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Rosario Dawson Is Chris Rock's Love Interest In New Comedy (What's The Value In Casting Notices?)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
April 24, 2013 1:57 PM
27 Comments
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It was in early February that Chris Rock not only teased a potential upcoming tour with Dave Chappelle, but also that he was going to be shooting a new film this spring/summer.

That project is now officially a reality, with Rock penning the script for it, and will also direct, with Scott Rudin producing (he also produced Chris Rock's Broadway debut, The Mother-F with the Hat).

Here's the project's synopsis:

ANDRE ALLEN is a comedian turned film star who, despite the expectations of his millions of fans, is determined to reinvent himself as a “serious” actor. Although his latest pretentiously historical film project is tanking, his upcoming television wedding to pretty, popular reality star, ERICA LONG, is the biggest media event of the year. In the midst of all the frenzy leading up to his televised nuptials, Andre agrees to be interviewed for the New Yorker by CHELSEA BROWN, a gorgeous but no-frills young woman with a sharp intelligence that matches his own. It’s a feisty, funny, no-holds-barred interaction that may well change the course of both their lives…

We posted the casting call notice a month ago, which was searching for actresses to play Rock's soon-to-be wife, as well as his love interest (likely the Chelsea Brown character described above). 

Deadline is now reporting that Rosario Dawson is in talks to play the female lead, which will likely be the Chelsea Brown role, opposite Rock. I doubt that she's playing the soon-to-be wife.


In my February post, asking who you guys would like to see play that part, no one mentioned Rosario Dawson. Instead, there were thumbs up for Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Zoe Saldana, Thandie Newton, Tracey Heggins and a couple of others.

But today's news made me think about the casting process - specifically, what's the point of circulating or publishing these casting notices on sites like Backstage.com and others that the average struggling actor utilizes to learn about projects to audition for, when producers or casting directors likely already have their minds set on known actors? 

We've posted a number of casting notices for what are effectively studio projects on this site, and I peruse sites like Backstage.com weekly (even though I'm not an actor) because, in the past, I've learned about upcoming new projects (studio and indie) via those casting notices.

But what's the point of distributing those notices, soliciting head-shots and reels, and, at times, holding physical auditions with hundreds of *unknown* hopefuls, if the jobs eventually go to *known* actors/celebs in the end?

Maybe this is something all of you professional actors reading this can help me understand, because I don't get it...

But here's the breakdown for the above Chris Rock project that was circulated, including descriptions of leading lady roles like the one that Rosario Dawson is in talks to sign up for:

[CHELSEA BROWN] Late 20s to early 30s, this attractive woman is “vintage, downtown N.Y.C. funky,” with a lacerating intelligence and humor that is disarming. Chelsea has been assigned to interview Andre Allen for a prestigious New York magazine, but she’s a journeyman journalist who makes her living writing for a variety of publications. Pregnant as a teen, and now a single mother, Chelsea has had a wild past, but is now in the “program” and hoping for a stable relationship with her current boyfriend. Chelsea’s initially fractious interaction with Andre soon flares into a passionate tryst. Any ethnicity…LEAD

[ERICA LONG] Late 20s to 40, she’s beautiful, glamorous and “expensive.” A popular reality TV star, she helped Andre get clean — and he’s forever grateful for her assistance. Erica is a camera-hungry celebrity who is completely comfortable in the spotlight. When she persuades Andre to get married on her show in the biggest media event of the year, her stardom is all set to go stratospheric. Any ethnicity…LEAD

[SILK] 30s, Andre’s “security guard-slash-assistant,” who is never far from Andre’s side. A burly, very big and imposing African American guy. A real character, he has a thing for big women…SUPPORTING LEAD

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27 Comments

  • jess | April 25, 2013 1:27 PMReply

    Wow. The shade thrown at Rosario Dawson is puzzling. She's paid her dues, and been smart about selecting her projects. No hood cookout or Tyler Perry movies for her... I also watched
    a recent interview she did for Popcorn with Peter Travers, and she's ridiculously smart, witty and charming in a way that shows she's likely very adept at navigating the male-dominated casting process. More power to her.

    I'm not even going to bother addressing the usual ignorance that seems to rears its head when articles are posted on Afro-Latina actresses.

