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Red Tails

January 20, 2012

Lee Tergesen will play Col. Jack Tomlinson in this movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots to fly in a combat squadron during World War II. 

The character is "someone who supported the Tuskeegee Airmen," Lee said during a red-carpet interview at the premiere Jan. 10, 2012, in New York. "It's based on an actual guy who was was a liaison to the Pentagon who fought to get them their fighter missions."

Filming took place Czech Republic, Croatia and Italy during the spring of 2009, but reshoots continued into 2010. With each report that surfaced about the movie, the release date continued to be pushed back. The release date was finally set for Jan. 20, 2012 -- near the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. 

The movie will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on May 22, 2012.

The executive producer of the film is George Lucas -- of Indiana Jones and Star Wars fame -- who has been trying to develop this film for more than 20 years. Lucas wrote the story, and it was turned over to novelist/screenwriter John Ridley to write the screenplay. The director is Anthony Hemingway, who worked on "The Wire."

The movie features fast-paced aerial scenes as well as an all-star cast, featuring Cuba Gooding Jr.,  Terence Howard and Bryan Cranston in lead roles. The ensemble cast also includes Method Man, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Andre Royo, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo and Tristan Wilds.

Official Synopsis:

1944. World War II rages and the fate of the free world hangs in the balance. Meanwhile the black pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program are courageously waging two wars at once – one against enemies overseas, and the other against discrimination within the military and back home.

Racial prejudices have long held ace airman Martin "Easy" Julian (Nate Parker) and his black pilots back at base - leaving them with little to do but further hone their flying skills - while their white counterparts are shipped out to combat after a mere three months of training. Mistakenly deemed inferior and assigned only second-rate planes and missions, the pilots of Tuskegee have mastered the skies with ease but have not been granted the opportunity to truly spread their wings.

Until now.

As the war in Europe continues to take its dire toll on Allied forces, Pentagon brass has no recourse but to reconsider these under-utilized pilots for combat duty. Just as the young Tuskegee men are on the brink of being shut down and shipped back home, Col. A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) awards them the ultimate chance to prove their mettle high above.

Undaunted by the prospect of providing safe escort to bombers in broad daylight - a mission so dangerous that the RAF has refused it and the white fighter groups have sustained substantial losses - Easy's pilots at last join the fiery aerial fray. Against all the odds, with something to prove and everything to lose, these intrepid young airmen take to the skies in a heroic endeavor to combat the enemy – and the discrimination that has kept them down for so long.


The movie is in a lengthy post-production period because of the amount of computer graphics/special effects to be done. Some scenes also have been re-shot. Here are various reports about potential release dates and reasons for delay:

+ In a Twitter on June 2, 2011, director Anthony Hemingway said that "Red Tails hits screens January 2012." Recent reports had also noted that Jazz musician Terence Blanchard is scoring the film, perhaps indicating an end to the post-production process.

+ Even more detail came in a Czech article about George Lucas on June 10, 2011, indicating that the movie "will be released to coincide with Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 16) in 2012."

+ In an interview Oct. 25, 2010, Lee Tergesen said that he had just done "some looping, some ADR" (which means automated dialogue replacement). "George Lucas told me was that it was going to come out in August [2011]," Lee said. "I guess they’re doing a pant load of CGI stuff that is taking them a long time and they did some reshaping in the story. I’m not really sure what’s going on."

+ On the Facebook page for "Red Tails" on Jan. 14, 2011, a fan named David DeLorean Bittan reported that he had just talked on the phone with producer Rick McCallum's office at LucasFilm. "What I was told is that it's NOT coming out this year (2011), and will most probably be released sometime in early spring of 2012. They are NOT done with production from what I was informed and are still in the reshoot process. I asked whether or not it was still going to be released ... and was told that they needed to find a distributor."

Bittan admitted that he misrepresented himself as a member of "a local veteran's organization," which he admits wasn't exactly the most ethical thing, "but hey... I DID get some info!"

+ In an interview posted March 28, 2010, actor Bryan Cranston said the movie has "A lot of CGI ... There was green-screen in the backgrounds, so we shot in a controlled environment set in Prague and it was fun. Very educational and entertaining. And I think they have a tremendous amount of green-screen to do and they’ll put, you know, whatever backgrounds they think are appropriate behind us. That sort of thing."

+ In an interview with MovieWeb posted Sept. 15, 2010, actor Michael B. Jordan was hesitant to say much:  "I am not sure, exactly, what the finished product is going to be right now. ... The story did change. It is a sticky situation. ... I don't know which direction the film is taking in post." In a reply to a question regarding George Lucas stepping in to direct part of the film, Jordan said. "I don't want to be the bad guy in this case but no comment. I'd like to tell you as much information as I can, but I have to go with 'no comment' on that one."

+ Actress Daniela Ruah had more light to shed on the situation in an interview with Collider posted Oct. 2, 2010: "Initially, it was directed by Anthony Hemingway, and then George Lucas wanted to change some of the tone of it and decided to direct it himself, so we had a few re-shoots and I got to work specifically with George Lucas on those re-shoots."

+ On Feb. 17, 2010, Digital Spy carried the report that Lucasfilm denied rumors that George Lucas and Rick McCallum were unhappy with director Anthony Hemingway and were planning to make significant changes to the movie. "George Lucas and Rick McCallum are very pleased with the work Anthony Hemingway did directing the film and additional shooting that is scheduled to take place was built into production before it began, as it is on all our films."

Other reports mentioned that Lucas is directing reshoots of scenes because director Hemingway already had prior commitments to direct episodes of the HBO show, "Treme" and wasn't available to direct the reshoots, which are being characterized as a routine.


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Wikipedia page
about the Red Tails --
the Tuskeegee Airmen

Michael B. Jordan
talks Red Tails

Sept. 15, 2010