Rebecca Hall discusses the contemporary implication within her directorial debut Passing

Emily V. Aragones/Netflix © 2021

Rebecca Hall says her directorial debut, Passing, which is based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel of the same name, is an adaptation that offers contemporary implications on race.

Hall, who says she wrote the draft of the screenplay 13 years ago after reading the book for the first time, tells ABC Audio that, like Larson’s novel, her film also shows the “dangers” in adhering to the unspoken rules of what it is to be Black or white in America.

“I think we all go through this negotiation…whether we’re in the 1920s or now, or any time, where we think, ‘What is the kind of person that I want to be versus what is the sort of person that I think I ought to be?’” she says. “And how much…of they ‘think I ought to be’ have we internalized?’”

Hall says that internalization of how to assimilate to a specific race or culture is what both of her characters struggle with in the film. In fact, the director says Larsen is specifically making a critique about the “rigidity around these categories” and that there is “no monolithic version of Blackness or whiteness” or any other “identity” category.

“It’s interesting how complicated Irene’s own relationship is to her Black identity,” Hall shares. “Like she really wants to be an upstanding member of the Black community. She reads Crisis magazine, she organizes… the dance in the league…” 

She continues, “But she cannot talk to her husband or her children about the difficulties of living in a racist society. And I think that’s poignant today, as it was ever.“ 

Passing, also starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga is now available to stream on Netflix.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Viola Davis transforms into Michelle Obama in ‘The First Lady’; Steve McQueen sets next feature, ‘Blitz’

ABC

Entertainment Weekly has shared the first-look images of Viola Davis as former First Lady Michelle Obama in Showtime’s The First Lady, an anthology series about women in the White House.

As previously reported, the new series, told from the perspective of the women “at the heart of the White House” will also star Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford, Cailee Spaeny as Anna Roosevelt, and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt. The First Lady is scheduled to be released on Showtime in the spring of 2022.

In other news, Deadline is reporting that Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen has set his next feature film. McQueen has signed on to write, direct, and produce Blitz, a project based on his original idea. He will produce the project with New Regency, the company that helped to made his Oscar winning film 12 Years a Slave. Plot details on Blitz are being kept under wraps. The new film will begin production sometime next year.

Finally, Will Smith was apparently in the giving spirit during the making of his upcoming film, King Richard. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Smith, who was reportedly paid up to $40 million for his role as Richard Williams, gifted cash bonuses to his costars who worked with him on the critically-acclaimed drama. Those co-stars included, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, who play his daughters Venus and Serena, as well as Tony Goldwyn, Jon Bernthal and Aunjanue Ellis, among others. Smith’s bonuses to the cast came after Warner Bros. changed the release plan for the upcoming movie to debut simultaneously in theaters and on its streaming service HBO Max on November 19.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

50 Cent shares how he convinced Eminem to play White Boy Rick on Sunday’s episode of ‘BMF’

Courtesy of Starz

While BMF executive producer 50 Cent may currently be “disappointed” with Starz for prematurely releasing Sunday’s episode a week early, the rapper-turned-TV executive says he’s still incredibly proud of Eminem‘s performance in the upcoming episode.

50, who also serves as director for episode seven, says it wasn’t easy to get Eminem to play the notorious FBI informant White Boy Rick on the series.

“They’ve made huge offers,” 50 tells ABC Audio of previous opportunities that Eminem passed on. “Like I’ve gone out to Detroit to offer Em eight million dollars to do a movie. They bring it to me first because they felt like they had a better shot of him doing it if I bring it.”

50 points out that while Em may have had success in playing a loosely based version of himself in 8 Mile, since then he’s been reluctant to get back on screen.

“I don’t think he likes the processes as much as… music,” 50 explains. “[He works] organically on his time, when he feels like it…[unlike acting when]…you have to be ready…and prepare yourself to perform… There’s a…different kind of pressure.”

50 says it was only because of their friendship, and that fact that he was at the helm, that Eminem eventually signed on to do the role.

“I said, ‘You should play White Boy Rick,'” 50 recalls, before sharing how production transformed Eminem into the teenage FBI informant.

“They take each speckle of [Eminem’s] actual beard out of his face…so he can play White Boy Rick in the actual show,” 50 says. “And he just came out and did it for me because I was directing. And in episode seven, I think they’re going to really enjoy it.”

Episode seven of BMF airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

50 Cent shares how he convinced Eminem to play White Boy Rick on Sunday’s episode of ‘BMF’

Courtesy of Starz

While BMF executive producer 50 Cent may currently be “disappointed” with Starz for prematurely releasing Sunday’s episode a week early, the rapper-turned-TV executive says he’s still incredibly proud of Eminem‘s performance in the upcoming episode.

50, who also serves as director for episode seven, says it wasn’t easy to get Eminem to play the notorious FBI informant White Boy Rick on the series.

“They’ve made huge offers,” 50 tells ABC Audio of previous opportunities that Eminem passed on. “Like I’ve gone out to Detroit to offer Em eight million dollars to do a movie. They bring it to me first because they felt like they had a better shot of him doing it if I bring it.”

