Three North Korea News Headlines, Georgia Inmates Kill Two Prison Guards in Prison Bus and Escapes, MT Congressman Greg Gianforte Pleads Guilty to Assault and Must Undergo 20 Hours of Anger Management Counseling, and Interview with Deaf Actor and Comedian CJ Jones and His Role on “Baby Driver”
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Tuesday, June 13. Ready for news?
Three news related to North Korea:
1. Dennis Rodman, retired NBA star, is now in North Korea again — he visited the country several times in the past. He said he is on a mission and wants to try and open a door with their leader Kim Jong Un.
Naturally, Rodman’s visit to North Korea is more closely watched because of the recent missile tests and military tension there. Rodman is also a friend of Trump, as he endorsed his presidency and was on the “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show twice. Many are wondering if he is now some kind of a special “in-between” for Trump and Jong Un.
2. An American college student, Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea after he stole a government banner — has been released — but he is currently in a coma and is in medical care as he leaves the country. It seems like he was in a coma since March 2016, which is very concerning. His family said they didn’t know he was in a coma and only found out last week.
Sec. of State Tillerson confirmed Otto’s release and said the State Dept. is working on the other three American citizens detained there.
3. South Koreans say they’ve found, at the border with North Korea, a crashed drone that belongs to North Korea. The drone had a Sony camera and had several photos of the new THAAD anti-missile system that was installed by the U.S. military several months ago.
This morning in Georgia, two prisoners, while in a prison bus with over 30 inmates on its way to be transported to another prison, managed to break into the driver’s area of the bus, overpowered two guards there, killed them, escaped with the guards’ guns, and got away by carjacking a green four-door Honda Civic.
The two prisoners are: Ronnie Rowe (43) and Ricky Dubose (24). There is now a big manhunt to catch the two. People in the area are being alerted and told to call 911 if they see them, to not approach them because they have .40 caliber Glock guns (the guards’ guns).
The two guards who died’s names are Christopher Monica (42) and Curtis Billue (58), both worked at Baldwin State Prison.
Currently, U.S. marshals and other officers are hunting for the two.
Remember Greg Gianforte — the recently-elected Congressmen representing Montana, who body-slammed a reporter the day before the election?
In court, he pled guilty to assaulting a journalist (Ben Jacobs from the Guardian) and was ordered to pay a $385 fine, 40 hours of community service, and 20 hours of anger management counseling.
The reporter, Ben Jacobs, demanded Greg to write a letter of apology and to donate $50,000 to the organization, “Committee to Protect Journalists.” In exchange, Ben wouldn’t sue Greg.
Ben Jacobs said action like these needs to stop, especially because they are increasingly common in political debates.
Ben’s glasses were broken from the body-slamming — the broken pair was donated to the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
I’ve interviewed Deaf actor and comedian CJ Jones — he will have a role on the upcoming movie, “Baby Driver” — which will be released June 28.
The movie has several movie stars on it such as Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Hamm. Baby Driver is expected to be very popular and it has very high reviews — it stars a “new actor” Ansel Elgort, who is a skilled car driver and helps people to rob places in Atlanta using a red Subaru WRX and other powerful cars.
CJ will tell us about his role and he will also discuss Jamie Foxx. Here it is.
Alex: Hello, CJ!
CJ: Hello! It is nice to be on the air with you, a wonderful guy I know that makes moths fly out of the closet with awesome news.
Alex: Thank you, I’m honored to meet you. You have been very busy with the upcoming movie, “Baby Driver.” Can you tell us more about your role in that movie?
CJ: Oh boy, oh boy, that role is a huge honor to be a part of a mega-multi-million budget movie. I got this role and worked with director Edgar Wright, who is a dynamic director. Wow, I’ve enjoyed working with him. His attitude is great, he is very conscious, and I’ve had an interpreter for the six weeks we filmed in Atlanta. He made sure an interpreter was there and would call me to come up to him so he could explain things, there was not struggle or frustration to communicate, and I really appreciate that about him. As for the other crew, they were very motivated to learn sign language, and many of them asked me what the signs for dirty words were. What’s new about that? It was a lot of fun.
My role is that I’m the father, I adopted the baby — that’s his name, “Baby” — his parents died when he was younger in a car accident, but he survived. So my character adopted him. A major detail of his character is that he has hearing issues — tinnitus — and he copes with it by listening to music, he uses headphones. So it’s a perfect match with my character, and I taught him how to sign. The actor’s name is Ansel Elgort. He sat down with me and learned how to sign, he’s very good, you will see his character sign in the movie, he did a very good job. He didn’t not only want to learn how to sign, he also asked questions about Deaf culture and other things. He is a very cool guy.
Alex: I’ve seen many rave reviews about the movie and it is an expected blockbuster. Do you expect it to be big?
CJ: Yes, very positive reception and there’s many possible awards. I’m really looking forward to it. It has a lot of music, action, and drama — and of course CJ is in it!
Alex: Yes! That’s why Deaf people will come out to watch it. Maybe 10% of the audience will be Deaf?
CJ: No, make it 25%! Let’s show that Deaf people are hungry for those kinds of roles in Hollywood, let’s make them take notice of this and start including more Deaf roles in various film projects. It’s time.
Alex: Right, I agree. Obviously, Jamie Foxx is in the movie and there was recent controversy with his making up sign language. Did Jamie get this “idea” because he worked with you? Can you share your perspective if you don’t mind?
