Wesley Snipes, Actor   Leave a comment

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Trent Snipes (born July 31, 1962) is an American actor, film producer, and martial artist, who has starred in numerous films, thrillers, and dramatic feature films. Snipes is known for playing the Marvel Comics character Blade in the Blade film trilogy, among various other high profile roles. Snipes formed a production company, Amen-Ra Films, in 1991 and a subsidiary, Black Dot Media, to develop projects for film and television. Snipes has been training in martial arts since age 12, earning a high ranking 5th dan black belt in Shotokan Karate and 2nd dan black belt in Hapkido.[1] He has also trained as a student of Capoeira[1] under Mestre Jelon Vieira and in a number of other disciplines including various styles of kung fu[2] and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. As of 2010[update] Snipes is serving a prison sentence for misdemeanor failure to file U.S. federal income tax returns.[3]

Early lifeSnipes was born in Orlando, Florida, the son of Marian, a teacher’s assistant, and Wesley R. Snipes, an aircraft engineer.[4] He grew up in The Bronx, New York City. He attended P.S. 132, an elementary school in the Bronx. Snipes graduated from I.S. 131, a middle school in the Bronx, and also attended the famed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing, but moved back to Florida before he could graduate. After graduating from Jones High School in Orlando,[5] Snipes returned to New York and attended the State University of New York at Purchase, before being asked to leave his junior year. Snipes also attended Southwest College in Los Angeles.

[edit] Martial Arts practicingSnipes began training in martial arts when he was 12 years old. he has a 5th dan black belt in Shotokan karate and a 2d degree black belt in Hapkido. he also practice some different styles of kung fu, capoeira, eskrima and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

[edit] Career[edit] Acting and rise to fame
Snipes signing autographs at Comic Con International in 2010.At age 23, Snipes was discovered by an agent while performing in a competition. He made his film debut in the 1986 Goldie Hawn vehicle Wildcats. Later that year he appeared on the TV show Miami Vice as a drug-dealing pimp in the episode “Streetwise” (first aired December 5, 1986). In 1987, he appeared as Michael Jackson’s nemesis in the Martin Scorsese-directed music video “Bad” and the feature film Streets of Gold. That same year, Snipes was also considered for the role of Geordi La Forge in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.[6]

Snipes’ performance in the music video “Bad” caught the eye of director Spike Lee. Snipes turned down a small role in Lee’s Do the Right Thing for the larger part of Willie Mays Hayes in Major League, beginning a succession of box-office hits for Snipes. Lee would later cast Snipes as the jazz saxophonist Shadow Henderson in Mo’ Better Blues and as the lead in the interracial romance drama Jungle Fever. He played the drug lord Nino Brown in New Jack City, which was written specifically for him by Barry Michael Cooper. He also played a drug dealer in the 1994 film Sugar Hill.

Although Snipes is better known for his roles in action films like Passenger 57, Demolition Man (with Sylvester Stallone), Money Train, The Fan, U.S. Marshals and Rising Sun, he has also had success in comedies like White Men Can’t Jump, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar where he played a drag queen alongside Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo. Snipes has also received critical acclaim for his performances in dramas like The Waterdance and Disappearing Acts.

In 1997, he won the Best Actor Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival for his performance in New Line Cinema’s One Night Stand. In 1998, Snipes had his largest commercial success with Blade, which has grossed over $150 million worldwide. The film turned into a successful series. He also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, SUNY/Purchase.

Most of his latest films have been released straight-to-DVD. His latest films are The Shooter (also known as The Contractor), filmed in Bulgaria and the UK, with Charles Dance, Lena Heady and Eliza Bennett, Gallowwalker, released in 2009, and Game Of Death with Ernie Hudson, Robert Davi, Zoë Bell, and Gary Daniels.

