Don Cheadle has acquired the film and TV rights to “Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire” by Shane White, with plans to adapt the 2015 book as a starring vehicle. Steven Baigelman, who worked with Cheadle on the Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead,” is reteaming with the actor and will write the script for the drama.
Cheadle will produce and star. “Prince of Darkness” sheds light on the obscure story of Hamilton, who was mentioned in an obituary for Cornelius Vanderbilt as the tycoon’s true rival. White’s book details the rise of Hamilton as he is chased out of Haiti and becomes a broker and land agent in 19th century New York, his success prickling both white and black society.
He broke many taboos of the times, including marrying a white woman and owning stock in rail companies on whose trains he wasn’t legally allowed to ride. When Hamilton died, obituaries at the time called him the richest black man in America. The book has been awarded the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic’s best book prize and the 2016 New York City Book Award.
On his way to winning a best picture Oscar for “Moonlight,” a film made for a minuscule $1.5 million, writer-director Barry Jenkins took time between awards-season red carpet appearances for a six-city European promotion tour. It was time well spent.
“Moonlight,” about a poor black boy living in the projects of Miami and struggling with his sexuality, wasn’t supposed to be the kind of movie that wins the best picture Oscar. Its modest coming-of-age narrative, unconventional story structure and outsider characters with no mega stars made it, as filmmaker Mark Duplass said recently with admiration, “a bit of a miracle” that it even reached U.S. theaters. Certainly, it’s not the kind of movie that was expected to make money overseas. After all, says a longstanding Hollywood myth, black films don’t travel.
Yet as of Tuesday, “Moonlight” has made $28.6 million at the international box office — more than its $27.5 million domestic take — for a worldwide total of $56.1 million. With the film still in theaters, even more is expected.“This black film is definitely selling overseas,” Jenkins said to The Times on the red carpet for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, just after he’d returned from Europe.
“Every time there’s a success, it gets swept under the rug,” says Jeff Clanagan, president of Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films, which primarily produces films with African American casts. “It’s almost like there’s an asterisk on it. They chalk it off as an anomaly.”
For 1988’s “Coming to America,” the anomaly was the comedic genius of Eddie Murphy, who “transcended race” when the film grossed $160.6 million internationally for a $288.8 million worldwide take. (Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Kevin Hart, Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle are other box office champs for whom the “transcended race” label has been applied.)
For 1995’s “Bad Boys” and its 2003 sequel — which together pulled in a combined $210.3 million internationally and $414.7 million worldwide — it was the fact that the film was an action flick, never mind leads Smith, Martin Lawrence and Gabrielle Union. For 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton,” a $40.4 million payoff internationally (and $201.6 million worldwide), it was the popular music of rap group N.W.A.
Even as three-time Oscar nominee “Hidden Figures,” with its predominantly black cast, has so far made $48.8 million internationally — helping to push its $166 million domestic sales to nearly $215 million worldwide and counting — the myth persists.
When asked about the myth, Octavia Spencer, Oscar-nominated for her “Hidden Figures” role, responded simply: “I have two words for you: Will Smith.”
“He was told the same thing [at the beginning of his career] — that he wasn’t going to be taken to promote his film,” she said at the annual pre-Oscars Sistahs Soiree honoring women of color in the industry. “Had he not paid for himself to fly all over the world that very first time, he would not be an international box office star. So they have to start investing and taking black actresses and actors across the world just like they do with unknown white actors. They need to do the same thing for black actors. If you don’t know ’em, why would you go support the film?”
The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that Don Cheadle’s directorial debutMiles Aheadwill make its World Premiere as the Closing Night selection of the upcoming 53rd New York Film Festival (September 25 – October 11). Cheadle, who co-wrote the script, stars as the legendary musician opposite Emayatzy Corinealdi and Ewan McGregor.
New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said: “I admire Don’s film because of all the intelligent decisions he’s made about how to deal with Miles, but I was moved—deeply moved—by Miles Ahead for other reasons. Don knows, as an actor, a writer, a director, and a lover of Miles’ music, that intelligent decisions and well-planned strategies only get you so far, that finally it’s your own commitment and attention to every moment and every detail that brings a movie to life. ‘There is no longer much else but ourselves, in the place given us,’ wrote the poet Robert Creeley. ‘To make that present, and actual … is not an embarrassment, but love.’ That’s the core of art. Miles Davis knew it, and Don Cheadle knows it.”
“I am happy that the selection committee saw fit to invite us to the dance,” added Cheadle. It’s very gratifying that all the hard work that went into the making of this film, from every person on the team, has brought us here. Miles’ music is all-encompassing, forward-leaning, and expansive. He changed the game time after time, and New York is really where it all took off for him. Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center… feels very ‘right place, right time.’ Very exciting.”
The film chronicles Davis, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, through his crazy days in the late ’70s. Holed up in his Manhattan apartment, wracked with pain from a variety of ailments and fiending for the next check from his record company, dodging sycophants and industry executives, he is haunted by memories of old glories and humiliations and of his years with his great love Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi).
Ewan MacGregor plays Dave Brill, the “reporter” who cons his way into Miles’ apartment. The film was produced by Don Cheadle, Pamela Hirsch, Lenore Zerman. Along with Daniel Wagner, Robert Barnum, Vince Willburn and Daryl Porter.
The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations were announced today, and it’s clear that diverse casting in television is finally impacting more than ratings. Eighteen African-American actors and actresses were acknowledged by the Television Academy for their work on the small screen this past season, including best actress in a drama nominees Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) and Viola Davis (“How To Get Away With Murder”), Queen Latifah for the HBO movie “Bessie”, Angela Bassett for limited series “American Horror Story” and Cicely Tyson for her guest turn on “How To Get Away With Murder.”
