Curiously, the lineup for this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is the same as it ever was last time I was on the show: Host Linda Holmes was once again away living a life of intrigue and excitement, leaving her pal Stephen Thompson to moderate a panel that included regular bloviator Glen Weldon and guest-talkers Tanya Ballard Brown and me. Our topics: The remake of The Magnificent Seven, which I reviewed for NPR, and Fleabag, an Amazon series written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, an English actor of whom I was previously unaware. One of these two items is terrific!
I abstained from telling this story on the show: In (I think) 2004, I attended a screening of Training Day, the first film the Magnificent Seven team of director Antoine Fuqua and star Denzel Washington made together, at the Arclight Cinema in Hollywood. Fuqua was there to speak and take questions after the movie. He said he and Washington were eager to work together again and were looking for a suitable project.
I went up to Fuqua afterwards and urged him to option one of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins period detective novels. The first of them, Devil in a Blue Dress, had already been adapted by director Carl Franklin into a superb but sadly underseen movie with Denzel as Easy in 1995. I would happily pay to see a new Denzel-headlined Easy Rawlins movie every two or three years for the rest of my life, I told Fuqua. “That’s a really good idea,” he said. He was probably just being polite but I remember feeling convinced in the moment that he’d taken my suggestion seriously.
At the time, there were eight post-Devil Rawlins mysteries available for Fuqua to adapt. As I write this, there are thirteen. The most recent, Charcoal Joe, is set in 1968—20 years after the events of Devil in a Blue Dress. So Deznel could still do it, but he’d better hurry up.
I also abstained, on grounds of relevance, from commenting upon the unnerving degree to which Fleabag creator/star Phoebe Waller-Bridge resembles someone to whom I was very close for many years until we had a falling out.
Finally, movie-promoting songs like the one heard twice in this trailer need to come back.