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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Entertainment

Moses Ingram’s Reva is a big step forward for Black ‘Star Wars’ characters

(EDITORS: Contains spoilers for "Obi-Wan Kenobi.")- - -It turns out being Black a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away can be just as stressful as it is here in the Milky Way.The return of Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi, a momentous occasion of geektacular anticipation for fans, has been marred by the vitriol of online racist taunts.Moses Ingram, who stars as Reva the Third Sister in Disney Plus's "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series, revealed through social media back in May that she received hundreds of hateful and racist messages after her ascension to canon in one of pop culture's biggest sci-fi playgrounds.There were threats. She was called a diversity hire. It was ugly.The response from "Star Wars" was swift. Official social media accounts posted support of Ingram and denouncement of the messages, and called for patience to let the story of Reva unfold. Titular star Ewan McGregor posted a video of support for Ingram - and you know how ugly things are getting when the star of the show has to more or less say "Don't be racist" before it barely has a chance to begin.Fans of color, like me, can't help but feel upset over the repetitiveness of such attacks. Kelly Marie Tran couldn't escape them in the last theatrical trilogy.This is what Mace Windu had his arm sliced off for? We can do better, people.Black actors and other actors of color have always been a part of the "Star Wars" universe. Has it been perfect? No. But after some blunders, and after the racist attacks, Ingram's central role over the six-episode series, which drops its finale Wednesday, has been the best kind of progress a fan of color could ask for. Once a lightsaber is in your hands, things get serious."Star Wars" has been plenty Black for a minute now - from the soulful swag of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in the original trilogy to the intimidating presence of Samuel L. Jackson's Jedi Master Windu and his cooler-than-yours purple lightsaber in the prequels.Are people's ears deceiving them? Because the last time I checked, the creative nucleus of the "Star Wars" universe is Darth Vader. His humble beginnings. His legendary Jedi status. And his eventual fall to the Dark Side. But the man within the black machine is nothing without the Black voice that gives him his true power. It could be argued that the vocal talent of James Earl Jones is the most important force in the entire "Star Wars" universe - and just as integral in this new "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series as it was back in the 1970s and '80s. No one delivers paternity results like Jones can. Not even Maury Povich.Puerto Ricans have made their presence known in live-action and animated "Star Wars" worlds. Jimmy Smits is one of the most important dads in the galaxy as Princess Leia's adoptive father Bail Organa in the prequels and "Obi-Wan Kenobi." Freddie Prinze Jr. voiced Jedi Kanan Jarrus on the animated ""Star Wars" Rebels," and Rosario Dawson (who has tweeted that she is "half Puerto Rican/Afro Cuban & half Irish/Native Indian") is playing Ahsoka Tano in "The Mandalorian" and set to star in her own series soon.It could be argued that the future of "Star Wars" is very much Latino. Just look at the recent Vanity Fair cover that featured McGregor, Dawson, Pedro Pascal (Chilean) and pending "Andor" star Diego Luna (Mexican).And let's not forget Temuera Morrison. The Indigenous New Zealander played Jango Fett and every clone trooper in the prequels and recently starred as Boba Fett in his own series.But "Star Wars" made some missteps when it came to Black talent. John Boyega was a stormtrooper janitor and part of a cruel play-action fake in trailers that made it seem like he was the next big Jedi in the franchise. The grace, beauty and skill of Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o was tossed aside, and she got only a voice-over role of a CGI character. Jackson's cool Jedi vibes were short-lived - he was Darth Vader fodder by "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith."Now, in this Obi-Wan series, Reva has a beautifully woven origin story that appears to be trying to make up for those missteps. She was a child training to be a Jedi who witnessed Anakin Skywalker fall to the Dark Side and kill younglings like herself. So she hates Anakin, but she also hates Obi-Wan for not protecting everyone from the rage of his once star pupil. That's what makes her so compelling as she's gone rogue - it's impossible to see which side, if any, she is leaning toward.This is the type of depth most Black characters in the "Star Wars" universe haven't been afforded in the past. Reva as a child is the first face we see on camera in "Obi-Wan Kenobi" - a hint to her relevance in a show that many thought would be just the ultimate galactic rematch between master and student. We later see her grow into a hate-filled, vengeance-hunting tool of an evil empire, and we've got one episode left to see whether she will seek redemption and return to the light side of the Force. The franchise's errors of the past sting a little less when a character like Reva is allowed to live, breathe, make mistakes and atone.The future of "Star Wars", which now looks as bright as it has ever been, under the direction of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, is just as much about the creation of new characters as it is holding on to the past. That's how we ended up with new icons such as the Mandalorian and Grogu. And now Reva can be added to that list.A Black woman's revenge against Darth Vader just might be my favorite Star War ever. And I've been in this fandom for decades. It's crazy how something can make you feel when you can see yourself front and center and not cast off to the side.Reva could die the hero or the villain in the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" finale. Or she could live to see another day and show up on another series. If the latter happens, Lucasfilm will have to hope returning is something Ingram would even consider given what she's been through.No matter Ingram's "Star Wars" future, Reva's tale mattered. And the "Star Wars" universe is better because of it.

