Giving the Red Tails a chance to soar

The “Red Tails” crew assembles for a cast shot.

The story of the Tuskegee Airmen was one that almost didn’t get told. The crew of African-American fighter pilots in World War II had been given the television movie treatment by HBO in 1995, but director George Lucas spent nearly 25 years trying to get a major feature made. By funding the film himself, Lucas was finally able to produce the movie he’d always dreamed of making. One of the original Tuskegee Airmen, 89-year-old Roscoe Brown, notes the importance of that project: “Red Tails.”

“Young people don’t know about segregation,” Brown says. “When I give speeches and tell young people that I applied to be a pilot at Eastern Airlines and that the staffing manager told me to my face, ‘we don’t hire negroes here,’ it causes them to just gasp because that would never happen today. And the reason it wouldn’t happen today is because folks like us and Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt changed the world, so I like to see it as a world-changing experience.”

One of the stars of the film, R&B singer Ne-Yo, notes that the airmen, who broke color barriers by engaging in direct combat with the Germans, rather than only assisting on tertiary flight missions, took on the unwieldy tasks at an extraordinarily young age — between 17 and 25.

“If you didn’t know and you were told about what the Tuskegee Airmen accomplished, you’d instantly think these were men who’d lived lives, had families, in their upper 30s, 40s,” he says. “The amazingness of these individuals — it wasn’t about how old they were. It was about, ‘we’ve got a job to do and we’re going to get it done.’”

Their story so affected Cuba Gooding Jr., who appeared in the HBO film on the subject, that the actor fought to be a part of this project as well.

“They’re not telling these stories very much in Hollywood,” Gooding Jr. says. “This was the first time I’d read a script where these men empowered themselves. I loved ‘Glory,’ but they didn’t need Matthew Broderick‘s [character] in this movie. They did it on their own. These are black men, doing for themselves.”

Back in time

The actors who portray the tight-knit Red Tails crew got a wallop of authenticity by living in a training camp for several weeks before production. Ne-Yo likens the experience to a time-warp:
“It was bootcamp for 1942, meaning there was no music that wasn’t from 1942, there was no food that wasn’t from 1942,” he says. “No cell phones, nothing. It was snowing, and we were in tents.”


Easter Egg hunt horror as skydiver plummets to…

A FAMILY Easter egg hunt ended in horror when a skydiver plummeted to his death in a New York garden after his parachute failed to…


Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…


Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…


Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.


‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."


'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…


Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…


Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.


Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.


Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.


Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.


Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…


Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…


Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…


4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.