While George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube fans were psyched to see the three screen kings gracing our cover (#506, Oct. 8), other readers were more interested in our special report on minorities in Hollywood’s executive suites. ”I was appalled by Rob Lowe asking what difference it would make to a 12-year-old in Watts if a black guy played the third lead on Dharma & Greg,” states Valerie Penn of North Plainfield, N.J.
”It makes a big difference to any minority child.” Another common target was our review of NBC’s Thursday-night lineup. ”Critic Ken Tucker can’t figure out why he’s not laughing at Stark Raving Mad, and I can’t figure out why he is laughing at Friends,” writes Ross Raniere of Bethlehem, Pa. Call it friendly fire.
While Three Kings may offer an alternative view of the Gulf War (”Three the Hard Way”), didn’t the 1970 film Kelly’s Heroes cover some of the same ground? Clint Eastwood plays a former World War II Army lieutenant who leads a team of soldiers behind enemy lines to find $16 million in Nazi gold. Sound familiar? Directed by Brian G. Hutton and costarring Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connor, and Donald Sutherland, it was an offbeat look at war and how ”heroes” can also have selfish motivations. Three Kings may develop some of the aspects of the situation further, but I think it represents less of a breakthrough than the next step in a story concept that’s been around for decades. —DAVID FINE; Erie, Pa.
Wow. First Meryl Streep in #504, now George Clooney in #506: Both have realized they have more than enough money and have decided to be pickier about the projects they pursue. If more of Hollywood’s moneymakers — actors, directors, producers — thought along these lines, maybe Hollywood would crank out less crap. —EMRU TOWNSEND; email@example.com; Montreal
Kudos for your article on the lack of minorities in the entertainment industry (”Color Bind”). I can’t tell you how powerful it is to see people (i.e., Americans) like myself reflected on television when they aren’t made out to be ”the token” or the butt of bad ethnic jokes. As a fourth-generation Asian American who doesn’t have a black belt, eat with chopsticks, or know any language but English, I really appreciate roles like that of Ming-Na’s on The Single Guy and Lucy Liu’s character on Ally McBeal. It’s nice to see Asian characters who aren’t simply kung-fu experts or some GI’s long-lost daughter fathered in Vietnam. —STEPHANIE FUGITA; firstname.lastname@example.org; San Jose, Calif.
Thanks for the insightful article on the whitewash of the entertainment industry and the top 20 behind-the-scenes players in the ”Rainbow Club.” I had the good fortune to be cast on an episode of The WB’s For Your Love, produced by Yvette Lee Bowser. Though the part was that of a Japanese waiter, the role was not written or directed to be stereotypical, relying on the humor of the situation rather than a funny accent. It was also refreshing to look behind the camera and see people of all ethnicities working together. Believe me, having a person of color in charge does make a difference. —JAMES SIE; email@example.com; Los Angeles
After reading Ken Tucker’s review of the new Paula Cole Band CD, Amen, I was ready to pounce on him for his scathing article and D+ grade (”Cole Minor”). Obviously he was off track and wrong, I thought. However, I’m now sorry to say he was not. The disc starts out brilliantly but winds up sounding like the gifted artist is lost in a parallel universe where she exists as Chris Gaines’ sister — In…The Life of Lauryn Badu. Though I would not grade it as harshly as Mr. Tucker, I must regretfully say that he was on the money this time around. Guess I’ll just have to keep listening to This Fire till Cole returns to this universe. —AARON LATHAM; AaronInMo@aol.com; Branson, Mo.
HALL OF FAME
A big thanks for devoting space in ”Beauty Secrets” to an aspect of film often overlooked: cinematography. Your profile of Conrad L. Hall, the veteran behind American Beauty, was a welcome tribute. In a culture where actors are put on pedestals, it’s nice to read about a behind-the-camera genius. BRIAN CANOVA; firstname.lastname@example.org; Nutley, N.J.
CORRECTION: TV’s The Ropers debuted in 1979 (Encore).