“The Killing Floor,” a 1989 film considered “an essential piece of Black labor and cinematic history,” is currently being rediscovered after a stunning new 4K restoration and release in virtual theaters, on demand and DVD formats via Film Movement Classics.
Tasty Clips recently caught up with a quarantining Bill Duke, the actor best known for unforgettable roles in the 1976 classic “Car Wash” and “American Gigolo,” who made his movie directorial debut with the work that first premiered on PBS’ “American Masters.”
“In my opinion, it reflects the many struggles that we have gone through to create a great union,” he said of the gripping fact-based story starring Damien Leake, Alfre Woodard, Moses Gunn, Clarence Felder, Dennis Farina, Stephen McKinley Henderson and the luminous Mary Alice set in the backdrop of a racially tense 1919 Chicago meat packing plant.
“I had never been in a slaughterhouse in my life,” Duke recalled of scouting the location used. “They had pigs upside down by their feet on the assembly line and they would cut them open and we’d see their guts and everything. Then we saw them skin the cows and chop them up into pieces. Steaks and ribs. Um. I’m a vegan now. It taught me a lot, brother!”
He says there is no need for a “Director’s Cut” due to the fact he had a lot of basic freedom but did remember fondly a piece of history that happened while shooting.
“We [finished] filming, going back to our places one day and hundreds and hundreds of people were running down the street screaming and yelling because Harold Washington became the first Black man to be mayor of Chicago. Everybody celebrated. It was an incredible moment.”
It took six years for Duke to helm his next feature film, the acclaimed “A Rage In Harlem,” which begat a string of motion picture gold with “Deep Cover,” “Sister Act 2,” “Hoodlum,” starring Laurence Fishburne as Harlem gangster Bumpy Johnson, and the recent documentary “Dark Girls.”
“As a Black director at that time, you weren’t just given chances,” he reflected. “[“The Killing Floor”] set the ground for it, but you had to prove yourself over and over in those days. It took some time, but I was acting in between.”
And with many memorable roles throughout including the Arnold Schwarzenegger actioners “Commando” and “Predator;” the groundbreaking “Menace II Society;” and 50 Cent story “Get Rich Or Die Tryin’.”
For the last few years, Duke has been a regular on the CW’s “Black Lightning” and developing a biopic based on the relationship of boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling.
“It’s almost done,” he says of the incredible story of the onetime foes and faces of opposing countries in the 1930s who later became the best of friends. “We’re just trying to find funding and distribution.”
As for who he would like in the roles, Duke admitted that there are several talented people he has in mind. It’s just not as easy as that these days.
“They’ll ask what actor do you want in the film,” he said. “You say X and then you’re asked what is his social media following. (laughs) That’s the reality, my friend.”
STAGE LIGHTS: Some of Broadway’s finest alums, including Whoopi Goldberg, Chita Rivera, Don Cheadle, Vanessa Williams, Audra McDonald, LaChanze, Ruthie Ann Miles, Brandon Victor Dixon and Colman Domingo, are participating in Project Sing Out!, at 4 p.m. July 20.
The one-night-only benefit with additional appearances by “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, BD Wong (“Mr. Robot”), Saycon Sengbloh (“Scandal”), Willie Garson (“Sex and the City”) and Christiani Pitts (“King Kong”), is in support of the Educational Theatre Foundation’s efforts to increase access to theater education in under-resourced schools, specifically in low-income communities and communities of color.
For more information, visit www.ProjectSingOut.com.
COOKING FOR A CAUSE: Ayesha Curry, JJ Johnson, Kwame Onwuachi, Martha Stewart, Jacques Pépin, Garrett Oliver and “Top Chef” season 10 winner Kristen Kish are some of the culinary wizards assembled for the Food & Wine Classic at Home.
This first virtual edition of the famed festival held for the last 38 years in Aspen, Colorado, will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. July 23 with cooking demos, interactive wine tastings, and seminars to benefit the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and World Central Kitchen, to name a few.
To register and reserve your space for this complimentary event, hit www.meredith-foodandwine.brand.live/c/fwclassicathome.
