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Juwanna Man Premiere



by John Gunn

Hold on tight. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for.  The years of online gossip and anticipation can finally come to a halt. The WNBA is officially set to hit the big screen.  Break out the Korbel’s, folks. With the same glitz and glamour that has kept it deep in the hearts of its couple hundred fans for several years now, the Women’s National Basketball Association will finally become the centerpiece of a major motion picture on Friday, June 21st. But a week before that momentous day arrives, and a box office madness akin to ISHTAR ensues, I had the luxury of attending the world premiere of the new Warner Brothers flick at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. On a smoggy weeknight in the heart of tinseltown, the following is what I saw and who was there….

Oh, before I begin, I have to vent. On the guest list I received beforehand was none other than Magic Johnson. Being the LA lad that I am (born and raised in charming Chatsworth, CA, for those of you scoring at home), and having worshipped local sports stars since grade school, I absolutely loved Magic.  Heck, I even had one of those life-size posters of him on my wall.  I remember it vividly.  It was right beside my orthodontia chest (yes, I needed an entire trunk to store my oral equipment).  Sorry, but I digress.  Needless to say, I was not happy he didn’t show.  I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he slipped into the theater through the back door, but you and I both know that’s not an easy for a 6’9” man.  Magic, you broke my heart.  I now what it feels like to have loved…and lost. 

Anyway, back to the people that did show.

Vivica A. Fox, who plays fictional WNBA player Michelle Langford in the film, was there.  As expected, the cameras were flashing the moment she stepped out of the limo.  After roles in BOOTY CALL and INDEPENDENCE DAY, Vivica has most certainly established herself as “camera friendly.”  Let’s face it, she’s a babe.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to talk with her.  She spent most of her time schmoozing with the TV crews. I did, however, do my best to eavesdrop.  I overheard her tell someone she played varsity basketball in high school, and has always been a fan of the sport. That’s what drew her to the role.  Well, that, and plenty of benjamins.

Lil’ Kim, the hip-hop start who plays the role of Tina Parker in the film, supposedly was there.  I think I caught a brief glimpse of her but, as you’d expect….she be lil’.  Very lil’.  I’m talking sub-5 feet lil’!  What’s more, I overheard someone from a radio outlet say they saw her get carded on her way into the PG-13 movie.  Ouch.

Two of the Wayans were there as well, Marlon and Keenan Ivory. Neither are in the film, but both were there to show their support. They passed by quickly, and didn’t take any questions from the press. As they went in, I tried to count in my head how many brothers there actually were in that family, but eventually lost track. And I couldn’t help but think….man, their dad had some really talented sperm. 

I did get a chance to talk with Juwanna, er, Miguel A. Nunez, Jr.  He seemed to be relishing the limelight as the leading man, er, woman. Ok. Joke’s over. But I must say, Miguel, whose past credits include LIFE and yes, PLUTO NASH, was engaging…if not downright controversial.  Here’s what he had to say…

ME: A lot of actors pull their inspiration for a character from a certain area or person. Who’d you pull from to play a woman?

MIGUEL: I pulled from a country girl who lived right next to me growing up.  I can’t give her name cuz’ she might want a residual check but, she was my next-door neighbor and she was the countriest girl I’ve ever met. She is Juwanna.

ME: Did you grow up a WNBA fan?

MIGUEL: No. I had no respect for it. Honestly, I had no respect for women’s basketball growing up. (Nice, Miguel.  No, seriously, tell me how you really feel)

ME: Really?!

MIGUEL: Yep.  But now I do, because now I know that they are real players.  When we played against them in the film, they had finesse, they had game, they can shoot, they can do all of that.  Big time. (Good save, Miguel)

I also got Kevin Pollak to step aside and talked with me for a while. Very cool. He epitomizes the character actor, having appeared in strong supporting roles in classics like A FEW GOOD MEN and USUAL SUSPECTS.  As I told someone else there, “he’s an actor’s actor.”  We talked about his role in JUWANNA MANN (he’s the sports agent who encourages Nunez to become a woman and join their league), and what it’s like going to these premieres.  He’s not a huge fan of these gatherings.  Maybe the novelty’s wearing off.  He did inform me that tonight, hush hush, he had to slip out the back door before it was over.  I guess he had a gig (he started in stand-up comedy, and still likes to perform) scheduled in Vegas.  I kept my mouth shut…until now.  He also said this was going to be the first time he’d seen the movie.  Just too damn busy, I guess.  Here’s a snippet from our conversation…

ME: What kind of emotions do you feel at these premieres?

KEVIN: Oh, I’ve been to the biggest premieres, and then the smallest ones. And, you know, USUAL SUSPECTS premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. So, I’ve kind of run the gamut.  They’re as intense as you make them, and forty-something movies later they’re not that intense.

ME: What was it that drew you to this role?

KEVIN: Well, the script made me laugh. And that’s pretty rare, quite honestly.  I’ve been doing standup comedy for twenty years, and there’s not a lot of things that make me laugh. But this did.

Other than those Pulitzer-worthy chats, little else happened at the premiere, and I began to wonder if the $11.00 parking pass was even worth it. After remembering how lucky I was to see Vivica Fox, in all her beauty, that close up, I realized it had been.

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