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Juwanna Man Premiere

Jun. 21, 2002by: John Gunn


by John Gunn

Hold on tight. Its the moment weve 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 Korbels, 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 Womens 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 Graumans 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 didnt show.  Id give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he slipped into the theater through the back door, but you and I both know thats not an easy for a 69 man.  Magic, you broke my heart.  I now what it feels like to have lovedand 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.  Lets face it, shes a babe.  Unfortunately, I wasnt 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. Thats 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 youd expect.she be lil.  Very lil.  Im talking sub-5 feet lil!  Whats 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 didnt 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 couldnt help but, 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. Jokes over. But I must say, Miguel, whose past credits include LIFE and yes, PLUTO NASH, was engagingif not downright controversial.  Heres what he had to say

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

MIGUEL: I pulled from a country girl who lived right next to me growing up.  I cant give her name cuz she might want a residual check but, she was my next-door neighbor and she was the countriest girl Ive 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 womens 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, hes an actors actor.  We talked about his role in JUWANNA MANN (hes the sports agent who encourages Nunez to become a woman and join their league), and what its like going to these premieres.  Hes not a huge fan of these gatherings.  Maybe the noveltys 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 shutuntil now.  He also said this was going to be the first time hed seen the movie.  Just too damn busy, I guess.  Heres a snippet from our conversation

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

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

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

KEVIN: Well, the script made me laugh. And thats pretty rare, quite honestly.  Ive been doing standup comedy for twenty years, and theres 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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