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Old April 9 2010, 02:58 PM   #40
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

My one remaining concern about the Last Airbender casting has been addressed. The "smoking gun" that disturbed many people was a casting document that asked for "Caucasian or any other ethnicity" for the lead roles -- not excluding other ethnicities, but suggesting a preference for Caucasian actors. That was the one bit of evidence that seemed to conflict with Shyamalan's recent statement that they cast without any prior ethnic preference in mind.

Now the film's producer Frank Marshall has released a statement clarifying what happened:
Marshall further writes that he “agree[s] that this casting notice was poorly worded and offensive. However, it was not written nor distributed by the production, or the studio, but by a local extra casting entity that did not consult with either. "Ultimately, we all take responsibility for not doing a more thorough job monitoring these frequently used third-party agents and Paramount has since been in regular dialogue with Asian American advocacy groups including the Japanese American Citizens League and the Media Action Network for Asian Americans to ensure that such a mistake does not happen in the future.”
He provided copies of the original casting breakdowns, which indeed make no mention of ethnicity. One of the casting fliers that does mention a preference for Caucasians can be seen here:

This reassures me that the people in charge of the production "get it" when it comes to inclusion, even if others with more peripheral involvement don't. Though I still have to wonder why it took them so many months to clear this up.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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