A&E >  Entertainment

Job shifts: Valley museum hosts Smithsonian traveling exhibit ‘The Way We Worked’

At the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum through Aug. 20, a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit called "The Way We Worked” covers the diverse evolution of employment in the U.S., from agriculture and factories to a range of jobs boosted by flight and space missions. It explores racial inequality and early child labor practices.The museum also has created companion displays on regional employers.
A&E >  Entertainment

Beyoncé’s ‘Break My Soul’ wants you to move your body

In the precious infancy of “Break My Soul,” the new single that Beyoncé released Monday night, consider checking your impulses. Try not to think of this song as a hype morsel, or a discourse starter, or an aesthetic foreshadowing. It’s true, Beyoncé has a blockbuster album, “Renaissance,” due out later this summer, but a song is not a movie trailer, and while this one already feels made for the ages, it’ll never be this new again.
A&E >  Entertainment

Philip Baker Hall’s ‘Seinfeld’ library cop was a performance for the ages

Few actors, if any, have marched onto a sitcom juggernaut and in a few minutes of sublime, dyspeptic, no-nonsense nonsense made such an enduring impression as Philip Baker Hall did. As "Seinfeld's" library cop, Hall verbally pummels Jerry with his rat-a-tat delivery while brandishing his index finger like a loaded Glock, the Inspector Javert of the stacks.That's Lt. Joe Bookman to you, joy boy.Hall, who died Sunday at age 90, racked up nearly 200 credits in movies and on television. With his basset-hound face and miles-of-hard-road voice, Hall's work ranges from blistering roles with director Paul Thomas Anderson to almost any television show you care to mention.But it was his brief turn on "Seinfeld" delivered with gravel-voiced gravitas more than 30 years ago that embedded Hall in our collective comic memory. Every line is a body blow. It's Hall's tour de farce.As the hard-nosed, Folgers Crystals-imbibing, New York Public Library cop, Hall out-Fridays "Dragnet's" Sgt. Joe Friday. He's an alien from another era. It's as though he was hired to helm a Warner Bros. B gangster flick and mistakenly marched onto the set of a '90s sitcom."This is, hands down, the greatest guest spot in a sitcom, ever," comic Patton Oswalt tweeted Monday. Hall's performance, the Jerry-mandered This Podcast Is Making Me Thirsty tweeted, is "regarded by many as the greatest one-episode Seinfeld guest star."Which is quite something. There are nearly 180 "Seinfeld" episodes and a constellation of guest stars over nine seasons. Hall appears in the 22nd episode, airing Oct. 16, 1991, early in the third season when Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David were still monkeying with the recipe.Seinfeld, to put it kindly, was nobody's idea of an actor. He's serving a series of wet tennis balls that Hall effortlessly and consistently lobs into the far left corner.In a 2017 Washington Post interview, David said, "Philip has made me laugh harder than any actor I've worked with." He "was so committed to that character that he had us on the floor. Jerry had problems getting through the scene."This is abundantly clear. Seinfeld, encased in '90s mall-wear of mom jeans and a pumpkin-colored mock turtleneck, appears overwhelmed, as though this might be his 76th take trying to suppress laughter, while playing the straight man to a man so straight that he gives a comic turn for the ages.Jerry's unforgivable library crime? Failing to return Henry Miller's licentious "Tropic of Cancer," borrowed two decades earlier. The script, penned by Larry Charles, is studded with chef's-kiss rebukes. He tells Jerry: "Yeah, '71. That was my first year on the job. Bad year for libraries. Bad year for America. Hippies burning library cards, Abbie Hoffman telling everybody to steal books."He advises: "Let me tell you something, funny boy." And admonishes: "Well, I got a flash for ya, joy boy: Party time is over."And furthermore: "What's my problem? Punks like you, that's my problem. And you better not screw up again, Seinfeld, because if you do, I'll be all over you like a pit bull on a poodle."Hall returned as Bookman for "Seinfeld's" much-debated 1998 finale. David continued to book Hall to play other intransigent man tangling with noncompliant characters, casting him as the tetchy Doctor Morrison on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and as the equally tetchy contractor in "Clear History."In 2017, David recalled that Seinfeld's challenge to get through his scene "was minor compared to what I went through with 'Curb.' " Hall "makes no effort whatsoever to try to be funny. He just acts like he's not in a comedy."Bookman became an institution. When the New York Public Library eliminated all late fines in 2021, it did so with Hall's image, announcing on its website the retirement of Lt. Joe Bookman, whom Jerry had declared to be "one tough monkey."When Hall arrived in California in the early '70s, he recalled, an agent offered little hope: "What I see is a middle-aged guy, not especially good looking, short, over 40."Good luck landing roles. "I already have too many middle-aged actors," the agent told him. "They're all starving." And, furthermore, "you're a theater actor. There's a lot to learn about film and television. Big difference. It's almost impossible to learn at your age."Yeah, sure. Hall kept getting cast. His sweet spot was "men who are highly stressed, older men, who are at the limit of their tolerance for suffering and stress and pain," Hall said. "I had an affinity for playing those roles."Like Bookman. He's all over that "Seinfeld" episode like a pit bull on a poodle.
A&E >  Entertainment

Game On: Xbox & Bethesda Showcase gives hope for the year ahead

The Xbox & Bethesda Showcase came and went on Sunday, with Microsoft revealing a massive swath of trailers and teasers for video games planned for release “within the next 12 months.” Let’s be honest, a few of them will likely be pushed back, but it’s an impressive lineup nonetheless.
A&E >  Entertainment

Iman Vellani was a Ms. Marvel fan as a teen - now she’s playing her on TV

UPDATED: Tue., June 7, 2022

Iman Vellani fangirled over superheroes as a high-schooler in Markham, Ontario, where her family had moved after leaving Pakistan when she was 1. Many school days ended with a quick sprint to the local comic book shop across the street, where she would spend almost all of her $20 monthly allowance (and the rest was on McDonald's). It was there she developed a love of Iron Man, the Silver Surfer and all things Marvel.
A&E >  Entertainment

Patton Oswalt: ‘I enjoy acting as much as standup’

UPDATED: Sat., June 4, 2022

Like many entertainers, Patton Oswalt is making up dates postponed due to the pandemic. Oswalt, 53, will deliver his material Sunday at Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. Who knows what he'll render? "I never disclose what I'll talk about," Oswalt said. "That will ruin the surprise."

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