Just wanted to say thanks to Christopher for bringing this article to my attention.
I've been eagerly anticipating this film, but attempting to also keep my expectations low considering both my like and dislike of Shyamalan's previous films.
These comments have really helped lay many of my fears about where these films were going to rest, at least for the moment.
I too was concerned about Hollywood's tendency to White-Wash certain stories and based on what he's saying here, I at least can understand the casting choices a bit better now.
As far as moving things around goes... As long as the series hits all the right story and character high-points in the end, I'll be okay with it. Translating a story to the Screen always involves cuts and alterations to make it work as a film and as long as he doesn't change Aang's motivations, fears, etc. and doesn't rewrite the ending. I think I'll be okay with the story.
I'm also jazzed by his goal to make the world serious within the setting, and not go for a direct translation of the silly moments to the larger story.
Although, I would like to see a guy with a cabbage cart lose his cabbage bounty through some crazy quirk of fate, if no less in the background...
Also... I'd like to see the fate of Mama Zuko as well.