THE BLOG
10/15/2013 09:20 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Charlie Hunnam Won't Drop Trou for 50 Shades -- Homeland Gets Back Its Groove Back -- Who Will Save Michael Jackson's Children?

"But the language and culture are different now. I'll be reading scripts and the screenwriter mistakes 'your' for 'you're'....somebody on Twitter will go, 'Hey Sam Jackson, he's the grammar police. I'll take that. Somebody needs to be. I mean we have newscasters who don't even know how to conjugate verbs, something Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow never had problems with. When did we become a society where mediocrity is acceptable?"

That's movie star Samuel L. Jackson in the current issue of Playboy. Jackson, interviewed by Stephen Rebello, is a familiar, massive presence on-screen. He has that Morgan Freeman gravitas. But Jackson usually plays bad ("Pulp Fiction," "Django Unchained') whereas Morgan is often good -- he's God or the president or Driving Miss Daisy. Both have played opposite types, but it is their stereotyping that have made both men powerhouses.

I learned a lot about Samuel Jackson in Playboy. One of the most amusing and interesting tidbits was that he was influenced mightily by the works of Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne as a child. In fact, his passion for acting came from such Verne classics as "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." It was acting or -- becoming a marine biologist! I'm glad he chose acting.

Oh, and by the way. If anybody out there in Hollywoodland wants to do a remake of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," your Captain Nemo is ready to get on onboard--Samuel L. Jackson.

• Weekends are not just for divorces and announcements of illness that one is trying to keep in check. As actor Charlie Hunnam proved, one can always try to slip in a just-dropped-out-of-a-wildly-publicized-movie.

Hunnam's backing out of the screen version of Fifty Shades of Grey stunned show biz. His decision to star in the movie seemed final and it appeared to be a done deal. Then he cited conflicts with his successful "Sons of Anarchy" TV series and dropped the ball. (Or in this case, the S&M paraphernalia.)

I wrote not long ago that "Fifty Shades" was nothing more than fifty things we've seen before onscreen. I cited "Nine and Half Weeks" and "Last Tango in Paris." The joke going around Hollywood is "He finally read the book!"

But he must have read the script. Most likely Hunnam, who first came to attention in the British version of "Queer as Folk" some years ago, didn't want to spend months being asked ridiculous questions about his sex scenes and did he ever do such things in real life and was it exciting? He's a low profile kind of guy. Also, he would be committed to two more "Grey" films. That kind of a franchise can ruin a guys good name -- or at least the image he's built up over the past four years on "Sons of Anarchy."

So, who'll get the role of Christian Grey opposite Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele? Fans of the book (mostly female) are panting for "White Collar" star and "Magic Mike" hottie Matt Bomer. But Bomer might have the same concerns as Hunnum.

Why don't the producers cast an unknown? There are hundreds of beautiful, talented young men out there who'd give their eye teeth -- and considerably more -- to play the part. (Dakota Johnson is basically unknown, though she is the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson.)

Anyway Charlie attended the wedding of a pal over the weekend. He seemed in fine spirits they say. And hadn't shaved off his "Anarchy" facial hair.

Nope, he was never really ready for "Fifty Shades of Grey."

• Finally! With the third episode of "Homeland" this season took off. It was intense, with suspected terrorist Brody and suspected crazy-lady Carrie Mathison both locked up, on different sides of world, forced into being medicated (drug addiction in Brody's case.) Damian Lewis was terrific. And Claire Danes, although not a bit calmer, despite her meds, conveyed a terrified frustration at her incarceration.

There were no family issues in this episode. Just the hopelessness of two people caught in apparently inescapable situations. Let's hope the next eight episodes hold onto this tension.

• Now that Katherine Jackson and the rest of the Jackson Family have lost their expected millions from the AEG lawsuit, attention from the media -- and the impoverished Jacksons -- turns to Michael's children, Paris, Prince and Blanket (surely he must have another name?!) Just as Michael was, these three are the golden gooses, who can never be allowed to escape their pen. As the Ladies Home Journal used to ask about marriages: "Can these children be saved?"

The only Jackson I had any sympathy for was Michael, though I can never be sure about the child molestation charges. And Janet seemed to be level-headed and made her own money. (She, too, stayed as far away from the rest of the clan, as did Michael.)

In an interesting, rather sad piece I read over the weekend by somebody who used to be part of the Jackson defense team (not a lawyer, just a "friend") the Jacksons were told, when they unsuccessfully attempted family counseling, "Look, Elizabeth Taylor is Michael's mother now. Just let go of all that." This sent Katharine, who'd always hated Taylor, into a fury.

Well, that is the role Elizabeth took on. "I believe in him and I love him like a son," Taylor declared emotionally when Michael was first accused of child molestation. And in keeping with her lifelong affinity for the bird with a wing down, she maintained that faithfulness to the end.

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