“Roots Episode 1 Review: ‘Brit Actor Malachi Kirby is Astonishing in This Powerful Remake'”

Nobody wanted to see Roots.

That was the verdict of America’s ABC network in 1977. They had paid $6.6 million (unheard of at the time) to produce a miniseries based on Alex Haley’s best-seller chronicling his African ancestors journey from their homeland, via slave ships, to the American plantations.

But when ABC’s executives looked at the rushes and saw a proliferation of whippings, lynching and rape, they suffered a collective case of cold feet.

They decided to cut their losses and burn the entire series off, screening it over eight consecutive nights in January. However, the plan backfired. Roots became a national obsession, a talking point in every American household, and the final episode was watched by more than 100 million people.

The performances, particularly that of LeVar Burton as Kunte Kinte, the displaced warrior lashed by his master until he accepted his slave name, were iconic.

The casting of beloved prime-time patriarchs such as Lorne Greene, Lloyd Bridges and even Robert Reed, the affable dad from The Brady Bunch, as snarling, sadistic slave traders and overseers, drew in mainstream America while simultaneously teaching them a blood-soaked history lesson.

Burton pronounced himself both “incredulous and troubled” when he heard rumours of a Roots remake. He believed there was no conceivable way a fresh take on Haley’s material could have anything approaching the impact of the original, especially in an era of dwindling audiences.

But when he realised that few viewers under 40 had any kind of familiarity with the 1977 miniseries, Burton gave the project his blessing and signed on as executive producer.

The first episode in the four-night, eight-hour 2016 iteration of Roots is both a horror film and an action movie. Its opening half-hour is devoted to establishing the life and relationships of Kunta Kinte (British actor Malachi Kirby) and then ripping him away from his home and family in Juffere, West Africa…”


“Rosa Salazar to Lead ‘Battle Angel Alita’”

James Cameron has been developing Battle Angel, an adaptation of the Manga series Battle Angel Alita for years now, but with his attention pulled in the direction of the ever-expanding Avatar franchise there has been relatively little visible forward progress until recently. Cameron handed over directorial duties to Robert Rodriguez last year and the filmmakers set out to find the right young woman to lead the film. Last month, news broke that the search had narrowed down to three candidates — including It Follows star Maika Monroe, Disney sensation Zendaya, and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials standout Rosa Salazar. Today, we have learned from sources that Salazar has landed the coveted role.

Based on the manga series by Yukito KishiroBattle Angel takes place in the 26th century and tells the story of an amnesiac female cyborg who is rescued from a scrapyard by a doctor, rebuilt with no memory of her previous life excepting her kickass martial arts skills, and becomes a bounty hunter tracking down vicious criminals. Salazar has a pretty impressive resume for an up-and-coming actress, especially for only having been on the scene for the last five years, and after a notable turns in InsurgentThe Scorch Trials, and the wonderful FX comedy Man Seeking Woman she’s become a name to watch. Now, she’s landed what could be her breakout role.

Rodriguez is also in the running to helm an adaptation of Jonny Quest, and when Steve sat down with producer Adrian Askarieh late last year, it sounded like that film was starting to finally taking steps towards production, but with Battle Angel casting up, it seems like Quest might need a new director…”


“Marvel’s Netflix Shows Will Be Bridged Together With One Key Character”

“Superhero work is a dangerous business, and if you’re not coming back with injuries after fighting crime, you’re either extremely good at your job or you’re not doing it right. Fortunately for Daredevil’s titular hero Matt Murdock, he was able to turn to nurse Claire Temple to get stitched up several times, and with each visit they grew closer. Although she didn’t star in as many episodes as some of the other main characters, she was nonetheless an important member of the cast, which is why many fans will be pleased to hear we’ll be seeing more of her next year.

Marvel revealed today that Rosario Dawson will be reprising her role as Claire in Daredevil‘s second season. However, the announcement also stated that her return is part of a “larger exclusive TV deal” that will let her appear in any of Marvel’s other Netflix programming. This is another example of how these Marvel shows will be crossing over with one another in the coming years.

Other examples includes the Defenders miniseries, which will see all of Marvel’s Netflix heroes teaming up together, and Luke Cage debuting on A.K.A. Jessica Jones. As for Dawson’s Claire, it sounds like she will serve as the connective thread between many these shows, similar to Nick Fury’s role during Marvel’s Phase One slate of movies…”


“Jessica Jones is Getting a New Marvel Comics Series Thanks to Her Netflix Show’s Popularity”

“It sounds like that “Alias” follow-up is pretty much a certainty at this point — and when it drops, expect the original creative team of writer Brian Michael Bendis, interior artist Michael Gaydos and cover artist David Mack back on the book.

During Marvel’s Next Big Thing panel at Emerald City Comicon, Bendis all-but-confirmed that a continuation of his Jessica Jones saga is in the pipeline. When asked about a potential “Alias” sequel series at some point, Bendis said, “This isn’t an official announcement, but I’ll tell you, in lieu of it — yes.”

Bendis revealed that he’s waiting for Michael Gaydos to finish a graphic novel, as he thinks that if Jessica Jones were to return to “do her thing,” it should be with the original team — including David Mack on covers.

