Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
Somewhere over the rainbow, indeed! Kenya Barris tells me that LGBTQ representation will be featured in his “Wizard of Oz” remake. “The original was an allegory and a reflection of the way the world was at the time with things like the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl,” says Barris, who will write and direct the reimagining for Warner Bros. “Now we’re going to turn a mirror on where we’re at right now and take disparate characters from the LGBTQ community, from different cultural communities and socioeconomic communities, and tell a story that reflects the world. I think this is the best time to do that.”
He understands a “Wizard of Oz” remake comes with tremendous pressure. “I’m nervous,” Barris tells me. “Hopefully, my movie can last as long as the original does.” He adds with a laugh: “Hopefully my movie comes out.”
Another “Wizard of Oz” remake is also in the works at New Line Cinema with Nicole Kassell (“Watchmen”) directing.
Ismael Cruz Córdova is thinking about his next step after his breakout role as an elf in Amazon Prime’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” The actor tells me he wants to play Marvel superhero Hector Ayala/White Tiger. “I love the story that is set in the ’70s in East New York,” Córdova tells me. “It’s a stand-alone… It’s badass. He redeems himself. It’s got everything.”
And Córdova already has the stunt work down. He says he trained for about eight months for a three-minute action sequence in the third “Rings of Power” episode: “There’s a bunch of martial arts and all of the wire work — everything you see on-screen is me.”
Kelly Rowland wasn’t aware that Beyoncé would be dropping her name in “Break My Soul (The Queens Remix).” “I had heard the record, but I did not know that was happening, but how fun!” she says. Rowland is also working on new music. “It’s coming,” she teases.
Did you see my scoop yesterday about David Alan Grier being cast as a fan-favorite character in ABC’s upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” television special? Read my exclusive here.
I had the chance to chat with Jerrod Carmichael at the Emmys, where he opened up about becoming a role model for LGBTQ youth after he came out as gay in April in his HBO Max special “Rothaniel.” “It gives me a sense of purpose,” the funnyman said. “I do have a responsibility that I hadn’t ever felt before.” He said before publicly revealing his truth: “I let the fear blindside me. I was so afraid of all the consequences that the thought of it being something beautiful didn’t really ever cross my mind.”
“I thought I would die before doing that,” he added, quipping, “There are a couple of countries I can’t go to no more, but other than that it’s nice.”
Laverne Cox will star as a trans woman who returns home to Alabama after 17 years and reunites with her estranged father (George Wallace) in Norman Lear’s upcoming Amazon Freevee sitcom “Clean Slate.” “This is the first scripted project I’m producing. This is a dream realized,” Cox says. “It’s not only about trans issues. The show is set in the South. We need trans writers. We need Black writers. We need writers who grew up in the Southern church. There are a lot of experiences we need for this writers’ room.”
Wallace says of his character: “Every time I call her a ‘him,’ I have to put a dollar in a jar, but eventually we become friends and we move in together. When America sees this, they’re going to learn and they’re going to love it.”