Casting rumours/speculation for Shaft reboot/sequel

It is being reported in Variety, that Samuel L jackson has been approached to reprise his role from 2000’s Shaft with Jessie T. Usher being lined up to play his son.
Samuel L Jackson and Jessie TIt’s the usual “sources tell us…” approach to reporting, so we’ll wait and see. The film is set to be directed by Tim Story from a script by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow.

UPDATE (19/8): A further report in Deadline states the title of the film will be Son of Shaft and that Richard Roundtree is also lined up to appear with production due to start before the end of autumn. Usher’s John Shaft III is reported to be an FBI agent and cyber expert whose methods will clash with the old school approach of his father.

Shaft reboot to be an action-comedy (or comedy-action) movie after all

Image result for tim story directorWell, after months of silence on this project, director Tim Story has given some clues as to the tone of the upcoming Shaft reboot. Story was interviewed at Showtime’s Television Critics Association party (reported by SlashFilm.com) where he said, “My Shaft movie is going to be definitely not straight action. We’re going action-comedy or comedy-action, I’m not exactly sure which one comes first. We’re going to definitely make sure the stakes in the world are real, and then you’ve got these characters who are dealing with kind of a father/son situation, we’re going to see them put a family back together.”

Story goes on to say, “We’re still paying an homage to the original, so [Shaft] still means what it means. At the end of the day though, it does mean just a strong figure. We also have Shaft’s son’s mom in it as well. She’s a strong figure as well. It’s not even specific to the male. It’s specific to just strong people.”

This news is not what fans of Ernest Tidyman’s creation were wanting to hear. David F Walker showed how the character could be made relevant again to  a modern audience with his comic book series, Shaft: A Complicated Man, which in my view would have made for a great movie adaptation to re-introduce a cultural icon. What it seems like we’re going to get instead is something that is perceived to be more acceptable to an undemanding movie-going public, trading off a brand name.

Whatever it turns out to be, I hold no confidence it will be add anything positive to the Shaft legacy.

My interview with James P Stancil for New Books Network

 This week I completed my first interview by Skype about my book The World of Shaft  with James P Stancil of the New Books Network. James was a very gracious host. The podcast is now available to listen to by clicking the link below:

Steve Aldous, “The World of Shaft: A Complete Guide to the Novels, Comic Strip, Films and Television Series” (McFarland, 2015)

Shaft: Imitation of Life nominated for Diversity Award

It was announced today that Shaft: Imitation of Life has been nominated for the 2017 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity.  Written by David F. Walker with art work by Dietrich Smith and featuring the eponymous black hero, the comic also tackled issues of the exploitation of homosexual males in early 1970s New York. The comic followed Walker’s Shaft: A Complicated Man, which was nominated for the same award in 2015.

Director assigned to Shaft reboot

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Tim Story, director of the Shaft reboot..

After over a year of seeming inactivity, there is finally some forward momentum on New Line’s reboot of the Shaft franchise. Tim Story has been assigned as director to the production, which will be based on a script by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow.  Barris is also co-producer with John Davis and Ira Napoliello for Davis Entertainment. As well as directing two Fantastic Four movies, Story has had recent success as a director of comedies including Ride Along 2 and Kevin Hart: What Now? – adding fuel to the fire that this Shaft may be less than faithful to Ernest Tidyman’s creation.

Mike Fleming Jr., writing for Deadline , reports on rumours that the plot may centre on Shaft’s son – thereby taking a similar track to 2000’s Shaft, where Samuel L Jackson played the private detective’s nephew. He says: “I’ve heard the idea is to reinvigorate the franchise with a focus on the son of the cool private eye who always finds himself navigating the gray terrain between the law and organized crime in New York City.”

Joseph Mascolo (1929-2016)

In a year that has seen the loss of so many icons I had missed the death of Joseph Mascolo on 8 December 2016. Mascolo, who brought a sense of charisma and style to his portrayal of Gus Mascola in Shaft’s Big Score! Mascolo (born 13 March 1929) was of Italian descent, his parents having emigrated from Naples. He studied acting under Stella Adler and was also a trained classical musician – he would famously use his clarinet skills to flesh out his portrayal for Gus Mascola. He had worked his way through TV and theatre from the late 1950s. He was a regular on TV through to the late 1980s and is probably best remembered for his portrayal of soap villain Stefano DiMera from 1982 to 2016 on NBC’s Days of Our Lives. In the last couple of years he had experienced deteriorating health, having suffered a stroke in 2015 and battling Alzheimer’s disease, from which he eventually died. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Schultz-Mascolo, his son Peter, his step-daughter Laura, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Image result for joseph mascolo shaft's big score

Site makeover for 2017

First off, Season’s Greetings to all who happen upon my website.

