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‘Sidney’ Tackles The Not-So-Comfortable Conversations About A Black Cinema Icon

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Often it’s almost impossible to have a real conversation about a venerable figure amid today’s stan culture — and even sometimes frustratingly discouraged. That’s especially true when it comes to older Black icons who paved the way for those who came after them, and whose less comfortable truths are often pushed aside out of respect.

But director Reginald Hudlin’s “Sidney,” which explores the life and career of the late Sidney Poitier, actually has those conversations. It does so unflinchingly and candidly. And it includes a variety of equally respected heroes of Black cinema who are compelled to reckon with the full portrait of Poitier, a man who both aspired and inspired just as much as he frustrated and disappointed.

We rarely ever really talk about that last part. “Sidney” implores us anyway.

It’s a funny thing too, because for many of us when it was announced that there would be a documentary on Poitier, a few questions immediately sprang to mind: Will it include his affair with “Porgy and Bess” co-star Diahann Carroll, who, like him, was married at the time?

Will it confront the Uncle Tom dialogue that rose during the blaxploitation era that was far less compromising about how Blackness was portrayed on screen? The answer to both these questions is yes and thankfully so.

Sidney Pitier (right) in 1958 film “The Defiant Ones,” alongside actor Tony Curtis (left).

Photo by Film Publicity Archive/United Archives via Getty Images

It’s not about sensationalizing or tarnishing the reputation of a man who burst open the doors of opportunity for Black people in Hollywood and encouraged his contemporaries to advocate for civil rights with figures like Martin Luther King Jr. Rather, it’s about honoring his humanity — every facet of it.

Hudlin is more than equipped for the job. After all, he jumpstarted his career on the heels of Poitier, who intentionally went behind the camera to direct movies by and for Black folks like “A Piece of the Action,” “Let’s Do It Again” and “Uptown Saturday Night” in the ’70s.

Known for helming Black classics like “Boomerang” and “House Party” in the ’90s, Hudlin is likely familiar with the quiet expectation to compromise in a system that usually only celebrates you when you play by its rules.

Hudlin also has the benefit of retrospection when telling the story of “Sidney.” He’s got 30 years in the game and has relevant insight into the system of Hollywood today. But he also understands with compassion what it was like years prior for actors like Poitier.

That’s why so many passages throughout “Sidney” feel so honest and empathetic, while also interrogating and sobering. Hudlin certainly does more than his due diligence by amassing the full scope of Poitier’s life growing up poor in the Bahamas through interviews with the actor as well as archival footage of Poitier reflecting on his experiences.

Poitier in his home away from home, the theater, in a still from "Sidney"
Poitier in his home away from home, the theater, in a still from “Sidney”

Courtesy of Apple TV Plus

He ultimately pulled himself up by his bootstraps, moved to Harlem, and bet on his immense talent. There he faced and, in a sense, overcame a whole new set of challenges as a young Black thespian in relentlessly white spaces.

While Poitier earned his stripes from performing in Black spaces like the American Negro Theatre, it wasn’t until white Hollywood took notice that he became immortalized. That’s a fact that catalyzes a lingering question in “Sidney” of where in the zeitgeist Black actors belong once they receive white adoration.

You don’t find an answer in interviews with some of Poitier’s white contemporaries. Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in the film unequivocally admire him for who he was and for whom he tried to be. But you might be able to come up with your own answer to that by watching some of the clips Hudlin excavates in the film.

Poitier is interviewed by a white male journalist in one scene of archival footage— always a white journalist back then — just when his career is taking off about how he got his start. The interviewer brings up the fact that Poitier was asked to get rid of his “bad native accent was “bad” to get more work. And how did the actor remedy it? He revealed to the interviewer he taught himself by imitating a white guy he saw on screen.

It’s a brief exchange between two men that probably wouldn’t have struck anyone back then because it was expected. But looking back on it now within the story of “Sidney,” it says a lot about the landscape through which Poitier earned his success — and how he even, perhaps subconsciously, sometimes upheld it.

Poitier at Cannes Film Festival in 1961 in Cannes, France.
Poitier at Cannes Film Festival in 1961 in Cannes, France.

Photo by Gilbert TOURTE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

“Sidney” also finds Poitier’s descendants, those who might honor him the most like Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, and Spike Lee, wrangling with the complexities of his career while also venerating him. Because, as we too often forget, both things can be done at once.

Harry Belafonte, one of Poitier’s longest friends, who often joined forces with him in the fight for racial justice, doesn’t mince words when talking about their playful professional rivalry (Poitier’s career blew up on the night he stepped in as an understudy on stage for Belafonte).

The two often were up for the same roles but, even more crucially, they disagreed on several political issues that sometimes resulted in them not speaking to each other for years at a time. Belafonte is also open about turning down Poitier’s role in “The Defiant Ones,” because his character, an escaped convict, helps his white, racist fellow convict (Tony Curtis).