Snipes was originally slated to play one of the four leads in Spike Lee’s 2008 war film Miracle at St. Anna but had to leave the film due to his widely publicized tax problems; his role eventually went to Derek Luke.[7]

Snipes with Ethan Hawke in 2009.Snipes made a comeback performance in Brooklyn’s Finest as Caz, a supporting character. He also had to turn down the part of Hale Caesar in The Expendables because he was not allowed to leave the United States without the court’s approval.[8] He was also offered the role of Nick Curran in Basic Instinct but turned it down because of commitments on another film.[citation needed] He has spoken with Sylvester Stallone about a part in a sequel to The Expendables.[citation needed]

[edit] Other venturesIn the late 1990s, Snipes and his brother started a security firm called the Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, dedicated to providing VIPs with bodyguards trained in law enforcement and martial arts.Amen- ra is also the name of his film company. In 1996,the first film produced by Amen Ra Was ‘A Great And Mighty Walk-Dr. John Henrick Clarke’.[9]

In 2000, the business was investigated for alleged ties to the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors. It emerged that Snipes had spotted 200 acres (0.81 km2) of land with the intention to buy and use for his business academy, which were close to the aforesaid compound in Putnam County, Georgia. Both Snipes’ business and the groups used Egyptian motifs as their symbols.[9]

Ultimately, Snipes and his brother did not buy the land, instead establishing their company in Florida, Antigua, and Africa. The compound of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors was raided in 2002 and their leader was convicted. Later the conviction was overturned.[9]

In 2005, Snipes was in negotiations to fight Fear Factor host Joe Rogan.[10]

[edit] Personal life
Snipes with wife Nakyung Park in 2009.Snipes has been romantically linked to a number of women, including Jada Pinkett Smith, Sanaa Lathan, Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez. He has been married twice, first to April Snipes, with whom he has a son, Jelani Asar Snipes, born in 1988. Jelani had a cameo role in Snipes’ 1990 film Mo’ Better Blues. In 2003, Snipes married painter Nakyung “Nikki” Park, with whom he has four children: son Akhenaten Kihwa-T Snipes, daughter Iset Jua-T Snipes (born July 31, 2001), son Alaafia Jehu-T Snipes (born May 26, 2004), and son Alimayu Moa-T Snipes (born March 26, 2007). Snipes spends a lot of time in Park’s home country of South Korea, which he calls his “second home.”

Snipes, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam in 1978 but left Islam in 1988. During a 1991 interview, Snipes said “[Islam made] me more conscious of what African people have accomplished, of my self-worth, [and gave] me some self-dignity.”[11]

Snipes’ apartment was destroyed by the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers during the September 11 attacks. He was on the West Coast at the time. During his time in New York Snipes was trained in fighting by his friend and mentor Brooke Ellis.[12]

[edit] Legal troubles[edit] New Line lawsuitIn 2005, Snipes sued New Line Cinema, and David S. Goyer, director of Blade: Trinity, which Snipes also produced. He claimed that the studio did not pay his full salary, that he was intentionally cut out of casting decisions, and that his character’s screen time was reduced in favor of co-stars Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel.

Snipes contends that Goyer, his fellow producers, and New Line kept him out of the project’s decision process, and that this alleged misconduct ended up harming the film’s box office performance (it made just $52 million, compared to the previous installments’ respective grosses of $70 million and $82 million). He says that a portion of his salary—$3.6 million—was withheld as punishment. Neither Goyer nor New Line has commented on these allegations. The suit is still pending.[9]

[edit] Incident involving South African passportIn 2005, Snipes was detained at OR Tambo International Airport for attempting to leave South Africa using a fraudulent South African passport.[13]

[edit] Federal tax convictionsOn October 12, 2006, Wesley Snipes, Eddie Ray Kahn, and Douglas P. Rosile were charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States under 18 U.S.C. § 371 and one count of knowingly making or aiding and abetting the making of a false and fraudulent claim for payment against the United States, under 18 U.S.C. § 287 and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Snipes was also charged with six counts of willfully failing to file federal income tax returns by their filing dates under 26 U.S.C. § 7203.[14] The conspiracy charge against Snipes included allegations that he filed a false amended return, including a false tax refund claim of over US$4 million for the year 1996, and a false amended return, including a false tax refund claim of over US$7.3 million for the year 1997. The government alleged that Snipes attempted to obtain fraudulent tax refunds using a tax protester theory called the “861 argument” (essentially, an argument that the domestic income of U.S. citizens and residents is not taxable). The indictment said Snipes used accountants who already had a history of filing false returns to obtain refund payments for their clients.[15] The government also charged that Snipes sent three worthless, fictitious “bills of exchange” to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the amounts of $1,000,000 (on November 30, 2000), $12,000,000 (January 18, 2001), and $1,000,000 (September 10, 2002), each accompanied by an IRS tax payment voucher coupon.[16]

Snipes was a client of American Rights Litigators, which Kahn operated. As a client, Snipes gave a percentage of his tax refunds to Kahn’s organization.[17] The government also charged that Snipes failed to file tax returns for the years 1999 through 2004.

