Many eyebrows were raised when Lou Gossett Jr. intimated in a previous interview that BET’s first mini-series “The Book of Negroes” may be better than his own classic “Roots” and “12 Years a Slave.” Now you can see for yourself as the film airs on the network Feb. 16-18.
The Oscar and Emmy winning actor portrays the complex Daddy Moses, a blind and crippled religious leader, in this adaptation of the award-winning Laurence Hill novel by Canadian director Clement Virgo. It also stars Aunjanue Ellis, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Lyric Bent.
Gossett, now 78, said he drew upon the spirits of his grandparents and great-grandmother, who was a slave, in preparing for the role. “She used to raise me and my cousins,” he recalled. “She was approximately 112 when she died. The stories we heard from her!”
Gossett, who played the iconic role of “Fiddler” in the original “Roots” series, said charges of inauthenticity in such films are not significant.
“There’s a history lesson, even in semi-fiction, as long as the point is the same,” he said. “There are a lot of things in ‘Roots’ that might’ve been a little inaccurate, but everybody got the idea. As in “The Butler” and “Selma.”
His reaction to Oscar snubs of certain black films was strong. “If we want to change things with the Academy we must participate and involve ourselves in it,” said Gossett, himself a proud member. “We can’t get angry when we’re left out if we don’t [participate]. Not just the Academy, but society. We still have in the DNA a ‘you owe us’ mentality.”
“There’s a backlash when you’re white and liberal and love everybody,” he pointed out. “To be said that you’re the villain in those big famous movies doesn’t make you feel good. We have to understand that. Still we have to tell the stories.”
Gossett said he doesn’t think there should be a “Roots” remake, but has nothing but love for its original producer, David L. Wolper.
“He asked me a couple of years ago if he should,” Gossett said. “He made the decision because his children didn’t remember the original, but I don’t think you can improve on something that beautiful.”
DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS: Spike Lee’s Kickstarter-funded remake of Bill Gunn’s 1973 horror film “Ganja and Hess” opens in theatres this Friday for one week only. New stars Stephen Tyrone Williams, Zaraah Abrahams and Rami Malek give compelling performances, though some screen behavior is head scratching.
This is dark adult territory and not for some. But I found myself being fascinated with its uniqueness and nostalgic at the cameos by “40 Acres and a Mule” regulars Joie Lee and Cinque Lee (Spike’s sister and brother), Thomas Jefferson Byrd and Edwin Robinson (and wait till you see Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from “The Wire”)!
Kudos to the set decoration by Philippa Culpepper, whose exquisite display of African Art was spellbinding in the backdrop of its Martha’s Vineyard setting. The score composed by Bruce Hornsby, along with hip-hop cuts and Afro Brazilian classics, was strong, as was the church band of Raphael Saddiq, Jon Batiste and Valerie Simpson.
If this is how Spike has to get pictures done, I’ll drop a few bucks next time (though not quite as much as producers Mark Cuban, Soledad O’Brien and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah).
TASTY QUIP: “If Maya [Angelou] had been alive, I would have called her before I finished this and said, ‘Oh, my God, you’ve got to read this book and finish it with me,'” – OPRAH WINFREY to AP on her new book club selection, “Ruby,” by 53-year-old first time L.A. novelist Cynthia Bond.
CLIPPETTES: “America’s Got Talent” is holding auditions for its 10th season at the L.A. Convention Center, Feb. 14-15. Pre-register at agtauditions.com …
Ava DuVernay will make her pilot directing debut with CBS’ “For Justice,” based on a James Patterson novel…
The 2 Live Crew Reunion Tour is in the mix…
“Awkward Black Girl” creator Issa Rae and writer-producer Larry Wilmore (host of “The Nightly Show”) have crafted a pilot for HBO called “Insecure.”
TASTY QUIP: “There’s not a lot of smart comedies where they want a black woman. They want us shucking and jivin’ and cooning, that’s where they’re most comfortable having a black woman.” – GABRIELLE UNION (whose “Being Mary Jane” was already renewed for a 3rd season by BET) to Power 105.1’s Angie Martinez.
TC ON TV: FEB. 13: “NBA All-Star Celebrity Game (ESPN): Kevin Hart, Anthony Anderson, Common, Chadwick Boseman, Nick Cannon and Little Leagues phenom Mo’ne Davis… “Preachers of Detroit” (OXYGEN): Series Premiere…
FEB. 14: “NBA All-Star All-Style” (TNT): Shaquille O’Neal hosts James Harden, Klay Thompson and others on the runway… “Back to School Mom” (LIFETIME): Kimberly Elise, Rick Fox, Loretta Devine…
FEB. 15: “NBA All-Star Game” (TNT): The showpiece of the weekend PTI host Michael Wilbon affectionately calls “Black Thanksgiving”… “SNL 40th Anniversary Special” (NBC): Garrett Morris, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph and many more return…
FEB. 16: “Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life – An All-Star Grammy Salute” (CBS): Usher, Janelle Monae, Ed Sheeran, John Legend and Lady Gaga… “Independent Lens” (PBS): “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People”… “Mississippi Inferno” (SMITHSONIAN): Danny Glover narrates this two-part doc on black landowners and independent farmers prior to the passing of the 1965 Voters Rights Act… “Castle” (ABC): Co-star Tamala Jones, while promoting the Lifetime movie “Megachurch Murder,” said she was Team Vivica Fox during Vivica’s “Celebrity Apprentice” run, often attending screenings at the star’s home (seems to me, though, that Viv basically threw in the towel).
FEB. 19: “Watch What Happens Live” (BRAVO): Samuel L. Jackson & Meredith Viera.
VALENTINES VENUES: Feb. 13: Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project with Lizz Wright, Nona Hendryx & Tia Fuller at the Walt Disney Concert Hall; John Legend, Ne-Yo & Big Sean at The Forum; Deniece Williams, Blue Magic, Billy Paul, Heatwave, GQ, The Intruders, Eddie Holman & The Persuasions at The Honda Center; Brian McKnight at the City Grove at Anaheim; and Claudette Ortiz in “Captured By The Game” thru Sunday at the Wilshire Ebell.
Feb. 14: Keith Sweat, Musiq Soulchild & Chrisette Michelle at the Nokia Theatre, LA Live; Brian Culbertson & Will Downing (who will preview songs from “Chocolate Drops” his new album out next month) at the Long Beach PAC.
TASTY QUIP: “I’m not surprised about any type of racial madness in this country. That’s as old as bread.” – EDDIE MURPHY to Billboard.
“Tasty Clips” is an entertainment column published in The Wave to update readers on the activities and accomplishments of black celebrities and artists on television, in music and at the movies. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.