  • Akimbo | April 25, 2013 9:53 PM

    Is it shade, though? Or is it just that she's not an impressive actress? I don't think she sucks, but she doesn't interest me. For every role I've seen her in, I could come up with the names of at least three actors I'd rather see. I do think she was completely wrong for Rent, but otherwise, can live with or without her. I have stronger feelings, whether bad (Paula Patton), mixed (Gabby Union), or good (Zoe, Kerry) about other actresses in her lane.

  • jess | April 25, 2013 1:30 PM

    *rear*

  • Daryl | April 24, 2013 8:22 PMReply

    To the actors and actresses trying to make it in the business, hollywood is about who you know in case you didn't know. They do stuff like this to sell you a pipe dream that it's fair, you can go from unknown to lead actor or actress or have a prominent role in a big studio movie, yeah right. This is why if you are and up and coming actor or actress you should be looking at small independent films, these are the films that you got a real shot in being a lead in and most importantly you will be able to build on your craft. Nobody can take a great performance away from you no matter how small the budget of the film is, people have no choice but to take notice of your talent. Either you going to sit around and wait on hollywood to invest in you or you going to invest in yourself and that's by working with small independent filmmakers, building a filmography that will eventually get you to where you want to go. It should be all about the work and if it's not that means you want to be just a movie star, rich and famous, if that's the case go ahead and do the hollywood shuffle and wish upon a star.

  • Black Sun Tzu | April 24, 2013 8:22 PMReply

    Man, I'll bookmark this article just for the comments section (no disrespect, Tambay, you know I love your writing). Jug, you're the man!

  • getthesenets | April 24, 2013 5:13 PMReply

    chris rock makes bad films

    his films always seem like extended versions of SNL skits

    tired of him doing "Black" versions of previous hit films, to disastrous results

    this film is probably a modern Black version of a woody allen film, and regardless of who is cast...it will be terrible

  • Danny | April 24, 2013 3:11 PMReply

    I don't like Rosario Dawson and I don't care if people call me a hater. Rosario Dawson is just like Zoe Saldana she's a black woman when it is convenient and good for her career. And that's the advantage that these mixed race multiracial women have they can go back and forth to advance their careers.

    I just think it is sad that a black actress who might be unknown probably never had a shot to be in this movie in a big role.

    The funny thing is Rosario is way too good looking for Chris Rock, this must be some male heterosexual fantasy the ugly straight guy always gets the hot woman.

  • Winston | April 26, 2013 8:40 PM

    This bitch Chickasaw got y'all tripping in these comments. Don't fall victim to this new bitch's race baiting.

  • Moinfire | April 26, 2013 7:52 PM

    Zoe Saldana has NEVER denied being black. Rosario Dawson has always claimed being mixed raced rather than black. And that is the truth. Not everyone has to identify as black american. Zoe identifies as black latino. Get over it.

  • Torre | April 25, 2013 6:39 PM

    Chickasaw is right, Rosario has never fully identified as black (unlike Saladana who gets offended if you say otherwise). but i do believe Rosario is more Latino than black anyway..

  • anonymous | April 24, 2013 11:12 PM

    @Chickasaw ...

    Has she? With what I've seen with Rosario, especially early on in her career, she always identified with being black as far as what I read. That's actually why I grew to respect her, and I actually don't think she's a bad actress. I favor her over Zoe in the talent any damn day of the week.

    But I do agree that they will do the Light Skin/Dark Skin thing with this film in pitting the women against one another.

  • Chickasaw | April 24, 2013 3:49 PM

    You're not a hater just because you don't like someone, but some of your wording does make you sound mad. One thing, Zoe has always been proud of her African heritage, while Rosario has always denied. Don't get it twisted.

  • LeonRaymond | April 24, 2013 2:49 PMReply

    Ha, are you kidding me please, that role and the other one were long gone the moment Chris uttered the word out his mouth, Both Agents of those actresses did the calls , did the back and forth calls signed a ND agreement then name actress says such and such of her needs, agents says okay let me get back to you, Contract signed then they release the info to Back stage and all the other online casting sites so the walk on parts can be cast and back ground parts can be cast. And I can promise you Chris Rock and Danny Boyle had lunch or dinner and discussed it long ago and Rosario said while putting the glass of wine to her lips, "Oh I might be interested in doing that. And that went down months ago!

