Thursday, June 8, 2017

Her Vision Helped LETHAL WEAPON

This woman's creative talent contributed greatly to some American film classics.  She should have received a special achievement Oscar.  Top actors and directors wanted her to get such an honor.  I saw ABC News entertainment reporter Chris Connelly interview three stars of the very popular LETHAL WEAPON movie franchise on GOOD MORNING AMERICA.  Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and Rene Russo were warm and lively as they chatted with him in L.A.  Connelly stressed the terrific chemistry that Danny Glover, as the middle-aged family man cop, had with Mel Gibson.  Their chemistry in the first LETHAL WEAPON film, released in 1987, helped it become a big box office champ.  I loved Danny Glover as the big papa bear detective.
Their chemistry definitely pulled me back to the box office a second time to see it.
I've written about this before, but I'll bring it up again because the story behind LETHAL WEAPON's casting is a high mark in the area of diversity/inclusion in casting and in the area of women in film.  The field of casting directors in film, if you look at movie credits, appears to be a female-dominated field.  Personally, the frustration I've felt in my career from narrow-minded males has many times been dissolved by forward-thinking female casting directors who pushed for me to be seen.  Here's an example.  When I met with a top agent in New York City for the first time, fresh off three successful years as a veejay/talk show host on VH1, I said that I was extremely interested in auditioning for supporting roles in comedy vehicles.  I said that I wanted to play parts like the one Bill Murray did in TOOTSIE.  The white male agent replied, "But that wasn't a role for a black actor."  In the 1990s, I did two bit parts on THE SOPRANOS.  In both episodes, I played TV news reporters.  The female casting director contacted me and said that nothing in the script said the news reporter had to be played only by a white male.  I tested.  I got the part.  And THAT'S what we people of color in show biz need to give us a helping hand.

Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Glenn Close...those are some of the folks who made show biz breakthroughs because of casting director Marion Dougherty.  Another person was Danny Glover.
LETHAL WEAPON director Richard Donner was honored in Los Angeles this week.  That's how ABC's Chris Connelly got the idea to corral that star trio for an interview. Richard Donner's director film credits also include SUPERMAN starring Christopher Reeve, THE GOONIES and MAVERICK starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster.
I interviewed Donner back in the 90s and asked him about Marion Dougherty and he had enthusiastic praise for her.  Donner considers himself to quite the Hollywood  liberal and admitted to me he was about to sign Brian Dennehy for the role of the middle-aged detective in his LETHAL WEAPON buddy cop action film.  Then casting director Marion Dougherty contacted Donner to see Danny Glover.  Donner revealed that his first comment was, "But he's black" to which she replied, "Nothing in the script says the character can't be played by a black actor."  Donner said that was a lightbulb "Aha" moment for him and that, as a liberal,  he could've kicked himself for not thinking outside the box on his own.

The success of LETHAL WEAPON inspired Hollywood to do more interracial casting/auditioning.  This was major.  And Marion Dougherty kicked the career of the talented actor/social activist Danny Glover way up the ladder.  Also, because Danny Glover is African-American, other black actors got work when LETHAL WEAPON sequels were made that showed his character's family.

I highly recommend watching the 90-minute documentary about Marion Dougherty called CASTING BY.  I saw it on HBO back in 2013.  Marion Dougherty was a great creative force in the film business and her vision did indeed help LETHAL WEAPON.  She was a trailblazer in the Women In Film category.  Here's a trailer.

1 comment:

  1. Lethal weapon is a very good movie with famous actors who have made their mark in the industry through their excellent acting skills. I have watched this movie many times.


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