BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: L.A.’s Calmatic shoots remake of ‘White Men Can’t Jump’

By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

It’s a big week for the homie Charles Kidd II, better known as the award-winning commercial, music video, and movie director, Calmatic. The L.A. native’s modern remix of the 1992 film “White Men Can’t Jump,” with rap star Jack Harlow and Sinqua Walls (“Power,” “American Soul”), premieres on Hulu May 19.

With credits including the Grammy- and MTV Video Music Award-winning Lil Nas X video for “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, Pharrell’s and Jay-Z’s “Entrepreneur,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Rich Spirit” and more under his belt, he was bound to be in demand.

After directing one of his four Super Bowl commercials, including 2022’s memorable Crypto.com ad, starring LeBron James and his younger self, Calmatic was tapped by the NBA superstar and his producing partner, Maverick Carter, to remake Reginald Hudlin’s landmark 1990 movie “House Party.”

Having worked with James, the director told Tasty Clips the NBA legend is different from his image.

“You see him as this supremely stoic and disciplined athlete, but off court he’s just a normal dude,” Calmatic said. “He graduated like two years before me. He’s a dude from Akron, cracking jokes more than someone dunking.”

It was during a pandemic-shut pre-production for “House Party” that the helmer was approached about doing a reboot of the beloved Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson hoops movie “White Men Can’t Jump.”

“As a working artist who happens to be in film, it would be crazy to turn down an opportunity like that,” Calmatic said. “That film was going to be made, regardless. I mean why not? Obviously, there is pressure to do it right, but at the same time that was an opportunity to create something for the times.

“Basketball has evolved so much since the original film. We wanted to make it as equally involving as it is super-intense and complex. We all know white dudes can jump, so what’s the next conversation? I think the film does that. (Societal issues) and mental health are just as important as hustling to make a living.”

The film, with writing by Kenya Barris (“black-ish”) and the original’s writer/director Ron Shelton, features Teyana Taylor (“A Thousand and One”), Laura Harrier (“BlacKkKlansman“) and one of the last performances by the late Lance Riddick (the “John Wick” films, “The Wire”).

“He brought nothing but wisdom and professionalism to the set,” Calmatic said. “As a director, I’m watching scenes and how to make an actor better. Every time he would do a scene it was perfect. He nailed it. He put on a clinic on acting. It’s a shame he is no longer with us. He left a mark on cinema, and we will miss him for sure.”

Now for the elephant in the room: Are any of the classic movies off limits?

Calmatic thinks the premise of the movies aren’t that unique as to where you can’t ever retell a story, citing film writing’s staples of a hero’s journey and the three-act formula: “Like ‘House Party,’ for example, is about two kids who have a party at their house. Why can’t we do that every five or 10 years to represent each era of hip hop and use that as an ‘encyclopedia of hip hop?’”

“‘Scarface’ is a remake. ‘Nutty Professor’ is a remake. I’m not trying to remake ‘Forrest Gump’ or ‘Sister Act 2,’ but if it happens it isn’t the end of the world. Two things can be right. Studios should support original ideas and reproduce for a generation.”

It’s funny we don’t do that with music,” added the hip hop head, who cites Nas’ “Illmatic,” Kendrick Lamar’s “To Catch a Butterfly,” and Kanye West’s “College Dropout as his essential albums. “We don’t say you can’t do that sample. You can’t do James Brown.”

As for what’s next, the artist feels he owes it to himself to create something original.

“There are stories of people in my life that I want to tell,” he said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to in the next step in my career. To give insight into the Calmatic mind.”

CLIPPETTES: The Black Hollywood Education Resource Center’s 30th annual Sistas Are Doin’ It For Themselves Short Film Showcase & Virtual Film Festival kicks off three days of events May 19 with an opening night celebration and reception at Directors Guild of America. For tickets, visit EventBrite.com…

Also that day Rebirth Brass Band is at the Miracle Theater, Talib Kweli & Madlib drop bars at The Novo, Jazz at LACMA presents Oscar Hernandez & Alma Libre, Ali Wong brings laughs to the Kavli Theatre, and new country sensation Jelly Roll performs at the L.A. County Fair …

