Tag: HBO Films

Oprah Winfrey to Executive Produce and Star in “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” for HBO Films

Oprah Winfrey (i) and Henrietta Lacks (r)
Oprah Winfrey (i) and Henrietta Lacks (r)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.comOprah Winfrey will star in the adaptation of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” for HBOFilms. Winfrey’s Harpo Films optioned Rebecca Skloot‘s 2010 best-seller years ago, and it with her commitment to star as well as executive produce, it will finally be produced this summer.  Skloot will serve as a co-executive producer. George C. Wolfe, who adapted the memoir, will also direct.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells (HeLa cells) were used to create the first immortal human cell line, which helped scientists make unprecedented medical breakthroughs, including Jonas Salk’s development of the polio vaccine.

Told through the eyes of her daughter, Deborah Lacks, played by Winfrey, the film chronicles her search to learn about the mother she never knew and to understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks’ cancerous cells in 1951 changed countless lives and the face of medicine forever.

Henrietta Lacks’ sons  Zakariyya Rahman and David Lacks, Jr. and granddaughter Jeri Lacksare will serve as consultants on the HBO project.

Ava DuVernay to Direct “The Battle Of Versailles” for HBO Films

Image (1) AvaDuVernay__130711182034.jpg for post 539182
Director Ava DuVernay (photo via deadline.com)

article by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com

The story of the 1973 Palace of Versailles fashion show that put American designers and black models on the map is the subject of The Battle Of Versailles, an HBO Films movie co-written and directed by Selma helmer Ava DuVernay.

She is co-writing the project, now in development, with Michael Starrbury (The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete). It is based on the 2015 book The Battle Of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into The Spotlight And Made History by fashion journalist Robin Givhan.

battleofversaillesThe movie will chronicle the November 28, 1973 fashion show that took place at the Palace of Versailles. A fundraiser for the restoration of King Louis XIV’s palace, it pitted the top five French designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior) against five then-unknown Americans (Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston, Stephen Burrows and Anne Klein, who brought along her then-assistant Donna Karan) in front of an audience of the world’s social elite. By the end of the night, American fashion would be born, racial barriers broken, and the industry would be left forever transformed.

The French designers kicked off the evening with a big-budget, two-hour extravaganza featuring elaborate set pieces and a live orchestra playing classical music. The Americans followed with a 35-minute show to a pre-recorded Al Green soundtrack, backed by a simple line drawing of the Eiffel Towel. Against all odds, the Americans emerged victorious, hailed for the energy of their presentation, with a lot of the credit going to the fearless 30 models, 10 of whom, in a groundbreaking move, were African American.

The event was also chronicled in Deborah Riley Draper’s 2012 feature documentary Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution.

DuVernay recently signed on to direct A Wrinkle In Time for Disney. In TV, she is writing, directing and executive producing the upcoming OWN drama series Queen Sugar, which she co-created with Oprah Winfrey.

To read more, go to: http://deadline.com/2016/03/ava-duvernay-battle-of-versailles-hbo-films-1201722419/

 

Mo’Nique & Khandi Alexander Join Queen Latifah in HBO Films’ Bessie Smith Biopic

khandi6moniqueMo’Nique (Precious) and Khandi Alexander (Scandal) will co-star opposite Queen Latifah in Bessie, HBO’s film about iconic blues singer Bessie Smith (Queen Latifah).

Written and directed by Dee Rees based on the life story of Smith, the project chronicles how Smith overcame her tempestuous personal life to become one of the most acclaimed performing and recording artists of the 1920s and ’30s, earning the nickname Empress of the Blues.

Mo’Nique will play Ma Rainey, one of the first professional blues singers billed as The Mother of the Blues. Ma Rainey (born Gertrude hbofilmsPridgett) was already well known when she met then-young Bessie. According to a popular story, which has been disputed, Rainey kidnapped Smith, making her join the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, and teaching her to sing the blues.

Alexander will play Bessie’s older sister, Viola. By the time Bessie was nine, both of her parents and one brother had died, with Viola taking care of her siblings. Bessie is produced by HBO Films in association with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Lili and the late Richard Zanuck’s the Zanuck Co., with Lili Fini Zanuck, Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel serving as executive producer and Richard Zanuck also getting a posthumous exec producer credit.

article by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com