Wu’s Fight for ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Part of a Bigger Crusade

Constance Wu had resigned herself to the fact that “Crazy Rich Asians” was not going to work out for her. She was under contract for her sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat,” both were filming in the fall, and that was that. “Crazy Rich Asians” would be the first studio-made Asian-American movie in 25 years, and Wu, who has established herself as a crusader for Asian-American representation in Hollywood, would have to sit this historic moment out.

 

But then, feeling “kind of dramatic,” and thinking about the significance of the project to her and untold number of Asian-Americans who make it a point to tell her their stories because of her tweets and “Fresh Off the Boat,” Wu decided to give it one last shot and composed an email to “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu.

 

“I said, I know the dates don’t work out and whoever you cast, I will be the first in line and I will be their No. 1 fan and supporter, but I did want to let you know that I would put 110 percent of my heart into this project and I know what to do with it and how to carry a movie and if you can just wait for me, I don’t think you’ll regret it,” Wu, 36, said. “I did NOT think this email would work. I did it more for me so that I felt that I had told my truth. But then he read it and said, “You guys, we’ve got to push the production.”

 

Sitting in a restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire, a hotel famous for co-starring in another “Cinderella” story, “Pretty Woman,” and sipping on a “cocktail” of grapefruit juice and sparkling water, Wu is describing how “Crazy Rich Asians,” out nationwide Wednesday is also a kind of “Cinderella” story. Based the first book in author Kevin Kwan’s popular trilogy, Wu’s character Rachel Chu is a middle-class economics professor from the U.S. who finds herself navigating the upper echelons of Singapore’s wealthy classes when her boyfriend Nick Young takes her home for a wedding and to meet his disapproving family and all the jealous women also vying for the attention of the “prince.”

 

“It’s a fairy tale, it really is,” Wu said. “And there are a lot of different shoes in the movie!”

A native of Richmond, Virginia, and a classically-trained theater actress with a passion for musicals, Wu has been working toward a moment like this her whole life, and taking it very seriously. During the shoot, she wouldn’t go out with her co-stars for karaoke nights or have a drink after a long day of work. She wanted to be clear of mind and she’d already promised her director that she was going to give it her all.

 

She knew how unlikely it was that she’d ever get an opportunity as an Asian-American woman to lead a studio movie.

 

“Even a terrific actress like Sandra Oh was always No. 2 or No. 3 in the movie, she was never No. 1 unless it was an independent movie,” said Wu, who is not shy about saying that she only wants to go out for roles where she is the No. 1 star. It’s a drive that has made some uncomfortable.

 

“People are like, ‘Who do you think you are?’ And it’s like, I guess I think I’m a talented actor and I guess I’m not a person who is going to let you make me feel small anymore,” she said.

 

But Wu isn’t interested in making people feel comfortable at the expense of her truth, which is why at least part of her time is spent amplifying underrepresented voices on twitter, even knowing that it’s affected her employment opportunities.

 

Wu once heard that a friend’s liberal boyfriend said he didn’t like Wu’s politics.

 

“I’m like, ‘Does he not like my politics or does he not like that I have politics?’ And she asked him and he was like, “Oh I guess it’s that,'” Wu said.

 

Fame, she said, is silly in that regard. She thinks it’s “dumb” that she has a bigger voice than other people, like journalists or academics who are more studied in discourse on race and intersectionality. But, she also realized that while she has this platform, she can at least do some good with it.

 

Henry Golding, who plays Nick, is in awe of Wu’s fortitude.

 

“She’s such a role model for so many people. She has a backbone, which a lot of people don’t. She’s not afraid of saying what’s on her mind and really driving home what she thinks should be done, or what’s not happening in the industry that should be happening,” said Golding. “She’s going to go down as a real fighter and someone who can act the socks off anything. She is Rachel Chu.”

 

As for what’s next, Wu said she thinks she’s going to have a lot of choices in the coming years.

 

“I’m very privileged and lucky and I’m at a point where I can sort of get to decide where I want to go with my career,” Wu said.

 

And first up on her wish-list? A musical.

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Wu’s Fight for ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Part of a Bigger Crusade

Constance Wu had resigned herself to the fact that “Crazy Rich Asians” was not going to work out for her. She was under contract for her sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat,” both were filming in the fall, and that was that. “Crazy Rich Asians” would be the first studio-made Asian-American movie in 25 years, and Wu, who has established herself as a crusader for Asian-American representation in Hollywood, would have to sit this historic moment out.

