Shaft Director Tim Story talks to Jarod Hector About Making This Installment of The Iconic Franchise And The Message of Family He Hopes is Apparent in The MovieRead Now
Richard Roundtree Tells Jarod Hector The Latest Shaft Movie is ‘The Best’, Plus The Franchise’s Future, Working With Samuel L. Jackson, And The Large Pool of Talented Black Actors in HollywoodRead Now
The fifth installment of the Shaft movie franchise premieres today, Friday June 14th. We’ve come a long way from the blaxploitation film in 1971 directed by Gordon Parks starring, then 29-year-old, Richard Roundtree as John Shaft.
Roundtree reprises his role as John Shaft Sr. father to John Shaft II, played by Samuel L. Jackson (also reprising his role from the 2000 film), and we have a new character, the youngest member of the Shaft family John “JJ” Shaft Jr. played by Jessie Usher.
Roundtree, the sage veteran actor that still embodies all the cool of Shaft sat down with Black Sports Online prior to the premiere to talk about the franchise, why he believes this is the best one yet, as well as how far Black actors have come in Hollywood, and how much further they still have to go.
This is the second installment…
No. This is the fifth Shaft movie, let’s not get it twisted.
Yes. This is your fifth movie. The second of the new era is what I mean. How does it feel for you to have this franchise still going on after all these years?
To be truthful with you. This is so elevated, past what has been seen before. This is the best [film] since the first one. Without diluting my hero, Gordon Parks, who brought such class to the first two films. This is such a joy for me, to see three generations of this character. Passing the baton on to my [character’s] son and ultimately to my [character’s] grandson. To see the transition that my grandson goes through, that nerd that he exemplifies initially. To see the turn, and him owning his name...is perfect.
Talking about the generations of characters. How important is it to see that on screen for Black people and Black culture?
When you have this paint job (touches the skin on the back of his hand), to see the joy of the parent. The parental passing of the torch and to see Jessie’s transition...I mean Sam (Jackson), he’s already there. Sam is Sam. But to see Jessie as my grandson, who I’m so happy to see, because he’s been estranged from us, as you know. It is powerful to see that all come together.
Tim Story (director) and Sam have done an incredible job. I’m so proud of this film. It bodes well for yet another installment.
That’s what’s so interesting. You as the sage veteran, Sam is Sam as we said. Regina Hall who plays Maya, JJ’s mother. That all could be daunting for someone like Jessie walking on set. I mean, acting is kind of like a competition in some ways right?
Yeah, yeah. But this young gentleman has handled it very well. He knew what was supposed to happen. The beats. I think he’s done an incredible job. I’m proud and happy to see that he’s embraced that and made it work. When you have to work with Sam day to day, boy you better be ready. I marvel at the fact of Sam’s peripheral vision. He knows what everybody on the set is supposed to be doing, and if you’re not bringing it, he’ll call you on your shit.
I’ll make a sports analogy. Sam is like Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul in many ways. He knows where everyone on the court is supposed to be. If you are on his team and you are not in the right place, he will get on you and chew your ass out about it. That’s Sam, right?
So, what is the process like as an actor to prepare to come to the set, so that you are in the right place at the right time? Whether you use method or not, at some point, you have to put Richard Roundtree to the side and become John Shaft, right. How does that work?
That comes with time. Time put in. I marvel at Sam’s peripheral vision. My school is not as broad. I want to come to the set, ready to work, know my lines, and hit my spot because I’m dependent on everybody else on set knowing their job. I don’t know what their total responsibilities are, and I’m assuming. Sam comes to set and he’s...you know ‘ay, you ain’t doing this right.’ I’m very impatient, but Sam doesn’t want to do more than three takes on any given scene and it bores me to tears to do anything more than three or four times because someone is not on their J-O-B. Now, I won’t call you out, but Sam…’hey motherfucker, that’s not the line!’ That’s the difference.
How great is it to be back in Harlem now as we do this interview, and how important was it to film the movie in Harlem? This city is as much a character in the film as any of you. We’re on 125th and Lenox at the Red Rooster!
