Tag: authors

Hip-Hop Adaptation of Romeo and Juliet to Be Produced by Queen Latifah and Will Smith

Imagine a crowded arena filled with fans of hip-hop music. They await the arrival of some illustrious artist such as the Fresh Prince, DJ Jazzy Jeff, or Queen Latifah; but then, a scrawny emo kid takes the stage—it’s Romeo of house Montague. The beat drops…

In Northeastern Italy born and raised

Pining over love interests is how I spend most of my days

Stressin’ out cryin’ (eventually) dyin’ all cool

Reading some poetry outside of the school

When a couple of families that were up to no good

Started making trouble in my neighborhood

I stirred up one little feud and my mom got scared

She said ‘You’re gonna end up dying with that Capulet girl by the end of this play’

 

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No? Yeah, that was bad. What won’t be is the recently announced a hip hop musical adaptation of the William Shakespeare tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Not taking place in West Philadelphia or  Northeastern Italy in the 14th century, this new take will feature a different and more contemporary setting. It is being described as “a contemporary, musical take on Romeo and Juliet set against the urban rhythms of New York. The love story follows a young waitress from the streets of Brooklyn and an aspiring musician from a wealthy family whose unconventional romance forces them to confront their life choices.”

 

This news comes via Variety which also reports that the project will be directed and written by Solvan “Slick” Naim—a much better rapper than I will ever be. The Algerian-American writer, director, and rapper hails from Bushwick, Brooklyn; Naim already has a comedy series on Netflix entitled “It’s Bruno” which premiered today. He will pen the script for the untitled R&J project with Dave Broome for everyone’s favorite streaming powerhouse.

 

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Producing the film will be the Fresh Prince himself, William Smith along with Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere (Flavor Unit Entertainment), James Lassiter, and Caleeb Pinkett (Overbrook Entertainment).

 

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Georgia Sheriff Furthers The War On Books For Prisoners

Book bans (no books from the outside) have been a thing in prisons for years now. I feel the need to start this article by saying: I’ve never been to prison. For that, I am grateful; prison sounds horrible and is probably nothing like the image I have of it thanks to Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

 

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Last week I read an article on CNN’s website about the sheriff of Chatham County, Georgia, who put a ban on books being sent to prisoners via the mail. His concern is that publications being sent through the mail will increase the risk of “combustible material in the inmate’s housing areas, which can lead to the spread of fire” and flow of hidden contraband. The ban limits prisoners to the books in a cart managed by the jail staff. The ACLU sent Sheriff Illiterate a letter stressing how this same ban will infringe upon inmates’ Constitutional rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment encompasses the right of people to receive books and publications in jail,” the letter states. “As one federal appeals court has recognized, ‘Freedom of speech is not merely freedom to speak; it is also freedom to read.’”

 

IMAGE VIA CNN.COM

In the same article, CNN mentions how the Washington State Department of Corrections issued a similar ban last year as they tried to implicate an eBook only policy. Washington State has been affiliated with Books to Prisoners for years, an organization that “fosters a love of reading behind bars, encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-empowerment, and break the cycle of recidivism.” They have since reversed said policy (after the ACLU’s swift intervention) saying that the department “acknowledges that it was an oversight on this issue.”

Prisoners’ rights to read, write, speak, practice their religion, and communicate with the outside world are often curtailed far beyond what is necessary for institutional security,” ACLU says on its website.

I believe in a human beings capacity for change. In order to change one has to open themselves up to new ideas. Knowledge. They have to learn. In another article on Bustle’s website, written in 2016, they list nine of the most read books in prison: the top two books on the list are A Life Inside: A Prisoner’s Notebook by Erwin James and GED Test Prep Books. This is proof of a true and valuable desire to achieve inside, or perhaps simply to survive. One could argue that printed literature holds more value in prison than on the outside where it often goes unappreciated. Inmates are going to trade whatever they have, possibly (probably) even drugs, just to get a glimpse of some transformative words.

