Stephen King backtracks over controversial Oscars diversity comments

Stephen King has clarified comments he made about the lack of diversity at the 2020 Academy Awards.Earlier this month, the horror author, who can vote in three Oscars categories, waded in on the controversy over the lack of women and people of colour n…

Stephen King has clarified comments he made about the lack of diversity at the 2020 Academy Awards.

Earlier this month, the horror author, who can vote in three Oscars categories, waded in on the controversy over the lack of women and people of colour nominated this year, and faced backlash from the likes of Ava DuVernay for tweeting that he would never consider diversity in regards to art and only focused on quality.

Now, the author has seemingly backtracked on his comments, and in an op-ed for The Washington Post published on Monday, he insisted he didn’t intend to spark outrage.

“I stepped over one of those lines recently by saying something on Twitter that I mistakenly thought was noncontroversial: ‘I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong’. The subject was the Academy Awards,” King began. “I also said, in essence, that those judging creative excellence should be blind to questions of race, gender or sexual orientation.”

He denied he meant movies focusing on diversity and inequality “cannot be works of creative genius,” and noted that DuVernay’s 2019 Netflix miniseries, When They See Us, was a “splendid case in point.”

“Judgments of creative excellence should be blind. But that would be the case in a perfect world, one where the game isn’t rigged in favor of the white folks,” he wrote. “Creative excellence comes from every walk, color, creed, gender and sexual orientation, and it’s made richer and bolder and more exciting by diversity, but it’s defined by being excellent. Judging anyone’s work by any other standard is insulting and — worse — it undermines those hard-won moments when excellence from a diverse source is rewarded (against, it seems, all the odds) by leaving such recognition vulnerable to being dismissed as politically correct.”

King also questioned whether voters had seen all the eligible films and wrote that he hoped the demographic of the Oscars voting pool would eventually catch up with today’s diverse society.

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Ava DuVernay criticises Stephen King for diversity comments

Ava DuVernay has criticised author Stephen King for posting “backward and ignorant” tweets about the lack of diversity at the 2020 Oscars. The 2020 Academy Award nominations were announced on Monday, revealing that the vast majority of nominees were w…

Ava DuVernay has criticised author Stephen King for posting “backward and ignorant” tweets about the lack of diversity at the 2020 Oscars.

The 2020 Academy Award nominations were announced on Monday, revealing that the vast majority of nominees were white males, with only one out of the 20 acting nominees being a person of colour.

The lack of diversity sparked a debate on social media, and The Shining author Stephen King, who has had many books adapted into films and TV shows, decided to weigh in on the issue and tell his followers he doesn’t consider diversity when casting his vote in three Oscars categories.

“As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just three categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue – as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway – did not come up,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “That said… I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”

His tweets sparked backlash online from many social media users, including Selma filmmaker DuVernay, who expressed her dismay at his remarks.

“When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed,” she commented alongside a retweet of King’s message.

Writer Roxane Gay also tweeted, “As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are.”

King returned to Twitter later to try and calm the backlash by writing, “The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, colour, or orientation. Right now, such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts… You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game.”

The 2020 Oscars will take place in Los Angeles on 9 February.

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Doctor Sleep director plotting potential sequel

Director Mike Flanagan has started brainstorming ideas with author Stephen King for a potential sequel to Doctor Sleep.The new movie is a follow-up to Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining, with both films based on novels by horror master King, and Flana…

Director Mike Flanagan has started brainstorming ideas with author Stephen King for a potential sequel to Doctor Sleep.

The new movie is a follow-up to Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining, with both films based on novels by horror master King, and Flanagan reveals they have already begun throwing around possible plots to continue developing the story of troubled protagonist Danny Torrance.

“(We’re) talking actively about what’s next, and we have a great idea for that I’m not allowed to talk about yet, but it’s really cool, and yeah, I expect there will be another chance to play in that sandbox very soon,” the moviemaker teased in an interview with CinemaBlend.