 

But then, feeling “kind of dramatic,” and thinking about the significance of the project to her and untold number of Asian-Americans who make it a point to tell her their stories because of her tweets and “Fresh Off the Boat,” Wu decided to give it one last shot and composed an email to “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu.

 

“I said, I know the dates don’t work out and whoever you cast, I will be the first in line and I will be their No. 1 fan and supporter, but I did want to let you know that I would put 110 percent of my heart into this project and I know what to do with it and how to carry a movie and if you can just wait for me, I don’t think you’ll regret it,” Wu, 36, said. “I did NOT think this email would work. I did it more for me so that I felt that I had told my truth. But then he read it and said, “You guys, we’ve got to push the production.”

 

Sitting in a restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire, a hotel famous for co-starring in another “Cinderella” story, “Pretty Woman,” and sipping on a “cocktail” of grapefruit juice and sparkling water, Wu is describing how “Crazy Rich Asians,” out nationwide Wednesday is also a kind of “Cinderella” story. Based the first book in author Kevin Kwan’s popular trilogy, Wu’s character Rachel Chu is a middle-class economics professor from the U.S. who finds herself navigating the upper echelons of Singapore’s wealthy classes when her boyfriend Nick Young takes her home for a wedding and to meet his disapproving family and all the jealous women also vying for the attention of the “prince.”

 

“It’s a fairy tale, it really is,” Wu said. “And there are a lot of different shoes in the movie!”

A native of Richmond, Virginia, and a classically-trained theater actress with a passion for musicals, Wu has been working toward a moment like this her whole life, and taking it very seriously. During the shoot, she wouldn’t go out with her co-stars for karaoke nights or have a drink after a long day of work. She wanted to be clear of mind and she’d already promised her director that she was going to give it her all.

 

She knew how unlikely it was that she’d ever get an opportunity as an Asian-American woman to lead a studio movie.

 

“Even a terrific actress like Sandra Oh was always No. 2 or No. 3 in the movie, she was never No. 1 unless it was an independent movie,” said Wu, who is not shy about saying that she only wants to go out for roles where she is the No. 1 star. It’s a drive that has made some uncomfortable.

 

“People are like, ‘Who do you think you are?’ And it’s like, I guess I think I’m a talented actor and I guess I’m not a person who is going to let you make me feel small anymore,” she said.

 

But Wu isn’t interested in making people feel comfortable at the expense of her truth, which is why at least part of her time is spent amplifying underrepresented voices on twitter, even knowing that it’s affected her employment opportunities.

 

Wu once heard that a friend’s liberal boyfriend said he didn’t like Wu’s politics.

 

“I’m like, ‘Does he not like my politics or does he not like that I have politics?’ And she asked him and he was like, “Oh I guess it’s that,'” Wu said.

 

Fame, she said, is silly in that regard. She thinks it’s “dumb” that she has a bigger voice than other people, like journalists or academics who are more studied in discourse on race and intersectionality. But, she also realized that while she has this platform, she can at least do some good with it.

 

Henry Golding, who plays Nick, is in awe of Wu’s fortitude.

 

“She’s such a role model for so many people. She has a backbone, which a lot of people don’t. She’s not afraid of saying what’s on her mind and really driving home what she thinks should be done, or what’s not happening in the industry that should be happening,” said Golding. “She’s going to go down as a real fighter and someone who can act the socks off anything. She is Rachel Chu.”

 

As for what’s next, Wu said she thinks she’s going to have a lot of choices in the coming years.

 

“I’m very privileged and lucky and I’m at a point where I can sort of get to decide where I want to go with my career,” Wu said.

 

And first up on her wish-list? A musical.

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Tesla’s Slow Disclosure Raises Governance, Social Media Concerns

Tesla’s handling of Chief Executive Elon Musk’s proposal to take the carmaker private and its failure to promptly file a formal disclosure has raised governance concerns and sparked questions about how companies use social media.

Musk stunned investors last Tuesday by announcing on Twitter that he was considering taking Tesla private in a potential $72 billion transaction and that “funding” had been “secured.”

Tesla’s shares closed up 11 percent before retrenching after the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had asked Tesla why Musk announced his plans on Twitter and whether his statement was truthful.

Musk provided no details of his funding until Monday, when he said in a blog on Tesla’s website that he was in discussions with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and other potential backers but that financing was not yet nailed down.

Musk said his tweet and blogs were issued in his personal capacity as a private bidder for Tesla’s stock. A Tesla spokesman pointed Reuters to Musk’s blog in response to a request for comment.

Putting aside whether Musk misled anyone, the unorthodox manner in which he announced the news and Tesla’s failure to promptly clarify the situation with a regulatory filing is a corporate governance lapse that raises questions about how companies use social media to release market-moving news, securities lawyers said.

