Hollywood Shuffle


1h 22m 1987
Hollywood Shuffle

Brief Synopsis

An aspiring African-American actor tries to fight against stereotyping.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
1987
Distribution Company
Samuel Goldwyn Company
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m

Synopsis

An aspiring African-American actor tries to fight against stereotyping.

Videos

Movie Clip

Hollywood Shuffle (1987) - They Said I Wasn't Black Enough At a Hollywood casting call, with plenty of improper language, writer, director, producer and star Robert Townsend as Bobby introduces many from his de facto company, Eugene Robert Glazer, Lisa Mende and Dom Irrera the director, agent and writer, Verda Bridges, Bobby McGee and Rusty Cundeiff among the actors, in Hollywood Shuffle, 1987.
Hollywood Shuffle (1987) - Open, There's A Bat In My House Co-writer (with Keenen Ivory Wayans), director, producer, star and self-financier Robert Townsend opens his famous independent feature, rehearsing in the bathroom, Craigus R. Johnson his little brother, Starletta DuPois his mother, Helen Martin his grandmother, Brad Sanders as “Batty,” in Hollywood Shuffle, 1987.
Hollywood Shuffle (1987) - Black Acting School After a couple of introductory vignettes and with spicy language, writer-director Robert Townsend appears in the fantasy sequence, confirming that he’s imagining all this while waiting at a Hollywood audition, Grand L. Bush as both “Mandingo” and “Ricky Taylor,” also Tony Edwards, in Hollywood Shuffle, 1987.
Hollywood Shuffle (1987) - Sneakin' In The Movies Another of the more famous digressions, director, co-writer, star and producer Robert Townsend as Bobby, fantasizing as he awaits word on his audition, with Jimmy Woodard as pal Tyrone, imagines himself hosting a knock-off Siskel & Ebert show, with still more not-usually appropriate language, in Hollywood Shuffle, 1987.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
1987
Distribution Company
Samuel Goldwyn Company
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m

Articles

Hollywood Shuffle


Robert Townsend recounted once in an interview that after telling his agent he wanted to be in more movies like A Soldier's Story (1984), he was told that Hollywood only makes one black movie a year so he should be happy with what he got. Spoiler: He wasn't. Instead, he worked on an idea with friend Keenen Ivory Wayans, before his rise to fame, about the inherent difficulties of getting good, consistent work as a black person in Hollywood. Working out the ideas and putting together a screenplay was one thing, getting someone to produce it was quite another. As Townsend found out, he'd have to do most of the financing himself.

After raising cash, taking out loans and using credit cards, he spent two years putting together a movie that would challenge assertions that a movie written and directed by a black man wouldn't play to a wide audience.

Hollywood Shuffle (1987) skewers everything about Hollywood's attitudes inside and out. From the idea that characters for black performers are limited to the most demeaning stereotypes to the idea that there is only room for one black star in a picture. In this case, Eddie Murphy (in one scene, dozens of black actors all waiting to audition for a part, act like Eddie Murphy since that's what the producers are looking for).

The way the story unfolds--Townsend's character looking for work as an actor while fantasizing about himself in various genres within of the cinematic world--it allows Townsend and his fellow cast members a wide latitude into absurdist comedy. In one fantasy, white teachers instruct black actors how to "act" like black people, or at least, like the stereotypes of black people seen on the silver screen. In another, two black critics review the movies like Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert but without the pretense of looking for anything besides entertainment and emotional satisfaction. And in the movie's reality, Townsend's character is often told to be "more black" or "more like Eddie Murphy." And it's all very funny. It's also, sadly, very true. Townsend and Wayans weren't pulling ideas out of thin air for the story or skits. They were pulling from real experiences. Townsend lamented in several interviews that he actually had been told to be "more black" for a movie or show or commercial and then had white directors elaborate on what that meant. Yes, really.

After Hollywood Shuffle was released, it made over $5 million against a budget of just a little over $100,000. That's an impressive ratio but one that probably would have been a lot more impressive with full studio support from the initial budget to the distribution and marketing. And Townsend was able to parlay the film's success into a long running career as a director in Hollywood. But when you watch it again, even all these years later, the jokes hold up because, unfortunately, most of it is still sadly relevant.