In a December 4, 2006, letter from Snipes in response to his indictment, he declared himself “a non-resident alien” of the United States; in reality, Snipes is a U.S.-born citizen.[18] Snipes said he was being made an example of and was unfairly targeted by prosecutors because of his fame in connection with the federal tax fraud investigation. He attempted unsuccessfully to get the trial moved away from Ocala, Florida, on the ground that racist attitudes in that town would prejudice his chance for a fair trial.[19] Snipes faced the possibility of serving up to 16 years in prison and paying substantial fines if convicted on all the charges.[20] The trial began on January 14, 2008, in Ocala, Florida,[21] with opening statements beginning on January 16, 2008.[22]

Mug shot of Snipes taken in April 2008.On February 1, 2008, Snipes was acquitted on the felony count of conspiracy to defraud the government and on the felony count of filing a false claim with the government. He was, however, found guilty on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal income tax returns (and acquitted on three other “failure to file” charges). His co-defendants, Douglas P. Rosile and Eddie Ray Kahn, were convicted on the conspiracy and false claim charges in connection with the income tax refund claims filed for Snipes.[23][24]

On April 24, 2008, Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison for willful failure to file federal income tax returns under 26 U.S.C. § 7203.[25][26][27] Kahn was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Rosile was sentenced to four and half years in prison.[28] In April 2009, the Los Angeles Wave reported that Snipes has refused to answer certain questions in connection with a talent agency lawsuit in which the agency claims that Snipes owes over $1.4 million in commissions. Snipes is reported to have taken the position that his answers could incriminate him in a federal tax investigation. Lawyers for the talent agency stated that Snipes’ lawyer advised the lawyers for the talent agency that “Snipes and his [ … ] companies are under an additional investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and Snipes would be asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and would not answer any questions at his deposition.”[29] On May 22, 2008, the trial court ruled that Snipes could remain free while his appeal is being considered.[30]

On July 16, 2010, in a 35-page decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Snipes’s convictions.[31][32][33] At the conclusion of its decision, the Court of Appeals stated:

Although Snipes argues that there were mitigating factors that the judge did not specifically mention at sentencing, these facts—his college education, his family, and his charitable activities—do not compel the conclusion that the sentence crafted in accordance with the 18 U.S.C. [section] 3553(a) factors was substantively unreasonable. The district court acted well within its considerable discretion in sentencing Snipes to thirty-six months in prison.[33]

On November 19, 2010, the United States District Court in Ocala, Florida, denied motions for permission to interview jurors and motions for a new trial which had been filed by attorneys for Snipes. The Court ordered that the judgment of commitment be enforced.[34] In the 17-page order, the Court also granted the prosecution’s motion to revoke the bail for Snipes.[34] Until December 9, 2010, Snipes remained free on bail to work, even traveling internationally, while he appealed his conviction.[35][36]

[edit] ImprisonmentIn a television appearance on December 7, 2010, Snipes was asked by CNN’s Larry King if he was nervous about going to prison, and he admitted his trepidation about doing time. “I think any man would be nervous,” Snipes said. “Given the length of time that they are suggesting that I be away from my family, away from my profession, away from my ability to provide for my family and for those who have depended upon me to contribute to society … I think anyone would be nervous about that.”

On December 9, 2010, Snipes reported to federal prison to begin his three-year sentence.[37][38]

On June 6, 2011, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Snipes’ appeal.[39][40][41] Snipes is being held at the Federal Correctional Institution, McKean, a medium security federal prison in Pennsylvania, and is scheduled for release on July 19, 2013.[


Posted February 24, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Hollywood

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