Actor Kumail Nanjiani on accepting a non-comedic role
After writing and starring in the film “The Big Sick” in 2017, actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani says writer-director and producer Robert Siegel (“Pam and Tommy,” “Big Fan,” “The Wrestler”) approached him with an idea to make a drama film about the American stripper troupe Chippandales. At the time, Nanjiani turned it down.
Director James Gray, Peter Kujawski discuss ‘Armageddon Time’
For Peter Kujawski, chairman of Focus Features, it was “very simple and easy” to greenlight James Gray’s drama “Armageddon Time.” Gray had written the script before the pandemic shut down of March 2020. By that Summer, Kujawski got a call from Roeg Sutherland, a talent agent from CAA, saying he had something that he should look at. Sutherland knew Kujawski was a “gigantic fan” of Gray’s work and he was in a position to say yes to the project. “I was predisposed because of my fanship,” Kujawski reveals. “The movie literally could have been about young James Gray just building a model rocket, and I would have wanted to do it.” Gray, who also produced and directed the film, says he didn’t know of Kujawski’s admiration. “This is fabulous to hear!” Now Gray and Kujawski discuss “Armageddon Time,” the challenges of making the film during the pandemic, their careers, and Gray’s bad experience working with former film producer Harvey Weinstein. But first, Kim Masters and Matt Belloni talk about another producer, Eric Weinberg, the criminal charges against him, and the “club” culture of complicity that allowed him to keep getting jobs in Hollywood.
Larry Wilmore on defying stereotypes, building sprawling career
Actor, comedian, writer, and producer Larry Wilmore has been in show biz for four decades. He has written for dozens of iconic TV shows, including “In Living Color,” “The Office,” and “Black-ish.” But early in his career, he says a Black comedian who didn’t fit a stereotype didn’t have a job.
Replay: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy shares her path from making docs to directing ‘Ms. Marvel’
This week, The Business revisits a conversation with filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who is now being tapped to direct an upcoming “Star Wars” movie, along with Damon Lindelof, who will develop and co-write it. Obaid-Chinoy will be the first woman and person of color at the helm of this movie franchise. Recently, the two-time Academy Award winner directed two episodes of Disney’s limited series “Ms. Marvel.” She shares with Kim Masters her path from making intimate documentary shorts in her home country of Pakistan, to animated features, to “Ms. Marvel” – her first live-action, narrative fiction series. “I know what ‘Black Panther’ did for communities across the world. And this is exactly what ‘Ms. Marvel’ is going to do for South Asian communities,” says Obaid-Chinoy. The mini series portrays a teenage, Pakistani-American superhero, and within its first week on Disney+, it received a 97% score – the best reviewed Marvel series and film production on Rotten Tomatoes, a record previously held by “Black Panther.” The filmmaker also talks about how the real life heroes she has depicted over the years in documentary form are tied to “Ms. Marvel.” “Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel is a superhero who … is very much in line with the other characters that I had been filming throughout my career,” she explains, adding she desires to continue telling important stories in the future. First, Masters and Matt Belloni have a fresh banter about Lucasfilm and how its leadership’s lack of creative vision is running the franchise into the ground. Plus, Peacock has growing problems.
Documentary filmmaker absorbs the American South’s history in ‘Descendant’
Documentary filmmaker Margaret Brown was born and raised in Mobile, Ala., and has had an absorbing interest in the American South, including her 2004 documentary “Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt.” But only while filming “The Order of Myths,” in 2008, she learned of the last known slave ship brought to the United States in the late 1850s, and the nearby community former slaves formed. “I didn't remember learning about that in school. That was the first time I had heard of the Clotilda [ship] or Africatown,” she states. That was the moment when she came across the topic of her newest project, the film “Descendant.” Now, Brown shares how she created partnerships to make the film, and got Questlove, Netflix and the Obamas to become involved in it. But first, Kim Masters banters with Matt Belloni about Warner Bros. Discovery’s unpredictable decision to hire filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran to run the DC Universe.