50 points out that while Em may have had success in playing a loosely based version of himself in 8 Mile, since then he’s been reluctant to get back on screen.

“I don’t think he likes the processes as much as… music,” 50 explains. “[He works] organically on his time, when he feels like it…[unlike acting when]…you have to be ready…and prepare yourself to perform… There’s a…different kind of pressure.”

50 says it was only because of their friendship, and that fact that he was at the helm, that Eminem eventually signed on to do the role.

“I said, ‘You should play White Boy Rick,'” 50 recalls, before sharing how production transformed Eminem into the teenage FBI informant.

“They take each speckle of [Eminem’s] actual beard out of his face…so he can play White Boy Rick in the actual show,” 50 says. “And he just came out and did it for me because I was directing. And in episode seven, I think they’re going to really enjoy it.”

Episode seven of BMF airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

AMC+ picks up Jodie Turner-Smith’s ‘Anne Boleyn’; Remake of ‘Midnight Run’ starring Regina Hall in the works

Courtesy of AMC+

AMC+ has announced they’ve picked up Jodie Turner-Smith‘s highly anticipated psychological thriller, Anne Boleyn.

On Monday, AMC+ shared that the new three-part original series, starring Turner-Smith in the titular role, will premiere its first episode in the U.S. on Thursday, December 9. The remaining two episodes will be released on consecutive Thursdays. As previously reported, Anne Boleyn follows the final months of Boleyn’s life from her perspective as she struggles to secure a future for her daughter. It will also show her determination to be seen as an equal in a patriarchal society and her ultimate demise by execution. Anne Boleyn, also starring Paapa Essiedu as Anne’s brother, George Boleyn, first aired in the U.K. back in May. 

In other news, Regina Hall is teaming up with Robert De Niro for a remake of the 1988 classic action comedy film Midnight Run. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hall is set to star in the forthcoming film, with De Niro attached to produce. The original film starred De Niro as a bounty hunter tasked with tracking down a former mob accountant, played by the late Charles Grodin. Together the two traveled cross-country trying to evade both the FBI and the mob. Plot details, as well as additional casting, have not been revealed.

Finally, SNL alum Kenan Thompson has been tapped to host the 2021 People’s Choice Awards. As previously reported, the ceremony will air simultaneously on NBC and E! on Dec. 7 at 9 p.m ET.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

How You Doin’? Wendy Williams gives update on her recovery

Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Wendy Williams is giving her fans a much-needed update on her ongoing health battle.

In a statement issued on Monday, Williams said she’s ready to go back to her duties as host “as soon as” the doctors give her the green light.

“HOW YOU DOIN’? I MISS YOU ALL! As everyone knows, my health has been a hot topic,” Williams’ statement reads. “I’m making progress but it’s just one of those things that’s taking longer than we expected.”

She continues, “I’m a woman of a certain age, and I know enough to listen to my doctors and will return to my purple chair as soon as we all agree I’m ready. I want to thank all of my staff and our guest hosts for stepping up and stepping in while I can’t be there.”

Williams then thanks her show’s production company, Debmar-Mercury, and the local affiliates “for being so understanding and supportive” while she recovers. She also thanks her “fans,” whom she says “are everything.”

“I have heard your prayers and comments and feel all the love!,” Williams writes, before adding that she’s “doing everything… to get back to work.”

“But right now Wendy has to focus on Wendy. I love you for watching,” she adds.

As previously reported, Williams has been absent from her show since it was originally expected to return on September 20 for the start of the 13th season. Her return was delayed due to ongoing health issues, which included testing positive for a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Since then, numerous guest hosts have filled in for her, including Sherri Shepherd, Leah Remini, Michael Rapaport and Jerry Springer.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Janet Mock to direct ‘The International Sweethearts of Rhythm’; Viola Davis’ ‘The Woman King’ gets 2022 release date

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Pose director and screenwriter Janet Mock has found her next major project.

Deadline has learned that Mock will direct and rewrite The International Sweethearts of Rhythm for Sony Pictures. Amy Pascal, Susan Tarr, Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman are all on board to produce the project. Plot details on The International Sweethearts of Rhythm have yet to be revealed.

In other news, TriStar Pictures has set a September 16, 2022 release date for the Gina Prince-Bythewood– directed feature The Woman King, Variety reports. The film, which stars Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu and John Boyega, is inspired by real events that took place in the powerful African state of Dahomey in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Meanwhile, Comedy Central is bring in some holiday cheer with their new film Clüsterfünke Christmas. Described as a “celebratory parody of the traditional TV holiday romance” the film that follows Vella Lovell as Holly, an ambitious real estate exec who visits a small town in hopes of turning the quaint Clüsterfünke Inn into a popular a mega-resort. There, she meets a quirky woodsman who makes her rethink her big- city life. Cheyenne Jackson, Ryan McPartlin, Nils Hognestad, Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer also star. Clüsterfünke Christmas premieres December 4 on Comedy Central.

