Story of ‘Shaft’ icon revealed; ‘Uncle Charlie’ to hit LA

With an iconic movie role and a hit TV show among his credits, Richard Roundtree is certainly no stranger to film and TV buffs across the globe. Yet there is so much more to his fascinating story that it takes a series like “Unsung Hollywood” to provide the details. And so his tale, including a devastating divorce and a battle with breast cancer, is told on TV One’s superb spin-off premiering March 25.

We find out about the actor’s journey before landing the famous part of the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks: “Shaft.” (Ya damn right!) When asked if he has any artifacts from the classic ‘70s film, Roundtree started to laugh before answering, “No. I wish that I had the foresight to hold onto that coat… But [director] Gordon [Parks] got that. It’s now at his museum in Kansas.”

Responding to the recent announcement that “Shaft” was to be rebooted once more since the John Singleton/Samuel L. Jackson iteration in 2000, he said, “I think it should be laid to rest. How many times you going to milk that cow?”

These days, Roundtree has a new generation of fans as the patriarch on BET’s “Being Mary Jane.” He explains: “I was enjoying lunch in Atlanta when this woman came all the way across the restaurant. I thought she was going to go into a Shaft thing. And she said, ‘The one thing I regret is my dad did not talk to me like [you do on that show]. I would give anything to have my father give me that kind of advice.’

“That just blew me away. She was the first of many women who have come up to me of late, who have said variations of that same thing,” he said. “That is singularly the most gratifying thing an actor can experience… for people to be really touched by something on the screen. That’s why this show is so important to me.”

Roundtree, an avid photographer who most prefers “shooting the female form,” is looking forward to heading to Cuba on his next hiatus. “I want to go there before it changes to capture the real Cuba – the architecture, the automobiles, the people. I can’t wait.”

As for his films that may have been unsung, Roundtree cites “Man Friday,” the Robinson Crusoe adaptation with Peter O’Toole, and “Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored,” with Phylicia Rashad. “Also from where I sit, ‘Shaft in Africa,’ ” he added. “[It] was the best of the Shaft films but not as popular as the first one was.”

OUTSTANDING: The Forever Charlie Tour starring Charlie Wilson, Kem and Joe hits the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 25-26, with “Uncle Charlie” looking and sounding better than ever.

Wilson’s slick set complete with showgirls, an energetic band, special effects and so many hits would be satisfying enough. But what raises this tour above the rest are the numerous costume changes, the tight choreography, a show-stopping testimonial and clever asides to Michael Jackson, Prince, P-Funk, Roger & Zapp that delivers a strong message that R&B music matters.

CLIPPETTES: Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor biopic starring Mike Epps is adding Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey and Kate Hudson to the cast…

Martin Scorsese will direct Jamie Foxx as Mike Tyson in a feature film. Will this lead to Robert DeNiro being cast as boxing guru/father figure Cus D’Amato?…

Jill Scott released her first new music in four years with the bluesy “You Don’t Know.” Questlove is featured in the video, which is shot by Scott’s “With This Ring” director Nzingha Stewart…

Kerry Washington will portray law professor Anita Hill in an HBO movie she’s producing called “Confrontation.” Wouldn’t her former “Scandal” co-star Columbus Short would make a great Clarence Thomas?…

One of Bobby Womack’s last studio performances is featured on Van Morrison’s “Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue,” due out March 24. George Benson, Natalie Cole, Gregory Porter, Mavis Staples, Taj Mahal and Steve Winwood also are on the RCA release…

Tyrese Gibson has been on Instagram suggesting a TV reunion on “Empire” with Taraji P. Henson, his co-star in “Baby Boy,” the John Singleton film that’s the subject of the “Unsung Hollywood” season finale, March 25 on TV One…

Siedah Garrett is in the studio working on what is sure to be a smash with Chante Moore, Faith Evans and Sheila E! Erik Nuri and Barry Eastmond are producing…

Tyler James Williams (“Everybody Hates Chris”) exits “The Walking Dead” for CBS’ “Criminal Minds” April 9th…

R.I.P. Gene Banks aka Gene Gene the Dancing Machine from “The Gong Show.” You brought a smile to many a face.

TASTY QUIP: “When you hear Patricia Arquette and Gwyneth Paltrow, who are our white sisters in this business, and they’re saying we want wage equality… what do you think we’re [actresses of color] getting?” – MO’NIQUE via Cynopsis on NewsOne Now Prime Time Special airing March 22 on TV One.

TC ON TV: March 20 – “Woodie Awards” (MTV): Live from SXSW in Austin, TX. Wiz Khalifa, Zoe Kravitz, Rae Sremmurd, Raury, Ty Dolla $ign & Big Sean…

March 21 – “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” (OWN): The Ferguson verdict reaction threatens a location…

March 22 – “The Millionaire Matchmaker” (BRAVO): Kenya Moore & Taylor Dayne…

March 25 – “The Late Late Show” (CBS): Kevin Hart, Will Farrell and soul singer Leon Bridges.


TASTY QUIP: “Oh, they can kiss my a–. I’m not appropriating anything. I’m inspired and I’m referencing other cultures. That is my right as an artist. They said Elvis Presley stole African-American culture. That’s our job as artists, to turn the world upside down and make everyone feel bewildered and have to rethink everything.” – MADONNA on those critical of her musical choices to the Huffington Post.   She has begun to film a video to “Ghost Town” from her new album “Rebel Heart” with Terrence Howard as her co-star.

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