Marlon Wayans, the youngest of the wild and wacky Wayans brothers was recently in Philadelphia to promote his latest film, “A Haunted House,” and he’s just as out of control in person as he is on screen. As I walked into the studios of CBS3 to conduct our interview, every monitor in the building showed Wayans at the “Talk Philly” anchor desk enthusiastically “helping” Ukee Washington deliver the noontime broadcast.
About 30 minutes later during our one-on-one interview, I discovered that if you’re a willing participant such as myself, Wayans will pull you right into that crazy comedic vortex with him. Even so, I did manage to get him to talk about “A Haunted House,” his outrageous new spoof on the current glut of films about paranormal activity.
The fast-paced film is the hilarious saga of Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and Keisha (Essence Atkins) an attractive young couple that decides to move in together. However, their relationship immediately hits a major snag when immediately upon her arrival, Keisha runs Malcolm’s dog over with her truck, and that’s just the beginning. When she enters the house, it becomes painfully evident that the once blissful couple is not alone.
“This is something new and different,” says Wayans, who calls “A Haunted House,” now open in theaters, a “mash-up” rather than a parody. “It’s really a horror comedy with parody moments. It’s about a relationship and how another man, which is a ghost, comes between this guy and this girl, and it’s about two people learning to live with each other. It’s about love. It’s about lust. It’s about a lot of things, but it’s about acting the damn fool at the end of the day!
“If you’ve never seen a paranormal activity movie, this movie still is funny, and the premise is paranormal activity if it happened to a Black couple. (I’ve heard Wayans refer to this as “paranormal blacktivity.”) We’ve seen white people do it. We’ve seen them make their mistakes. But Black people, we do it a little bit different. That’s the truth that I wanted to hit. When [Malcolm] moved? That’s the movie right there! When he goes, ‘Aw, hell no!’ and he packs the moving van up and peels off, that’s the classic [theme] in my head.”
In addition to being inspired by the paranormal craze that is currently enjoying box office success, “A Haunted House” is also the result of the limited opportunities for Black actors in Hollywood. “I did it out of necessity really, ’cause they don’t make many Black movies in Hollywood,” Wayans said. “They make less movies, period. You know if they have white actors going, ‘There’s no work out there!’ that means brothers ain’t got nuttin’! They gonna start bringin’ slaves roles back soon! So for me, I just go, ‘If there’s no roles, then you’ve gotta create ’em.’”
Although he considered numerous actresses for the role of Keisha, Wayans maintains that the animated Essence Atkins, who currently co-stars in the sitcom “Are We There Yet!” with Terry Crews, was the perfect fit. “’Cause she’s dope and she funny and she’s sweet and she’s has great comedic timing,” he said. “We know each other and she helps ground me. We bounce off of each other, and we just had a great chemistry. We’d worked with her before on ‘Dance Flick’ and we worked with her on ‘Wayans Brothers,’ and she’s a vet, but she looks young. We’re both veterans, but we look young. She’s somebody you want to see and you’ll care about, so when she’s going through the exorcism thing, it’s like, ‘I feel so bad for her!’ So she worked perfect — and she was down to be a fool!”
While older brothers Keenan and Damon led the way, mainly through their groundbreaking sketch comedy show “In Living Color,” comedy is apparently part of the Wayans family’s DNA. “Me and Shawn wanted to do comedy since we was four and five years old, before Keenan and Damon ever made it,” said Marlon. “We used to watch Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and go ‘I’m Daffy Duck. You’re Bugs Bunny.’ I was Daffy, of course!”
Although there appear to be similarities, Wayans wanted to emphasize that “A Haunted House” is in no way related to the “Scary Movie” series that he and his brother Shawn created.
“[‘Scary Movie’] was a great franchise and we left it after part two,” he said. “We haven’t been a part of it. They keep trying to give us credit for (parts) three and four, but I’m like ‘No! That BS ain’t mine! I’ll take credit for my BS!’ But we kind of departed from there. Basically, the ‘Scary Movie’ franchise, we raised it — that was our baby. But then it was like your kid grows up and goes off to college and becomes a crackhead. That’s the way I look at ‘Scary Movie 3, 4 &5.’ I want nothing to do with them. That is not my child!”
