Tag: “Black Nativity”

Octavia Spencer, LeBron James Limited Series About Madam C.J. Walker Lands at Netflix

Octavia Spencer/LeBron James (photo via variety.com)

by Debra Birnbaum via Variety.com

It’s official: Octavia Spencer and LeBron James’ limited series about entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker has landed at Netflix. The streaming outlet made the announcement at its Television Critics Assn. press tour session Sunday.

The project is executive produced by Spencer and James. Spencer will star in the eight-episode series, which is based on the book “On Our Own Ground” by A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, who will also serve as a consultant.

The series will recount the untold story of how Walker, a black hair care pioneer and mogul, overcame hostile turn-of-the-century America, epic rivalries, tumultuous marriages and some trifling family to become America’s first black, self-made female millionaire.

Walker, the daughter of slaves, was orphaned at age seven, married at 14, and widowed at 20. She spent two decades laboring as a washerwoman, earning $1.50 a week. Everything changed, though, following Walker’s discovery of a revolutionary hair care formula for black women. By the time she died in 1919, she had built a beauty empire from the ground up, amassing wealth unprecedented among black women.

“Black Nativity” directory Kasi Lemmons will direct the pilot and also executive produce, and Nicole Asher will write. Janine Sherman Barrois and Elle Johnson will also serve as executive producers, along with SpringHill’s Maverick Carter, and Zero Gravity’s Mark Holder and Christine Holder.

The Holders optioned the book from Bundles in early 2016, and Spencer pursued the part aggressively once she learned of it. With the Oscar winner attached, William Morris Endeavor Agency pitched the series to James as his production company’s entryway into prestige TV.

“It’s so exciting for all of us to keep building SpringHill, see it mature, and continue to find its voice. We are really focused on growing with authenticity and substance,” Carter said. “For us, this is totally about great stories and great partners. Partnering with Octavia to tell the story of Madam C.J. Walker is the ideal first project for SpringHill to take an important step into scripted drama.”

Source: https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/octavia-spencer-lebron-james-madam-cj-walker-netflix-limited-series-1202889368/

Jennifer Hudson Receives Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Jennifer Hudson

By her own admission, Jennifer Hudson is having a “fantastic and surreal year.” The Oscar and Grammy winner, who received a star today, Nov. 13, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her music work, kicked off 2013 with a trifecta of high-profile performances: the presidential inauguration, the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards.

And as the year winds to a close, she shows no signs of slowing down, conquering all aspects of media. Television? She dropped in on NBC’s Smash for a multi-episode arc. Music? She just released her new single “I Can’t Describe” from her upcoming third studio album. And movies? Hudson has no fewer than three this year, with her long-gestating Winnie Mandela biopic Winnie released in September, followed by The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, and the upcoming Black Nativity.

It’s the latter film that marks Hudson’s first movie musical since her 2006 film debut in Dreamgirls, which went on to win Hudson an Academy Award for Supporting Actress. She admits that after the success of that film, many movie musicals came courting. “But I was always ‘No, no, not now,’” she says. “And I don’t want to be typecast, because this industry is quick to box you in and say, ‘OK, everything you do should be a musical.’ So I’m very selective.”

But there was something about the message of holidays and family in Black Nativity that persuaded Hudson. A modern retelling of the Nativity story with an all-black cast, Black Nativity is based on Langston Hughes’ acclaimed play, which made its Broadway debut in 1961. Hudson plays the single mother of a troubled teen (Jacob Latimore) who is sent to spend the holidays with his grandparents, played by Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.

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2013: A Breakout Year for Black Films

“FRUITVALE STATION” Ariana Neal and Michael B. Jordan star in a film based on the 2009 killing of a young man in Oakland, Calif. (Cait Adkins/Weinstein Company)

LOS ANGELES — Musical. Romance. Epic history. Social drama. Christmas comedy. After years of complaint and self-criticism about the shortage of prominent movies by and about black Americans, film companies are poised to release an extraordinary cluster of them across an array of genres in the last five months of 2013.

At least 10 new films will be released, including several awards contenders, from both independent and major distributors, like the Weinstein Company, Fox Searchlight and Universal Pictures. Even some of those who made this year’s movies have been caught by surprise.

“You tell me!” said the director and screenwriter Lee Daniels, when asked how so many black-driven films had materialized at once. His historical drama “The Butler” — based on a real-life White House butler who served eight presidents — is to be released by Weinstein on Aug. 16. “I’m working in my own bubble, I come up for air, and there they are,” Mr. Daniels said.

Black filmmakers say the wave of 2013 releases was built in large part on the creativity that has flourished on the independent-film circuit, which has become a laboratory of sorts for more prominent African-American-themed productions. Writers and directors have been sharpening their skills on indie films the last several years while waiting for big distributors to regain interest.

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