Deep Inside Hollywood: Laverne Cox, Phylicia Rashad, Raven-Symone & Madonna

Raven-Symone
Photo: KathClick
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Raven-Symone  Photo: KathClick

Raven-Symone
Photo: KathClick

By: Romeo San Vicente*/Special to TRT—

Court attire is the new black for Laverne Cox

She was the first trans actor nominated for an Emmy for Orange is the New Black. And now Laverne Cox can lay claim to another bit of queer history by being the first trans actor cast in a major network TV program. Doubt, the upcoming CBS drama, will feature Cox as a transgender attorney opposite stars KaDee Strickland and Dreama Walker. It’s important to understand how significant this is, when for years it has been routine to cast non-trans actors in trans roles, as though trans actors simply did not exist. Don’t get us wrong, Eddie Redmayne is going to be fine in that upcoming film where he plays a trans woman. But there’s no going back and pretending that actors like him are the only casting choice, and we have bold people like Cox to thank for that. Now take this thing to a series order, CBS.

Phylicia Rashad and Raven-Symone will play lesbians on TV

Two women from The Cosby Show have new jobs as lesbian characters on two different shows. Phylicia Rashad, the former Clair Huxtable, will star as a lesbian FBI agent working in the Justice Department in the pilot for the new CBS drama For Justice. And to add a little more prestige to the mix, it’ll be directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay (Selma). Meanwhile, Raven-Symone, Cosby’s later-season MVP and star of That’s So Raven, will appear on ABC’s Black-ish, as Anthony Anderson’s lesbian sister who’s not entirely comfortable talking about her sexual orientation. And you thought this was going to be a report about them playing an intergenerational couple, admit it.

Madonna is probably going to direct more movies whether you like it or not

A while back we told you about Madonna’s latest filmmaking effort, Adé: A Love Story, which is to be based on Rebecca Walker’s novel of the same name. Will it still happen? Will it not? That’s for the development people to decide. But while she’s waiting for production money and other puzzle pieces to fall into place, and presumably in between rehearsals for her upcoming Rebel Heart tour, Ms. Ciccone will also be working on a screenplay for another book she hopes to take to the screen, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.  The novel by Andrew Sean Greer, optioned by Madonna in 2013, concerns a woman whose gay twin brother dies of an AIDS-like illness, which pushes her into electroshock therapy and time travel – hence, that word “impossible” in the title. As for Madonna’s abilities behind the camera, both of her previous films received bad reviews, but the progression of her abilities from Filth and Wisdom to W.E. is striking. This proves, if nothing else, that she doesn’t give up – even after she falls – and she’s not afraid of a public learning curve. So let’s watch where she goes next.

When Arrow met The Flash and reproduced…

Superheroes have more or less effectively replaced cowboys as the most popular vehicle for acting out American myths and communicating values about good and evil. If you weren’t aware of that fact then you haven’t been to a movie theater in a while, nor have you been paying much attention to TV, because their numbers are proliferating there, too. And now, if the fans are lucky, two of their favorites are going to spawn. That’s because the CW is planning to take characters from Arrow and The Flash to create a new series that would integrate those two worlds, while, ostensibly, allowing the actors to continue on their respective shows. The as-yet-untitled pilot will star Brandon Routh (Arrow’s Ray Palmer/The Atom) and gay actors Victor Garber (Flash’s Dr. Martin Stein) and Wentworth Miller (Flash’s Leonard Snart/Captain Cold). It will also, presumably, allow other characters from those shows, as well as any old DC Comics characters who feel like dropping in (Hello, Batman and/or Wonder Woman and/or non-Routh Superman), to show up and kick some ass for truth, justice and the American Way. More details as they develop.

*Romeo San Vicente’s Aquaman obsession has yet to be indulged by any film or TV show, and this feels unfair. He can be reached care of this publication or at DeepInsideHollywood@qsyndicate.com.