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Hollywood Exec Wanted Julia Roberts to Play Harriet Tubman in 1994, Says ‘Harriet’ Screenwriter

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  • In a recent interview and essay about the historical biopic Harriet, screenwriter and producer Gregory Allen explained that it took decades for Hollywood to support a film with a black female portrayed as an “action figure.” 
  • He explained an instance in 1994 where a studio exec loved the script, then suggested Julia Roberts play Tubman.
  • When someone said that Tubman was a black woman, the exec allegedly said, “That was so long ago. No one will know that.”
  • Allen said the climate in Hollywood recently changed, making Harriet possible, thanks to films like 12 Years a Slave and Black Panther. 

Exec Suggests Julia Roberts 

Harriet screenwriter and producer Gregory Allen revealed that in 1994, a Hollywood studio executive suggested that actress Julia Roberts should play the iconic black historical figure, Harriet Tubman.

In a Q&A published earlier this month and in a recent L.A. Times essay, Allen discussed the 25-year journey it took to release the biopic Harriet, which finally hit the big screen on Nov. 1 with Cynthia Erivo playing the slave turned legendary abolitionist. 

According to Allen, it was very difficult for a film like Harriet to be made with the right support in Hollywood years ago. He noted that it was especially challenging to find a studio that was ready to make a film that treated Tubman like an “action figure” rather than a “history lesson.”  

“Nobody in Hollywood wants to be an outlier. Hollywood has a herd mentality. There was no herd around the story of a former slave girl who freed other slaves..” he wrote. “All the people I pitched this to, submitted the script to, were asking themselves one question: ‘How do I sell this story to my boss, to a studio, to my financial partners?’”

“I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,’” Allen explained in the Q&A published by Focus Features.  

When the sole black person in the studio meeting pointed out that Tubman was a black woman, the executive allegedly replied, “That was so long ago. No one will know that.”

Hollywood Climate Changes 

Allen struggled for years to find a studio that would pick up the script, explaining in his Times essay, “What I realize now is that the film was not going to get made until the environment in Hollywood changed.”

The writer praised groundbreaking films like 12 Years a Slave and Black Pather for changing the game for black representation onscreen. 

“When 12 Years a Slave became a hit and did a couple hundred million dollars worldwide, I told my agent, ‘You can’t say this kind of story won’t make money now.’ Then Black Panther really blew the doors open,” Allen said in the Q&A. 

He also pointed out that doors opened thanks to widespread support for movements like #OscarsSoWhite, DiversityHollywood, and other fights over the lack of inclusion in film.

“It still took a few years more to get it made — packages fell apart, financing fell out, talent dropped out — but the important thing is there was no longer hostility to the idea,” Allen wrote. 

“As someone who has been in this business for decades, I am enjoying the warmth of the Hollywood climate change, and the diverse stories that are bathing in that sunlight, happy that Harriet’s other journey is now finally complete.”

See what others are saying: (Entertainment Weekly) (The Guardian) (Variety

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Chrissy Teigen Apologizes To Courtney Stodden Following Backlash Over Old Tweets

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  • In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Courtney Stodden, who gained tabloid attention a decade ago after marrying 51-year-old Doug Hutchison at the age of 16, said model Chrissy Teigen would privately DM me and tell me to kill myself.”
  • The direct messages have not been verified but Internet users dug up old tweets Teigen posted telling Stodden to take a “dirt nap.”
  • Many called Teigen out for harassing a then-teenager and telling them to die, especially since Teigen has been vocal about her own experiences with online hate, which prompted her to temporarily leave Twitter earlier this year.
  • On Wednesday, Teigen apologized to Stodden and said she was “ashamed and completely embarrassed” by her past remarks.

Courtney Stodden Speaks Out

Model and television personality Chrissy Teigen apologized on Wednesday for old comments she allegedly made 10 years ago, encouraging then-teenager Courtney Stodden to kill themself. 

In a profile by The Daily Beast, Stodden (who uses they/them pronouns) accused Teigen of sending them messages encouraging suicide.

“She wouldn’t just publicly tweet about wanting me to take ‘a dirt nap’ but would privately DM me and tell me to kill myself,” Stoddon told The Daily Beast, referring to Teigen. “Things like, ‘I can’t wait for you to die.’”

Teigen became a trending topic on Tuesday as people began sharing the article. Now, she is finally addressing the controversy.

“Not a lot of people are lucky enough to be held accountable for all their past bullshit in front of the entire world,” she wrote on Twitter. “I’m mortified and sad at who I used to be. I was an insecure, attention seeking troll. I am ashamed and completely embarrassed at my behavior but that is nothing compared to how I made Courtney feel.”

Stodden made headlines in 2011 after marrying 51-year-old Doug Hutchison at the age of 16. The couple has since divorced, but at the time of their marriage, their relationship was the subject of incessant tabloid coverage. Rather than show concern for Stodden’s situation as a victim of grooming, the media and public shamed and ridiculed them relentlessly. 

Teigen was one of many stars that Stodden said used to mock them. Stodden told The Daily Beast that “The View “co-host Joy Behar referred to them as a “slut” and musician Courtney Love called them a “whore.” They also claimed that of all the celebrities to use such harsh language, the only one to apologize since is Perez Hilton.

Chrissy Teigen Faces Backlash

While the direct messages Teigen allegedly sent have not been verified, several Twitter users recovered and shared old tweets Teigen posted at the height of Stodden’s fame. In one, Teigen says her “fantasy” would be for Stodden to take “a dirt nap.” In another, she told Stodden to “go to sleep forever.”

