roland emmerich & jamie foxx

Roland Emmerich & Jamie Foxx

This week Jamie Foxx and director Roland Emmerich were in New York City at the Regal Cinemas to launch the trailer for “White House Down” and give the press and fans a first look at some film footage. In addition to being on hand to talk about the movie   Foxx, as always, brought the jokes as well.

But he wasn’t kidding when he said …

“Coming from ‘Django’ where I was a slave to now playing the president within a year was —”[we never heard the word because of the thunderous applause but any superlative could be added here]. The whole experience was dope. You have a president like Sawyer who has intellect, with giant dreams of everyone being peaceful and that becomes tougher and tougher. [Coupled] with showing some of the things we are going through today along with the action, is what makes it a really epic movie,” Foxx enthused.

Emmerich, who I first interviewed in 1996 for “Independence Day” and spoke with last year for “Anonymous” in which he took on William Shakespeare, expressed concerns showing footage of “White House Down” because the film is yet to be completed.

“This movie is mainly an action movie, something I haven’t done in a long time,” he said. “I was a little nervous in the beginning of this because this is the first audience, other than a test audience in California, to see it.” No doubt his fears were allayed after this crowd’s response, paired with the test audience’s rambunctious approval on the west coast, let him know the film would be a huge box office success.

After Foxx and Emmerich spoke, Channing Tatum joined the conversation via Skype from London. Making reference to all the on-screen action, he remarked:

“Did you like the romantic comedy we made? Me and Jamie end up together, just so you know.”

The soon to be first-time father who plays a dad in the movie stated that the film gave some insight of things to come. He also talked about being a non-partisan person.

“I’m not a political person but for me America right now is like two different Americas. We’re so split down the middle between red and blue and black and white. I feel really good about the premise of the film. It’s not about some foreign attack. It’s about America coming to a serious point and [coming together]. Jamie is mentor, big brother and by far one of the most unbelievably talented individuals I’ve been around, much less to work with.”

“White House Down” opens June 28. Until then, the nail biting, edge of your seat action thriller “Olympus Has Fallen” is at theaters now. See interviews with “Olympus Has Fallen” cast members Angela Bassett [current Secret Service appointee news was seemingly ripped from our headlines], Gerard Butler, and director Antoine Fuqua, who comments on “White House Down,” in previous issues of The Film Strip here and newspapers that carry these Features.

Black Americans big influence on Black Australians

tony briggs and his mother

Tony Briggs and his mother

“The Sapphires,” based on true events, is about four young Australian Aboriginal women who form a group in 1968 and entertain US troops in Vietnam. Writer Tony Briggs, who culled the story from real life experiences his mother shared with him, was in New York last week. The Film Strip asked him about growing up Black in Australia and this story, which is inspired by his mother, Laurel Robinson.

“I was strongly influenced by African American culture growing up. I want people to understand that Black Australia has a very strong affiliation with Black America and we always have. Our heroes growing up were African Americans. I have to say I’m not surprised there are some African Americans who aren’t aware that there are Black people in Australia but we certainly have been aware of you all.

“So I could not tell this story with, without paying homage to these people; pillars Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, etc., etc. I always wanted to explore it a lot more and I will continue to in the future because. I have a lot to say and we all have a lot to say. And it’s because of mom that I’ve become aware of this really early in the day. Back in the day White Australian policy wouldn’t allow Black people in from other countries. My uncle, a minister, had a church and he used to have a youth club that would invite dignitaries and Blacks. Then the girls and boys took over from there and started inviting Blacks that came to Melbourne to just talk and let them know the history of our people.”

“Some people say, ‘oh it’s in the past,’” Briggs continues, “but if you let that go, you’re letting go of a very huge part of who you are, of your identity. If we don’t tell people who we are, people will tell us who we are and people will water that down and then they’re going to tell us again who we are and before we know it, we aren’t going to know who we are. We’ve lost our language; we’ve lost our homelands. It’s very, very similar to what happened to the African Americans, Indians and Canadian Indians. Our culture is the source.

“I hope that people will walk away from this story first of all with a smile on their faces and secondly with an afterthought of curiosity about who the aborigine people really are because nobody has really been given the opportunity to ask that question before. I hope that this can reach out to the masses. It’s hard for me to talk like this and not sound like a separatist. It’s not what I’m trying to do, but I have to say from a personal point of view especially to the black community in this country, I really hope that they do come and see it and just understand the role they played and they huge role their ancestors in shaping me as a man,” he concluded.

Chris O’Dowd is the group’s manager in the movie that insisted they turn from country and western music and begin singing soul music. Ironically, O’Dowd grew up listening to Sam Cooke. “If you were 13 or 14 when ‘The Commitments’ came out in Ireland, soul music was the only music that mattered,” he explained.

Syndicated columnist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]