Finally, ICYMI, All Rise star Philemon Chambers is leading the cast for Netflix’s LGBTQ+ holiday rom-com Single All the Way. Directed by Tony-Winning Michael Mayer, the film follows Michael Urie as Peter, a bachelor who convinces his best friend Nick, played by Chambers, to join him for the holidays as his pretend boyfriend. Peter’s plan goes awry when his mother sets him with a handsome trainer who has real potential. Single All the Way hits Netflix on December 2.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jay Ellis says real-life experiences helped set the tone for episode three of ‘Insecure’

Photograph by Merie W. Wallace/HBO

Jay Ellis says he stepped into the fifth and final season of Insecure with some real life connections to his character Lawrence. 

Ellis tells ABC Audio that when he started to film the new season, he and co-star Christina Elmore, who plays his ex and soon-to-be baby mother Condola, both found themselves identifying with their characters because they were both new parents in real life.

“At the time, Christina and I were the only parents on set,” he says, before explaining some of the things that new parents say to their partners. “So I think there were a lot of things that we were like, ‘Oooh, if you ever! Oooh, you bet not never — Ooh!’ … Especially new parents [who] don’t even realize they’re doing it.”

As first-time parents, Ellis says he and Elmore could easily empathize with their characters and the challenges they faced in co-parenting.

“We were realizing all these things that come up when you’re new parents that could only be 20 times more difficult if you and someone you’re co-parenting with aren’t on the same page,” he shares. “So… a lot of that stuff… came out as we got into shooting episode [three]. And just the feeling of, ‘What does it feel like for a new mother to be away from her kid, or for a new father, to be away from his kid?'”

Ellis believes that those real life connections are what make Issa Rae‘s HBO comedy series so relatable.

“Season after season, Issa and Prentice Penny would bring us into the room and they would tell us what the arc was for the season and we would talk about [our] stories — [and] how [to] infuse [them with]… what our characters were going through.”

Insecure airs Sunday on HBO at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jay Ellis says real-life experiences helped set the tone for episode three of ‘Insecure’

Photograph by Merie W. Wallace/HBO

Jay Ellis says he stepped into the fifth and final season of Insecure with some real life connections to his character Lawrence. 

Ellis tells ABC Audio that when he started to film the new season, he and co-star Christina Elmore, who plays his ex and soon-to-be baby mother Condola, both found themselves identifying with their characters because they were both new parents in real life.

“At the time, Christina and I were the only parents on set,” he says, before explaining some of the things that new parents say to their partners. “So I think there were a lot of things that we were like, ‘Oooh, if you ever! Oooh, you bet not never — Ooh!’ … Especially new parents [who] don’t even realize they’re doing it.”

As first-time parents, Ellis says he and Elmore could easily empathize with their characters and the challenges they faced in co-parenting.

“We were realizing all these things that come up when you’re new parents that could only be 20 times more difficult if you and someone you’re co-parenting with aren’t on the same page,” he shares. “So… a lot of that stuff… came out as we got into shooting episode [three]. And just the feeling of, ‘What does it feel like for a new mother to be away from her kid, or for a new father, to be away from his kid?'”

Ellis believes that those real life connections are what make Issa Rae‘s HBO comedy series so relatable.

“Season after season, Issa and Prentice Penny would bring us into the room and they would tell us what the arc was for the season and we would talk about [our] stories — [and] how [to] infuse [them with]… what our characters were going through.”

Insecure airs Sunday on HBO at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Anthony Hemingway to helm ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ remake; Regina King to direct, produce ‘A Man in Full’ for Netflix

Leon Bennett/FilmMagic

Emmy winner Anthony Hemingway has signed on to direct the upcoming The Preacher’s Wife remake.

According to Deadline, the new film will be a present-day “reimagining” of the 1996 original film and will feature original cast member Courtney B. Vance. As you may recall, the original film, directed by Penny Marshall, starred Denzel Washington as Dudley, an angel who comes to Earth to help a preacher, played by Vance, and his wife, Julia, portrayed by the late Whitney Houston, save their church and family. The film became a popular holiday staple and its soundtrack remains one of the best-selling gospel albums of all time. Additional casting on the new The Preacher’s Wife has yet to be announced.

In other news, Regina King is teaming up with producer David E. Kelley to adapt Tom Wolfe’s novel A Man in Full for Netflix, Deadline has learned. King will direct and exec-produce the limited series as part of her first-look deal with the streamer. Published in 1998, the book follows Atlanta real estate mogul Charlie Croker who, after facing sudden bankruptcy, must “defend his empire from those attempting to capitalize on his fall from grace.” Casting details on A Man in Full have not been revealed.

Finally, ICYMI, fans will get to see Kid Cudi open up about his years of battling depression, anxiety and drug abuse in the highly-anticipated Amazon documentary A Man Named Scott. The new doc, which features commentary from Kanye West, Timothée Chalamet, Shia LaBeouf, Willow Smith, and more, which chronicle his rise to fame as well as his troubled upbringing. A Man Named Scott hits Amazon Friday, November 5.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.