“Management buyouts or other take-private transactions already suffer from serious information asymmetry between management and public shareholders,” said Gabriel Rauterberg, a University of Michigan law professor.

SEC rules typically require companies to file an 8-K form within four business days of a significant corporate event.

While several securities lawyers said Musk’s tweets alone did not trigger this obligation, such a filing would be prudent given the unusual circumstances, David Axelrod, a partner at law firm Ballard Spahr LLP, said.

“An 8-K would provide some more details, it would say what stage negotiations are in, and provide more information than 53 characters in a tweet,” he added.

Full and fair disclosure

SEC guidelines published in 2013 allow companies and their executives to use social media to distribute material information, provided investors have been alerted that this is a possibility. Tesla did this in a 2013 filing.

But such disclosures have to be full and fair, meaning the information is complete and accessible by all investors at the same time, a bar that Musk’s tweets may not have met.

“Twitter is not designed to provide full and fair disclosure. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t, but in a series of 20 to 30 characters I’m not sure you’re getting full disclosure,” said Zachary Fallon, a former SEC attorney and principal at law firm Blakemore Fallon.

The SEC declined to comment Monday.

Securities lawyers said there was also a question mark over whether Musk selectively disclosed information on the possible terms of the deal when he subsequently replied to followers, two of whom claim in their handles to be investors.

Those tweets were not immediately visible to all followers of Musk’s main feed until he retweeted them.

History of Twitter use

The 47-year-old billionaire’s history of joking about Tesla and using twitter to bait his critics also appears to have undermined trust in Musk’s feed as a reliable source of company information, with many investors initially believing Tuesday’s tweet was a prank.

In his blog, Musk said he made the announcement on Twitter to ensure all investors were aware of his plan before speaking with the company’s largest shareholders.

But his claim to have done so as a private person presents a potential conflict of interest, said Nimish Patel, a lawyer with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.

“If you’re speaking on behalf of the company using resources like Twitter and the company website, while at the same time saying you’re a private individual expressing your own personal views, you are being inconsistent and creating confusion for investors. And when there’s confusion, the SEC is likely going to get involved,” he added.

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Tesla’s Slow Disclosure Raises Governance, Social Media Concerns

Tesla’s handling of Chief Executive Elon Musk’s proposal to take the carmaker private and its failure to promptly file a formal disclosure has raised governance concerns and sparked questions about how companies use social media.

Musk stunned investors last Tuesday by announcing on Twitter that he was considering taking Tesla private in a potential $72 billion transaction and that “funding” had been “secured.”

Tesla’s shares closed up 11 percent before retrenching after the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had asked Tesla why Musk announced his plans on Twitter and whether his statement was truthful.

Musk provided no details of his funding until Monday, when he said in a blog on Tesla’s website that he was in discussions with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and other potential backers but that financing was not yet nailed down.

Musk said his tweet and blogs were issued in his personal capacity as a private bidder for Tesla’s stock. A Tesla spokesman pointed Reuters to Musk’s blog in response to a request for comment.

Putting aside whether Musk misled anyone, the unorthodox manner in which he announced the news and Tesla’s failure to promptly clarify the situation with a regulatory filing is a corporate governance lapse that raises questions about how companies use social media to release market-moving news, securities lawyers said.

“Management buyouts or other take-private transactions already suffer from serious information asymmetry between management and public shareholders,” said Gabriel Rauterberg, a University of Michigan law professor.

SEC rules typically require companies to file an 8-K form within four business days of a significant corporate event.

While several securities lawyers said Musk’s tweets alone did not trigger this obligation, such a filing would be prudent given the unusual circumstances, David Axelrod, a partner at law firm Ballard Spahr LLP, said.

“An 8-K would provide some more details, it would say what stage negotiations are in, and provide more information than 53 characters in a tweet,” he added.

Full and fair disclosure

SEC guidelines published in 2013 allow companies and their executives to use social media to distribute material information, provided investors have been alerted that this is a possibility. Tesla did this in a 2013 filing.

But such disclosures have to be full and fair, meaning the information is complete and accessible by all investors at the same time, a bar that Musk’s tweets may not have met.

“Twitter is not designed to provide full and fair disclosure. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t, but in a series of 20 to 30 characters I’m not sure you’re getting full disclosure,” said Zachary Fallon, a former SEC attorney and principal at law firm Blakemore Fallon.

The SEC declined to comment Monday.

Securities lawyers said there was also a question mark over whether Musk selectively disclosed information on the possible terms of the deal when he subsequently replied to followers, two of whom claim in their handles to be investors.