  • Jug | April 24, 2013 2:36 PMReply

    Tambay, we've had this conversation before. The point is that an Industry has to keep on rolling, sometimes even at the expense of its employees. Hollywood is about Hopes and Dreams. So they can't very well tell the TRUTH, that all of the reel submitting, auditioning, classes, Casting Director workshops are most likely not going to get you work-until you reach a certain level. And at that level you get representation that keeps you at that level. How do you reach that level? Chicken or the Egg? No one has an answer, a magic bullet. A lot of money is generated from all the headshots taken, then retouched, then reproduced, mailed/submitted. Casting Workshops puts money in Associates/Assistants pockets as well as that of the Actor studios that hold them. The Actors putting themselves on tape for projects. The classes, the coaching, the websites, etc. Every Actor is essentially a sole proprietorship and then a corporation if they're lucky enough to get to that revenue point. Lotta money shelled out just to "try". And the harsh part is that people making decisions-CDs/studio execs/etc-really don't care. It's not their problem, even though it's supposed to be their job. You can pretty much bank that by the time you "see" a breakdown-they have their choices. Breakdowns are pretty much for Guest Stars/Co-Stars on TV & Indie projects and certain hard to cast parts. As someone noted, they are required by law to post them, just as they're required by law to say "Submit All Ethnicities", and look how well that turned out. None of this is written in stone, but it's pretty much S.O.P. As I've said before, British, Australian Actors being funneled into the business through the CDs in their country or their home reps (which are much easier to get mind you) mixed with the multitude of actors still working from years/decades prior that are now working for less money or on smaller projects or have moved from film to tv-means that the "average working actor" really doesn't work. If even Audition. It's almost as if "working" in Hollywood is now a prize for having slummed it somewhere else, be it New York or regional stage or just flat out another country. But coming to L.A., doing "the rounds" and "what you're supposed to do" no longer works. Just had this very conversation with a colleague today, that its a self-defeating model of "Give me a Name" because outside of the Hollywood Bubble, most of these people are nothing. No one knows who they are or more to the point-cares what they do. But if I'm trying to keep my job-whether I'm a VP of Casting or a VP of Dev-I have to sell to my boss an expensive project and that jagged little pill always goes down smoother with a "name" coating, ya know? And that's how we get these movies/tv shows with "how the hell did they get THAT part?!" cast as the lead, they tank, and then everyone stands around pointing fingers and wondering "Why did it fail?" The model is not just broken, its brain dead. BUT bills still need to be paid, folks need to have "jobs" and Dreams need to have an outlet. Sad ish indeed.

  • Jug | April 24, 2013 2:47 PM

    Wow, reading that back that sounded cynical as hell LOL BUT, after a decade in Hollywood and working at Studios and Networks, it's pretty much how it goes. Webseries really are the way to go, but then you can't make a living from yet, so you are STILL doing it "on the side." But to above point-think on this...Omar Sy has done how many American films and now he's in 3 HUGE profile films and no one knows anything about him stateside? Chad Boseman did 42 and now he's going into DRAFT DAY playing a character written at least a decade his junior and totally not his "type." I ain't mad at EITHER of them, the biz has been doing it for years with Brad Pitts, Mel Gibsons & Christian Bales of the world, but it shows you that Casting today really isn't about "casting" or "finding" talent, it's about "Open the door, look in the hall, see who's there." Fielding. Heat. It'll come back tho, everything is cyclical. Just depends on how long that cycle takes...

  • WorkingActress | April 24, 2013 2:29 PMReply

    Sadly, casting is no different than any other line of work. Certain projects are posted for EEOC purposes, even though 99% of the time an "insider" is already being considered -- particularly if it's a lead, not supporting role.

    What's befuddling in this case, and many like it, however, is that rather than choosing the best actress for the part, base on talent and range; or even box office performance, those in charge (i.e. Rock) choose someone purely based on their exterior appearance.

    I don't know of any black, or white people, for that matter, who are Rosario Dawson fans. Have seen her work (since she's largely an indie actress) or could tell you anything she's been in of late. I put Dawson in the same category as Zoe Saldana. She's a new pretty face that white Hollywood -- for who knows what reason -- has suddenly gone gaga for. It's as if they're trying to make her the new Halle Berry. And I wouldn't put either of them in the same category as Berry, as I have too much respect for her. And Berry, has proven herself to be more than just a beautiful face.