Come on! I do not come back to New York City without coming to this restaurant. I should scale that back a little. I am a huge fan of Ethiopian food, number one [Ethiopian chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson owns the Red Rooster]. Having worked in Ethiopia, having met Haile Slaessie. Having seen Haile Salessie on Lenox Avenue when I was a preteen. Having an audience with him in Ethiopia and him telling me I would have a long career. How prophetic is that? Come on! [Haile Salessie was Ethiopian Regent from 1916-1930 and Emperor from 1930-1974].
And, Gordon Parks having the genesis of the Shaft movie emanate from Harlem and these streets? This is magic.
You are at the stage of your career where you can pick and choose the types of roles and projects you want to do. But you had to toil and pave the way for many of the young Black actors behind you. Is there a feeling of gratification when you see other Black actors shine?
As long as we have this paint job it’s going to be difficult. What is beautiful at this point in time is the participation of this paint job, with the incredibly talented people that are coming along. You look at someone like Viola Davis. These are talents that can stand alone, who are beasts, that can make demands and be heard and listened to. They can put out incredible projects with no apologies. It’s not just standing in a corner or being an afterthought. They drive the narrative. It’s wonderful to see. We have people today, like Sam, who when they put their name on a project and it will sell. Back in the day it was only one or two “oh yeah, what’s his name?” Today, the Sam’s, Denzel’s [Washington] and Viola Davis’...
What’s next for Richard Roundtree?
Well, we could see another Shaft movie, now that we have Jessie as the next generation. Hopefully he’ll have his grandad around. I’m happy to still be gainfully employed. We talking about the third quarter, but…
You still love it!
Richard, thank you for the time.
Grizzlies Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr Talks to Jarod Hector About Life in The NBA, His Favorite Rappers And Why Jay-Z Still Matters to The Kids (Video)Read Now
At 6’11, 240 pounds (give or take), Jaren Jackson Jr. is an athletic marvel. The Memphis Grizzlies rookie big man was the #4 pick in last June’s draft and has already paid dividends for the surprising 13-8 Grizzlies. Jackson is averaging 13.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, and 2 bpg on 52% shooting from the field, and 36% from three. His per 36 numbers are 19.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 2.8 bpg. In short, dude is a monster and he’s only 19 years old. So, it’s safe to assume he’ll likely get better and he could wind up being the best big man from that loaded 2018 draft class.
On Friday, Jackson and the Grizzlies were in Brooklyn to take on the Nets, and he finished with 36 points and 8 rebounds. Including a 4 point play to pull his squad to within three with 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and the game-tying three to force overtime. The Grizzlies left Brooklyn with a win in double overtime and Jackson notched a career high in points. Following the game, I asked Nets guard D’Angelo Russell if he was surprised by Jackson’s play. Russell told BSO, “No. That dude is special…”
Prior to the game, BSO spoke to the rookie and we discussed a variety of topics. He is a very confident young man and looks like he wants to be great. He discussed the importance of being drafted by a team with a winning culture and how he’s always played for winning teams.
Jackson is the prototypical big man for the “new NBA” and he talks about his affinity for shooting from beyond the arc and the importance of spacing on the floor.
We wrap our conversation discussing hip-hop and the latest Meek Mill album Championships. Jackson talks about whether or not Jay-Z and Rick Ross killed their verses on “What’s Free” and why Jay-Z still resonates with young guys like himself. Jackson also gives us some insight into what he’s currently listening to and a rapper everyone should check out.
Derek Brunson & Sijara Eubanks Talk to Jarod Hector About Their Upcoming Fights at #UFC230 And When They Expect Title Shots (Video)Read Now
UFC 230 happens this Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Black Sports Online will be cage side with all the updates, action, and interviews. Ahead of Saturday’s event, the fighters were on hand for media day at the Mariott Marquis in midtown.
