HOLLYWOOD, June 9, 2000 – OK, let's get the cliché out of the way: "Who's the Black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks?" If you answered "Shaft," well, you're only half right.
Sure, there's some lovemaking going on during the opening credits, and there's one scene where Jackson (as the titular Black private dick) picks up a female bartender by asking if she wants him to hold her, or to give her the "L.D." (and we're guessing that's not code for cheap long-distance rates).
But when you recall that the original Shaft, Richard Roundtree, went to bed with at least two women in his three "Shaft" movies (and yes, you saw him in the sack with the chicks) -- including sexy Vonetta McGee and the woman who propositioned him by asking, "How long is your phallus?" -- Jackson's Shaft starts looking a little limp.
However, Roundtree doesn't equivocate: "That is one thing that was really missing for me. I don't understand how you can do a Shaft film and not have some sex in it. When I read it [the script], I remember thinking, 'I must have missed something. What is the deal?'"
Roundtree, who plays Jackson's uncle in the new film, actually gets more action than the star. In one scene, Roundtree leaves a tavern with three (much younger, and very attractive) ladies under his arm. But that's as far as it goes.
"At least I got to walk out of the bar with them. But I would have liked to follow up on it," Roundtree muses.
So, will the masses accept a Shaft that doesn't have unprotected intercourse with multiple partners?
"That's not P.C., but James Bond still does it," says David Walker, publisher of BadAzz Mofo magazine (www.badazzmofo.com). "They tried having Bond only have sex with one woman, and it was one of the biggest bombs.
"I'm not sure why they did it, but I think it was a big mistake. 'Shaft' has the potential to be a big franchise over at Paramount, but getting John Singleton to do this movie was like getting Joel Schumacher to do 'Batman and Robin.'"
As they say, "Meow."