December 24th, 2009
04:11 PM ET

Studio releases first peek at 'Karate Kid' remake

             Fans of the 1984 "Karate Kid" movie have more than five months to wait until Jackie Chan's remake hits theaters, but Columbia Pictures released the first preview this week.
            "The Karate Kid" remake stars Jaden Smith - the 11-year-old son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith - in Ralph Macchio's old role.
            Chan fills the martial arts master role that Pat Morita played in the original.
            But the biggest substitution is the location - Beijing, China.
            Smith's character - 12-year-old Dre Parker - is uprooted from Detroit when his mother (played by Taraji P. Henson) takes a job in Beijing. Like Macchio's Daniel, who moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles, Dre is confronted by a bully skilled in karate.
            His fortunes change after he is befriended by Mr. Han (Chan) - a maintenance man who is secretly a kung fu master.
            "The only way to stop them is to face them," Mr. Han tells Dre.
            Instead of Morita's famous "wax on, wax off" repetitive teaching method, Chan uses "Take off you jacket ... put it on."
            The news release from Colombia summarizes it:
            "As Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries, but maturity and calm, Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life."
            "The Karate Kid" is set for a June 11 release across the United States

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December 24th, 2009
01:58 PM ET

New Jersey pols protest 'Jersey Shore'

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What does former “Who’s the Boss?" star Alyssa Milano have in common with a New Jersey politician? They are both fed up with the MTV show “Jersey Shore.”

MTV’s latest reality creation has been run through the wringer of public opinion by folks upset over its stereotypes of Italian-Americans and its portrayal of violence against women.

Now New Jersey State Senator Joseph Vitale, the chairman of the New Jersey Italian American Legislative Congress, is taking a stand. The senator announced earlier this week that his group has sent a letter to Viacom, parent company of MTV, asking them to cancel the controversial program, saying the show promotes ethnic stereotypes of Italian-Americans that are offensive and untrue.

“They go out of their way to encourage the cast members to use the term 'guido,' ” Vitale told CNN.  “Any other ethnic group would not allow words that offend them or offend their ethnicity to be used this way. I don’t care what these kids do down the shore if they want to tan or spike their hair - that’s their life - but I think words do matter.”

The letter, addressed to Phillipe P. Dauman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom Inc.,  questions just how “real” the depictions on the show are.

“ 'Jersey Shore' is a fabrication created by MTV Networks and marketed to represent reality. It was filmed on a set, which, in fact, is dismantled after filming. A story-line, while perhaps not scripted, was created and a cast of Italian Americans hired. … The subculture depicted in ‘Jersey Shore’ is one created solely by MTV Networks,” Vitale wrote in the letter.

Vitale also notes that the Italian-American cast of the show regularly uses the derogatory terms “guido” and “guidette” when describing themselves, and that the use of such terms violates Viacom’s own policies requiring a harassment-free workplace, as well as New Jersey’s tough laws on racial bias and ethnic discrimination.

“You just don’t use words like that. It’s not acceptable and it’s not OK for Italians to use them and it’s not OK for non-Italians to use them. It promotes a stereotype,” Vitale said.

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