April/May 2003 (v5 i6)
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Cuba Gooding Jr. to finally sink career
Jerry Maguire Oscar winner starring in Joel Schumacher's sequel to Howard the Duck
by Ryan Martinez, Staff Writer

HOLLYWOOD, CA — In an apparent campaign to further bring about the downfall of his film career, Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. has signed on to play the title character in the sequel to the 1980s sci-fi comedy Howard the Duck.

Howard the Duck II: Quack Daddy continues the story of the extraterrestrial duck who first wisecracked his way into the heart of a moviegoer in 1986. Exiled from his home planet after being teleported to Earth in the first movie, the title character attains stardom on his adopted planet by virtue of his charisma, wit, and ability to talk. But when a villain of non-Anglo ethnic descent kidnaps his model girlfriend (Pamela Anderson), Howard embarks on a journey to find her, using his feared 'quack-fu' to take down his enemies.

The Universal film, tentatively set for a May 2005 release, will be directed by Joel Schumacher, best known for helming the last two installments of the now-defunct Batman franchise.

"I asked myself, 'Joelsy, which diva is going to be queen of your next cinematic ball?" said Schumacher. "The next day, I was looking at the treatment for Howard when I caught Cuba in a television promo for Boat Trip and I thought, 'You silly little bitch, you're Joelsy's now. I'm going to sprinkle my fairy dust on you." Representatives from Universal were just as enthusiastic about Gooding's career-pummeling decision to don the feathered suit.

"It blows my mind that such a renowned thespian is willing to tear himself away from serious projects with profound social meaning—like Boyz N the Hood and Snow Dogs," said one anonymous representative. "Just to act in our fun little movie...talk about humility."

Not everyone in the film industry is as optimistic about Gooding's decision, which continues a trend of career suicide that began shortly after Gooding won an Academy Award in 1997 for his role in Jerry Maguire.

"Howard the Duck? More like Howard the Suck!" said syndicated film critic Gene Shalit. "Cuba may be feathered in this movie, but his career is getting tarred and feathered! The only things he's using quack-fu on are his chances of getting a respectable movie role!"

Shalit added, "Somebody stop this endless stream of puns and wordplay. Please, there is a gun in my drawer. It's your turn to be a gun-drawer. Kill me."

While Gooding's decision has evoked annoyance, pity, and mouth-frothing hatred from most industry insiders, a small minority of Americans eagerly await the film's release, and while the new Gooding film—already being promoted in an unusually early teaser campaign—has polarized people in different circles of life, it has also brought some together in the most intimate of ways. In New York City's Times Square, families of tourists regularly walk past a 50-foot-tall Quack Daddy teaser poster hanging from the side of an office building.

"Daddy, daddy! What's that?" says 5-year-old Jonathan Olinsky as he points to the poster, which shows the silhouette of a duck-like figure and Gooding's prominently displayed name.

"Hmm. Let me see. Oh, I know what that is," says Jonathan's father, Brian Olinsky, tenderly looking down at his doe-eyed son. "It's a falling star, Jonny. Make a wish."
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