In response, Denzel Washington points out something that is not often unacknowledged in these kinds of conversations: opportunity. While Poitier stood up for a lot of things and was very outspoken about issues of racism and other injustices in and beyond Hollywood, he was also a married father of two with financial obligations.

Not everyone, as Washington says, has multiple forms of income to bring home. While Poitier was hustling in Hollywood, Belafonte was also making money on stage, “Dayo-ing.”

Harry Belafonte (left) and Sidney Poitier attend First Annual Nelson Mandela "Bridge to Freedom" Awards at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
Harry Belafonte (left) and Sidney Poitier attend First Annual Nelson Mandela “Bridge to Freedom” Awards at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

But Poitier was well aware of these conversations about him and his film choices. He still stood behind his decisions, while also recognizing the points people made about them. His earnest response was to start a Black production company in the ’70s.

But when, how and whether to confront the role of the Black image on the screen — especially during his time — was trickier to maneuver.

The question of compromise could be asked of any of the Black luminaries Hudlin spoke to in “Sidney” — and for what it’s worth, they’ve all confronted questions about navigating whiteness in Hollywood. Winfrey even openly acknowledged how some Black audiences turned against her for what they saw as catering to white audiences on her hit, self-titled TV show.

It’s what helped bond the two figures. There’s a moment when we see a visibly emotional Winfrey, who like Hudlin is a producer of “Sidney,” dissolve into tears over her love for Poitier as the camera fixates on her for several seconds.

What’s most clear at this moment, though, is how these questions of how Blackness shows up, and for whom, in largely white spaces remain as relevant today as ever. There’s even something to be said about the fact that Poitier was a Black sex symbol, propped up and adored by many Black women, yet he left both his first wife and, ultimately, Carroll to marry a white woman.

Actor Sidney Poitier with actress Diahann Carroll attend the 36th Academy Awards in Santa Monica, California.
Actor Sidney Poitier with actress Diahann Carroll attend the 36th Academy Awards in Santa Monica, California.

Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

“Sidney,” bafflingly, doesn’t even acknowledge this aspect of his personal and romantic life. In a film that explores every other complicated subject around Poitier and the world in which he thrived, this omission by Hudlin and screenwriter Jesse James Miller seems odd.

It’s especially peculiar when you think about it in terms of the long history of Black men choosing white romantic partners after gaining success in white spaces.

There’s certainly no question of whether Poitier loved his widow Joanna Shimkus. Both she and their children, as well as Poitier’s children with first wife Juanita Hardy, are all interviewed in the film and speak highly of his relationship with each of them (with respect to the fact that Poitier cheated on Hardy with Carroll, which understandably devastated her).

They say he also encouraged his children to have relationships with each other, and his biracial kids to understand their identities. Still, that’s the one area of the film that doesn’t feel complete.

But when “Sidney” soars, which is most of the time, it is an absolutely satisfying portrait of a man who gave us so much within the confines of a system that was making up new rules for his unprecedented success as he went along, and the complex ways in which he responded to that.

“Sidney” doesn’t bother to simplify details around Poitier’s biography, nor does it try to complicate his story. Rather, it honors the very real complexities of the life he lived.

“Sidney” premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, and will be released on Apple TV Plus on Sept. 23.





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Angelina Jolie Says Brad Pitt Attacked Her And Their Children Before She Filed For Divorce

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Actor Angelina Jolie alleged in a complaint filed Tuesday that Brad Pitt physically attacked her and their children during a flight on the couple’s private jet from France to California in September 2016, several days before she filed for divorce.

In court documents obtained by The New York Times, Jolie’s lawyers claim Pitt “choked one of the children and struck another in the face.” They also say Pitt began yelling at Jolie in a private bathroom and “grabbed Jolie by the head and shook her,” and then “grabbed her shoulders and shook her again before pushing her into the bathroom wall.”

Pitt then allegedly “punched the ceiling of the plane numerous times, prompting Jolie to leave the bathroom.” The court filings also state that Pitt lunged at one of the children after the child called him a “prick.”

After the FBI investigated the incident, Pitt was cleared of wrongdoing.

The new details emerge after Pitt sued Jolie in February over a winery they once co-owned, alleging that Jolie violated contractual agreements by selling her stake to an “aggressive third-party competitor.” The two had purchased a controlling stake in Château Miraval Winery in Correns, France, in 2008.

Jolie’s lawyers say that she sold her stake in October 2021 to Russian oligarch and Tenute del Mondo owner Yuri Shelfer after Pitt demanded that she sign a nondisclosure agreement to prevent her from talking about their marriage.