Doctor Sleep is the director’s second adaptation of a King book, having previously brought psychological thriller Gerald’s Game to the screen for a Netflix movie in 2017. And having them both so well received by the writer has given Flanagan a real ego boost.

“It’s been my dream since I was a kid to be able to adapt Stephen King, and he’s let me play in that sandbox two times; I would be thrilled to do it again,” he gushed about his hopes of working together on a third film and beyond. “He’s been happy both times, which is still like (mind-blowing), as long as that keeps up, if he’ll have me back, I’m there for the long haul. I’ll do as many as he’ll let me.”

Receiving King’s blessing for Doctor Sleep was crucial for Flanagan to turn the 2013 book of the same name into a movie because the author had previously been vocal about his dislike of Kubrick’s take on The Shining – but the filmmaker needn’t have worried.

“I’ve enjoyed all his movies,” King said of Flanagan. “I read the (Doctor Sleep) script very, very carefully and I said to myself, ‘Everything that I ever disliked about the Kubrick version of The Shining is redeemed for me here.'”

Doctor Sleep stars Ewan McGregor as the grown-up Torrance, who was played by child actor Danny Lloyd in the cult 1980 movie, which also featured Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall as his parents.

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Mike Flanagan saw 900 girls while casting Abra in Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan and his team saw more than 900 girls while trying to find the perfect Abra for the movie. In the new horror, which is a sequel to The Shining, Abra Stone is a young girl with formidable psychic abilities known as “th…

Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan and his team saw more than 900 girls while trying to find the perfect Abra for the movie.

In the new horror, which is a sequel to The Shining, Abra Stone is a young girl with formidable psychic abilities known as “the shining” and she has to hold her own in scenes with Ewan McGregor as Dan Torrance, a recovering addict with similar powers, and Rebecca Ferguson, who plays Rose the Hat, the leader of a cult who feeds on children with psychic abilities.

During a Q&A at a screening of the film in London, the director revealed the team saw 900 girls before finding 13-year-old Kyliegh Curran.

“We saw more than 900 girls trying to find the right one and you hear these stories about Hollywood casting that you hope are true and this is one of those stories,” he said. “Kyliegh, who is a complete unknown, who is a local hire – she lived 15 minutes from our production offices – had submitted a tape, didn’t have the big agency weight behind her – I don’t think she even had a current headshot – and her tape did what it was supposed to do.”

Curran’s tape kept rising through the levels of the casting process until she made the final few, which included experienced actresses, and got called in to read with McGregor.

“She came in and read with Ewan and as soon as she walked out the room, the door hadn’t quite closed yet, and he turned to us and said, ‘It’s obviously her, right?’ and it was, we all completely agreed,” the filmmaker recalled. “She’s an amazing young talent. You hope in your career that you get to see someone really truly come out of nowhere like that and I’m honoured that we were there to able to see that happen for her because she’s really something.”

Doctor Sleep, an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 novel of the same name, is in cinemas now.

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Mike Flanagan felt like ‘throwing up’ while screening Doctor Sleep for Stephen King

Director Mike Flanagan was so nervous screening Doctor Sleep to Stephen King for the first time that he felt like vomiting. The Hush filmmaker is a huge fan of the famed horror author’s work and read his 2013 book Doctor Sleep, a sequel to 1977 novel T…

Director Mike Flanagan was so nervous screening Doctor Sleep to Stephen King for the first time that he felt like vomiting.

The Hush filmmaker is a huge fan of the famed horror author’s work and read his 2013 book Doctor Sleep, a sequel to 1977 novel The Shining, the week it was released – so he was incredibly nervous when he brought the finished film to Maine to show it to King in an empty cinema.

“I sat right next to him actually. I’m a fanboy first and that was paralysing,” Flanagan said at a screening of the film in London. “I think I stared at my foot trying not to look directly at him during the screening, but I was mostly just acutely aware of every shift or sigh or anything he did, I was reading way too much into. I felt like throwing up for two and a half hours.”

