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Madonna to direct movie based on life of ballerina Michaela DePrince

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MGM announces the singer will direct Taking Flight, the story of DePrinces journey from war orphan in Sierra Leone to world-class ballerina

Madonna is to return to the movies after a seven-year absence to direct Taking Flight, a feature film based on the life of Michaela DePrince, a war orphan from Sierra Leone who became a leading ballerina.

According to Deadline, Hollywood studio MGM has been developing the project since 2015 when it acquired the rights to DePrinces memoir, co-written with her adoptive mother, Elaine.

Michaelas journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity, Madonna said. We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone, and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside. I am honoured to bring her story to life.

Ballet
Ballet dancer Michaela DePrince in Johannesburg, in 2012. Photograph: Gallo Images/Rex/Shutterstock

DePrince, 23, lost both of her parents in Sierra Leones civil war when she was three years old. The following year, she was adopted by a New Jersey couple and brought to the US, where she developed a passion for ballet. She was one of the stars of 2011 documentary First Position, about young ballet hopefuls, and is a soloist with the Dutch National Ballet and Opera. She also appeared in Beyoncs music video album, Lemonade.

We were immediately awestruck by Michaelas journey and know Madonnas vision and passion for the material will deliver a film that inspires audiences everywhere, said producer Leslie Morgenstein.

No cast or released date has yet been finalised. Camilla Blackett, writer of the comedy series Fresh Off the Boat, will write the screenplay.

Madonna is the bestselling female recording artist of all time but her movie career has been more chequered, especially behind the camera. Her 2008 feature debut, Filth and Wisdom, was described by the Guardians Peter Bradshaw as a dumb and tacky comedy-drama about three people sharing a flat in a quaintly conceived London. Its follow-up, 2011s WE, in which Andrea Riseborough played Wallis Simpson, was also critically panned, with Bradshaw describing it as one long humourless and necrophiliac swoon at the Windsors supposed tragi-romantic glamour.

Madonna wrote, produced and narrated 2008 documentary I Am Because We Are, about children in Malawi orphaned by the Aids epidemic. She has adopted four children from Malawi, including twin girls in 2017.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/mar/14/madonna-to-direct-movie-based-on-life-of-ballerina-michaela-deprince

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James Gunn fired as ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’ director following resurfaced old tweets

Charmaine Blake

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Image: Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Updated 5:12 p.m. EST with Gunn’s statement.

Guardians of the Galaxy franchise director James Gunn has been fired in light of tweets from his past, THR reported Friday afternoon.

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” said Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Though the statement does not specify the contents of Gunn’s tweets, other users have screenshots that may point in the right direction:

According to THR, Gunn’s tweets were found by conservative Twitter users, possibly in retaliation for his recent tweets against Donald Trump.

“Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo,” Gunn said in a series of tweets. “As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.”

Gunn was ostensibly scrubbing his own Twitter clean Thursday evening when he accidentally tweeted out a search for his own tweets.

Gunn issued an official statement in response:

My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”

“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/20/james-gunn-guardians-director-fired/

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‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ picks up Keri Russell

Charmaine Blake

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Keri Russell could be headed to a galaxy far, far away.

Image: FilmMagic

If you’re a big fan of The Americans, you’re gonna love this.

Variety is reporting that Keri Russell is in talks to join the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX—reuniting with director J.J. Abrams for the first time since Mission: Impossible III. They previously collaborated on the televised drama Felicity.

According to Variety‘s sources, project leads (including Abrams) have been meeting with various actresses for several weeks. They finally decided on Russell for the role earlier this week.

Very little is known about Russell’s character and that’s appropriate considering the mystery surrounding the film’s release. Speculation on Episode IX‘s working title change has been spinning since last month and we’re still in the dark on where our rebels are headed.

If this casting is confirmed by Lucasfilm, Russell will be adding to an already star studded cast with plenty of Last Jedi alumni. Hopefully, we’ll get more info on new cast members before filming commences in August.

Until then, the 2019 premiere date is going to keep feeling far, far away.

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Idris Elba joins Dwayne Johnson as Villain in ‘Fast and Furious’ Spinoff

Charmaine Blake

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Idris Elba is going to be the handsomest villain to grace the ‘Fast and Furious’ universe.

Image: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Idris Elba is going to be making another heel turn in his upcoming role in the Fast and Furious universe.

Elba is in final negotiations with the folks behind the upcoming Fast and Furious spinoff Hobbs and Shaw to play a new villain, Variety reported Thursday. The movie, coming in 2019, will star Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as their popular characters Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw.

Elba, who has played both protagonists and antagonists in movies and TV shows including The Wire, Beasts of No Nation, Pacific Rim, and a handful of Marvel movies. His debut in the star-studded Fast and Furious universe will be the ninth movie and first spin-off of the series.

Johnson first appeared in Fast Five, the series’ fifth installment, and Statham joined the cast four years later in Furious 7, where the two actors and their characters struck up quite the chemistry. Elba will undoubtedly make a great antagonist for the two in Hobbs and Shaw.

The spin-off is likely fueled by fans’ enjoyment of Statham and Johnson on screen together but may also be inspired by some on-set feuds that sprung up between some of the actors. Johnson and fellow star Vin Diesel were apparently butting heads so much during the filming of Fate of the Furious that the two no longer film scenes together.

As much as Hobbs and Shaw may be a spin-off that fans of the series were hoping for, it may also be an easy way to keep the stars on the big screen without causing any additional problems.

Hobbs and Shaw rolls out in theaters July 26, 2019.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/05/idris-elba-hobbs-and-shaw/

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