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James Earl Jones

  1. Julian Mayfield, Up Tight, 1968.     "Who do you think you are writing a script about blacks?" Director Jules Dassin asked himself when moving the Irish classic to the ghetto. So he asked school teacher Mayfield and Ruby Dee to write another draft. "In retrospect, I think I preferred the first... the film all went  haywire."
  2. Cleavon Little, Blazing Saddles, 1974.     Succeeding future director Jonathan Demme as an United Artists publicity man, Andrew Bergman saw many movies and felt he could be funnier. He sold a 90-page treatment to Warners,  completed the first  draft for Alan Arkin to direct Jones in as The (ageing) Kid on the 1972 Westworld sets.  Until it landed at Mel Brooks' door. So, Plan B was Richard Pryor.Finally, Plan C forCleavon directed by Brooks. “I'm the marshal in this here town, and you’re nothin’ but a big fat ferret.”
  3. Anthony Hopkins, Othello, TV, 1981.     Director Cedric Messina wanted Jones as The Moor during the BBC’s 1978-1985 Shakespeare project. However, the British Equity union’s contract stipulated UK actors only and the production was postponed. Jonatan Miller eventually took the helm, and declared the play was not about race (Oh really!). Hence, a white Othello. As per usual. (Bob Hoskins was Iago).
  4. Christopher Lee, The Last Unicorn, 1981.    JEJ, John Carradine and John Vernon were in the toon mix for King Haggard.  Lee dubbed himself in the Gerfman rerlease print. . The book’s author, Peter S Beagle, also penned the scenario.
  5. Mitchell Ryan, Lethal Weapon, 1986.     There were 39 possibles for Mel Gibson’s suicidal cop.  Just seven  seeking promotion to General McAllister:”  Ryan, Jones, Peter Boyle, Bruce Dern, Robert Duvall, Richard Jordan and Lee Marvin.
  6. Kelsey Grammer, The Simpsons #12: Krusty Gets Busted, TV, 1990.  Since its 1989 birth, the yellowtoon family Simpson smashed records for episodes, audiences, and the most guest stars (as themselves or others). From Buzz Aldrin, Glenn Close (Homer’s Mom), Dennis Franz (Evil Homer!), George Harrison, Stephen Hawking, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hope, Eric Idle to Paul and Linda McCartney, Conan O’Brien (a Simpsons writer made good), Michelle Pfeiffer, Mickey Rooney, Ringo Starr, Meryl Streep plus Barry (and Betty) White! Not all celebs played ball Well, the show was just ending the first season and stars weren’t quite sure to make of it.  Soon enough, thewe was a queue…  
  7. Avery Brooks, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, TV, 1993-1999.        Producer-creator Rick Bermana's choices for Captain, later Commander  Benjamin Lafayette Sisko, also  included:  Gary (Alien Nation) Graham, Eriq La Salle  (later Dr. Peter Benton in ER),  Alexander Siddig (he became  Dr Bashir), and Candy Man Tony Todd. Brooks  ruled DS9, the sole star to appear in all  172 episodes of the finest Trek series.
  8. Bruce Boxleitner, Babylon 5, TV, 1994-1998.       The Voice was considered for another sapce trip - as Captain John Sheridan, the 2258 commander of what’s left offive space stations...
  9. Vin Diesel, The Iron Giant, 1998.     First planned as a filmusical, based on Pete Townshend’s concept album, inspired in turn by UK poet Ted Hughes’ book, Brad Bird’s toon take won the best reviews and worst audience of 1999. JEJ, Peter Cullen (Transformers), Sean Connery, Frank Welker (Aladdin) were up for the giant robot’s voice. Montana’s Bird went on to Disney, directing The Incredibles, Ratatoulle - with time off for helming Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.
  10. Ray Romano, Ice Age 1 & 2, 2002-2006.      Jones (of course)and Ving Rhames were first thoughtsto voice Manny the mamooth.
  11. James Corden, Into The Woods, 2013.  



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