CJ: Boy, oh boy. Let me tell you something. First of all, working with Jamie Foxx — he is a very cool guy. We had great rapport. I don’t have any animosity towards him, none. This is the truth — I was sitting in a trailer to get my make-up done. As I was sitting, out of the blue, Jamie Foxx came into and we had a conversation. He tried to spell his name and positioned his hand wrong, I thought it was funny and helped to correct him. Later I told him that we lived close to each other, around 30 minutes apart, and offered to get together. He was up for that idea, he wanted to learn more sign language. When he left, others were amazed and asked me if we knew each other, and I told them we didn’t. This shows that he is a genuine guy who would approach me to say hello and make conversation. Secondly, he was impressed with my acting skills while we had roundtable reading sessions. He mouthed to the director, “Wow, that is very good!” I could see it by lipreading, he didn’t use his voice. When I saw that, I had a huge ego boost. I was honored that he would recognize me and who I am as an actor.
And then all of a sudden there was this controversy with his making up signs. I know this is wrong and silly, but then again, he is a comedian and he even makes fun of French people. I’d just take a breath, take a few steps back, and look at that night, they were all making jokes, they didn’t mean to specifically insult deaf people or sign language, they were just making fun of signs itself, that’s all. And remember he has a daughter who has Ushers Syndrome… no, I mean autism, so he is sensitive. What we need to do is to calm down, and say, “hey, you made fun of sign language, okay, here’s what you need to know…” We can educate him instead of slamming him. It will just make Hollywood say, “oh boy, complaining/protesting deaf people again.” That can hurt, please just simply use dialogue and communicate with them. Invite them to events. I’ve invited him to the ASL Artist competition this fall, and I had hoped this would happen, but now I feel nervous about it. But a production assistant for the movie, I don’t know the name, but the person said he wanted to get us together and make a video to show that Jamie is sensitive (he wants that). So you will hear from us soon.
Alex: Thank you for sharing your perspective. You’ve met Jamie yourself.
CJ: He is a wonderful man. I have no negative feelings towards him. None. The same goes for all the other actors — they respected me very much. That is why I loved working with those people.
Alex: You are very well-known for your stand-up comedy show. Do you still do that? Can you tell us how that started in the past and what’s coming up in the future?
CJ: You wouldn’t believe it — but I started when I was 5. My father was Deaf and ASL was my first language, it is precious. I watched my brother dance on a showboat — people would donate money to him in a hat. I thought to myself that I wanted that, too — and I would give out shows, do mimes — and people would laugh and donate money to me. Even in my home, at the kitchen, people would come together to chat and laugh, it didn’t matter what color the skin was, it was in a black area, but many white people would come over because my father is also a comedian, but I’m funnier than him.
It was at Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton, MO. I grew up there and it’s inspired me to grow up to be an actor, director, and screenwriter. I was the best writer in Missouri and I wish others knew at the time. I had great influences and influenced others. I went to Gallaudet for a short time and then transferred to RIT because I wanted something different. And there, I fell in love with Robert Panara — I gave him his sign name. You will see my name mentioned in his autobiography, he specifically mentioned that I gave him his name sign.
Alex: You invented his sign name, wow!
CJ: Yes. Why I respect him so much is — he came up to me and said, “CJ, you must never give up on your dreams.” He also told me I had talents and that he loved my timing. I was inspired. He also told me to respect other actors and ensure there was equality. I took those words to my mind and I still carry his legacy today, and pass it along to others. My love for acting will always be with me because I love to make people laugh. I’ve been doing this for a long time, 40 years, and I still tour, yes. I do it on an average of 6 or 7 months while the other five months there’s not much work, during July or August, or December and January. While the other months staring in February it’s busier. Sometimes I travel twice a month. It’s wearing me out, so that’s why I’ve shifted to movies, TV, producing — there will be a film released next year, a horror movie, that I will produce, I wrote the script with a Deaf Canadian, he is an awesome writer. We worked together to make this movie — and there will be two more to make a horror-flick trilogy. We’ve got a director and we’ll be making announcements next year to raise money. It’s exciting and that’s where I am now.
Alex: Do you have anything to add or any final comments before we close this interview?
CJ: My excitement is that today and in the future, there are more and more Deaf actors. This includes news people like you. To have a place of our own, our channel. I’m working on that. I see things happening and I am very excited about it. At the same time we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions when it comes to activism related to sign language. Just relax and educate with humor, support, appreciation, and connections. That will make Hollywood and other people realize how important it is to respect the Deaf community, sign language, and their art work. We need that communication in a peaceful way, rather than doing attacks. That’s because media loves to see attacks. I want the media to love to see success stories. That’s my dream as we go on.
Alex: Thank you very much for your time, CJ.
CJ: Thumbs up
CJ is currently very busy promoting the movie. Last night he was at a special film screening at the LA County Museum of Art and after the movie, there was a panel with film director Edgar Wright.
The director Edgar called CJ to come onstage and the crowd gave him big applause. Through an interpreter, CJ said he was able to click with Edgar’s ideas for a deaf role after getting clear feedback from him.
Edgar said it was an amazing experience directing him, that he was an awesome actor.
Nice. If you are in the Northridge area, there is a free open captioned screening of Baby Driver. You can see more information about it on CJ’s Facebook page: @CJactor.
That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!