Friday, March 31, 2023

Marlon Wayans on ‘Respect’ and Why He Thinks the Time Is Right for a ‘White Chicks’ Sequel

Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”

Marlon Wayans says it’s time for a sequel to “White Chicks.” In the 2004 comedy, he and his brother Shawn Wayans star as FBI agents who pretend to be the young white vapid socialites that they have been assigned to protect from a potential kidnapping. “I think ‘White Chicks 2’ is necessary,” Marlon Wayans tells me. “I think we’ve tightened up so much that we need to loosen our ties a bit and laugh a little bit.” The $37 million film grossed more than $113 million worldwide. “I don’t think Hollywood understands what a juggernaut ‘White Chicks 2’ would be,” Wayans says. The brothers have plenty of story ideas for a sequel. “And the world just keeps giving us more,” Wayans says. “‘White Chicks 2’ is writing itself.”

The actor can now be seen on the big screen playing Aretha Franklin’s (Jennifer Hudson) abusive first husband Ted White. Wayans says when he read the script he insisted on flying to Atlanta to meet director Liesl Tommy instead of jumping on Skype as his agents had suggested. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to Skype. I’m getting on a plane tomorrow. I’m going to fly to Atlanta and I want to meet face-to-face and talk about the character,’” he recalls. “And I did that. And then as soon as I walked into the production office and I saw all the research that Liesl had done from the costumes to the hair to the makeup to the set designs, I was walking through Liesl Tommy’s head. I was like, ‘Alright, I’m in!’”

Wayans says he tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with White. “There’d be a lot of questions I’d ask if I’d have the chance,” Wayans says. Chief among them is he’d like him to explain his intentions — did White want Franklin to succeed or did he want to hold her back, and does he have any awareness of the abuse he inflicted on the late singer?

Wayans got goosebumps every time he watched Hudson sing during the shoot. “She worked 10 times harder than everybody on that set,” he says. He also recalls the one time he met Franklin at an awards show. “I said, ‘Hi, Ms. Franklin,’ and she goes, ‘How’s your family?’” Wayans remembers. “I was like, ‘You know me?’ She said, ‘I know who you are. I know all your family. You tell that Damon I said hello.’”

THE KISSING BOOTH 3 (2021) Taylor Perez as Marco Pena. Cr: Marcos Cruz/NETFLIX

Is Taylor Zakhar Perez taking it all off in “Minx,” the upcoming HBO series about the launch of an erotic women’s magazine in the 1970s? The “Kissing Booth” star says his fans will get to “see more” than just his shirtless body. “It’s like highbrow-raunchy, intelligent comedy,” Perez tells me on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. “The Kissing Booth 3,” which premieres on Netflix on Aug. 11, is the last installment of the YA rom-com franchise. Perez teases that some fans will be heartbroken by the ending, but “I think it will be very empowering for a lot of the female audience.” Check out “Just for Variety” at Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

George Kotsiopoulos arrives at the The Hollywood Reporter's 2018 Academy Awards Nominees Night at the Cut Beverly Hills on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

EXCLUSIVE! Former “Fashion Police” co-host George Kotsiopoulos is opening a gay bar in WeHo in the space previously occupied by Gold Coast, a watering hole that closed in September after almost 40 years. In a nod to the former occupant, the new endeavor (Kotsiopoulos’ partners include Circus of Books owner Rob Novinger and Fire Hot Yoga founder Stephanie Schestag) will be called Or Bar (“or” means “gold” in French). The opening isn’t slated for at least another six months. “We don’t want gay bars to become obsolete,” Kotsiopoulos says. “We’re passionate about making sure we still have safe places for the community.” … Welcome to the West Coast! Special Projects co-founder Nicole Vecchiarelli and her family have relocated to Los Angeles from Brooklyn. It will be the first time that she and Special Projects partner Andrea Oliveri will be working in the same city since launching the creative content agency almost six years ago. Their New York office remains open.

If Val Kilmer knows anything about the Joel Schumacher cut of “Batman Forever,” he hasn’t shared details with his kids, Jack and Mercedes. “I don’t know anything about it,” Jack told me at the premiere of “Val,” the doc about this father. Mercedes added, “I would love to see an alternate version.” And Jack? “I’m still trying to process this news,” he said.

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Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

I chatted with Octavia Spencer about becoming a producer on “Right to Try,” director Zeberiah Newman’s doc short about Jeffrey Drew, a longtime casting director who is participating in an experimental treatment trial that researchers hope will cure him of HIV. “I was so moved by his story,” the Oscar winner told me while promoting Season 2 of her series “Truth Be Told. “If we’re close to finding a cure because of his personal sacrifices, I just felt like I needed to be a part of telling his story.” Spencer first learned of the film after her team read about it right here in “Just for Variety.” “Right to Try” premieres at Outfest on Aug. 21. I’ll be on vacation then so won’t be able to be there, but can’t wait to hear the audience’s response.

Sighting: Lady Gaga celebrating her Radio City Music Hall concerts with Tony Bennett at Tommy Tardie’s Fine & Rare. The festivities were hosted by trumpeter and frequent Gaga collaborator Brian Newman. Guests included Gaga’s parents, Jon Batiste, Michael Bearden, Joe Saylor, Mike Luginbill, Jerome Collins and Brockett Parsons.

Speaking of Outfest, Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens, Geri Halliwell and Tatum O’Neal star in writer-director J.B. Ghuman Jr.’s “The Crown With a Shadow,” an animated short inspired by the real-life gender morphing pink skunk fish that is also premiering at the festival. “I hope [audiences] are entertained and they could perhaps start looking at gender in a more fluid way,” Halliwell says. “Not everything has to be clearly defined as this or that. We could all be more open-minded.”


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