All posts by Zhloar

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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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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AP Source: Soul Icon Aretha Franklin Seriously Ill

Fans and friends, including Mariah Carey and Missy Elliott, offered prayers and well wishes to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who is seriously ill.

A person close to Franklin, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to publicly talk about the topic, told The Associated Press on Monday that the singer is seriously ill. No more details were provided.

Carey, who considers Franklin one of her biggest influences, wrote on Twitter that she is “praying for the Queen of Soul.” Missy Elliott said the public has to celebrate iconic artists before they die.

“So many [of them] have given us decades of Timeless music,” the rapper wrote on Twitter.

Mark Frost, Andy Cohen and Ciara also posted about Franklin, who is considered the greatest singer of all-time and is known for hits like “Respect” and “[You Make Me Feel Like] A Natural Woman.”

Franklin canceled planned concerts earlier this year after she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest up. She was originally scheduled to perform on her 76th birthday in March in Newark, New Jersey, and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April.

Last year, the icon announced her plans to retire, saying she would perform at “some select things.” One of those select events was a gala for Elton John’s 25th anniversary of his AIDS foundation in November in New York City, where Franklin closed the event with a collection of songs including “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Freeway.”

Abdul “Duke” Fakir, the lone surviving original member of the Four Tops, told the AP on Monday morning they have been “very close” for decades and their most recent conversation was about a week ago by phone. Fakir said they talked after Franklin had stopped by his Detroit house when he wasn’t there.

“She was telling me she rides around the city every now and then — she talks about how beautiful it is again,” Fakir said. “We were reminiscing about how blessed we were — only a couple two of us are around from that era. We were just kind of reminiscing about the good times we had.”

Fakir, who calls Franklin “baby sis” because he’s older than she is by six years, said despite her health troubles “she was talking about the future.”

“She talked about this great, big special she was going to have in New York, with all her great friends performing,” he said. “It made me feel good as well — she was still hoping and wishing and dreaming as we do in this business.”

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AP Source: Soul Icon Aretha Franklin Seriously Ill

Fans and friends, including Mariah Carey and Missy Elliott, offered prayers and well wishes to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who is seriously ill.

A person close to Franklin, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to publicly talk about the topic, told The Associated Press on Monday that the singer is seriously ill. No more details were provided.

Carey, who considers Franklin one of her biggest influences, wrote on Twitter that she is “praying for the Queen of Soul.” Missy Elliott said the public has to celebrate iconic artists before they die.

“So many [of them] have given us decades of Timeless music,” the rapper wrote on Twitter.

Mark Frost, Andy Cohen and Ciara also posted about Franklin, who is considered the greatest singer of all-time and is known for hits like “Respect” and “[You Make Me Feel Like] A Natural Woman.”

Franklin canceled planned concerts earlier this year after she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest up. She was originally scheduled to perform on her 76th birthday in March in Newark, New Jersey, and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April.

Last year, the icon announced her plans to retire, saying she would perform at “some select things.” One of those select events was a gala for Elton John’s 25th anniversary of his AIDS foundation in November in New York City, where Franklin closed the event with a collection of songs including “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Freeway.”

Abdul “Duke” Fakir, the lone surviving original member of the Four Tops, told the AP on Monday morning they have been “very close” for decades and their most recent conversation was about a week ago by phone. Fakir said they talked after Franklin had stopped by his Detroit house when he wasn’t there.

“She was telling me she rides around the city every now and then — she talks about how beautiful it is again,” Fakir said. “We were reminiscing about how blessed we were — only a couple two of us are around from that era. We were just kind of reminiscing about the good times we had.”

Fakir, who calls Franklin “baby sis” because he’s older than she is by six years, said despite her health troubles “she was talking about the future.”

“She talked about this great, big special she was going to have in New York, with all her great friends performing,” he said. “It made me feel good as well — she was still hoping and wishing and dreaming as we do in this business.”

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Eco-Friendly Soccer Club Aims to Inspire Others to Make Meaningful Choices

Talk about going green. One British soccer team has made it its goal to become the first professional sports team in the world to be certified carbon neutral. It’s an official designation recently awarded to the team by the Secretary in charge of Climate Change at the United Nations. But that’s not all. The team may also be the world’s first 100 percent vegan football club. VOA Correspondent Mariama Diallo has more.

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