Obviously, not all inmates are going to turn their lives around with the help of literature; but, maybe five percent will…maybe that percentage has hit rock bottom in a way that has shown them what to do next. Not everyone is a lost cause. No place should hinder philosophical liberation/reform for those who yearn to do good. Sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Martin Luther King’ wrote Letter from Birmingham Jail, Nelson Mandela wrote his autobiography, and Sir Thomas Malory wrote The Death of Arthur all while incarcerated. William Addis Invented the toothbrush, Jesse Hawley came up with the Erie Canal and Andy Dufresnes made us cry, all while incarcerated.  

 

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'GoT' Showrunners, looking completely unperturbed

‘Game of Thrones’ Showrunners Nervous About Ending

And they should be.

Endings suck—especially when it comes to the conclusion of stories we love/loved. Sometimes stories are ruined by their less-than-spectacular final act. We read them for days and watch them for years as their inevitable finales approach, hoping our favorite characters go out in an appropriately cliché blaze of glory or meet a romantically tragic end. In a weird way, our favorite books, movies, and shows become a huge part of our lives—our own personal (REAL) narratives framing that of popular protagonists and their worlds. So, naturally, we fall in love with all of the underdogs, chosen ones, and antiheroes we spend time with. Maybe we even project unrealistic expectations onto the endings of their stories because we are afraid our own stories may not end so perfectly—however, let’s not think ourselves into an existential crisis.

 

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But yeah, often, our expectations are not met. The epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was… a tonal shift? The Giver tapers off into ambiguity. Pennywise is a demon spider? WTF. Let’s not even discuss the endings to The Hunger Games Trilogy or the plethora of television shows that broke our hearts; yeah, I’m talking to you, How I Met Your Mother (Ted and Robin? Still?), The Sopranos, Dexter, and Lost. I suppose not every series can bow out as brilliantly as Breaking Bad. Well done W.W.

 

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Image Via Independent.co.uk

 

As we prepare for the Game of Thrones finale, based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (duh), the healthy thing to do is lower our expectations. If we do not, we risk the kind of dejection that will threaten every aspect of our lives as we re-watch/re-read the story wondering where it all went wrong. Making peace with inevitable disappointment will be beneficial for our hearts, souls, and more importantly—the well-being of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The showrunners of GoT will be frantically chain-smoking and stress eating upon finale night as they continuously check the interweb for words of praise or admonishment.

 

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David Benioff and D.B. Weiss talked with Entertainment Weekly regarding the final season of their show and any concerns they may have for its ending (among other things):

 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So here you are. The final season. How is it? Are you happy?

DAVID BENIOFF: It’s still too early to say.

DAN WEISS: It could end up being a complete mess.

 

David Benioff went on to further discuss the subject of endings… perhaps to avoid discussing the ending that looms?

“A good story isn’t a good story if you have a bad ending,” he said, a sentiment which we hope not to dismally remember later as a sign of foreshadowing. “Of course, we worry.”

He also didn’t think The Sopranos ending was that bad…

I’ve gotten into a lot of arguments with people about why that was a great ending, but people felt legitimately cheated and that’s their right to feel that way, just as it’s my right to feel like they’re idiots. I’m hoping we get the ‘Breaking Bad’ [finale] argument where it’s like, ‘Is that an A or an A+?’ I want that to be the argument. I just wish we found better directors for it.

The final season will air its last premiere episode this Sunday. Will Jon Snow defeat the Night King? Will Dany sit on the Iron Throne? Will their baby? Will Gendry? Buckle up… but don’t drive too fast (metaphorically?) We don’t know where this road ends up, and we don’t know if we’ll like it.

Closing musing: if the final season sucks, George R.R. Martin can (and most likely will) build a better conclusion in his forthcoming novels The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. Perhaps this was the big guy’s plan all along—take his ending (which he has divulged to David and Dan) for a test run. All hail our Westerosi world builder.

 

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Enjoy the lobster, my friend, you deserve it.