The next night at the fair, Chaka Khan headlines, while Emily King hits The Wiltern, Louie Vega & Miguel Migs spin at The Fox Hollywood, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons harmonize at YouTube Theater, and sitarist Anoushka Shankar plays the Alex Theatre …

Also on May 20 activist/philanthropic innovator Rachel Cargle discusses her memoir, “A Renaissance of Our Own,” alongside prolific writer/director, Mara Brock Akil (“Girlfriends,” “The Game”) at The Gathering Spot in West Adams …

Areva Martin and Special Needs Network’s 15th annual Pink Pump Affair is set for May 21 at the Beverly Hilton with host Pat Harvey, Alfre Woodard, Sallie Richardson Whitfield, Donnell Turner of ABC’s “General Hospital” and more. Snnla.org has details. Later, keyboard phenom Matthew Whitaker plays the Theater at Ace Hotel …

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band (with Edgar Winter, Toto’s Steve Lukather & Warren Ham, former Average White Band singer Hamish Stuart, Men At Work’s Colin Hay, and jazz/rock drummer Gregg Bissonette) comes May 23 to Long Beach’s Terrace Theater …

LeVar Burton discusses the state of banned books, his new documentary, “The Right to Read,” and season three of “Star Trek: Picard” on May 24 at the ASU California Center. You can attend in person or join virtually …

Also that evening, mesmerizing soul vocalist Danielle Ponder’s “Some Of Us Are Brave” tour stops at the Troubadour, while singer Eric Roberson begins a two-night stand at The Sun Rose …

Techno DJ and producer Carl Craig’s work “Party/After-Party” is being held May 25 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, as the Lodge Room presents house music duo The APX.

TC ON TV: May 19 – “Great Performances” (PBS): A new take on Shakespeare’s tragedy “Richard III,” starring Danai Gurira (“Black Panther”) in the title role. Recorded live last July from The Public Theater’s production in NY’s Central Park.

May 20 – “Love To Love You, Donna Summer” (HBO): A deeply personal portrait of the disco artist complete with the pulsating songbook, a wealth of photographs and never-before-seen home video footage.

May 21 – “The Equalizer” (CBS): Ilfenesh Hadera (“Godfather of Harlem”) guest stars as a former partner of McCall (Queen Latifah) in this season finale. “The Simpsons” (Fox): Lizzo and Bowen Yang (“SNL”) are cartooned. “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS): The series starring LL Cool J comes to an end after 14 seasons, to be followed by a retrospective hosted by Kevin Frazier.

May 22 – “Jennifer Hudson” (Syn): Samuel L. Jackson “The Neighborhood” (CBS): D.L. Hughley guest stars as himself.

May 23 – “Wanda Sykes: I’m An Entertainer” (Netflix): The comic sounds off on why she’s tired of going high when others go low. “Shazam! Fury Of The Gods” (MAX): The DC comics movie is the premiere film launching the new HBO turned MAX streaming service. “Jennifer Hudson” (Syn): Robert Glasper and life coach Rhea Williams. “Beat Shazam” (Fox): Returning with Nick Cannon guest hosting for the recovering Jamie Foxx.

May 24 – “American Born Chinese” (AppleTV+): Reigning Academy Award-winning actors Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan are featured in the cast of this fantasy series. “MasterChef” (Fox): Season 13 celebrates the “United Tastes of America,” bringing together chefs from four regions of the country. Premiering afterwards is “Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars,” which tests the business skills of food industry entrepreneurs. “The Prank Panel” (ABC): Johnny Knoxville, Eric Andre and Gabourey Sidibe plot elaborate schemes at the behest of everyday people. “Mayans M.C.” (FX): The fifth and final season begins.

May 25 – “College Hill: Celebrity Edition” (BET+): So Amber Rose and Joseline Hernandez are coming to blows now? “Fubar” (Netflix): Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his series debut. “Judge Me Not” (AllBlk): Loosely based on the life of Judge Lynn Toler, this series tells the story of a female attorney who is as troubled as she is troubling.

END QUOTE: “The thing that I’m most worried about is the degree to which we now have a divided conversation, in part because we have a divided media, a splintered media. When I was coming up, you had three TV stations … and people were getting a similar sense of what is true and what isn’t, what was real and what was not.” – former President BARACK OBAMA on “CBS This Morning”

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly 1 million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at tastyclips@yahoo.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.

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