*It seems Hollywood can’t get enough of films showing African Americans in subservient roles.
Warner Bros. has just picked up the rights to Julie Kibler’s book “Calling Me Home,” described as a cross between “Driving Miss Daisy” and “The Help,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Kibler’s debut novel, inspired by events in her family, revolves around the relationship between an 89-year-old woman named Isabelle McAllister and her hairdresser, a black single mother named Dorrie Curtis.
McAllister enlists Curtis’ help to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. Along the way, McAllister reveals the secrets of her past, in which she fell in love with the black son of her family’s housekeeper to tragic consequences. The book alternates between the present and the late 1930s.
Home was released Feb. 12, garnering strong reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.
Warner Bros. and Lee now will seek out a writer to adapt the material.
*Days after Spike Lee railed against Hollywood studio executives at the Sundance Film Festival, his co-producer and co-writer of “Red Hook Summer” has accused those same executives of attempting to keep black filmmakers under their thumb.
“It’s the same old story. Nothing in this world happens unless white folks says it happens,” James McBride wrote on the Lee website, 40acres.com. “And therein lies the problem of being a professional black storyteller — writer, musician, filmmaker.
Being black is like serving as Hoke, the driver in Driving Miss Daisy, except it’s a kind of TV series [that] lasts the rest of your life. You get to drive the well-meaning boss to and fro, you love that boss, your lives are stitched together, but only when the boss decides your story intersects with his or her life is your story valid. Because you’re a kind of cultural maid.”
Speaking of maids, McBride pointed out that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer each received Oscar nominations this week for playing maids in “The Help.”
“This is 73 years after the first African American to win an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel, garnered the award for the same role – as a maid, and a slave maid at that, winning the Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category on Feb. 29, 1940. And here we are, in the year of our Lord, Jan 25, 2012. Maybe I’m getting old, but the irony of this is too much.”
James Earl Jones attends the 65th Annual Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on June 12, 2011 in New York City
*Producers of “Driving Miss Daisy” announced Monday that James Earl Jones, Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines will reprise their Broadway roles when the production moves to London this fall.
The play will begin performances at Wyndham’s Theatre from Sept. 26 through Dec. 17, with an opening night scheduled for Oct. 5, according to the Hollywood Reporter. David Esbjornson, who helmed the Broadway production, will again direct.
The play centers on a Jewish widow and her deepening friendship with her black chauffeur. The Broadway production was a virtual sell-out, was extended and earned back its investment.
Redgrave earned a Tony Award nomination in the role.
Meanwhile, Jones will play a former U.S. president in a revival of “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man” on Broadway next spring.
*Per politico.com, radio host Rush Limbaugh on Thursday suggested that Rep. Jim Clyburn — the highest-ranking African American in Congress — serve as chauffeur to Nancy Pelosi in the event he fails to win the race for House minority whip.
“Clyburn’s worried about not having the perk of a big office, driver and so forth,” Limbaugh said on his radio show. “The way this can all be worked out, Clyburn’s new position: ‘Driving Miss Nancy.’
“He gets to keep the car. He gets to go everywhere she goes, parties and everything else,” Limbaugh said. “He’s not in the back of the bus. He’s in the driver’s seat, and she’s in the back of the car being chauffeured. Solved problem.”
Reps James Clyburn, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer
Clyburn is running against Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer in the hotly contested leadership race, which has split the Democratic Caucus. Limbaugh suggested House Democratic leaders are being “racist” for standing against the South Carolina congressman’s run for minority whip.
“The white racist leadership of the Democrat Party is trying to ace out Clyburn,” Limbaugh said. “Clyburn has had power, but they want to take it away from him.”