Those tweets were not immediately visible to all followers of Musk’s main feed until he retweeted them.

History of Twitter use

The 47-year-old billionaire’s history of joking about Tesla and using twitter to bait his critics also appears to have undermined trust in Musk’s feed as a reliable source of company information, with many investors initially believing Tuesday’s tweet was a prank.

In his blog, Musk said he made the announcement on Twitter to ensure all investors were aware of his plan before speaking with the company’s largest shareholders.

But his claim to have done so as a private person presents a potential conflict of interest, said Nimish Patel, a lawyer with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.

“If you’re speaking on behalf of the company using resources like Twitter and the company website, while at the same time saying you’re a private individual expressing your own personal views, you are being inconsistent and creating confusion for investors. And when there’s confusion, the SEC is likely going to get involved,” he added.

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Kenya Charges Top Officials With Fraud Over New $3B Railway

A Kenyan court on Monday charged the heads of the agency that manages public land and of the state railway with fraud over land allocation for a new $3 billion train line linking the capital with East Africa’s biggest port.

The line between Nairobi and Mombasa, funded by China, is one of the biggest infrastructure projects of President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose government this year embarked on an anti-graft drive.

Mohammed Abdalla Swazuri, chairman of the National Land Commission, Atanas Kariuki Maina, managing director of the Kenya Railways Corporation and 16 other businesspeople and companies pleaded not guilty to the charges. Court documents said fraud had led to loss of public funds amounting to 221.4 million shillings ($2.20 million).

Public prosecutor Noordin Haji ordered the arrests after investigations suggested that officials had siphoned taxpayer money through phony compensation claims for land used for the railway.

The land and rail bosses appeared before Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi.

Kenya has been hit this year by a series of scandals related to the alleged theft of hundreds of millions of shillings by officials from government bodies.

Kenya launched the more than $3 billion railway last year.

The prosecutor’s office said on Saturday no Chinese companies or individuals were named in the case.

Opposition leaders and Kenyan economists have criticized the railway’s funding for increasing the country’s debt burden, which the International Monetary Fund estimated at between 54-55 percent of economic output (GDP) in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

($1 = 100.6000 Kenyan shillings)

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Kenya Charges Top Officials With Fraud Over New $3B Railway

A Kenyan court on Monday charged the heads of the agency that manages public land and of the state railway with fraud over land allocation for a new $3 billion train line linking the capital with East Africa’s biggest port.

The line between Nairobi and Mombasa, funded by China, is one of the biggest infrastructure projects of President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose government this year embarked on an anti-graft drive.

Mohammed Abdalla Swazuri, chairman of the National Land Commission, Atanas Kariuki Maina, managing director of the Kenya Railways Corporation and 16 other businesspeople and companies pleaded not guilty to the charges. Court documents said fraud had led to loss of public funds amounting to 221.4 million shillings ($2.20 million).

Public prosecutor Noordin Haji ordered the arrests after investigations suggested that officials had siphoned taxpayer money through phony compensation claims for land used for the railway.

The land and rail bosses appeared before Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi.

Kenya has been hit this year by a series of scandals related to the alleged theft of hundreds of millions of shillings by officials from government bodies.

Kenya launched the more than $3 billion railway last year.

The prosecutor’s office said on Saturday no Chinese companies or individuals were named in the case.

Opposition leaders and Kenyan economists have criticized the railway’s funding for increasing the country’s debt burden, which the International Monetary Fund estimated at between 54-55 percent of economic output (GDP) in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

($1 = 100.6000 Kenyan shillings)

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Greek Town Loves Movie Score Maestro Morricone — And It Shows

Once upon a time in central Greece … a small town fell in love with famed film composer Ennio Morricone and painted a huge mural in his honor.

The residents of Larissa have launched a fan club dedicated to the Italian maestro — known for his scores for classic movies Once Upon a Time in America, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Mission.

Members of the Cultural Society of Friends of Ennio Morricone Music in Greece screen his films and broadcast his concerts live on screens at archaeological sites.

In the latest sign of their appreciation, they have commissioned a mural of Morricone’s bespectacled profile on a five-story residential block, about 1,000 km (620 miles) away from his birthplace in Rome.

“It is very visible, we wanted a clear illustration of him, so it could always remain here in our town, magnificent, like him and his large body of work,” said society president Konstantinos Papakostas.

Papakostas set up the society in 2010 after seeing the Oscar-winning composer perform live in the Italian capital, then Assago, Milan.

He spread the word in Larissa and has since persuaded 1,080 fellow townspeople to sign up as members.

