Hollywood Shuffle


This satirical look at the ambivalent relationship between Hollywood power brokers and African-American performers marked the writing, producing, and directing debut of Robert Townsend. The filmmaker also stars as Bobby Taylor, a struggling actor looking for his big break despite his family's and co-workers' reservations about his chosen career path. While working a day job flipping burgers, Bobby heads out to insulting cattle calls where white casting agents pass judgement on whether he seems "black enough." ...
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This satirical look at the ambivalent relationship between Hollywood power brokers and African-American performers marked the writing, producing, and directing debut of Robert Townsend. The filmmaker also stars as Bobby Taylor, a struggling actor looking for his big break despite his family's and co-workers' reservations about his chosen career path. While working a day job flipping burgers, Bobby heads out to insulting cattle calls where white casting agents pass judgement on whether he seems "black enough." Meanwhile, he imagines himself playing Sam Spade, Rambo, and other movie heroes rather than the stereotypical roles actually available to him. When Bobby actually does win one such pimp-daddy part, however, he is forced to choose between accepting work that opens doors, but ultimately demeans him and returning to obscurity with his principles intact. Hollywood Shuffle's enormous supporting cast includes a wealth of black actors, from then-unknowns such as Damon Wayans to veterans such as 227 star Helen Martin. Self-financed and filmed on scraps of hand-me-down celluloid, the film helped establish actor Townsend as a director of note and also kick-started the career of co-screenwriter and co-star Keenen Ivory Wayans, who would cast Townsend in his own directorial debut the following year.
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Daniel Weizmann
This courageous independent comedy -- produced, written, directed, and famously financed by star Robert Townsend with the use of multiple credit cards -- explores the trials of a young African-American actor looking for work in stereotype-happy Hollywood. Cowritten with Keenen Ivory Wayans I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Scary Movie, Hollywood Shuffle tweaks a system that seeks "blackness" as a marketable commodity, one defined in white terms. Townsend's send-ups of blaxploitation movies -- Jive-Time Jimmy's Revenge and Attack of the Zombie Street Pimps -- have both humor and underlying power. For all the film's great gags, Townsend successfully reveals the ethical dilemma central to contemporary African-American actors: Play yet another caricature, or sign on for work at the post office. Despite its shoestring budget, Hollywood Shuffle succeeds on a much higher level than, say, director Spike Lee's similar exploration of Hollywood stereotyping, Bamboozled. Perhaps that's because Townsend renders his film with so much heart, hope, and some solid belly laughs.
All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
This indie underdog mined the discontent of black Hollywood for parody and laughs earlier and better than Keenen Ivory Wayans's I'm Gonna Git You Sucka! or Spike Lee's Girl 6. Less lightweight than the former and less muddled than the latter, Robert Townsend's directorial debut glorifies the power of the celluloid dream machine even as he interrogates the ways it shortchanges black performers and audiences. Despite its richness, though, Hollywood Shuffle isn't an altogether successful film. The numerous movie spoofs, from escaped slaves and undead pimps to soul-brother action heroes, tend to run on longer than they should. The jheri-curl jokes have dated poorly, while the pervasive homophobia is all too typical of post-Eddie Murphy African-American comedy. Hollywood Shuffle remains a vital piece of filmmaking, however, because its broad humor is leavened with sympathetic characters and considerable vitriol. An accomplished supporting actor by the time he made this film, writer/director Townsend clearly knows the Hollywood system he skewers. He therefore saves his funniest and most barbed jokes for his portraits of condescending casting directors and back-stabbing fellow actors. Such performers as Starletta DuPois, Helen Martin, Anne-Marie Johnson, and David McKnight lend dramatic heft and real poignancy to the script's ideals-vs.-paychecks conflict. The picture's shoestring budget may show in every frame of borrowed film, but such production constraints only add urgency to Hollywood Shuffle's message.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/24/2001
  • UPC: 883904126805
  • Original Release: 1987
  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Townsend Bobby Taylor, Jasper, Sam Ace, Speed
Anne-Marie Johnson Lydia/Willie Mae/Hooker #5
Starletta DuPois Bobby's Mother
Helen Martin Bobby's Grandmother
Craigus R. Johnson Stevie, Bobby's Brother
Dom Jack Irrera Writer
Paul Mooney NAACP President
Lisa Mende Casting Director
Robert Shafer Commercial Director
John Witherspoon Mr. Jones
Ludie Washington Tiny
Keenen Ivory Wayans Donald/Jerry Curl
Gregory "Popeye" Alexander Pimp
Sarah Katie Coughlin Sitcom Girl Friend
Tommy Morgan Jr.
Howard Allen
Beverly Brown
Marc Figueroa Sitcom Father, Client #2
Brad Sanders Batty Boy
David McKnight Uncle Ray
Don Reed Maurice
Kim Wayans Customer in Chair
Conni Marie Brazelton Hooker
Lorrie Marlow Hooker #2/Reporter
Sena Ayn Black Receptionist
Roy Fegan Jesse Wilson, Slave #2, Zombie
Jesse Aragon Audition Actor/Student #1/Punk
Verda Bridges Audition Actor/Bessie/Hostage
Bobby McGee Audition Actor/Zombie Pimp/Eddie
Rusty Cundieff Audition Actor/Slave #1/Zombie
Carl Craig Audition Actor/Basketball
E.J. Murray Actor in Audition
Nancy Cheryl Davis Audition Actor, Hooker
Tony Edwards Audition Actor/Eddie Murphy
Grand L. Bush Mandingo Ricky Taylor/Hood #5
Richard Cummings Jr. Slave #3/Hood #1
Michael Smith Student #2/Zombie Pimp
Michael Conn Teacher #2/Police Detective #1
Jimmy Woodard Advance Student/Basketball
Franklyn Ajaye Body Guard #1
Damon Wayans Body Guard #2/Willie
Michael Colyar Body Guard #3
Donald Douglass Basketball Player/Eddie Murphy
Christopher Jackson Punk #1
Jim Beaver Postal Worker
Wren T. Brown Picketer #2
Steven Fertig Agent #2
Myra J. Picketer #1
Steve W. James Hood #3
Lydia Nicole Make-Up Woman
Nancy Scher Client #1
Nick Stewart [Nicodemus] Cookie's Father
Le Tari Rudy
Eugene Robert Glazer Director
Technical Credits
Robert Townsend Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Gregory "Popeye" Alexander Songwriter
Sheree Brown Songwriter
Bruce Cecil Songwriter
Carl Craig Executive Producer, Producer, Production Manager
Peter Deming Cinematographer
Donald Douglass Choreography
Melba Farquhar Art Director, Production Designer
W.O. Garrett Editor
Udi Harpaz Score Composer
George James Hopkins Songwriter
Steve James Stunts
Morris O'Connor Songwriter
Patrice Rushen Score Composer
William Shaffer Sound/Sound Designer
Keenen Ivory Wayans Screenwriter
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    One of the original guerilla indie film classics is back! Townsend executes a great vinette full feature with his innovative look at surviving with dignity in the Hollywood film machine. You feel deep empathy for Robert as Bobby Taylor as he deals with outrageously pathetic roles offered to him and his strugging thespian peers (including Keenan Ivory Wayans). The performances are so entertaining and true-to-life that it's easy to see all involved were in because of the quality of work presented. This stands up great after two decades and is an excellent example of quality filmmaking period; large, low or debt budget filmmaking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews