Tag: Hillman Grad Productions

‘The Chi’ Creator Lena Waithe Sets First-Look Deal at Showtime for Hillman Grad Productions

Lena Waithe
Emmy Winner Lena Waithe (CREDIT: JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/AP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

by Joe Otterton via Variety.com

Lena Waithe has signed a first-look deal with Showtime, the premium cabler announced Tuesday. Under the deal, Waithe will develop comedy and drama projects for Showtime that she will both write and produce through her company Hillman Grad Productions.

“I have been a fan of Showtime for as long as I can remember,” said Waithe. “They make shows that most networks wouldn’t touch and they’ve never been afraid of taking risks. I look forward to introducing my Showtime family to fresh and exciting new voices. I want to make content that will challenge audiences and take them places they never thought TV could go. It’s going to be a fun ride.”

Waithe most recently created and executive produces the Showtime drama “The Chi,” which was renewed for a second season in January.

“We fell in love with Lena’s voice when we ordered her pilot for ‘The Chi’ three years ago, and we have watched in awe at her powerful impact on our industry and our culture,” said Gary Levine, Showtime’s president of programming. “Lena is a creative force of nature and we are delighted that the force will be with us as she makes Showtime her creative home.”

“The Chi” was Showtime’s biggest launch for a drama series in two years and grew its audience in consecutive weeks.

The debut of that series came on the heels of Waithe winning the Emmy for outstanding writing in a comedy series for the “Master of None” episode “Thanksgiving” that she co-wrote. The episode adapted Waithe’s personal experience as a queer black woman coming out to herself and her family into the character of Denise, whom Waithe played.

It was recently announced that her latest script, “Queen & Slim,” will go into production in January starring Daniel Kaluuya for Universal. Waithe also serves as executive producer and writer of the upcoming series “Twenties” at TBS.

Her producing credits include the films “Step Sisters” and “Dear White People,” which later became a Netflix series in which she guest starred. She was also named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential People of 2018.

Source: https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/lena-waithe-the-chi-showtime-deal-1202882463/

Daniel Kaluuya to Star in Romantic Drama ‘Queen and Slim’ From Writer/Producer Lena Waithe and Director Melina Matsoukas

by Dave McNary via Variety.com

“Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya is set to lead the independent romance drama “Queen & Slim,” written by Lena Waithe.  “Insecure” and “Master of None” helmer Melina Matsoukas is making her feature directorial debut.

Waithe, known for her work on “Master of None” and “The Chi,” wrote the script based on an original idea and treatment from bestselling author James Frey (“A Million Little Pieces”) and a story by Frey and Waithe. “Queen & Slim” will go into pre-production this October with production commencing in January. Matsoukas and Waithe are still searching for a fresh face for the role of Queen.

“Queen & Slim” is an exploration of America’s social and political climate through the lens of a genre-defying love story. The film centers on a black man and black woman who go on a first date that goes awry after the two are pulled over by a police officer at a traffic stop. They kill the police officer in self-defense and rather than turn themselves in, they go on the run.

Waithe is producing the film through her company, Hillman Grad Productions, along with Matsoukas’ production company De La Revolución Films and Frey’s 3BlackDot. Andrew Coles and Michelle Knudsen are also producing. “To me, this is protest art,” said Waithe. “It’s about being black and trying to fall in love in a world that’s burning down around you.”

Matsoukas said, “It’s a film that defines black love as a revolutionary act. It shows that our union is the greatest weapon against the assault on black people in America.”

“Queen & Slim” will be distributed by Universal Pictures worldwide with eOne handling distribution in select territories including the U.K. and Canada. The film will be released in North America on Nov. 27, 2019.

This is the first film greenlit under Makeready’s recently announced distribution deal with Universal. eOne is Makeready’s lead investor. Brad Weston’s production company, Makeready, is financing the film, along with 3BlackDot.

Kaluuya, who received a best actor nomination at the Oscars for “Get Out,” most recently appeared as W’Kabi in “Black Panther.” In 2017, Lena Waithe became the first black woman to win a comedy writing Emmy for the “Thanksgiving” episode of “Master of None.”

Mastoukas is a two-time Grammy Award winner for her “We Found Love” and Beyonce’s “Formation” music videos.

To read more: https://variety.com/2018/film/news/daniel-kaluuya-romance-queen-and-slim-1202878861/