Director Spike Lee received a six-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival after the Monday night premiere of his new drama “BlacKkKlansman.” The movie, which tells the true story of an undercover African-American detective (John David Washington) and his Jewish partner (Adam Driver) who team up to infiltrate Klu Klux Klan in 1979, is incredibly timely. It even ends with footage of Donald Trump refusing to condemn the actions of white nationalists during the deadly 2017 Charlottesville riot.
There are a lot of digs at the current president throughout ““BlacKkKlansman” — one KKK member talks about embracing an “America first” policy and the film makes parallels between the rise of Trump and the political ambitions of former Grand Wizard David Duke.
Lee walked the red carpet wearing brass knuckles from “Do the Right Thing,” which said “love” on one hand and “hate” on the other. He was joined by cast members Washington, Driver, Damaris Lewis, Jasper Paakkonen, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, and Corey Hawkins.
HBO has ordered a second season for its scripted half-hour series “Ballers,” starring Dwayne Johnson as a retired NFL player attempting to reinvent himself as a financial manager for current players in Miami.
According to HBO, the June 21 premiere of the current 10-episode season drew 8.9 million viewers across HBO-owned platforms, making it the most watched half-hour premiere for the network since 2009. The episode has also been viewed 5.6 million times on Johnson’s Facebook page.
“The charismatic and hugely talented Dwayne Johnson, along with the rest of the ‘Ballers’ cast, has truly struck a chord with the HBO audience,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said in statement Friday. “We are thrilled with the overwhelming response the series has received and look forward to another exciting season.”
Rob Cordry, John David Washington, Omar Miller, Donovan W. Carter, Troy Garity and London Brown round out the cast.
Dwayne Johnson is headed to HBO‘s primetime. The pay cable network has picked up to series half-hour pilot Ballers toplined by the wrestling and movie star in his first major series gig. He is executive producing the series with his Pain & Gain co-star Mark Wahlberg; Wahlberg’s manager/frequent producing partner Steve Levinson, on whose original idea the project is based; showrunner Even Reilly; and Peter Berg, who directed the pilot.
Written by Levinson in his pilot-writing debut, Ballers is exploring the lives of a group of former and current football players. Johnson stars as Spencer Strasmore, a retired athlete. The cast includes Omar Benson Miller as Charles, an affable former pro athlete who is searching for his next career; Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington as Ricky, a highly competitive and highly spiritual pro athlete; Rob Corddry as Joe, a financial advisor who tries really hard to fit in; Troy Garity as Jason, a top-tier sports agent; Donovan Carter as Vernon, a deeply family-oriented pro athlete; Jazmyn Simon as Julie, wife of an ex-pro athlete; Taylor Cole as Michaels, an ESPN sideline reporter who is romantically involved with Spencer; and LeToya Luckett as Tina, widow to one of Spencer’s closest friends.
The series pickup for Ballers, which will start production later this year, comes on the heels of the series order on Tuesday of another half-hour project with marquee stars from a top director and producer, The Brink, starring Jack Black and Tim Robbins. Jay Roach, who directed the pilot, and Jerry Weintraub are executive producing. Both series have been touted as capable of attracting broad audiences, something Johnson already has done in primetime as his WWE alter ego The Rock and on the big screen. He next reprises his role on the Fast & Furious 7 movie, whose production has been delayed by the death of star Paul Walker, and also has feature Hercules and TNT reality series Wake Up Call coming up.