I have given the site a makeover for 2017, having decided to road test Word Press’ new template. Also, in my Guide to Shaft I have added visual title headers to each book and movie entry along with some new images.

Through 2017, I will continue with reviews of movies and books as well as updates on all things Shaft. I am currently working on a novel and have some ideas for more short stories and further novels to explore. I have contributed a chapter to a forthcoming book on 1970s pulp fiction. I am also looking to start further research for a book about the making of the first Shaft movie, for which I aim to seek publication in 2021 to tie in with the 50th anniversary of the film’s release.

For now, I hope you all have a happy and prosperous 2017.

Shaft’s 2016

Last year saw the long-awaited return to the printed page of John Shaft in the form of David F. Walker’s 6-part comic book prequel to the Ernest Tidyman novels, Shaft: A Complicated Man. The book was a superb re-introduction of the character in a story which added depth to Tidyman’s creation and was loaded with late 1960s New York atmosphere, enhanced by Bilquis Evely’s evocative art work. There was the promise of more to come from Dynamite Entertainment and in 2016 Dynamite delivered more.

ShaftsRevenge-COver-100gsmWoodFreeShaft’s Revenge, also penned by David F. Walker, was published on 10 February (having been serialised the previous year via a QR download to smart phones) and was the first prose novel to feature the character since Tidyman’s The Last Shaft (1975). Walker deftly slotted this into Shaft’s timeline some time between Shaft’s Big Score! (1972) and Shaft Has a Ball (1973). He took Tidyman’s character outline and expanded on Shaft’s history as well as introduced a memorable new gangster in the offbeat form of Linwood “Red Linny” Morton. The story stayed true to Tidyman’s prose style, whilst again adding depth to Shaft’s character and Walker left room for further adventures. Jeff Kingston Pierce commented in his year end round-up at Kirkus that “David F. Walker does an estimable job of capturing Tidyman’s third-person style, and there’s plenty of sex and violence to be had in these pages…which is exactly what any Shaft fan would expect.”

February also saw the beginning of a four-part run of Walker’s follow-up comic book, Shaft: Imitation of Life. This second run took a different approach both in story and visually, with Dietrich Smith providing more colourful and gritty, if less stylised, art work. Whereas in A Complicated Man, Shaft had been drawn true to Tidyman’s vision of his character, in Imitation of Life pressure from Dynamite made sure Shaft took on the image of his movie persona as portrayed by Richard Roundtree. The story was less successful, introducing elements of self-reference and satire that are intended as pointed criticisms of the approach supposedly to be taken in New Line’s planned reboot of the movie franchise that Walker had taken exception to. Still, there were enough strong moments to satisfy fans of the first comic book. The issues ran through to 25 May and a trade paperback version is set to be published in February 2017.

ShaftCoverIn its press release in May 2014, Dynamite had promised to republish all seven of Tidyman’s original novels. 2016 saw them begin this process and Shaft (1970) was duly published on 20 July with cover art by Robert Hack. Whilst I had issues with the text format (indents too deep, for example), it was great to see a Tidyman original back in print. The books also contained a preview for Shaft Among the Jews (1972), which promised a swift follow-up. There was also an Italian publication of the novel.

Sadly, apart from the trade paperback publication of Shaft: Imitation of Life, there is no further news on future Shaft releases via Dynamite at this point. The comic book and novel sales have not been spectacular and this may cause Dynamite to re-evaluate their strategy. It is to be hoped we will see more from Walker as he has a real feel for the character and I know he has more Shaft stories he wants to tell. In the meantime, I am optimistic Dynamite will at least deliver on their promise and complete the reprint of the originals.

As for the proposed movie re-boot. There has been no further news on development since New Line’s response to fan (and in particular Walker’s) criticism of their proposed, more “comedic”, take on the character in August 2015 when producer John Davis stated, “It’s a reinvention of the story so that it’s both fresh and harkens back to what we love about that character. It’s drama, but it’s going to be drama with a lot of fun moments. A lot of lighter moments.” The movie seems to be stuck in development hell. Some may see this as a good thing and an indication that a re-think may be in order. In my view, New Line would be best advised to adapt Walker’s Shaft: A Complicated Man as this is a superb re-introduction of the character that would make a great movie.