SHORT CUTS: Saldana Is the New "Uhuru"

Published September 21, 2007

Posted Sept. 18, 2007 -- Good news, Trekkies. Zoe Saldana has signed on to play Uhura in J.J. Abrams' big-screen adaptation of "Star Trek" for Paramount Pictures.
In the original "Star Trek" TV series, Uhura - which means freedom in Swahili -- was a member of the bridge crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise who rose to the rank of commander. Saldana steps in the shoes of Nichelle Nichols, who played the Starfleet Academy alum in the series.

Abrams is producing "Star Trek," which revolves around the crew's early days at Starfleet Academy. Saldana, whose credits include "Guess Who" just finished the Sony Thriller "Vantage Point," and is currently filming sci-fi film "Avatar." "Star Trek" is slated for a December 2008 release.

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Vanessa on Vanessa's Nude Photos: "She'll Be Fine"

Actress Vanessa Williams has a few words of encouragement for "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens, who like the "Ugly Betty" star, experienced her own nude photo scandal.

"She's got talent and she's professional, and those are the things that'll help her survive in life," Williams, 44, recently told the press at an Emmy party on Sunday. "You know, welcome to the lesson of hard knocks. She got her first big one right now."

More than two decades ago, Williams was pressured to give up her crown and at least $2 million worth of contracts after racy images appeared in Penthouse.  Appearing on the cover of People shortly after the scandal broke, Williams said, "I am not a lesbian and I am not a slut, and somehow I am going to make people believe me." And she sure did. Williams wasted no time staging a successful comeback as an award-winning singer and actress.

The fallout after the nude pic "taken privately" of Hudgens, 18, surfaced on several Web sites on Sept. 6 was minimal. The young star apologized to fans and has kept a low profile the past few weeks, but Disney stands behind the actress and she has not lost any of her endorsement deals.

"I met her and she's a very sweet talented girl and I've seen "High School Musical 2 a zillion times because of my kids ... and she'll be fine," Williams said.

Diddy's Commercial's Online

Sean "Diddy" Combs is making sure viewer get to see the racy commercial/mini-movie he made for his female perfume -- if not on TV, then online.

U.S. television execs, namely MTV, ruled the 30- and 60-second ads for "Unforgivable" too provactive and reportedly demanded the rap mogul edit the erotic content. But Combs, who produced and stars in a longer, three minute version of the commercial, refused to change the video and instead has released it online (http://www.myspace.com/diddy). In it, Combs gets it on with a model Jessica Gomez in a hotel lobby in New York.

"I feel strongly that this movie needs to be viewed and judged by the public rather than by executives," said Combs, 37. "Some people may be uncomfortable with the sensuality and sexual content, but it is important for them to make that decision personally."

Freeman Takes On "The Lonely Maiden"

Morgan Freeman will join Christopher Walken and William H. Macy in Yari Film Group's comedy "The Lonely Maiden."

"Maiden," written by Michael LeSieur ("You, Me and Dupree"), centers on three museum security guards who have become attached to the artwork they've watched over for decades. When they learn their beloved pieces are to be transferred to another museum, they concoct a scheme to "steal" them back.

"Maiden" begins shooting Nov. 12 in Boston, with Peter Hewitt ("Garfield") directing. Lori McCreary and Freeman, co-founders of Revelations Entertainment, will produce with Bob Yari and Rob Paris.

Pinkett Smith Gets "The Human Contract"

Jada Pinkett Smith is set to write and direct “The Human Contract,” a feature-length motion picture to be produced byhubby Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, reports FilmJerk.com.     

The story revolves around Julian Wright, a charming and successful businessman who hides a secret from the rest of the world which tears his soul apart every day.  With his personal life a complete mess, Julian happens to meet Michael Reed, a gorgeous stranger who entices him to forget his rigid corporate world and try a more bohemian lifestyle. It's a decision that will not only affect his own life but those of his boss and co-workers, as well as inspire his half-sister Rita to re-examine her life with her abusive husband. Production is scheduled to begin in Los Angeles on Nov. 12.

Written by BET-Staff

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