    The better question is why is Chris Rock down with giving someone like Kamu Bell (totally obsolete unknown dude) an opportunity, with his own TV show, no less, but not an unknown actress, or at least an actress that's not as well known to white audiences?

    Rock is the one in control here, just as he was with "I Think I Love My Wife," which featured Kerry Washington and Gina Torres. Two solid, well-trained, actresses who remained under the radar (at least Washington did until "Scandal"), but Torres still is. She's great in USA's "Suits," but that cable channel is waaaaaayyyyy under the radar for a lot of folks.

    It would be nice Rock stood up to Hollywood and did the right thing, not the safe thing.

    I suppose Dawson's name is being ballied about because of her turn in "Trance," a Danny Boyle project, and Hollywood currently has a hard on for Boyle's work, following the Olympics and "Slumddog."

  • Sweeta | April 25, 2013 1:43 PM

    "The better question is why is Chris Rock down with giving someone like Kamu Bell (totally obsolete unknown dude) an opportunity, with his own TV show, no less, but not an unknown actress, or at least an actress that's not as well known to white audiences?"

    My sister and I have said the exact same thing like 563 times. Especially since he got up on "The Black List, Vol. 1" and lamented that there wasn't a sister doing her "Streisand thing." Whether it's fair or not, a "Black Streisand" is gonna need a rabbi to help usher her into the industry, take a chance on her. I hope he can put his clout where his mouth is to make it happen for that deserving sister. It's not like we're not out here, because we most definitely are.

    PS-Kamau Bell is not even funny IMO.

  • Nadia | April 24, 2013 2:17 PMReply

    I'm not an actor so I can't speak on the casting notice issue. But what I wanted to say is, watch, the wife, who's the diva, glamorous and “expensive” popular reality TV star, and who's probably going to be more despicable and meant to be hated, will be a dark-skinned African American actress, while they cast Rosario Dawson as the intelligent, disarming, funny love interest. Just watch.

  • Sweeta | April 25, 2013 1:28 PM

    Hello Nail...Meet Head.

    (Though still hoping that Chris Rock honors us in this one. Crossing fingers so tight!)

  • Bee | April 24, 2013 11:58 PM

    I was thinking the same thing. But maybe he has more class and respect. My expectations are that he doesn't.

  • Love | April 24, 2013 2:23 PM

    My thoughts exactly.

  • Akimbo | April 24, 2013 2:13 PMReply

    It's the law. Projects have to release breakdowns to make the process seem inclusive. Often, on these high profile projects, casting directors do actually audition actors. It can get shady, if they read people, knowing the producers are negotiating a deal, because those auditions are little more than a bargaining chip against a stubborn star, but they (the CDs) generally have the best intentions.

  • ChezCerise | April 24, 2013 5:37 PM

    I don't think it's "law". I actually think posting the breakdowns is a union requirement.

  • Nadia | April 24, 2013 2:23 PM

    It's the law in what sense? It's mandated, written down somewhere or just something that's been a practice that turned into habit? Serious question.

    Also, it's kinda funny that it's meant to make the process seem inclusive with the operative word there being "seem." So it's like they all know that it's not, but they do it anyway. Do actors know that this is how it works I wonder? Because if they did, why even bother auditioning?

  • M | April 24, 2013 2:13 PMReply

    I am an actress, and I don't get it either. I don't even bother submitting for LEAD tv/feature film roles because I know they aren't going to go to unknown actresses like myself. I suppose if I already have a ton of guest-star credits on my resume, it would be a different story. But I like to think that the majority of us "unknowns" already know what roles we should submit ourselves for. It's all a part of being in this business. Plus, for those bigger roles, our agents are supposed to be submitting us for those...and doing all they can to get us in the casting office door.

  • M | April 24, 2013 3:02 PM

    I didn't think it sounded cynical. Sounded about right to me! That's the struggle of the "unknown" actor. You hit the nail on the head with your comment. Thank you for spelling it out for everyone. Back to checking actors access and casting networks for me. lol

  • M | April 24, 2013 3:02 PM

    I didn't think it sounded cynical. Sounded about right to me! That's the struggle of the "unknown" actor. You hit the nail on the head with your comment. Thank you for spelling it out for everyone. Back to checking actors access and casting networks for me. lol

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