Sijara Eubanks, the #4 ranked flyweight fighter in UFC will take on Roxanne Modafferi on Saturday. Eubanks is the higher ranked fighter, as Modafferi is ranked #7. But Modafferi has a lot more experience in the cage and more fights under her belt. Eubanks is unfazed and told BSO, “I’ve fought many high-level jujitsu matches, so I have a lot of experience as well.”
Eubanks talks her fight on Saturday and when she can expect a title shot.
Derek Brunson the #6 ranked middleweight in UFC takes on undefeated Israel Adesanya, ranked #9. Brunson spoke to BSO and was unfazed by Adesanya’s undefeated record, saying: “who did he fight?” Adesanya has been doing a lot of talking prefight, Brunson said he prefers to do his talking in the ring.
Georgetown Hoyas big man Jessie Govan talks about coming back to school to play for head coach and Hoyas legend, Patrick Ewing.
The Starz prestige drama Power has been entertaining fans for five seasons and continues to shock and amaze. I sat down with Heather Zuhlke, the co-executive producer during season 5 and we discussed all the things that makes this show so great!
Lolo Jones on Why People Should Appreciate Natural Muscular Bodies as Much as Kim Kardashian Created Bodies (Video)Read Now
ESPN the Magazine celebrated the 10 year anniversary of its famed BODY issue on Thursday at the Hearst building in NYC. On hand were BODY 10 issue athletes, Saquon Barkley, Greg Norman, Adam Rippon and Lolo Jones who posed in the inaugural BODY issue.
Editor in Chief Alison Overholt engaged the athletes in a lively discussion about their experiences posing for the magazine. A common misconception by most people is that elite athletes would love to show off their bodies and be completely comfortable posing nude. At one point Overholt asked the athletes if there was any trepidation about posing. There were varying answers, with Barkley and Norman being the most confident; Norman even saying he practices in the nude so he wasn’t too concerned. But the one thing all the athletes could agree on was that the shoot is very vulnerable and the ESPN photo crew made them all feel very safe.
As the only woman on the panel, Jones spoke up about the standards of beauty women are often pressured to buy in and live up to. She said she is not always comfortable and wishes she could change things about her body. During one particular moment, she talked about curves being an accepted standard of beauty for women and that she doesn’t have any. She referenced someone on Instagram commenting on a workout picture she posted, the commenter said she should do more deep squats to get a bigger butt. The assembled crowd gasped. Jones said,
“I do a lot of deep squats. I can deep squat 400 pounds, more than your average man. I just don’t have a butt. That’s how my body is.”
Jones’ fellow panelists and the audience really connected with her honesty and willingness to share something personal that may make her insecure.
Prior to the panel, I had the chance to speak to Jones and she talked about these same topics and the importance of ESPN doing the BODY issue and how it is helping to change the standards of beauty, particularly for women.
Randolph Childress on Whether His Crossover in 1995 ACC Tournament on Jeff McInnis Was More Disrespectful Than James Harden’s on Wesley Johnson (Video)Read Now
The 2018 ACC Tournament tips off this week at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Virginia and Duke are the top 2 seeds and have earned double byes, which means they won’t play until Thursday. BSO will be on hand all week to bring you the sights and sounds of the premiere conference tournament in college basketball.
On Monday, several of the teams got a little light shooting work done and familiarized themselves with the arena. Head coach Danny Manning and his Wake Forest Deamon Deacons were one of the teams to take the floor late in the afternoon. Following the shootaround, we caught up with Associate Head Coach Randolph Childress.
Childress is a Wake legend. The 1995 All-American, 2X All-ACC player, and 1995 ACC tournament MVP averaged 18.4 ppg over his career. During that ’95 season and ACC tourney run, Childress and sophomore big man Tim Duncan led Wake to the tournament title. Childress averaged 35.7 points and 7 assists per game. The run was punctuated with a defining finals win over North Carolina, where he scored 37 points, dished out 7 assists, and hit a game-winning jumper with 4 seconds left in overtime. The defining moment of the game was Childress dribbling the ball on the left wing being guarded by UNC’s Jeff McInnis. Childress goes into his crossover dribble to shake McInnis. McInnis falls and Childress motions to him to get up and then buries the three. It’s one of those plays you always remember and is the stuff of ACC and college hoops legend.