“I am completely in awe of him and his music,” Papakostas said.

Morricone, who turns 90 this year, is still composing music and has a series of performances lined up as part of “The 60 Years in Music” tour.

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Greek Town Loves Movie Score Maestro Morricone — And It Shows

Once upon a time in central Greece … a small town fell in love with famed film composer Ennio Morricone and painted a huge mural in his honor.

The residents of Larissa have launched a fan club dedicated to the Italian maestro — known for his scores for classic movies Once Upon a Time in America, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Mission.

Members of the Cultural Society of Friends of Ennio Morricone Music in Greece screen his films and broadcast his concerts live on screens at archaeological sites.

In the latest sign of their appreciation, they have commissioned a mural of Morricone’s bespectacled profile on a five-story residential block, about 1,000 km (620 miles) away from his birthplace in Rome.

“It is very visible, we wanted a clear illustration of him, so it could always remain here in our town, magnificent, like him and his large body of work,” said society president Konstantinos Papakostas.

Papakostas set up the society in 2010 after seeing the Oscar-winning composer perform live in the Italian capital, then Assago, Milan.

He spread the word in Larissa and has since persuaded 1,080 fellow townspeople to sign up as members.

“I am completely in awe of him and his music,” Papakostas said.

Morricone, who turns 90 this year, is still composing music and has a series of performances lined up as part of “The 60 Years in Music” tour.

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Like ‘The Wife,’ Glenn Close Says She Is Late Bloomer

Glenn Close may be known for playing strong, often ruthless women, but like her long-subdued character in The Wife she says she’s only just starting to feel comfortable in her own skin.

Close plays Joan, the self-effacing spouse of a successful novelist in The Wife, which opens in the United States on Friday as women in Hollywood and beyond are demanding a louder voice.

Decades of suppressing her own talents and desires in support of her husband’s career begin to unravel when he wins the Nobel Prize for literature and a biographer probes the couple’s life.

“The film took 14 years to get made and who knew that it would be incredibly relevant?” Close, 71, told Reuters. The film is based on the 2003 book of the same name by Meg Wolitzer.

Close’s performance has won rave reviews, sparking talk of a potential seventh Oscar nomination next year. The Hollywood Reporter said the actress “commands the center of The Wife: still, formidable and impossible to look away from.”

Despite a 40-year career, three Emmy awards, three Tonys and six Oscar nominations, the star of Fatal Attraction and the TV drama Damages says she feels she is just beginning.

“I’m a very late bloomer. It took me a very long time to learn some basic things. That’s why it’s kind of wonderful and ironic for me to be at this point at my life and feel like it’s just the beginning,” she said.

Close launched her acting career in the theater in the 1970s and said she feels lucky to have found success in job she is so passionate about.

“I think I’m at a time in my life where I’ve finally accepted certain things about myself, and it’s OK. The fact that I’m not a hugely social person, that I’m very much in my head is OK,” she said. “I feel happier and more calm and more excited about life than I ever have.”

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Like ‘The Wife,’ Glenn Close Says She Is Late Bloomer

Glenn Close may be known for playing strong, often ruthless women, but like her long-subdued character in The Wife she says she’s only just starting to feel comfortable in her own skin.

Close plays Joan, the self-effacing spouse of a successful novelist in The Wife, which opens in the United States on Friday as women in Hollywood and beyond are demanding a louder voice.

Decades of suppressing her own talents and desires in support of her husband’s career begin to unravel when he wins the Nobel Prize for literature and a biographer probes the couple’s life.

“The film took 14 years to get made and who knew that it would be incredibly relevant?” Close, 71, told Reuters. The film is based on the 2003 book of the same name by Meg Wolitzer.

Close’s performance has won rave reviews, sparking talk of a potential seventh Oscar nomination next year. The Hollywood Reporter said the actress “commands the center of The Wife: still, formidable and impossible to look away from.”

Despite a 40-year career, three Emmy awards, three Tonys and six Oscar nominations, the star of Fatal Attraction and the TV drama Damages says she feels she is just beginning.

“I’m a very late bloomer. It took me a very long time to learn some basic things. That’s why it’s kind of wonderful and ironic for me to be at this point at my life and feel like it’s just the beginning,” she said.

Close launched her acting career in the theater in the 1970s and said she feels lucky to have found success in job she is so passionate about.

“I think I’m at a time in my life where I’ve finally accepted certain things about myself, and it’s OK. The fact that I’m not a hugely social person, that I’m very much in my head is OK,” she said. “I feel happier and more calm and more excited about life than I ever have.”

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