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LETTERS

Predictable casting

November 22, 2003

I disagree that "The Human Stain" is a groundbreaking contribution to the racial debate in America, as Kimberly Cooper Plaszewski contends (" 'Human Stain's' Lessons About U.S. Assimilation," Nov. 17).

Groundbreaking would have been the filmmakers' insistence on casting a black actor with white characteristics like Coleman Silk's. It would have been a departure from Hollywood's long-standing edict of all but banning racially ambiguous types from the screen.

Groundbreaking was the success of "XXX," starring the racially ambiguous Vin Diesel, which disproved Hollywood's belief that the public would reject racial ambiguity. The makers of "Human Stain" could have conducted a massive search to find an actor with the specific characteristics of Silk's. Instead they fell back on the old formula used in 1959 in "Imitation of Life," perhaps convinced that a white actor could portray the character more convincingly.

Michele Nichols

Los Angeles

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