Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Woody Allen's all white Harlem Cotton Club revue

"Harlem is all white?"
Woody Allen -- famed director who married his step-daughter (eww that's just flat-out nasty) -- is bringing his "Bullets over Broadway" to Broadway.

"Bullets" is a musical about Harlem's legendary Cotton Club.

But implausibly,  so-called liberal icon, Woody Allen refused to hire any black actors for his musical based on the most popular club in black Harlem.

As reported by the NY Daily News:

Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway,” which opens Thursday night at the St. James Theatre, offers a much blander perspective on the Cotton Club than “After Midnight,” now playing at Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

A source tells Confidenti@l that’s because Allen specifically requested there be no black gangsters in his musical, though it isn’t clear why Allen chose that route.

“Everyone’s white at Woody’s Cotton Club and in the gangster numbers,” says our well-placed Broadway insider. “Casting was considering a big-name African-American actor for the play, but Woody passed because he just got the idea that a black gangster wouldn’t be good. One man wasn’t asked back and then was told it was Woody who didn’t want any black gangsters.”

Our source adds that the casting team told Allen a scene re-creating the iconic Harlem club, which was popular with black clubgoers, should actually feature some.
It is odd for any big musical to not feature any African-Americans, especially when in the workshop production — a preshow period for producers and investors — a few black actors were featured and were phenomenal

This is not the first time Woody's been called out for his pigment challenged movies. The sultry actress  Angela Bassett has pointedly commented on Woody's casting tendencies:

"I mean, to have one black cast member for the whole film seems rather strange, and, oh yes, she's a prostitute, of course," said the actress who portrayed Tina Turner in the biopic What's Love Got to Do With it? "Don't get me wrong, I love Spain and it looked beautiful, but that part of the world is so diverse and, really, what is that about?"  source

Here's a who's who of Cotton Club headliners:

Lena Horne, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Adelaide Hall,[1][2] Count Basie, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, The Nicholas Brothers, Lottie Gee, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and Ethel Waters.

The most famous Harlem gangsters at the time:

Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson and Queen Madame Stephanie St. Clair.

Original owner of the Club:

Famed black boxer Jack Johnson.

Mr. Woody Allen's historically incorrect depiction is from the same cloth of how Hollyweird transformed black pharaohs into white actors. It's one thing to film all whites for his downtown Manhattan movies but to go to uptown Harlem and not have any black characters is very suspect or should we say racist.


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