Directed by Robert Townsend
Written by Robert Townsend, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Dom Irrera (uncredited)
Produced by Robert Townsend, Carl Craig, Richard Cummings Jr.
Music by Udi Harpaz, Patrice Rushen
Cinematography by Peter Deming
Film Editing by W.O. Garrett
Casting By Jaki Brown, Toni Livingston
Production Design by Melba Katzman Farquhar
Art Direction by Melba Katzman Farquhar
Costume Design by Andre Allen
Cast: Robert Townsend (Bobby Taylor / Jasper / Speed / Sam Ace / Rambro), Craigus R. Johnson (Stevie Taylor), Helen Martin (Bobby's Grandmother), Starletta DuPois (Bobby's Mother), Marc Figueroa (Sitcom Father / Client #2), Sarah Kaite Coughlan (Sitcom Girlfriend / Rehearsing Actress), Sean Michal Flynn (Sitcom Boyfriend), Brad Sanders (Batty Boy), David McKnight (Uncle Ray), Keenen Ivory Wayans (Donald / Jheri Curl)

By Greg Ferrara
Hollywood Shuffle

Hollywood Shuffle

Robert Townsend recounted once in an interview that after telling his agent he wanted to be in more movies like A Soldier's Story (1984), he was told that Hollywood only makes one black movie a year so he should be happy with what he got. Spoiler: He wasn't. Instead, he worked on an idea with friend Keenen Ivory Wayans, before his rise to fame, about the inherent difficulties of getting good, consistent work as a black person in Hollywood. Working out the ideas and putting together a screenplay was one thing, getting someone to produce it was quite another. As Townsend found out, he'd have to do most of the financing himself. After raising cash, taking out loans and using credit cards, he spent two years putting together a movie that would challenge assertions that a movie written and directed by a black man wouldn't play to a wide audience. Hollywood Shuffle (1987) skewers everything about Hollywood's attitudes inside and out. From the idea that characters for black performers are limited to the most demeaning stereotypes to the idea that there is only room for one black star in a picture. In this case, Eddie Murphy (in one scene, dozens of black actors all waiting to audition for a part, act like Eddie Murphy since that's what the producers are looking for). The way the story unfolds--Townsend's character looking for work as an actor while fantasizing about himself in various genres within of the cinematic world--it allows Townsend and his fellow cast members a wide latitude into absurdist comedy. In one fantasy, white teachers instruct black actors how to "act" like black people, or at least, like the stereotypes of black people seen on the silver screen. In another, two black critics review the movies like Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert but without the pretense of looking for anything besides entertainment and emotional satisfaction. And in the movie's reality, Townsend's character is often told to be "more black" or "more like Eddie Murphy." And it's all very funny. It's also, sadly, very true. Townsend and Wayans weren't pulling ideas out of thin air for the story or skits. They were pulling from real experiences. Townsend lamented in several interviews that he actually had been told to be "more black" for a movie or show or commercial and then had white directors elaborate on what that meant. Yes, really. After Hollywood Shuffle was released, it made over $5 million against a budget of just a little over $100,000. That's an impressive ratio but one that probably would have been a lot more impressive with full studio support from the initial budget to the distribution and marketing. And Townsend was able to parlay the film's success into a long running career as a director in Hollywood. But when you watch it again, even all these years later, the jokes hold up because, unfortunately, most of it is still sadly relevant. Directed by Robert Townsend Written by Robert Townsend, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Dom Irrera (uncredited) Produced by Robert Townsend, Carl Craig, Richard Cummings Jr. Music by Udi Harpaz, Patrice Rushen Cinematography by Peter Deming Film Editing by W.O. Garrett Casting By Jaki Brown, Toni Livingston Production Design by Melba Katzman Farquhar Art Direction by Melba Katzman Farquhar Costume Design by Andre Allen Cast: Robert Townsend (Bobby Taylor / Jasper / Speed / Sam Ace / Rambro), Craigus R. Johnson (Stevie Taylor), Helen Martin (Bobby's Grandmother), Starletta DuPois (Bobby's Mother), Marc Figueroa (Sitcom Father / Client #2), Sarah Kaite Coughlan (Sitcom Girlfriend / Rehearsing Actress), Sean Michal Flynn (Sitcom Boyfriend), Brad Sanders (Batty Boy), David McKnight (Uncle Ray), Keenen Ivory Wayans (Donald / Jheri Curl) By Greg Ferrara

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1990

Released in United States April 24, 1987

Released in United States November 1987

Released in United States on Video May 1988

Released in United States Spring March 20, 1987

Shown at London Film Festival November 1987.

Began shooting June 6, 1986.

Released in United States 1990 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (Black Independent Cinema Now) April 19 - May 3, 1990.)

Released in United States Spring March 20, 1987

Released in United States April 24, 1987 (Los Angeles)

Released in United States on Video May 1988

Released in United States November 1987 (Shown at London Film Festival November 1987.)