“After ‘Civil War II’ you can look for a return. I genuinely think you’ll be surprised by what we do in the first issue. I pitched it actually to Melissa Rosenberg, who runs the TV show, at WonderCon and she said, ‘Really?’ But wait for the official announcement, because this is not it.”

The unofficial announcement comes after a new Jessica Jones-led series was teased at C2E2 last month, when a fan asked Tom Brevoort about the possibility of a new book with the character. Now we know for sure it’ll directly follow “Alias,” and not release as “The Pulse” or as a “Jessica Jones” TV tie-in.”


“The Animated Spider-Man Movie May Make A Major Change To The Hero”

“Earlier this month, Spider-Man was introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe through Captain America: Civil War. Tom Holland’s performance was praised by numerous critics and fans, and his Peter Parker is returning next year for Spider-Man: Homecoming. However, the Web-Slinger isn’t just getting live action attention on the big screen. Last year, it was announced that Sony is working on an animated Spider-Man move that is unconnected to the MCU.

Now it’s being reported that it won’t be Peter underneath the mask in this movie, but Miles Morales instead.

While Peter Parker is having his MCU adventures, Heroic Hollywood has heard that Miles Morales will be the focus of the animated Spider-Man movie. No plot details were revealed, so it’s unclear whether Peter Parker preceded him in this world or ifMiles will be the only Spider-Man ever. Either way, if this rumor ends up being true, it will be his biggest media appearance yet, introducing him to people who don’t read the comics on a regular basis. Miles’ inclusion would also add more diversity to the world of big screen superheroes, as he is half African American and half Latino.

The report later mentioned Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man and The Ultimate Spider-Man: Miles Morales as working titles…”



“Black Panther: Ryan Coogler On MCU Directing, Hamilton, and Working With Women”

Black Panther has been in the news a lot this past week for its excellent casting decisions, but it’s director Ryan Coogler who has us the most excited to see this upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe standalone film.

After launching onto the Hollywood scene with indie drama Fruitvale Station, Coogler went on to successfully relaunch the Rocky franchise with last year’s Creed. Now, he is poised to solidify the place of one of the MCU’s new, Phase Three generation of superheros.

Fast Company caught up with the 29-year-old American director to chat Black Panther, the importance of collaborating with women, and whether or not he would want to direct a Hamilton musical. Here’s what he had to say…

The challenges of directing in the MCU.

In a month that also brought us Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi making jokes on Twitter with his fellow MCU directors about the difficulty of the job, Coogler more seriously chatted with Fast Company about the challenges of keeping films personal within the larger shared cinematic universe, saying:

It’s a specific challenge. What Marvel’s doing, and what you see a lot of studios doing now that Marvel has done it so successfully, is making content that exists in a particular universe, where the characters tie in and crossover, and I think that’s a great creative challenge to me—to make this movie as personal as possible. It’s going to be my most personal movie to date, which is crazy to say, but it’s completely the case.

I’m obsessed with this character and this story right now, and I think it’s going to be very unique and still fit into the overall narrative that they’re establishing. I grew up as a comic book fan, and the same things used to happen in the comic books. You’d have Wolverine’s books, and they’d be so much darker and more brutal than the X-Men books, but they’d still fit in when you open the pages of the X-Men book. It’s new to movies, but it’s not new to storytelling…


“Aziz Ansari Promises to Do “Even More” for Diversity in ‘Master of None’ Season 2 “

“We already know the forthcoming sophomore season of Aziz Ansari’s Peabody-winning Netflix series Master of None will most likely take place in Italy, but what else can we expect? According to Ansari, who recently sat down with Scandal star Kerry Washington for a Variety-hosted discussion on diversity, fans of the series should expect an even stronger pushback against the pervasive whiteness of the entertainment industry.

“Our show, it’s an Indian guy, Asian guy, so there’s going to be more Indian people, Asian people,” Ansari said. “We have a diverse group of friends and we didn’t even really think about it when we were making the show that ‘oh, this is diverse.’ We were just like ‘this feels real.'” But for Master of None‘s second round of truth-laced comedy, Ansari is taking a more determined approach.

“One thing I’ve thought about in going from season 1 to season 2 is now we’re in a position to help other people,” Ansari said. “In season 2 I’ve been like I gotta find—I gotta do just even more—and find even more actors of color and writers of color….”


“Live-Action ‘Ghost In The Shell’ Movie Adds Rila Fukushima To Its Cast”

“One of the latest additions to the live-action Ghost in the Shell movie is that of Rila Fukushima, a Japanese actress and model. However, the timing of this announcement feels more like damage control after the backlash surrounding the film’s apparent whitewashing.

In case you are not familiar with Fukushima’s past work, she played Yukio in The Wolverine and a Red Priestess in Game of Thrones (the one that creeps out Tyrion in case you are wondering). She is a good actress and has worked in some Japanese TV series as well in the past, so I am happy to see her working on something like Ghost in the Shell. Along with Takeshi KitanoKaori Momoi and Yutaka Izumihara, Fukushima is yet another Japanese actor on the cast list for the movie. However, we don’t know yet what role she will be taking.

 The timing of all this does feel somewhat strange though, as there has been increasing calls against the film for whitewashing its main cast and subsequently straying from the cultural origins of its host work.  So much so that executives on the movie experimented with making Scarlett Johansson look more Asian through digital alteration, though the studio strenuously denies this…”