 

 

 

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Jack O’Connell to Star in BBC ‘The North Water’ Adaptation

Jack O’ Connell, of Godless fame, will star in the BBC’s adaptation of The North Water, Ian McGuire’s realist narrative dealing with the hunt and harvest of whales—which happens in north water (hence the title). The story takes place in the 1850s right before waling stopped being so acceptable. In 2016 , the novel made waves; it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Chicago Tribune listed it as one of the best books of the year and so did the New York Times. McGuire likes realism and his novel is dark, cold and impartial. People loved it. Hollywood obviously came calling.

Details about the pending series continue to emerge: Jack O’ Connell is set to star as protagonist Patrick Summer, a disgraced army doctor/surgeon who becomes the whale ship’s doctor. This character’s desire to obtain redemption is made difficult by the story’s antagonist, Henry Drax. Colin Farrell is set to embody that murderous menace. Henry Dax is genuinely f’d up.  The series will consist of three hour-long episodes and a ninety-minute finale.

As mentioned in an article on Deadline’s website, Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, had this to say of O’Connell’s addition to the cast:

“Jack is one of the most fearless and instinctive actors of his generation and is the perfect choice to bring The North Water’s troubles and ambiguous hero to life.”

 

Image Via .britishcornershop.co.uk

The novel’s synopsis is as follows (via Goodreads):

 A ship sets sail with a killer on board . . .

1859. A man joins a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Having left the British Army with his reputation in tatters, Patrick Sumner has little option but to accept the position of ship’s surgeon on this ill-fated voyage. But when, deep into the journey, a cabin boy is discovered brutally killed, Sumner finds himself forced to act. Soon he will face an evil even greater than he had encountered at the siege of Delhi, in the shape of Henry Drax: harpooner, murderer, monster . . .

 

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Julianne Moore Talks Gloria Steinem’s ‘My Life on the Road’ Adaptation

Gloria Steinem is a powerhouse; the kind of person possessed by an innate desire to change the world for the better. She’s a writer, activist, feminist organizer, editor…and a laundry list of other things. She has founded or helped found organizations such as the Women’s Action Alliance, the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Women’s Media Center, Voters for Choice, Choice USA (now URGE) Ms. Foundation for Women, (which is basically the reason we have Take Your Daughter to Work Day), Equality Now, Donor Direct Action and Direct Impact Africa.  She also co-founded New York Magazine and Ms. Magazine, for which she still remains an editor.

 

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Basically, this women walks into a room and organizes ways in which to make that room better. If she were a citizen of Westeros, Missandei would quit her job as resident title announcer for Daenerys of House Targaryen in favor of Gloria of House Steinem. Reading her resume is equal parts exhausting and motivating—she’s been adorned with everything from writing accolades to the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Sir Obama—the highest civilian honor. My only fear in writing this article is that I fail to give Gloria Steinem the recognition she deserves; therefore, I will simply say: she’s achieved more than I could possibly mention here.

 

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In 2015, Steinem’s book  My Life on the Road became a New York Time Bestseller; it was praised by everyone, including Oprah. Below is a synopsis of the memoir from Steinem’s website:

When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. Taking to the road—by which I mean letting the road take you—changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories—in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.

Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.

My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.

In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and “on the road” state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other.”

 

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All of that being said, it should come as no surprise (hopefully) that the book has been adapted into a screenplay by Sarah Ruhl and stars Julianne Moore (another legend) as Gloria of House Steinem, Breaker of Chains. As a leader/pioneer/hero of modern feminism, Steinem is the refreshing type of hero we deserve to see on the silver screen. The film will be entitled The Glorias: A Life on the Road and is being directed by Julie Taymor of Frida fame. The story chronicles her life as a legend and will no doubt depict the impact she has had on so many lives.

In an interview with Page Six, Moore opened up about the project:

“Alicia Vikander plays one version of Gloria. Two girls, one nine, one twelve, play her younger. It explores her growing up days and her place in the women’s movement. Bette Midler has the role of Bella Abzug. Julie Taymor directs. The screenplay’s also by women.”

Filming of the biopic began in January of this year and a release date has yet to be announced.

 

 

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