Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinseltown’s A-listers and their wacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
Cinderella Canceled: Cast Too White
Cancel culture and racism strike again, this time in Chanhassen, MN. The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres had scheduled a stage production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella later this year, but when artistic director Michael Brindisi got a look at the cast, he slammed it for its lack of diversity. “It was 98 percent white,” he told St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The theater followed up with a statement that said, “After careful consideration and with our ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we have made the decision to cancel our upcoming production.” And it continued:
“In addition to changing future programming, we are establishing new pre-production protocols. We will be inviting (and paying) BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] artists to analyze the production with our creative teams through a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lens … This conversation will happen before the design and casting process has begun.”
The company has hired a diversity consultant with a commitment to “identity-conscious casting and becoming a more intentionally anti-racist theater.” However, it may be important to note that the area’s citizens are predominately white. The most recent census states that 92.5% of people in Chanhassen are white compared to less than 3% Hispanic and 1.1% black.
Cinderella, instead of being recast, was scrapped, and the theater is currently working on a production of The Music Man, with a “strong priority placed on casting BIPOC artists.” A more diverse adaptation of Footloose will be taking Cinderella’s place in 2022.
The Rock for President?
Dwayne Johnson, also known as The Rock, was flattered by a recent poll that showed 46% of Americans would vote for him as our commander in chief. The wrestler/movie star posted a screenshot of the Newsweek article that highlighted the poll. After saying he was humbled for even being considered an option, he said:
“I don’t think our Founding Fathers EVER envisioned a 6-four, bald, tattooed, half Black, half Samoan, tequila drinking, pick-up truck-driving, fanny pack-wearing guy joining their club – but if it ever happens it would be my honor to serve you, the people.”
The 93rd Academy Awards Coming Soon
Despite COVID, the Oscars will go ahead as planned, airing April 25. This year, the organization bills the awards show as a movie. In a promotional commercial, a female voice says, “In a world filled with awards shows, what if an awards show was actually a movie? Which stars would you cast?” Producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh said in a statement that “In keeping with our awards-show-as-a-movie approach, we’ve assembled a truly stellar cast of stars.”
This year’s featured celebrities include Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Bong Joon Ho, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renee Zellweger, and Zendaya.
Nominees and attendees of the show will need to qualify for an essential workers waiver as well as quarantining before arriving at the set. The idea is to have in-person participation with as little Zoom interaction as possible.
Cheers and Jeers
Sometimes, HollyWeird players make headlines for silly or bizarre happenings, so here is a collection of newsworthy doings — honorable and dishonorable — by the tenants of Tinseltown.
The Simpsons Star Apologizes to Indians
Hank Azaria, who voices The Simpsons’ character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, recently chatted on the Armchair Expert podcast, hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, to express his feelings on portraying a character that contributed to “structural racism” for three decades. “I’ve had a date with destiny with this thing for about 31 years,” he said. “Part of me feels like I need to go around to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize, and sometimes I do when it comes up.”
Tune in next week to see what else Tinseltown has planned.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.