Jolie previously declined to share specific details of Pitt’s alleged abuse. In September 2021, while still moving through their divorce battle, Jolie told The Guardian that she feared for the safety of her family during her marriage to Pitt, but stopped short of sharing why.

“I’m not the kind of person who makes decisions like the decisions I had to make lightly,” she told The Guardian in 2021. “It took a lot for me to be in a position where I felt I had to separate from the father of my children.”

The couple married in August 2014 and have been legally separated since September 2016.





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New ‘Scooby-Doo’ Film Makes It Official: Velma Is Queer

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Popular “Scooby-Doo” character Velma Dinkley has come out of the closet after 53 years.

The newest “Scooby-Doo” movie, “Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!,” shows the brainy sleuth developing a serious crush on a female costume designer named Coco Diablo, as you can see in the clip below.

The news isn’t exactly shocking: Velma’s sexual orientation has been the subject of speculation almost since the first “Scooby-Doo” series debuted in 1969.

And it wasn’t just the viewers who suspected Velma wasn’t straight.

Variety pointed out that “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, who wrote the script for the 2002 live-action “Scooby-Doo,” and Tony Cervone, the supervising producer on the “Mystery Incorporated” series, both confirmed Velma liked women, but were never able to make it an official part of her character.

Cervone revealed on Instagram back in 2020 that the other people on the show “made our intentions as clear as we could 10 years ago,” and added, “Most of our fans got it. To those that didn’t, I suggest you look closer.”

The new film debut is available on Amazon Prime and will air on Cartoon Network on Oct. 14.

Many Twitter users were happy about the news, but not necessarily surprised.

Although this long-standing question has been resolved, there is no word on whether there are plans to answer another rumor by depicting Shaggy and Scooby-Doo as stoners.





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Jennifer Lopez Is A Grenade-Toting Bride In New ‘Shotgun Wedding’ Trailer

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Real-life newlywed Jennifer Lopez is a bride held hostage in the first trailer for “Shotgun Wedding,” unveiled Tuesday.

Due out Jan. 27, the rom-com stars Lopez and Josh Duhamel as Darcy and Tom, an engaged couple who are bringing their loved ones together for a destination wedding on a tropical island.

Things take an unexpected turn, however, when Darcy’s ex (Lenny Kravitz) pops by. Then, a band of international pirates descends upon the island, throwing the pair’s dream ceremony into chaos and leading Lopez to toss a grenade while zip lining, among other action-packed scenes.

The film’s starry cast also includes recent Emmy winner Jennifer Coolidge as Carol, Darcy’s future mother-in-law. “Shotgun Wedding” is directed by Jason Moore, whose credits include 2012’s “Pitch Perfect.”

Over the course of her prolific career, Lopez has demonstrated an affinity for wedding-themed films, including 2001’s “The Wedding Planner” and 2005’s “Monster-in-Law,” which co-starred Jane Fonda.

She most recently donned a wedding gown to appear opposite Owen Wilson in “Marry Me,” released in February.

Duhamel joined the “Shotgun Wedding” cast as a replacement for Armie Hammer, who exited the production last year after being accused of sexual abuse by several women.

In May 2021, Duhamel told People that filming on location in the Dominican Republic was “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had working.”

He also said on “The Tonight Show” at the time that the chance to star alongside Lopez felt like “rekindling an old friendship with an old friend.”

Still, he joked, “I’m not sure we’re going to look like the perfect couple half the time because I’m this sweaty mess, and she’s, well, J. Lo.”





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Try Guys Will Edit Ned Fulmer Out Of Future Videos After Cheating Scandal

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The YouTube comedy quartet The Try Guys, now down to three after firing founding member Ned Fulmer for cheating on his wife, said they’re editing Fulmer out of unreleased videos and trashing others “due to his involvement.”

In a video uploaded Monday, the group’s three remaining members explained Fulmer’s departure to their nearly 8 million YouTube subscribers and sought to provide what member Zach Kornfeld said was “some transparency into our decision making.”

“Ned Fulmer is no longer working with The Try Guys,” Kornfeld said in the clip, alluding to the flood of publicity about Fulmer’s workplace affair with a producer.

From cooking without a recipe to eating everything on a fast food chain’s menu, The Try Guys’ stunts have amassed a huge YouTube audience. Fans noticed in recent days that Fulmer was absent in the group’s new uploads and had been erased from older clips.

“There are several videos that we’ve deemed as fully unreleasable,” Kornfeld explained. “You will never see them, and that is due to his involvement. And that’s a decision that has cost us lots of money. We will not be able to recoup that money, but it’s a decision we stand by proudly.”

Member Keith Habersberger explained that the crisis escalated when people saw Fulmer “engaging in public romantic behavior” with a colleague over Labor Day weekend. Fulmer admitted to the affair when other members of the group confronted him, leading to his exit, public apology and a statement from his wife.