Many called the star out for bullying a 16-year-old. 

“Chrissy Teigen tried to bully a 16yo abuse victim into suicide?” one person wrote. “This is so much more than ‘oh she’s annoying on twitter’ she’s a fucking monster.”

Some claimed that her tweets should be considered a violation of Twitter’s terms of service. Others noted that earlier this year, Teigen temporarily left Twitter, citing copious amounts of online hate. Some found it hypocritical that she previously incited that same hate, then left the platform when it was being directed towards her. 

“I’m so sorry, Courtney. I hope you can heal now knowing how deeply sorry I am,” Teigen continued on Wednesday, adding that she wants to constantly work to be a better person.

See what others are saying: (BuzzFeed News) (The Daily Beast) (A.V. Club)

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Ellen DeGeneres Announces End of Her Daytime Talk Show

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  • In a Hollywood Reporter interview published Wednesday, Ellen DeGeneres revealed that she is ending her talk show after its upcoming 19th season.
  • Many believe the decision came in response to toxic workplace allegations the host and her show faced last summer, but DeGeneres said the plans were in motion far before that because the show is no longer challenging enough for her. 
  • Staffers were notified of the decision Tuesday and DeGeneres will discuss the news on Wednesday’s episode of her show with Oprah Winfrey, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ellen DeGeneres Show To End With Season 19

Ellen DeGeneres is officially pulling the plug on her daytime talk show.

In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the comedian and host announced that her upcoming 19th season will be her last. She informed staff of the decision Tuesday and will discuss the news on Wednesday’s episode of her show with Oprah Winfrey.

“When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore,” DeGeneres said when explaining the reasoning behind her choice to end the show.

People on social media have, of course, taken issue with that statement. Many noted that the decision comes now that DeGeneres has fallen out of much of the public’s favor.

Last summer, several people made claims about DeGeneres’ alleged cold or rude demeanor as others began criticizing her old interviews. Buzzfeed then published a report with allegations of a toxic workplace culture, which included sexual harassment, racism, and intimidation claims, among other things.

Plans Were in Motion for Some Time, DeGeneres Said

Still, DeGeneres said ending the show now was always the plan. She actually said she wanted to stop after Season 16, and her wife Portia de Rossi had also been urging her to move on.

Executives behind the show, however, pushed for four additional year and they ultimately settled on three, with DeGeneres knowing that season 19 would be her last.

In the article, she specifically addresses the summer allegations saying, “It almost impacted the show. It was very hurtful to me. I mean, very. But if I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn’t have come back this season. So, it’s not why I’m stopping.

She also framed the claims about her character as “ridiculous,” saying they attacked everything she stands for and destroyed her.

As far as the toxic workplace allegations, DeGeneres said she learned of them through the press and didn’t want to believe them at first.

“So, there was an internal investigation, obviously, and we learned some things but this culture we’re living is [is one where] no one can make mistakes,” she added.

“And I don’t want to generalize because there are some bad people out there and those people shouldn’t work again but, in general, the culture today is one where you can’t learn and grow, which is, as human beings, what we’re here to do. And I can see people looking at that going, ‘You don’t care about what people [went through.]’ I care tremendously. It broke my heart when I learned that people here had anything other than a fantastic experience.”

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN) (Fox News)

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Seth Rogen Says He Has No Plans To Work With James Franco “Right Now” Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations

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  • In an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times, actor Seth Rogen was asked about his relationship with longtime collaborator James Franco, who has been accused of misconduct and sexually exploitative behavior by multiple women. 
  • In response to claims that Rogen was Franco’s enabler, he said, “What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment, and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that. 
  • He also expressed regret over a 2014 joke he made on “Saturday Night Live,” which many felt trivialized Franco’s inappropriate communication with a 17-year-old. 
  • “I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now,” he added.

Seth Rogen Addresses James Franco Controversies

Actor and comedian Seth Rogen was asked about his relationship with fellow film star James Franco in a new interview with Britain’s Sunday Times.

Franco and Rogen are friends and longtime collaborators who’ve done hit films together, including “Pineapple Express,” “The Disaster Artist,” “The Interview,” and “Sausage Party,” among others.

In 2014, Franco was exposed for trying to pick up a 17-year-old through Instagram direct messages. In 2018, five women publicly accused him of inappropriate and sexually exploitative behavior, which he denied. Two of those women, who were students at an acting school he ran, then filed a lawsuit against him and agreed to a settlement this year.

Throughout these controversies, Rogen has faced a ton of backlash for continuing to show Franco support.

Last month, actress Charlyne Yi took to Instagram to open up about her experience working on “The Disaster Artist,” accusing Franco of being a “predator” and Rogen of being his “enabler.”

When asked about that specific claim, Rogen said, “What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment, and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that.”

No Current Plans To Work Together

Rogen also expressed regret over a 2014 joke he made on “Saturday Night Live,” which many felt trivialized Franco’s inappropriate communication with the 17-year-old.

“It was a terrible joke, honestly. And I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now,” he continued.

When asked how Franco’s scandals have impacted their relationship, Rogen said, “I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic.”

Still, he noted that changes are “not as painful and difficult as it is for a lot of other people involved. I have no pity for myself in this situation.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (Huff Post) (The Sunday Times)

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