Actors Aldis Hodge and Neil Brown, Jr. have been added to the cast of the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. Hodge will play MC Ren, while Brown Jr. will portray DJ Yella in the film, which will also feature Ice Cube's son O'Shea Jackson, Jr. as the MC, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E.
F. Gary Gray will direct the film about the Compton, California rappers' rise to fame in the late 1980s, and their subsequent split in 1991.
The movie is scheduled to hit theatres in August, 2015.
Rapper/actor Ice Cube has opened up about his controversial decision not to cast the late Eazy-E's son as the hip-hop icon in his forthcoming N.W.A. biopic, insisting the role required an experienced actor with "a lot of range". Eazy-E's son, Eric Wright, Jr., auditioned for the Straight Outta Compton film job and recently admitted he was disappointed after movie bosses decided to cast newcomer Jason Mitchell as the younger version of his tragic father.
Now Ice Cube, who is serving as one of the project's producers, has explained the reasons behind the decision, insisting aspiring actor Wright, Jr. simply wasn't a good fit.
Speaking to Colorado radio station KS 107.5, Ice Cube says, "He (Wright, Jr.) is an up-and-coming actor trying to do it, but we needed somebody who was a little more polished to play Eazy, because he goes through a lot in his life. He goes from selling dope in Compton to fighting for his life in a hospital bed. So we needed to find an actor with a lot of range. And we just couldn't use just anybody. We gave him (Wright, Jr.) a shot, and it just didn't work out."
Wright, Jr. wasn't the only N.W.A. offspring snubbed for a role in the film - Dr. Dre's aspiring actor/rapper son Curtis Young was also passed over in favour of Corey Hawkins, although Ice Cube's kid, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., will play his dad onscreen.
Meanwhile, the remaining N.W.A. bandmates MC Ren and DJ Yella will be played by Aldis Hodge and Neil Brown, Jr., respectively.
F. Gary Gray will direct the film about the rise of the iconic California rap group and their split in 1991.
The biopic is scheduled for release next summer (15).
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes.
The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what.
No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization.
But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes.
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With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin.
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The After/Amazon Studios
A lot has changed since Chris Carter created his megahit The X-Files: new platforms, riskier material, binge-watching, and live Tweeting have changed the television landscape forever.
After taking nearly a decade to regroup and recharge, Carter is back with his Amazon pilot The After, a sci-fi drama about eight strangers, thrown together by mysterious forces, who must help each other survive in a world that is both unfamiliar and unforgiving. We spoke to Carter about the changing face of TV since The X-Files made us believers and more - to read the full story, it's right here at Studio System News.
Leverage brings the heist movie genre to the small screen. Each episode, the team of Leverage Consulting & Associates takes down a fat cat or crime lord that has hurt one of their clients. Whether it’s a high-stakes grift or an elaborate theft, this cadre of ex-cons rights wrongs, Robin Hood-style.
Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) is a former insurance fraud investigator. He gets drafted into an elaborate con with thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf), hacker Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge), former black ops agent Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), and his ex, an experienced grifter, Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman). They decide to combine their unique set of skills on the right side of the law to help the helpless: to provide them with some leverage...get it?
The show takes all the twists, turns, and shocking misdirects from movies like Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job and takes it to a local level. It’s insane that the series is able to come up with so many smart reveals and elaborate capers for each episode.
If great writing isn’t enough, the casting of the series is genius. The characters are more than just their heist skills. Each character brings a different layer to their character. Hutton may play the moral voice of the show but he also has a drinking problem and a self-destructive impulse. Riesgraf and Hodge may play expert thieves but they also have a dorky vibe. The British-born Bellman showcases all of her accents and unique vocal tricks as she plays a grifter playing a character during a con.
Movies like Oceans Fifteen: Still Wet, are fun to watch for the satisfaction of a well-played con. Leverage provides all that satisfaction combined with likable characters and unique writing.
Netflix has all five seasons of the series, which ended last winter.
Sad news for fans of TNT's Leverage — the network has announced that the Season 5 finale, which will air on Christmas day, will be the show's final outing. The hour-long drama, which stars Timothy Hutton as a former insurance fraud investigator who leads a team of modern day corporate fraud Robin Hoods, had a small but loyal fan base. Creator Dean Devlin reached out to that fan base over the weekend on his blog, to give them an early warning about the show's fate.
"It has been decided today that this Tuesday’s episode of Leverage 'The Long Goodbye Job' will be the series finale as TNT has decided not to renew the show for a sixth season," Devlin wrote before thanking the network for the show's five seasons. He had anticipated this news, so "The Long Goodbye Job" was shot as a series finale. "I’m so happy we were able to film the series finale we had always envisioned and I’m happy we’re able to present it on Christmas as our gift to you. It’s a bittersweet goodbye."
Hollywood.com reached out to the network for comment:
TNT’s Leverage has thrilled audiences with its delightfully intricate plots, its “stand up for the little guy” attitude and its terrific performances from stars Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge. But after five wonderful years, it’s time to say goodbye. Leverage will come to a close on Christmas, Tuesday, Dec. 25, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), with a series finale that stands as one of the show’s best episodes.
We are honored to have worked with executive producer Dean Devlin, Electric Entertainment, creators John Rogers and Chris Downey, and all the cast and production crew on Leverage. We look forward to exploring new opportunities to work with them again in the future. We also want to thank the passionately devoted fans of Leverage, who have been the driving force behind its success.Not happy news to receive during the holidays, but Season 5's sharp ratings decline was looming heavy. Tell us, Leverage fans — will you tune in on Christmas to say goodbye?
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: TNT]
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