“‘Magnificent Seven’ Cast on How Diversity Helped Make a Modern Western”

“Westerns are one of Hollywood’s most beloved genres — but not one of its most diverse. That isn’t the case with this weekend’s “The Magnificent Seven.”

The film has a wide variety of actors from different races and backgrounds including Asian actor Byung-hun Lee, who’s from South Korea; Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo; and its star, Denzel Washington, who plays bounty hunter Sam Chisolm.

Washington told CNN at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month that the film’s diverse cast speaks to the reality of the setting in the west of the 1800’s.

“That was the reality of what was going on in those days,” Washington said. “The question is why wasn’t that the case for 100 years in the movie business?”

Washington added that having a positive film about outlaws trying to do the right thing could also have an impact on today’s audiences.

“People are afraid. They’re getting boxed in. They’re polarized. It’s this side against that side, so how do they feel safe?” he said. “We were talking about this earlier, ‘oh movies are going to fade away.’ No, people are going to the movies now more than ever because they want to be together.

Another star in the cast, Chris Pratt, who plays gambler Josh Farraday, said being part of the film allowed him to help make a new mark on an old genre.

“I always wanted to do a western,” Pratt said. “This is a timeless tale that has been told many times but it’s a relevant and new perspective. It’s a diverse cast of characters that’s really reflective of the modern world.”

“Magnificent Seven,” which is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, is expected to have a solid weekend at the box office, with revenue projections of about $30 million. But it could do better than that if it strikes a powerful note with moviegoers conscious of how issues of diversity have been in the news lately…”



“Bruce Lee-Inspired Crime Drama ‘Warrior’ From Justin Lin & ‘Banshee’ Co-Creator Gets Cinemax Pilot Order”

Cinemax has given a pilot order to Warrior, a crime drama based on original material written by Bruce Lee. Warrior has been a passion project for both the late martial arts icon and Fast & Furious helmer Justin Lin who is executive producing the pilot with an eye to direct. The pilot was written by Jonathan Tropper, co-creator of Banshee, Cinemax’s first homegrown primetime drama hit.

Set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the aftermath of the Civil War, Warrior tells the story of a young martial arts prodigy, newly arrived from China, who finds himself caught up in the bloody Chinatown Tong wars.

In 2013, Lin’s company partnered with Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, and Bruce Lee Enterprises to turn Lee’s material into a TV series.

Bruce Lee had spent many years working onWarrior, but it was never published or produced. Years after the Enter The Dragon actor’s sudden 1973 death at age 32, his daughter found a large collection of handwritten notes that Bruce wrote himself on the concept for the series that became the inspiration for the show. Perfect Storm Entertainment and Shannon Lee brought the idea to Cinemax in spring 2015, with Tropper coming on board as writer/executive producer.

Also executive producing are Perfect Storm’s Lin, president Troy Craig Poon and head of TV Danielle Woodrow as well as Shannon Lee of Bruce Lee Enterprises. The pilot is being produced for Cinemax by Perfect Storm Entertainment, Tropper Ink and Bruce Lee Entertainment.

In addition to his legacy as a martial arts and action star, Lee had strong writing interests and penned philosophy pieces as well as poetry…”


“The Dark Tower TV Series Will Adapt Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass”

“In honor of Stephen King’s birthday, the makers of The Dark Tower film are unwrapping their plans for the saga’s companion TV series.

The movie — starring Idris Elba as the gunslinger Roland Deschain, and Matthew McConaughey as the menacing Man in Black — opens on Feb. 17 and explores the hero and villain’s opposing quests to reach an otherworldly tower that connects their apocalyptic realm with ours.

Ever since the film project was first proposed, it came packaged with an unusual idea: a spin-off TV show that would fill in the fantasy epic’s prodigious backstory.

Now, sources at production company MRC and the film’s producer and co-screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, have revealed to EW exclusive details about what they have planned for that series.

First off, it’s definitely happening.

MRC and Sony Pictures, which is releasing the film, have committed not just to financing a pilot but a full run of between 10 and 13 episodes, depending on how the scripts and story arcs develop.The Dark Tower show will begin shooting in 2017 with plans to premiere it in 2018, ideally around the time the film becomes available on cable or streaming services.

What the producers don’t yet have is a distributor. The darkness of the story rivals that of Game of Thrones, so they will require either a cable or streaming platform (MRC also makes House of Cards for Netflix, so they have a history already.) But MRC is not going to wait for a partner to come aboard before moving forward.

Elba has signed on to appear as older Roland alongside Tom Taylor, 15, who plays Jake Chambers in the film, a boy from present-day New York who harbors a secret, psychic power and is grappling with visions of the tower and the men (and other creatures) who are trying to reach it…”


“Marvel’s Female Comic Characters: Inspiring Others And Taking Over The Silver Screen”

“For decades, the Marvel Comics scene has been filled with characters of all shapes, all sizes, all powers, going from the gigantic Hulk, to the shrunken Ant-Man. All of these characters have esteemed and familiar backgrounds complemented by fascinating origin stories. I mean, who doesn’t know Spider-Man? Or Captain America? Or Wolverine?

But hold up. Instead of looking at the popular lads of the Marvel Universe, let’s take a moment to appreciate the ladies. That’s right. We’re taking a moment to acknowledge the leading women of this universe, and the impact they have had on viewers and on the silver screen.

