Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Friday, March 23, 2007

    Cedric the Entertainer Interview: Hardest Working Man in Hollywood
    We’ve known Cedric the Entertainer since his days at Comic View, Def Comedy Jam and The Steve Harvey Show. Finally, Hollywood is starting to realize the gifted comedic talents and acting skills that Cedric truly has. Born Cedric Kyle, the St. Louis native was an insurance salesman before breaking into the raw world of comedy. It wasn’t until Steve Harvey discovered him that he finally made a name for himself, which lead to films like the unforgettable The Original Kings of Comedy and most recently, the seventy-million dollar box office hit, Barber Shop.

    Cedric is definitely one of the hardest working men in show business. In the month of April he has two DVDs hitting the shelves. Cedric offered his animated voice as Gully the Goose in the classic children’s story Charlotte’s Web, which hits stores on April 3rd. In addition, he stars in The Cleaner, alongside Lucy Liu and Nicollette Sheridan, which is available on DVD April 24th. In this interview Cedric dishes on upcoming projects, breaking into more dramatic roles, KKKramer and much more.

    What made you sign on to do Charlotte's Web?
    It's a classic for one and I’ve known the story for quite awhile. I didn't read it when I was younger, but I’ve read it to my kids and I got involved for that reason. One of the producers asked me to be involved with this—I thought it was a great story, great tale and something my kids will be able to identify with. I was able to throw my voice in there and then they told me I would be married to Oprah! I was like, okay bet—I’m down with that! I’m trying to work that angle as much as possible. I see Steadman and I’m like, man, whatever, I’m the real husband! [Laughs]

    Tell me about The Cleaner?
    It's fun—me, Lucy Liu, Nicollette Sheridan and I play Jake Rogers. It's a fun little take on the Bourne Identity movies. Basically I’m a janitor who works at a high tech company and I get mixed in something that’s legally going on in the company. I get hit across the head and believe that I am a government agent, spy kind of thing. We play with those themes—I don’t know who I am, but I thought I was a bad dude. Come to find out I’m just a janitor at the end of it -- so, it's fun!


    Anything else you recently shot?
    Talk to Me —that's an interesting film with Don Cheadle that should be out this summer. It's a biopic of Petey Green, real life deejay from the DC area during the ‘60s and the time of the Martin Luther King assignations. I play one of the radio deejays who are number one until this guy shows up. We have this kind of rivalry going, it's pretty cool.

    Do you see yourself doing a role that is no comedy, but completely drama?
    Yeah, I’m looking for that right role. I think that's important, especially as a comedian. I watch other great comedians that make those kind of switches be it Robin Williams, Adam Sandler's done it, Jim Carrey's done it, Jaime has flipped it in recent years. So, it's just really about just trying to find the right project that I think I’ll be able to pull it off and sink my teeth into. I'm interested in that for sure…

    What do you think it might be?
    I’ve been developing a story on Louis Armstrong for about a year—that's kind of interesting. We kind of found out none of the studios are really on the biopic thing right now, but it's still a good choice. Also, I have a very interesting developing story on Marcus Garvey, which was another role that I could probably develop and get into.

    Why aren’t the studios into biopics?
    It's very interesting… it was a big year for biopics a couple years ago. You think about Walk the Line and Ray so most of the studios are just saying they don’t really want to do that straight biopic. They want take it and do portions, or a different spin on it. There were a couple different scripts on Louis Armstrong, but I thought with this generation it would make sense to do a biopic. You have to be able to stay in his life because this new generation hears his voice be it commercials, ads, or different things. He’s got such a distinctive voice and characteristics, but I don’t think that this modern generation would really know who he was without giving the whole scope of the guy. So, that was my choice.

    What did you think of the whole Kramer situation?
    I think that at the core of it I was just disappointed in the fact that he kind of got trapped up there on the stage and didn’t have any comebacks for people. He chose to fall into what would be the lowest common denominator, which is trying to attack somebody on race. That's just whack! Even more so than that I was disappointed in the rage that he had— the fact that he was really mad about it. Even if you use the term it's one of those things like, okay, so you said it, but you said it with so much malicious intent. It’s the fact that he's using it all wrong. He uses the “N word” and obviously there's no real “N words” there because those are African-Americans—a nigga’ will whoop your ass! [Laughs] You lucky you were able to get out of that one that's all I say—you wanted somebody to just have a press conference!

    I don’t agree with this but I wanted to ask this question— some people have said, “Well, black comics say horrible things about white people like Eddie Murphy or The Original Kings of Comedy.” How do you feel about that?
    Again, I couldn’t say anything that was done with the degree of malice. You can talk about jokes that are different and the thing about comedians is that people have this leeway, or space to do that within their own ethnic groups. Then you have a little bit of room to go outside of that. You'll see Jewish comedians do a lot of Jewish jokes. Its okay and it can even be derogatory even at certain points, but because you have a membership card, so to speak, your able to kind of say this is my commentary on the matter. Now, if you grow up in New York then you live in a diverse society in these different boroughs and you grow up, you may even have the right to say something about another race. At least you feel you do and so people find it quite acceptable when you can say, well you can do a Jamaican joke, or you can do a Dominican joke in these kind of small subcultures based on their language, and people think, oh that's hilarious. All of a sudden when it comes on you it's a big deal, but I think that if it's done with intent to really hurt somebody—like you truly are trying to hurt this person's feelings and cut them down it's not at joke that point…you don’t even have a joke. You're being disrespectful and malice in your intent, now that's a violation. That's when the line has been crossed, and there should be a nice ass whooping following that! That should be in the manual—uh-oh I crossed the line here they come! There should’ve been somebody in the audience who just jumped up and said, “Stone him!” [Laughs] Just rocks flying at him that would’ve been fun!


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