Ava DuVernay's Oscar-nominated documentary 13th traces the history of racism and mass incarceration in America. Because she made the film for Netflix, she had to forego seeing it on the big screen. And she's okay with that. DuVernay tells us why -- following her Oscar nomination for Selma -- she turned down an offer from Marvel to make a doc for Netflix. She also explains how she managed to make 13th while also overseeing Queen Sugar on the Oprah Winfrey Network and directing Disney's big budget A Wrinkle in Time.
FROM THIS EPISODE
Matt Belloni, editorial director of the Hollywood Reporter, joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.
- Viacom's newest strategy involves focusing on their six strongest brands (MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Comedy Central, BET and Paramount) and integrating more of their cable properties into Paramount movies. This seems to be a Disney-esque approach -- having multiple silos like Pixar, Lucasfilm, etc. Except in Disney's case, their properties are currently much, much stronger than Viacom's.
- As Hollywood continues to grapple with Trump, several big talent agencies are taking a stand. The biggest move so far has come from UTA, which announced it will forego its annual Oscar Party and instead give $250,000 to the ACLU, as well as hold a pro-immigration rally a few days before the Oscars. WME-IMG has announced they will form a PAC related to protecting diversity, but its exact purpose is still unclear. That agency is in a trickier situation because Ari Emanuel used to be Trump's agent and they represent a broader range of clients, some of whom may not be as liberal as the rest of Hollywood.
How busy is director Ava DuVernay? Really, really busy. So busy that the only time she could sit down for our interview was a Saturday afternoon. And the night before, she had been shooting Disney's A Wrinkle in Time until midnight.
She's also the executive producer of the TV series Queen Sugar, which starts its second season on the Oprah Winfrey Network later this year.
Plus, DuVernay's on the awards circuit. Her film 13th is in the Oscar race for best documentary feature, making her the first African American woman nominated in that category.
13th refers to the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery in America, except as punishment for a crime.
Through archival footage and talking heads, the film reveals how this loophole has been exploited to oppress African Americans, since the days immediately following emancipation, through the law and order presidencies of the 70s and 80s, where the racism was expressed in rhetorical code, but the consequences were very real.
13th also examines the growth of the private prison industry and the exploitation of inmate labor to make everything from missile parts to blue jeans.
The film made history last September when it became the first documentary to open the New York Film Festival. A few days later it appeared on Netflix. Until then, DuVernay had kept the project off the radar. She tells us why she kept it quiet, and how the film is resonating now, post-election.
DuVernay also talks about why it doesn't bother her not to have a theatrical release, why she made such an effort to include conservative voices in 13th, and about the how the death of her father last year drove her to take on two films and a television series at the same time.
More From The Business
Jon M. Chu and Kevin Kwan on the crazy gamble of 'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan and director Jon M. Chu passionately wanted the movie version of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ to play in theaters. So they turned down a huge offer from Netflix and took their chances with Warner Brothers. Chu and Kwan talk about what they did for love when they made the first major studio movie to feature an all Asian cast in years.
Director Desiree Akhavan on ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ After her first feature premiered at Sundance to strong reviews, director Desiree Akhavan thought finding money to make a second film would be a snap. But after striking out in LA, Akhavan’s quest to make another project ultimately landed her in London. She tells us why she thinks the Brits are more open to her ideas, and talks about her newest film, ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post.’
Banter update: CBS CEO Leslie Moonves accused of sexual misconduct in New Yorker exposé Late on Friday afternoon, a New Yorker investigation by Ronan Farrow dropped, revealing accusations of misconduct against Leslie Moonves by six women. The CBS board met on Monday and announced that Moonves would remain at work while the board works to hire outside counsel to conduct an investigation.
Director Matt Tyrnauer on ‘Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood’ A new documentary explores the incredible life of 95-year-old Scotty Bowers--a prolific pansexual pimp to the stars. Bowers says he set up liaisons for celebrities from Cary Grant to Rock Hudson to J. Edgar Hoover--all from his base in a gas station on Hollywood Boulevard. Director Matt Tyrnauer tells us about his film, ‘Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood.’
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Healing sexual assault through cabaret On a recent Saturday night in Hollywood, a bar was packed with 20 and 30-somethings drinking, talking have having a good time. They were here to see a variety show,… Read More
Without China, who will take our recycling? China’s new recycling policies have upended recycling programs all around the country and here in LA. During the first quarter of 2017, California exported 54,000 tons of mixed plastics. In… Read More