Here’s something that I find utterly important about the women of the Marvel Comics: Plenty of them are presented as equals to the men. Equal strengths, equal leaders, and overall equal individuals. They are not downgraded, as female character sadly tend to be, but instead they are portrayed as beacons of potential. Through Marvel Comics, we have truly been exposed to the idea of women in power.

For me, it is much more pleasing to see a heroine that is just as strong as any man. This only proves that gender means nothing. It’s simply a title of sex and not an established way to react to society’s expectations. Plenty of women from the Marvel Comics are regarded as embodiments of power…”


“What To Expect From Misty Knight In Luke Cage, According To The Actress”

“Netflix’s Luke Cage will debut later this month, and will bring quite a few familiar characters back into the fray — from Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, to the titular hero himself. However, the series will also introduce some awesome comic book characters that have never been adapted to the screen before, such as Misty Knight. With no precedent set, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from Ms. Knight’s arrival. According to actress Simone Missick we should expect all sorts of badass super heroics and consummate detective work. Missick explained:

She is bad…badass…She’s a detective in Harlem… Homebred and she really is passionate about her community and passionate about the people who live there. She was an athlete growing up, so you see a strong woman, not only mentally but physically. She also has this amazing superpower called Misty-vision, that she uses as a detective. She has the ability to look at a crime scene and figure out what happened, so she’s got this amazing clearance rate.

During a recent interview on Home & Family, Luke Cage actress Simone Missick opened up regarding her role as Misty Knight in the upcoming Netflix series, and explained the attributes that make her character so badass. By her own estimation, Misty Knight is a tough as nails Harlem detective, in top physical condition, and she has an uncanny intuition for solving crimes. Jokingly referring to it as “Misty-vision,” Missick elaborated and explained that Misty Knight has a unique ability to work through a crime scene just by looking at the evidence. She’s Sherlock Harlem.

Obviously we should note that impressive deductive reasoning skills might not necessarily be considered true superpowers by a number of fans, but it shows that Misty Knight has some inherently useful talents that will make her a valuable ally to Luke Cage (Mike Colter) throughout the course of the series…”


“Marvel Comics Icon Stan Lee Talks Superhero Diversity And Creating Black Panther”

“Stan Lee is not just the elderly mustachioed man who cameos in every Marvel movie. The spry 93-year-old also co-created most of the comic book company’s stable of superheroes — from Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Avengers to Spider-Man, Iron Man and even Guardians of the Galaxy’s sentient tree, Groot.

Working with artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee introduced these soon-to-be iconic characters in an unparalleled burst of creativity during the early 1960s. Of course, at the time he had no idea they would last, much less eventually take over, post-millennial popular culture a half-century later.

“I never thought of it that way,” Lee tells HuffPost Canada over the phone from his California home where he’s “multitasking” by signing posters he’ll be bringing to his last trip to Toromoraeynto’s Fan Expo, which runs Sept 1 – 4. (He’s healthy, by the way, just will no longer be attending comic conventions back east because he’s, well, 93.)

“I would write the stories, and hope the public would buy them and like them, and then I’d be able to pay the rent. I never really spent time thinking how how long will that last, because I knew if the character became unpopular, I can always write another one.

“I was always writing other ones.”

Indeed he was, and some of them pushed beyond the white, mostly male superhero blueprint laid by DC Comics a few decades earlier with Batman, Superman and later the rest of the Justice League. The 1960s was an era of social and political upheaval, and that bled into Lee’s work, though he demurs somewhat.

“You were always aware of all those social issues, but I wasn’t writing political stories or social stories. I was just trying to write stories that people of all ages and sexes would enjoy reading. If we touched on any issue, I did it very lightly,” he says. But when he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2008, the dedication cited that “these new stories provided a medium for social commentary. In 1972, when he became the publisher, he used his editorial page, ‘Stan’s Soapbox,’ to speak to the comic book reader about social justice issues such as discrimination, intolerance, and prejudice.”

And it wasn’t just on the back pages…”


Beyond the Kiss: ‘Star Trek’ Embraces Diversity”

“Like a lot of things in life, it started with a kiss.

The 1968 Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” began like most others:  The crew meets a new alien race. The villains of the story start wreaking havoc. And then Captain Kirk (William Shatner), a white man, and Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), a black woman, kissed.

Widely thought to be the first interracial kiss depicted on television (although archivists have found earlier examples), the episode was a monumental moment in American television and culture.

“I made sure they didn’t have a place to edit. I just forced the pace. I don’t quite remember what I did but it apparently worked,” Shatner recalls of the day they shot the scene. “My goal was to sustain the kiss so they couldn’t cut away from it.”

“Talking to people who witnessed it on television in its original airing, it was like a nuclear bomb went off in their living rooms,” says Shawn Taylor, a writer for web site Nerds of Color.  “The best science fiction is always about the present.”

Star Trek has gone boldly where few shows had gone before in terms of diversity and representation, in that historic moment and beyond. The sci-fi series, and its movies, repeatedly tackled themes of race and identity, years before other shows would even touch them. Even the cast of the original series was revolutionary.

“That vision that (original series creator Gene Roddenberry) had: starship Enterprise, a metaphor for starship Earth,” original cast member George Takei tells Neil deGrasse Tyson in his new book, Star Talk. “And the strength of the starship lay in its diversity, coming together and working in concert. Nobody was thinking that.”

Roddenberry’s son Rod, now chief of Roddenberry Entertainment, agrees. The show “was about searching out and finding new ideas. That was the most fundamental thing,” he says. “Let’s find a new alien. Who cares what they look like? Let’s find out what they know about the universe, even if it’s contrary to our beliefs…”