Why Does Straight Outta Compton Avoid Dr. Dre’s Dee Barnes Assault? Director F. Gary Gray Says: “The Narrative Wasn’t About Side Stories.”
N.W.A’s story is epic. From embracing the tagline the World’s Most Dangerous Group to being checked by the FBI to an eventual explosive breakup, the legendary hip-hop crew is mythologized in the upcoming biopic Straight Outta Compton, which reenacts the group’s every episode. Well, almost every episode.
Some early critics of Straight Outta Compton have complained about the omission of Dr. Dre’s infamous assault on journalist Dee Barnes. During an MC Lyte-hosted screening of the movie last night at Manhattan’s Florence Gould Hall Theatre, EBONY magazine Editor-in-Chief Kierna Mayo asked the movie’s director F. Gary Gray why the incident wasn’t addressed in the film.
“We had to focus on the story that was pertinent to our main characters,” answered the 46-year-old director in an audience Q&A session. (He didn’t mention Dre’s alleged abuse of his ex-wife, former Ruthless Records singer Michel’le). “The original editor’s cut was three hours and 30 minutes long, so we couldn’t get everything in the movie. We had to make sure we served the narrative; the narrative was about N.W.A. It wasn’t about side stories.”
Gray, who famously directed Friday and Set it Off, cited other chapters in N.W.A’s story—such as Eazy-E’s dis to Dr. Dre (“Real Muthaphuckkin G’s”)—as portions that had to be skipped on-screen. “[There are] so many things that you can add and subtract,” he said. “Cube always said it: You can make five different N.W.A. movies. We made the one we wanted to make.”
As for the screening, Lyte interviewed Gray, Ice Cube, his son, O’Shea Jackson (who portrays Cube onscreen), Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre) and Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E). Michael Eric Dyson, Benny Boom, Estelle, Mack Wilds, Fabolous, Angela Yee and Bun B all watched from the crowd. Straight Outta Compton hits theaters everywhere on August 14.
The Wiz Live! Casts Newbie Shanice Williams As Dorothy
Up-and-coming actress Shanice Williams is off to see the Wizard. The 18-year-old theater talent was chosen to play Dorothy in NBC’s The Wiz Live! The New Jersey native was chosen via open casting call that accepted hundreds of applicants keen on skipping down the Yellow Brick Road. Williams has five years of musical training and has previously appeared in West Side Story, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and 42nd Street. In her premiere TV role, she joins a star-studded cast that includes Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier (as the Cowardly Lion) and Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production of The Wiz; she plays Aunt Em in the new rendition.
Twerk Something: BET Uncut Is Returning to TV Next Week
In light of Throwback Thursday (#TBT), the following news will incite strong feelings of nostalgia in some—and completely repulse others. BET is bringing back its notorious music video rundown BET Uncut after nine years off the air. The show was known for bringing strip club hip-hop culture to the small screen, featuring uncensored videos considered too risqué for daytime hours (see: Nelly’s “Tip Drill,” or Ludacris’ “P-Poppin”). But just how well will the show fare in a time post-WSHH? See for yourself when BET Uncut returns on Tuesday, August 11 at 11 p.m.