This “was obviously very shocking to us,” Habersberger said in the video. “We just want you to know that we had no idea this was going on. All of that information was just as shocking to us as all of this has been for you this week.”

Member Eugene Lee Yang, whose scowl during the video betrayed a deep frustration that went viral on Twitter, explained that a three-week review of Fulmer’s actions included lawyers, human resources advisers and publicists. He assured fans they “refused to sweep things under the rug.”

“This is not who we are,” Yang said.

“We were obviously very shocked and deeply hurt by all of this,” said Yang. “This is someone who we’d built a brand and a company with for eight years. We feel saddened, not just personally, but on behalf of our staff and our fans who believed in us.”

Kornfeld added that they’re “losing a friend.”

“I’m sure many of you feel the same way,” he added. “It’s weird. We’re sorry that this ever happened and we don’t know what more to say.”

The group said they signed documents on Sept. 16 removing Fulmer as a manager and employee of their production company, 2nd Try.





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Stephen Colbert Gives Trump’s Ugly ‘Death Wish’ Threat A Brutal Reality Check

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In a post on his struggling social media site, Trump said McConnell has a “DEATH WISH” for supporting “Democrat sponsored Bills.”

A Trump spokesperson later clarified that it was a “political” death wish. But Colbert wasn’t moved.

“Okay, but it’s never great when you have to clarify that your death wish is a metaphor,” Colbert said, then offered up an example to show the absurdity of it: “I want this mob to march on my opponent’s house. Figuratively. Which is metaphorically at 471 Pine Cone Road, and leave a severed horse’s head in his bed ― as an allegory for his head.”

The “Late Show” host also spotted some “overt racism” in Trump’s latest post in his Monday monologue:





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Florence Pugh Rocks Another Sheer Valentino Look After Nipple Hoopla

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The “Don’t Worry Darling” actor stepped out at Paris Fashion Week in a stunning two-piece sheer ensemble embellished with gold sequins. She wore nude briefs beneath the Valentino skirt and nothing under the matching top, finishing off the outfit with gold jewelry, bronzed makeup and a wet hair look.

In July, Pugh wore a see-through Valentino design to the brand’s haute couture show in Rome, attracting negative and sexist comments about her exposed breasts.

Responding to the reaction at the time, Pugh told critics to “grow up.”

“Listen, I knew when I wore that incredible Valentino dress that there was no way there wouldn’t be a commentary on it. Whether it be negative or positive, we all knew what we were doing,” she wrote on Instagram at the time.

“It isn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last time a woman will hear what’s wrong with her body by a crowd of strangers, what’s worrying is just how vulgar some of you men can be,” she wrote.

“I’m very grateful that I grew up in a household with very strong, powerful, curvy women. We were raised to find power in the creases of our body. To be loud about being comfortable. It has always been my mission in this industry to say ‘fuck it and fuck that’ whenever anyone expects my body to morph into an opinion of what’s hot or sexually attractive. I wore that dress because I know.”

“Fuckingfreethefuckingnipple,” she signed off the post.

Both looks were put together by Pugh’s stylist, Rebecca Corbin Murray.





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Here’s Why Cecily Strong Was Absent From ‘SNL’ Opening Credits

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Viewers can rest assured that Cecily Strong is still gainfully employed by “Saturday Night Live” despite an opening credits omission.

Season 48 of “SNL,” which premiered Saturday, got off to a rollicking start thanks to host Miles Teller and musical guest Kendrick Lamar. Still, Strong was notably absent from both the show and its opening credits, prompting many to question whether she’d departed the comedy show without fanfare.

Turns out that’s not the case. An “SNL” cast member since 2012, the comedian is currently appearing in the play “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe,” which opened last week at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

“SNL” creator Lorne Michaels is a co-producer of the one-woman comedy, which concludes its run Oct. 23. Entertainment Weekly and TV Insider confirm that Strong is expected to resume her “SNL” duties in New York shortly thereafter.

Cecily Strong as Kimberly Guilfoyle and Mikey Day as Donald Trump Jr. on the March 5 episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

Fans’ concerns regarding Strong’s future on “SNL,” however, were justified. Michaels previously hinted that Season 48 would be a “transition year,” and he wasn’t kidding.

Cast members Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon and Kyle Mooney collectively announced their exit from the series at the conclusion of Season 47, which wrapped in May. Last month, it was confirmed that Aristotle Athari, Alex Moffat, Chris Redd and Melissa Villaseñor were also leaving, bringing the tally of departing cast members to eight.

As a 10-season “SNL” veteran, Strong is one of the longest-running cast members in the series’ current lineup.

Last year, she won praise for her impressions of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancée, Kimberly Guilfoyle.


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