Getting real about racism in the land of make-believe



As much as we have been here before — with protests and calls for change — right now feels different on so many levels.

In the midst of a rapidly evolving culture, we’ve started this newsletter by yours truly. We’ll be popping into your inbox with the latest entertainment happenings and how they reflect these times, when we all need to step up and stand up for what’s right.

The death of George Floyd didn’t just break hearts, it appears to actually be spurring people to action.

Even in Hollywood, the land of make believe, people are getting real about racism.

Just this week Jimmy Kimmel apologized for performing in blackface and both “30 Rock” and “Scrubs” pulled episodes containing scenes with blackface.
Seriously though, who ever thought blackface was funny? Apparently, most of Hollywood because folks have STILL been doing it.

Perhaps no more.

More than 300 performers and execs with the Hollywood4BlackLives initiative are calling on the industry to put some work into being anti-racist by investing in the careers of Black people working in entertainment, as well as the Black community.

The initiative is a part of the BLD PWR organization founded by actor/activist Kendrick Sampson, who currently stars as Nathan on the HBO series, “Insecure.”

Nathan is that cutie many viewers are pulling for to win back Issa’s heart on that show, but in real life Sampson is a passionate activist who was beaten with a baton and shot by rubber bullets during a recent demonstration in Los Angeles.
Also this week, Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell announced that they were leaving their roles on animated series to make way for actresses of color.

Slate said she was stepping aside from voicing a mixed-race character on Netflix’s “Big Mouth” because “Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people,” and Bell dipped out of a mixed-race character role on “Central Park” on Apple TV+, citing “a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege.”

Come through, allyship!

People don’t willingly mess with their coins unless they are serious about making a change.

Speaking of allies…

Legendary country stars The Dixie Chicks have dropped the “Dixie.”

While the “Dixie” part denotes the glory of the South to some, let’s just say “the good ol’ days” weren’t so good for all. The Chicks — as they will now be known — are keeping pace with the winds of change.

Kind of like the newly contextualized “Gone With the Wind,” which returned to HBO Max this week with a disclaimer regarding the classic film’s inadequate portrayal of “the horrors of slavery” and two extras about why the film was pulled from CNN’s sister streaming service in the first place.

Get into ‘The Zone’

My colleague Brian Lowry has a look at the second season of “The Twilight Zone” reboot, which drops Friday on CBS All Access.

I loved his exploration of the original series and how it “dealt with issues that resonate to this day.”

“Those include, in no particular order, racism, loneliness, the fragile nature of society, and the enduring notion that the biggest threat to humanity is usually what we tend to do to ourselves,” Lowry wrote.

Personally, 2020 feels like the “Time Enough at Last” episode, which aired in 1959 and centered on a bookworm who thought he had it made after he survives a nuclear blast that will allow him to be able to read all he wants — until he accidentally destroys his glasses which leave him unable to see.

Doggie joy

Nothing made me happier this week than the story of Augie, who at 20 has become the oldest living Golden Retriever ever.

This isn’t an entertainment story, but it should be because surely someone is already working on a screenplay about the charmed and charming life of Augie.

If no one is, get to working on that and don’t forget to include a cameo for the CNN writer who inspired your project.

“I’m passed patiently waiting”

There’s a lot of good viewing to look forward to in July, but it all pales in comparison to “Hamilton” streaming on Disney+ starting July 3.

For all of us who weren’t lucky enough to snag tickets to the actual Broadway show, who grudgingly “liked” those Instagram photos of our friends’ “Hamilton” programs and sang the lyrics to the soundtrack off key in their car with no context for the actual action, NOW IS OUR TIME TO SHINE!!!

Go ahead and say it with me: This is “My Shot.”

Pop back next week to see what else we’re going on about. Until then, keep it popping.



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