[LMB] good news!! Earthsea OT:

Noel Rappin noelrappin at gmail.com
Sun Dec 18 04:12:12 GMT 2005

Others have talked about Earthsea with more knowledge than I can -- I  
just wanted to point out that your Broadway examples probably don't  
make your point as strongly as you think.

The controversy over Miss Saigon was not over the female lead (played  
by Lea Salonga, who is from the Philippines). It was over one of the  
male supporting characters, The Engineer, played in London and NY by  
Jonathan Pryce.  It was not, at least initially, a public protest.   
Actors Equity threatened not to allow Pryce to play the role in New  
York.  I don't remember historical accuracy being the stated reason  
for the conflict (the character, after all, was half European), but  
rather that, it was largely due to the very limited number of  
Broadway roles written for Asian characters (it would be kind of  
silly for minority actors to come out in favor of strict historical  
accuracy, after all).  In any case Equity eventually backed down,  
although I don't know what the exact reason or negotiations were.

The gentlemen who you are referring to in Phantom was probably Robert  
Guillaume, who played it some time in the late 1980s.  And I do  
remember some eyelash turning concerning it -- I wouldn't have known  
about it at the time except for the fact that it generated some  
mainstream press.  Although I think the press was mostly because  
Guillaume was by that point more famous for his sitcom work.  (Saying  
he was considered a "top theater talent" is probably a little strong,  
though).  For some reason I want to mention that Antonio Bandaras  
lobbied heavily for the movie role of the Phantom, but didn't get it.

Hope this helps, well, somebody.


On Dec 16, 2005, at 8:00 AM, David McMillan wrote:
> 	Okay, can someone answer me this?  I read LeGuin's rant about the  
> SciFi ES movie, and most of it seemed rational (I have no real  
> background in ES), but the whole "color" thing bugged me.  Okay, so  
> the actors weren't the same color as LeGuin envisioned the  
> characters.  So what?  Seriously.  I hadn't gotten the impression  
> that skin color played any actual role in the *plot* of the story  
> (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), and assuming that's true,  
> why would anyone's melanin content matter?  I would think that the  
> actor's ability to really capture the character would be the  
> paramount concern (granted, the SciFi movie apparently *didn't,*  
> but that's a seperate issue). Complaining that the cast was too  
> 'whitebread' just strikes me as, well, petty.
> 	I mean, I remember a good ten years ago when a black man was cast  
> in the leading role in "Phantom of the Opera" -- no one so much as  
> turned an eyelash, despite the rather gross historical innaccuracy  
> of that casting.  The actor in question was considered a top  
> theater talent, and got rave reviews.  He did the character  
> justice, and his color really didn't matter.
> 	This memory became savagely ironic a few years later when people  
> started forming lynch mobs over the casting of a caucasian woman as  
> the female lead in the first run of "Miss Saigon."  'Historical  
> accuracy' was the main reason I heard bandied about in public, but  
> I couldn't help wondering where all these historical purists had  
> been when the "Phantom" casting happened.  Especially since the  
> historical inaccuracy was much *less* in the case of MS, given the  
> odds of finding 'white'-looking Eurasian women in Saigon by the 1960s.
> 	Maybe I'm just missing something here, but to me it seems like a  
> blatant double standard.

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