After watching “A Haunted House,” and laughing at Wayans’ shameless antics for about 45 minutes, I was compelled to ask, “Is there anything that the Wayans brothers won’t do on camera?” “Absolutely not!” he said without hesitation. “We are one thousand percent fools! I don’t care! This movie is a lot of, ‘Oh no, he didn’t!’ When 65-year-old white people are going, ‘Oh no, he ain’t! He ain’t doin’ that! No!’ You know you hit a chord!” (Rated “R”)
Terry Crews, best known for his role as the lovable but put-upon patriarch, Julius, in “Everybody Hates Chris,” is among the hardcore cast of “Stars Earn Stripes,” premiering at 8 p.m., Monday, August 13 on NBC.
In the new reality series, eight celebrities gather at a remote training facility where they will take on difficult missions inspired by real military exercises. Each will be paired with an “operative” who is a member or former member of the armed forces or a law enforcement agency. The operative will coach and guide their celebrity teammate and compete alongside them. Each week one of the teams will be eliminated. All celebrities play for military-related charities. Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO and former presidential candidate will co-host the series along with Samantha Harris, former co-host of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Rounding out the cast is four-time undefeated world boxing champion Laila Ali, actor Dean Cain, multi-platinum recording artist, actor, producer and television personality Nick Lachey, Alaska businessman (and Sarah Palin’s husband) Todd Palin, Olumpic Gold medalist Picabo Street, “The Biggest Loser” trainer Dolvett Quince and WWE Diva Eve Torres.
“We did everything,” Crews told “Access Hollywood.” “We jumped off helicopters, we swam [in] full gear, we shot machine guns, we blew up buildings, we were doing everything and anything, and I have to say, I have an all-new respect for the military. It’s just incredible.”
Despite his fit physique and rough and tumble roles in action films like “Expendables” and the upcoming “Expendables 2,” Crews — a former NFL player, said there were many moments during the reality competition where he contemplated throwing in the towel.
“Look, I’m an actor. I only look badass,” he said with a laugh. “I want my smoothie, you know what I’m saying? Where’s my smoothie?”
Seriously, the actor, 43, said he is now in awe of the members of the armed forces after spending time in their boots.
“You watch the military, you see what they do all the time, you think you know — [but] I had to experience [it],” he said. “And I’m like, I don’t know anything about this!”
Accesshollywood.com contributed to this report.
When 750 children turned out Saturday morning for AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation and the Keystone Mercy Health Plan’s ninth annual Healthy Hoops program, they received hands-on asthma education.
The program, which was held at St. Joseph’s University Hagan Arena, was geared toward improving asthma management and reducing childhood obesity.
“The children were very excited and we had an opportunity to grab the parents in the audience and just educate them,” says Tonya Moody, vice president of development and programming, AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation.
“It is a great effort in improving the quality of life in our community,” she said.
During the program, asthmatic children underwent spirometry screenings to determine their lung capacity and were educated about the importance of using their asthma devices. Participating physicians developed asthma action plans that will be forwarded to the children’s respective primary care providers.
The event enabled children to tap into basketball clinics led by legends Sonny Hill and Speedy Morris.
The program was held in collaboration with Charlie Mack’s Party4Peace Celebrity Weekend 2012, which aimed to reduce violence in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. During the program, children had an opportunity to meet various celebrities including actors Terry Crews, Will Smith, Hill Harper, Tisha Campbell and comedian Chris Rock.
“The celebrities were very heartfelt. We had a lot of positive discussions on achievement and good health and making good choices and improving the quality of life,” says Moody.
“The celebrities were very instrumental in promoting and motivating our young people to do the right thing as they travel through life.”
About 100 volunteers from the AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation and KMHP were on hand for Saturday’s event.
KMHP officials credit the Healthy Hoops program with helping to reduce inpatient visits and health care costs. The KMHP members who participated in the 2009 event saw their patient utilization costs decrease by nearly 46 percent and their number of inpatient visits decrease by 62 percent.
“By teaching members better health management strategies, they reduce the likelihood of costly emergency room visits and inpatient hospitalizations,” said Maria Pajil Battle, president of the AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation.
Since its inception in 2003, Healthy Hoops has been expanded to other parts of the country including Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina. The program has impacted more than 10,000 children, enabling them to receive full physicals and pre-and post-program health screenings.
The focus on asthma management comes at a time when approximately 22 percent of Philadelphia children under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with asthma according to Philadelphia Allies Against Asthma and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.