Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Get F. Gary Gray on TODAY

A black man made film history with the biggest global opening of all time for a movie.  Bigger than STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.  African American director F. Gary Gray had a colossal box office success over the weekend.  His action-packed car chase sequel, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS, made $100.2 million at the domestic box office driving it to the #1 spot.  Reportedly, its international box office take was $432.3 million, a debut record.  You know that the executives at Universal are shouting with joy this week at that financial news.  According to Universal, this was the highest-grossing opening for an African American director ever. Bravo, F. Gary Gray!
When is the TODAY Show going to give director F. Gary Gray some well-deserved spotlight love? Now that networks are attached to movie studios, we've come to expect the network morning shows to plug product being released by the parent company.  Look at ABC with Disney as its parent company.  GOOD MORNING AMERICA constantly plugs Disney product.  NBC is attached to Universal.  Universal had a major box office hit with STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON.

If you read my posts on a regular basis, you know how irritated I was as an African American viewer that TODAY seemed to kick STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON to the curb.  We saw Amy Schumer and other actors from Universal's comedy, TRAINWRECK on TODAY.  We saw Al Roker do weather segments with the yellow characters from Universal's animated MINIONS.  We saw taped interviews with the stars of Universal's JURASSIC WORLD.  But Universal's STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON pretty much just got a brief mention of how it did over the weekend at the box office.  We didn't meet the actors or the director.  It got nowhere near the promotion that TRAINWRECK and MINIONS did.

This really pissed me off racially. First of all, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON is a Universal release.  Why did TODAY seem to ignore a product of its own company, a product that was a biopic about black talent that became internationally famous for its rap music?  Also, you see clips of Matt Lauer in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON reading the NBC news headlines in the biopic.  I wrote a post about this NBC and STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON oversight that you can read in my January 2016 section.

One of the things that sent me to a theater to see STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON was the number of white males 40 years of age and older who raved about the movie.  Most had seen it with their sons.  They all praised the director.  So did noted national film critics.  Not only did STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON get rave reviews, it was Number One at the box office for three consecutive weekends.  THREE.  This was huge for a black filmmaker.  STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON was also a hit overseas in Great Britain and Germany.  I was knocked out by it.  The story of the controversial 1980s rap group N.W.A. is an excellent piece of work.  I saw it and saw it again the following weekend.  If I was an entertainment reporter on TODAY, I would have pushed to do an interview of director F. Gary Gray.  I'm surprised former high-profile MTV host Carson Daly didn't push for that.  Daly is now a member of the TODAY on-air family and he's the host on THE VOICE.  Before Gray started making movies, he was a music video director and a top winner at the 1995 MTV Music Video Awards.  STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON should've been a Best Picture of 2015 Oscar contender.  F. Gary Gray didn't get nominated but was worthy of a Best Director Oscar nomination.

Paul Giamatti should've been a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee for his performance as the N.W.A. show biz manager.

I believe that STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON getting only one Oscar nomination (for screenplay) was an element that gave fuel to the "Oscars So White" issue about Hollywood's need to step up its game in the areas of diversity and inclusion.

African American director F. Gary Gray has made some more enormous money for Universal.  In the category of black filmmakers, he's made history.  It's time for him to be a guest on NBC/Universal's TODAY Show.
Some of Gray's favorite classic films are Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA, CASABLANCA, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS and ON THE WATERFRONT.  Maybe he'd be interested in being a guest programmer one night on Turner Classic Movies.

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Charlize Theron.  All the installments in the franchise have embraced diversity and inclusion which made them popular with moviegoers.
Once again, F. Gary Gray's fast car action movie crossed the finish line with $532.5 million at the worldwide box office over the weekend.  Dig it.  I'd book him as a guest on TODAY.

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