daredevil Costume for Season Two”

“If the suit makes the man, then fans of Marvel’s Netflix series Daredevil have something to look forward to: Netflix has released a photo teaser of Matt Murdock’s new superhero costume via Twitter.

During the first season of Daredevil, which focused primarily on the origins of Hell’s Kitchen’s favorite vigilante, Matt Murdock could be seen running around in a ninja-like, DIY supersuit, a huge difference from his signature red.

When his Daredevil duds were revealed on the season finale of the the show, they didn’t receive the greatest response, which is why the tweeted photo is a bit of a relief.

Created by Drew Goddard (who garnered his credentials as a co-executive producer and a producer on Lost and Alias respectively), the show stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk.

Joining the current core cast is Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street, Fury), who is set to become Matt Murdock’s foil and rival for season 2 of the Netflix/Marvel show as the (highly-anticipated) Punisher. As Rosario Dawson discussed with Cinema Blend about the latest incarnation of the Punisher and his thematic affect on the show:

“[The Punisher is] going to raise the stakes so much more, because Matt Murdock almost behaves like the Punisher in the first season. [Matt] crosses the line quite often, so it’s going to be really interesting to see how they differentiate them and where that goes.”

In addition to the Punisher, Elektra will finally make her series debut, according to a teaser released by the Daredevil Netflix account on July 7, 2015. French actress élodie Yung (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) was cast for the role that same month…”


“Falcon And Winter Solider Are On The Run In New Image From Captain America: Civil War”

“Filming continues on the Berlin set of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War and with it, we have a new image from the production that showcases Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan on the run.

Reprising their roles as Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Solider), respectively, the snap sees the superpowered pairing engage in a footrace together, and the still itself offers up our first look at Bucky’s characters sporting his full costume – albeit with a pre-CG bionic arm.

Today’s image is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Civil War tidbits, after Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Daniel Brühl and Emily VanCamp were all spotted in a series of set photos, while D23 attendees were left flabbergasted at the first sizzle reelfor Joe and Anthony Russo’s upcoming threequel. Alas, said footage has been firmly locked behind closed doors ever since, and it’s likely that Marvel won’t release the clip into the vying hands of the public for some time yet.

Divided by the controversial superhero legislation after yet another international incident makes the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Captain America: Civil War will see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes split into two opposing camps, toplined by Tony Stark and Cap. Having built up the pair’s tension now over two films, next year’s blockbuster will see the rivalry reach boiling point, with massive ramifications for the Avengers and the MCU as a whole.

Captain America: Civil War will kick the Marvel Cinematic Universe up into Phase Three when it arrives on May 6, 2016…”