Here’s your first official look at the cast, in full costume, weapons ready, with the "Ghost mobile" in tow, for what will be an all-female "Ghostsbusters" movie, which was just shared by director Paul Feig this afternoon, via Twitter.
From left to right: Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon.
Paul Feig also directed McCarthy and Wiig in "Bridesmaids" by the way.
Of interest to S&A readers is, of course, Leslie Jones, who was promoted to series cast member on NBC’s "Saturday Night Live," last October, from her previous position in the writers’ room.
You’ll recall that Jones was added to SNL’s writing staff in January of 2014 (along with LaKendra Tookes), around the same time that Sasheer Zamata was added to the show’s cast, after a much publicized search for a new black woman cast member (Jones and Tookes were amongst the many women who auditioned for the job that eventually went to Zamata, when producers held a special casting for black women actors/comedians last year).
You’ll also recall that, 5 months after she was hired, Jones found herself at the center of some controversy over an SNL "Weekend Update" sketch she appeared in, titled "No. 1 Slave Draft Pick," which began with her congratulating actress Lupita Nyong’o for her Academy Award win, and then became something else entirely, as she went on to suggest that she’d have more luck attracting men if she were a (paraphrasing) "strong, baby-producing slave in the Old South."
Needless to say, she faced tremendous criticism for the skit, with many arguing that Jones could not have written the material herself, and that it was likely the work of the white writers on the show.
Jones did eventually and vehemently defend the sketch, saying, via Twitter: "Y’all so busy trying to be self righteous you miss what the joke really is. Very sad I have to defend myself to black people. Now I’m betting if Chris Rock or Dave Chappelje did that joke or jay z or Kanye put in a rap they would be called brilliant. Cause they all do this type of material. Just cause it came from a strong black woman who ain’t afraid to be real y’all mad. So here is my announcement black folks, you won’t stop me and Im gonna go even harder and deeper now. Cause it’s a shame that we kill each other instead of support each other. This exactly why black people are where we are now cause we too fucking sensitive and instead of make lemonade out of lemons we just suck the sour juice from the lemons. Wake up."
But that’s all behind her now, as she’s obviously moving on to even bigger things, with this "Ghostbusters" casting.
Let’s hope she doesn’t get shafted like Ernie Hudson was when he appeared in the original movie franchise. Briefly, in what was essentially an "open letter" published on the Entertainment Weekly website last November, Ernie Hudson got personal, sharing that he didn’t feel the acting career that taking the role (Winston Zeddemore, in "Ghostbusters") promised, ever fully materialized, because, as he stated in the article, the role he was initially offered isn’t the role that he ended up playing. In the original script, the character was far meatier than the character that you see in the film that was released 30 years ago.
As he stated: "Now I’ve heard, over the years, that the part had been written for Eddie Murphy – all of which Ivan Reitman says is not true. But it was a bigger part, and Winston was there all the way through the movie. After a long audition process, I finally got the part and made the awful mistake of letting it be known that I really, really wanted it. In Hollywood in those days, you set your quote – so if anybody calls about wanting to work with you, they had to meet your quote. I had just worked with Columbia on ‘Spacehunter,’ and my quote was pretty decent. For Ghostbusters, they came in at only half of my quote, because they said this role was going to make my career. I said to my agent, “I don’t care. Just take it, because I believe that.” So we go to New York and we rehearse for three weeks or whatever and I’m ready to roll. The night before filming begins, however, I get this new script and it was shocking. The character was gone. Instead of coming in at the very beginning of the movie, like page 8, the character came in on page 68 after the Ghostbusters were established. His elaborate background was all gone, replaced by me walking in and saying, “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.” So that was pretty devastating."
You can read the rest of that piece here.
So will Leslie Jones’ character be the Winston Zeddermore of the upcoming all-female "Ghostbusters"? Let’s hope not. Using M. Asli Dukan’s 5 basic criteria used to determine whether a black character in a movie is fully realized:
1. Character (is the character primary)
2. Agency (does the character have the ability to make their own choices)
3. Survival (does the character live until the end of the film)
4. Boglesque (does the character appear as a stereotype)
5. Relevance (does the character have historical, political or social relevance)
Let’s see how many of those 5 listed criteria Leslie Jones’ character in "Ghostbusters" meets, when the movie is released next summer (2016).