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Quoted from The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Be in an M. Night movie
Director-writer-producer M. Night Shyamalan is casting for The Last Airbender, a live-action film from Paramount and Nickelodeon based on the Nickelodeon animated series, shooting here from mid-March through July. (It's set in a world where human civilization is divided into four nations: Air, Water, Earth and Fire. The film's hero, the reluctant young Aang, is the Last Airbender. Aided by a protective teenage Waterbender named Katara and her bullheaded brother, Sokka, Aang proceeds on a perilous journey to restore balance to their war-torn world. Standard stuff.)

The O.C.'s Jackson Rathbone has been named as Sokka. Casting folks are looking for extras to play soldiers, martial artists, dancers, gymnasts, athletes and families - specifically physically fit people from 18 to 65 years old. The open call will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Bullies restaurant at the Wachovia Spectrum. You're asked to dress casually or in the traditional costume of your family's ethnic background. Info: lastairbendercasting@gmail.com or 215-574-7878.

We've called the number provided and this seems to be completely legit. Several people have commented suggesting that those protesting the casting decision should have a presence there, and we're inclined to agree. However, it's very important that we all conduct ourselves politely, peacefully and responsibly.

If you can make it to the casting call in person, we would love for you to
• Ask polite but firm questions of the casting people about why they chose white actors to play Asian and Inuit characters and report back here with what they say
• Ask why no formal statement has been made by Paramount Pictures or Blinding Edge Pictures (Shyamalan's production company) about the casting controversy and, again, let us know what they say
• Take photos and notes about what you see and hear and share them with us in the comments
• Peacefully and respectfully protest the casting decisions, and tell the local media that you plan to do so. If you want to organize a protest, relevant information regarding applying for permits and such can be found here.

EDIT: drmoonpants is trying to put together a list of those who plan to attend. Please reply to this comment if you think you'll be able to make it so that we can get a headcount.

You should not, under any circumstances
• Spam their voicemail or email with messages
• Harass or insult the casting people in any way or interfere with their ability to do their jobs
• Protest the casting in a manner that is not completely peaceful, polite and respectful
• Confront or disrespect anyone else who shows up to the casting call
• Behave in a manner that would cast a bad light on this movement as a whole

If you cannot make it to the casting call in person, we encourage you to send short, polite messages to the email address above (or leave equally short, polite voicemails) briefly explaining your objections to their casting decisions and asking if and when Blinding Edge Pictures plans to make a statement regarding this controversy.


(Deleted comment)
Jan. 23rd, 2009 09:01 am (UTC)
I'm in the middle of assembling a post about white performers in yellowface--mostly in regard to Hollywood's history of doing it, since it's a medium that's even less based in "suspension of disbelief" than the theater, but the controversy over Jonathan Pryce (especially given the performance union that was created specifically to monitor the portrayal of non-whites in theater to prevent things like blackface from happening, and yet Pryce was allowed his awful yellowfacing) seemed a topic worthy of exploring as well.

I had not heard about the Asian "covers" that they got to justify Pryce, which somehow really echoes the open casting call for Aang that Paramount put out ("Caucasians, and other ethnicities," as if the inclusion of the Other would justify the ethnicity of the boy they already planned to cast--something I rather suspected, but was unsure if this was a known practice already.)

Is there a source you could refer me to re: Pryce and Saigon's token, pre-refused Asian actors? I'd love to include it in my post, once it's finished. (If it's mostly anecdotal, can I still refer to you in the post?)

Edited at 2009-01-23 09:01 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
Sadly, I haven't seen any updates to Dante's page since just before the Avatar casting was announced. I've left a comment with a casting protest video, but it's not been added yet (nor has any comment since Dec 16th and it was a holiday greeting). I'm really hoping Dante will say something about this crap and soon. *nod nod*

Speaking of, I should check his family's pages to see if they have anything. :> *goes off to do so*
Jan. 23rd, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
aang_aint_white, can you contact the East West players?
Jan. 23rd, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC)
That isn't a bad idea at all -- we'll probably contact them early next week, and we'd encourage others to do the same.
Jan. 24th, 2009 09:28 am (UTC)
Unless I'm mistaken, I think the EWP is more theater than Hollywood based. But DUDE, one of their late chief founders was in on the source material that's getting the ol' yellowface/marginalizing Asians treatment (that the EWP was formed to combat in the first place!) and theater or not, that's got to rankle! D:
Jan. 24th, 2009 09:25 am (UTC)
Nope, this is all new to me! [Except re: the EWP and Mako*, but I certainly didn't have these resource links just lying around!] I'll be greedily digging through these once I have a bit of free time for writing again. Thank you very much for compiling the info! :D

Oh, Dante <3

* Knowing about Mako's role in both the "Avatar" series, AND the founding of the EWP because of shit just like this in Hollywood/theater, just... ugh, I'm almost glad he's not around to see this happen. The man probably died thinking he'd taken part in a project that would develop into something wonderful and groundbreaking and marking change for Asian American youth. Not just... more of the same.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 24th, 2009 09:18 am (UTC)
Re: More Resources
Thank you very much! :D


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