Other acting nominees include David Oyelowo for the limited series “Nightingale”, Anthony Anderson and Don Cheadle for their respective comedy leads in “Black-ish” and “House of Lies”, Uzo Aduba for “Orange Is The New Black”, Khandi Alexander for her guest role on “Scandal”, Andre Braugher for his supporting role in the comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, Keegan-Michael Key for his comedy sketch show “Key & Peele” Niecy Nash for her supporting role in “Getting On”, Tituss Burgess for his supporting comedic role in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” , Michael Kenneth Williams for his supporting dramatic role in “Bessie”, Regina King for “American Crime”, Mo’Nique for her portrayal of Ma Rainey in “Bessie”, Tituss Burgess and Reg E. Cathey for his guest role on “House Of Cards.”
Additionally, Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley (“12 Years A Slave”) scored big with 10 nominations for his critically-acclaimed ABC series “American Crime”, including Best Limited Series and Writing for a Limited Series. Additionally, writer/director Dee Rees (“Pariah”) is nominated for writing as well as directing for “Bessie.”
More writing nods went to Key and Jordan Peele for “Key & Peele” and the “Key & Peele Super Bowl Special”. Key & Peele were also acknowledged in the Short-Form Live Action category for “Key & Peele Presents Van And Mike: The Ascension”. Beyoncé continues to dominate all media with a nod in the Special Class Program category for “Beyoncé and Jay Z On The Run.”
Astrophysicist-turned-television personality and host Neil deGrasse Tyson was rewarded for his ventures into the entertainment space with two nominations: one as narrator for “Hubble’s Cosmic Journey” and the other for his nascent talk show “Star Talk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.”
The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards will be held on September 20, hosted by Andy Samberg and broadcast live on Fox from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
To see a full list of all the nominees, click here.
Film and television awards season continued ramping up as the nominations for the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards were announced this morning.
Martin Luther King Jr. biopic “Selma” scored big with nominations not only for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Original Song (“Glory” by John Legend and Common) and Best Actor (David Oyelowo), but also with the first Golden Globe nomination for an African American female director, Ava DuVernay.
“Annie” star Quvenzanhé Wallis earned a nod in the Best Actress – Comedy or Musical category and in television, Viola Davis was honored with a nom in the Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama for her starring role in “How To Get Away With Murder.” Don Cheadle was recognized in the Best Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical for his work in “House of Lies” and Uzo Aduba received a nod for her supporting work in “Orange is the New Black.”
The Golden Globes, hosted for the second year by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will take place Jan. 11 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and air live on NBC at 8pm EST.
Below is the full list of nominations:
BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
IFC Productions and Detour Filmproduction; IFC Films
Annapurna Pictures; Sony Pictures Classics
THE IMITATION GAME
Black Bear Pictures; The Weinstein Company
Paramount Pictures and Pathé; Paramount Pictures
It was first a novel, then a film and now it’s headed to Broadway. “Devil in a Blue Dress” will be getting the theater treatment. The popular film that starred Denzel Washington and Don Cheadlein 1995 — based on one of Walter Mosley‘s most popular works — is coming to the Great White Way.
“Devil in a Blue Dress” is a noir novel and film about a man in 1948 Los Angeles who loses his aerospace manufacturing job and turns to private detective work.
Mosley revealed the Broadway news when he was promoting his new book, “Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore.” He has partnered with Jazz musician and composer Branford Marsalisto bring the work to the stage. There’s no word on if Washington or Cheadle will reprise their roles from the film, but the production should begin within the next year.
Last year Kerry Washington and Don Cheadlemade Emmy history as two African American actors breaking through the lead acting categories at the same time with nominations. Not only did they both earn nominations again this year, but a total of 11 Black actors and actresses were nominated across all acting categories — the most since 1977 when Roots racked up nine nominations for its castmembers according to TV Academy stats (Roots wound up winning trophies for Olivia HopeandLouis Gossett Jr). Last year Washington’s nom for Scandal repped the first in nearly two decades for a black actress, the last being Cicely Tyson in 1995′sSweet Justice. This year, Washington will be running into Tyson on the red carpet as she’s also up for an nomination in the lead movie/miniseries actress category for The Trip to Bountiful. Another big year for Black actors was 1986, when The Cosby Show earned eight acting nominations and a guest comedy actor win for Roscoe Lee Browne. Typically the Emmys, similar to the Oscars, has been criticized for a lack of diversity in the past.
“It’s a testament to the storytelling that is going on out there,” Andre Braugher, who plays Captain Ray Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, said this morning about the record. “If you look at what Fox is doing with diverse comedies, there’s The Mindy Project and our show. There’s a new dimension of half-hour comedies that don’t depend on stereotypes or the boxes we put people in. I play a gay police captain on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and I’m not the butt of the joke. That’s revolutionary for TV.”
Added Cheadle about the trend, “It definitely reps a widening of the storytelling and more inclusive ideology of the shared stories and experiences we all have. It’s creeping toward something, but there’s still a lack of recognition for other nationalities. It’s definitely better, but it’s not something you can pin too much on as a trend since next year could be lower.”
Of the 11 this year, there’s Washington in Scandal (lead drama actress), Joe Morton also in Scandal (guest actor drama), Cheadle in House Of Lies (lead actor comedy series), Braugher for Brooklyn Nine-Nine (supporting comedy actor), Chiwetel Ejiofor in Starz’s Dancing On The Edge, Idris Elba for Luther (both in movie/miniseries actor category), Tyson in Trip to Bountiful (lead actress movie/miniseries), Angela Bassett in American Horror Story: Coven (movie/miniseries supporting actress), Reg. E. Cathey in House Of Cards (guest actor drama), and Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox in Orange Is The New Black (both guest actress comedy series).