TASTY QUIP: “If there is a place that is a metaphor for just fitting in and squelching your own authentic voice, Hollywood would be the place.” – Cover girl VIOLA DAVIS to Vanity Fair
CLIPPETTES: Kool DJ Red Alert spins a hip hop set with special guest Mainsource for the SummerStage Anywhere Sessions, July 17, 5 p.m. Party at www.twitch.tv/summerstagenyc …
Producer-director Lee Daniels and ABC are planning a reboot of the 1960s based sitcom “The Wonder Years” with that series’ star Fred Savage and Saladin K. Patterson attached as producers. The update will focus on a middle-class Black family in Montgomery, Alabama during the civil rights era …
Michael Franti & Spearhead are kicking off their Stay At Home Concert World Tour on July 18 at 6 p.m. from Soulshine Bali. In addition to the livestream, the first 500 ticketholders get to attend a private “backstage” Zoom party room with Franti and other fans with sing-a-longs, games and more. Visit: www.michaelfranti.manheadmerch.com/collections/july-18-live-from-soulshine for details …
Norwegian producer Kygo announced that this week will see the release of his remix of Tina Turner’s hit “What’s Love Got To Do With It” with the 80-year-old icon coming out of retirement to add her voice …
The BE Conference 2020 is back July 20 for a five-day virtual event focusing on the needs and ambitions of rising women in media and entertainment. The speakers and mentors include Eva Longoria, Niecy Nash, Tia Mowry, Tika Sumpter, Maisie Richardson-Sellers and Mädchen Amick with more to be announced. To become a free attendee or to purchase an all access pass, go to: www.beconferences.com.
TASTY QUIP: “I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of ‘Batwoman’ on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community.” – JAVICIA LESLIE upon replacing the departing Ruby Rose for the second season of the CW series.
TC ON TV: July 17 – “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” (Hulu): Follows the history and Broadway reunion last year of the improvisational hip hop group that featured a pre-“Hamilton” Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, and performers Christopher Jackson and Anthony Veneziale. “The View” (ABC): D.L. Hughley “The Wrong Wedding Planner” (Lifetime): The Wrong Film Franchise returns with this first of two new movies headlined and produced by Vivica A. Fox. Jackée Harry appears in a supporting role. “Great Performances” (PBS): Eric Owens and Angel Blue shine is this filmed version of The Met’s staging of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” which also features diva Denyce Graves.
July 18 – “Today All Day” (Peacock): Now you can get content from the morning show including segments by Craig Melvin, Hoda Kotb, Sheinelle Jones, Al Roker and others whenever you like.
July 19 – “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC): 2 Chainz vs. Big Boi “Coins For Love” (TV1): This sequel to the popular “Coins For Christmas” stars Essence Atkins (“Marlon”), Stephen Bishop (“Being Mary Jane”), TC Carson (“Living Single”), Kendrick Cross (“Ambitions”) and Karon Joseph Riley. “United Shades of America” (CNN): Season 5 of W. Kamau Bell’s docu-series opens with the comic talking to people in Philadelphia and Chester, Pennsylvania, about lead poisoning, living near factories, environmental racism and how it ultimately affects us all.
July 20 – “Die Hart” (Quibi): Kevin Hart is the executive producer and star of this short form series imagining his going to a boot camp to become an action star. John Travolta, Josh Hartnett and “Game of Thrones” standout Nathalie Emmanuel round out the cast. “The ReidOut” (MSNBC): Joy Reid makes history tonight with the launch of the first primetime weeknight news show to be anchored by an African-American woman. She is expected to bring the same sensibilities shown in her longtime weekend show “AM Joy” to the timeslot previously filled by Chris Matthews’ “Hardball.” “POV” (PBS): “We Are the Radical Monarchs,” a documentary following two trailblazing Oakland-based queer women of color, opens the 33rd season.
July 23 – “Live with Kelly & Ryan” (ABC): Nia Long “Celebrity Watch Party” (Fox): Last call for the at-home sessions with Master P & Romeo, Raven-Symoné, Reggie Bush, Tyra Banks and more.
TASTY QUIP: “I’m in a position in my life now where I feel like the reward is that I can walk away if I don’t feel like what the offer is commensurate with where I’m at right now in my life and career. There is a point in time where you’ve done your service. You’ve put in your time. You’re always going to do your service, but at a certain point in time, you should be remunerated for the followers that you have, the fans that you have, the integrity you bring to your work and your commitment to showing up and discovering, regardless of whether you’re getting paid a penny or a pound.” – GIANCARLO ESPOSITO (“Better Call Saul,” “The Mandalorian”) to Hollywood Reporter
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.