King doesn’t hold back when it comes criticising the movie adaptations of his novels and was particularly scathing about Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of The Shining. Accordingly, Flanagan was nervous when he suggested using the film as a basis for his sequel.

“His opinions are absolutely well known, he’s not shy about them at all, so it was nerve-wracking to go to him and say, ‘Look, I really think the only way to make this right is to make it within the cinematic universe that Kubrick established.’ His initial reaction was, ‘No,'” Flanagan revealed. “The argument was: What I’d like to do is treat Kubrick’s film as canon, we’d like to make this a direct follow-up to that film, but within that, I wanted to give him a chance to see some of the elements from the novel The Shining that Kubrick had jettisoned… (King) has been very specific about what upset him and that gave us a lot to work with… It was a nerve-wracking proposal and if he hadn’t given us his blessing for that we wouldn’t have made the film.”

Luckily, King offered his approval and “loves” the finished film, as do members of the Kubrick estate, with Flanagan adding, “It almost doesn’t matter at this point what happens now those two have spoken.”

Doctor Sleep, starring Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson, is in cinemas now.

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Pet Sematary producer felt Stephen King story change was necessary

Producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura has defended his decision to change Stephen King’s Pet Sematary storyline and kill off an eight-year-old girl in the new film. In King’s 1983 book and the 1989 film adaptation, the Creed family’s two-year-old son, Gage,…

Producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura has defended his decision to change Stephen King’s Pet Sematary storyline and kill off an eight-year-old girl in the new film.

In King’s 1983 book and the 1989 film adaptation, the Creed family’s two-year-old son, Gage, is killed in a traffic accident, but in the remake it’s daughter Ellie who dies and is resurrected.

The change has been criticised by some fans, and Di Bonaventura admits he was worried it would lead to a wave of backlash – but, ultimately, he’s glad the decision was made to kill off an older child.

“For the audience that knows the book or the movie, it should have some shock effect,” he says. “But it also allowed us to delve deeper into the idea of evil and discuss some existential ideas that you can’t do with a child who is pretty much preverbal.”

King has given the story change and the new film the thumbs up, and Jason Clarke, who plays Dr. Louis Creed – the father in the new movie, is relieved.

“In the emails that I’ve seen, King understands that his work has to be interpreted,” Jason told The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s no way just to do a straight adaptation of his book. The directors had to make it their own, which I think they’ve done.

“It’s wonderful to have that dialogue. It must be great for him to see his books be interpreted still, 30 to 40 years after they’ve been written.”

Pet Sematary, which also stars John Lithgow and Amy Seimitz, hits cinemas in North America on Friday (05Apr19).

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Jason Clarke relieved Stephen King approves of Pet Sematary remake

Jason Clarke was relieved to learn that author Stephen King approved of the Pet Sematary remake.King’s 1983 horror novel was first adapted for the big screen in 1989, and it has now undergone the remake treatment, with the Australian actor playing Dr. …

Jason Clarke was relieved to learn that author Stephen King approved of the Pet Sematary remake.

King’s 1983 horror novel was first adapted for the big screen in 1989, and it has now undergone the remake treatment, with the Australian actor playing Dr. Louis Creed, who moves to a new home with his family and discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden in the woods behind it.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jason said he felt relieved to read emails in which the renowned horror writer gave his seal of approval, given that King didn’t hold back in voicing his issues with Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of his 1977 novel The Shining.

“Of course, yeah. I like The Shining, and I’m sure Stephen appreciates that movie in some way. In the emails that I’ve seen, King understands that his work has to be interpreted,” Jason explained. “There’s no way just to do a straight adaptation of his book. The directors had to make it their own, which I think they’ve done. It’s wonderful to have that dialogue. It must be great for him to see his books be interpreted still, 30-40 years after they’ve been written.”

The First Man actor read the novel in his teens and was scared by it. Although he was a fan of the source material, Jason had to leave that behind and surrender to the script and his directors, Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, when it came to the shoot.

“You have to shoot the film in the end; the script is what you’re shooting. It’s easy to make that mistake as an actor: to try and do the source material,” he continued. “If it’s not gonna work for the story that’s going to be told in the cinema, it’s gonna kind of run into a brick wall. So, that’s the director’s job — to guide you.”

However, he recalled a moment when he improvised a line which was inspired by a different character’s piece of dialogue in the novel.

“By understanding the source material, you find ways to bring out more of the book, when you can, while still shooting the script,” he added.

Pet Sematary, which also stars John Lithgow and Amy Seimitz, is due for release in April (19).

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James McAvoy: ‘It: Chapter Two is disturbing’

James McAvoy was way more scared of Stephen King’s horror novel It as an adult than he was as a child.The Scottish actor joins the cast for the follow up to 2017’s cinema retelling of the clown story, It: Chapter Two, alongside Bill Skarsgard as clow…

James McAvoy was way more scared of Stephen King’s horror novel It as an adult than he was as a child.

The Scottish actor joins the cast for the follow up to 2017’s cinema retelling of the clown story, It: Chapter Two, alongside Bill Skarsgard as clown Pennywise and fellow newcomers Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader.

The movie doesn’t hit cinemas until September (19), but filming left a lasting impact on James.

“The shoot experience was great, great people. Amazing director, amazing cast – the cast were incredible,” he shared with Collider. “There were days on that set when I’m just, ‘this is really disturbing’. You just kind of look at the other actors like this is great gig and I’m really proud to be here with you all but this is really messed up. In a good way.

“I rarely get terrified by anything but reading that book again, as an adult, I read it as a kid and it didn’t really mess with me as a kid, but as an adult it gave me nightmares.”

Director Andy Muschietti is back at the helm for the second horror instalment, with young stars Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Lieberher and Sophia Lillis also returning.

And Bill will once again be scaring audiences as the menacing clown.

“What Bill does is just incredible,” James marvelled. “The commitment – it’s not just scary make-up and a funny voice, the commitment and effort he puts into it is remarkable.”

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Westworld’s Zahn McClarnon lands major movie role

Zahn McClarnon has been added to the cast of The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep.It was announced in June that Ewan McGregor would be playing the grown-up version of Danny Torrance, played by Danny Lloyd in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 cult horror classic, al…

Zahn McClarnon has been added to the cast of The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep.

It was announced in June that Ewan McGregor would be playing the grown-up version of Danny Torrance, played by Danny Lloyd in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 cult horror classic, along with Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat, the leader of a group of quasi-immortals who prey on people who have psychic abilities known as the shining.

Now it’s been announced that Westworld favourite Zahn will also appear in the retelling of Stephen King’s follow-up novel, as Crow Daddy, Rose’s right-hand man.

Written in 2013, 36 years after Stephen penned The Shining, Doctor Sleep follows an adult Danny, who is haunted by the issues of rage and alcoholism which plagued his father Jack Torrance, famously played by Jack Nicholson, as well the events of what happened at the Overlook Hotel in his childhood.

Carl Lumbly has been cast as Dick Halloran, an integral character of the original story, while Alex Essoe is starring as Danny’s mother Wendy Torrance. The roles were previously helmed by the late Scatman Crothers and retired actress Shelley Duvall.

Mike Flanagan, known for his work in the horror genre, is directing, and also adapted the screenplay from Stephen’s award-winning book. The story is set in Massachusetts this time around, the state Mike was born in.

Since wowing as Akecheta in season two of Westworld, Variety reports 51-year-old Zahn has been on the radar of several movie executives.

His previous credits include TV shows The Son and Longmire, as well as season two of Fargo, which his co-star Ewan joined for the third series.

Doctor Sleep is due to hit cinemas in January 2020.

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