See my full interview with Childress below, we talk about Wake’s mindset coming into the tournament, what he was thinking about when he made that move in 1995, and whether or not his move or James Harden’s crossover on Wesley Johnson was more disrespectful.
Bucks John Henson Talks to Jarod Hector on What Playing For Jason Kidd Was Like And The Team's Chances at a Deep Playoff Run (Video)Read Now
The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Brooklyn Nets Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn 109-94. The Nets dug an early hole, giving up 36 first-quarter points and falling behind by 21 points at halftime. They mounted a comeback in the third led by Caris LeVert and their second unit, cutting the lead to 9 at one point. But ultimately the Bucks were too much. Their length and ability to attack the boards were a problem for the Nets all game. Wile Eric Bledsoe led the Bucks with 28 points, on 12-20 shooting from the field; it was 5th-year big man John Henson who was an irritant on both ends of the floor. Henson finished with 19 points, a game-high 18 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson praised the Bucks power forward in his post-game comments saying:
It starts with downhill penetration. They get into the teeth of your defense, they throw it up, we go to block it and Henson is right there to clean it up and he's really good and opportunistic at finding the right areas when they do drive.
The Bucks improved to 29-23 and currently sit in the 5th spot in the eastern conference playoff race. They are only a game and a half out of the third spot and the two teams in front of them, Washington and Cleveland, are dealing with injuries and in the case of the Cavaliers a dysfunctional locker room as well. The trade deadline is coming up on Thursday and the Bucks could definitely use another shooter. They'll be without Malcolm Brogdon for 6-8 weeks as he recovers from a quad injury, though they did get Jabari Parker back. Parker played 17 minutes against the Nets and scored 11 points. He's on a minutes restriction until he gets his conditioning and "basketball legs" back under him, but he looked really good and was physical and showed good explosion.
Look for the Bucks to potentially make a move as they look to improve on last year's playoff performance. They lost to the Raptors in the first round in six games. It was their second playoff appearance in three seasons. But this team is improved and have a bonafide MVP candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo. It is time for them to make the next leap and advance in the postseason. Their postseason success was no doubt a major factor in the organization deciding to fire Jason Kidd a few weeks ago as head coach. Now the team will have to show consistency, particularly late in games in their offensive execution and defensive discipline.
Henson is a key for the Bucks on both ends. His ability to rim run, offensive rebound, put back shots, faceup and knock-down 15-18 footers, and protect the rim on defense is critical to their success. Prior to the game, Henson talked about the switch from Jason Kidd to Joe Prunty and what it was like playing for a hall of fame point guard. He also talked about consistency as he and the team head into the all-star break and what they need to do to make a deep playoff run this year.
See the full interview with John Henson.
Nets Rookie Jarrett Allen Talks to Jarod Hector About Life in the NBA & Playing Like Clint Capela (Video)Read Now
The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Washington Wizards for the second time in 11 days, 119-84. The Nets received contributions from up and down the roster, with six players finishing in double digits scoring. One of those players in double figures was rookie Jarrett Allen.
The former Texas Longhorn finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes of action. Allen has been a bright spot for the Nets this season and has become a fan favorite. He is part of the new wave of big men essential to succeed in today’s NBA.
The league no longer relies on dominant low post big men who get the ball fed to them in the post and back defenders down. Today’s game is spread pick and roll, pace and space. If you are a “big man” you either need to be a stretch that can put the ball on the floor and shoot from deep or a big time rim protector on defense and elite rim runner and pick and roll partner on offense. Allen has a high basketball IQ, understands nuances in the pick and roll and really has a toughness and motor for scoring at the rim.
After the game Allen talked about modeling his game after Clint Capela. The Rockets big man is a great rim runner, excels in the pick and roll, rebounds and block shots. You can see elements of Capela’s game with Allen. If he turns into Capella that’d be great development for Brooklyn and would help their chances of making the playoffs. But Allen wants more, he believes Capela is the starting point and he can expand his game as he matures.