As good as Chadwick Boseman is in the new James Brown biopic “Get On Up” — and he’s very good — The Hollywood Reporter correctly notes that Hollywood has no black stars warming up in the bullpen to replace Will Smith (45), Denzel Washington (59), or Eddie Murphy (53). Then there’s Samuel L. Jackson who’s 65 and Morgan Freeman who just turned 77.
As if to prove THR’s point, just a day or two after this lamentation about the lack of new black stars, Jamie Foxx, who will turn 47 this year, has been signed to play Mike Tyson in a new biopic.
There’s no word on what part of Tyson’s life the film will focus on, but if it touches on any part of Tyson’s fight career (which ended when Tyson was 39), especially his early fight career, a pushing-50 Foxx is likely to look as ridiculous as Robert Redford did playing a rookie baseball player in “The Natural.”
But Hollywood needed a star in that role and all they got is an undeniably talented but still middle-aged Jamie Foxx.
Missing from THR’s analysis is the fact that Hollywood has a star-star problem. The problem isn’t just black stars, it is white stars, male stars, female stars — all stars. Too few actors these days can open a film based on their name alone.
It would appear moviegoers still want to see Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Seth Rogen, and Will Ferrell in the right vehicle. But that’s about it. Last year I might have added Adam Sandler and Will Smith to that list, but both have had pretty tough years. The problem is getting worse, not better.
As far as the why of all this, I’m as tired of running down that list as you are of reading it. Suffice to say, Hollywood has no idea how to fix the problem now that they have painted themselves into the fanboy/tentpole/all-in corner.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC