Tag: James Lassiter

Will Smith and Jay Z To Produce HBO Mini-Series About Emmett Till

Will Smith and Jay Z found success when they signed on as producers for the Broadway musical Fela, and now the two will team up again to produce an HBO mini series about Emmett Till.

Entertainment Weekly reports the two, along with Jay Brown, James Lassiter, and Aaron Kaplan are executive producing the untitled mini series. Till was a 14 year-old from Chicago sent to spend the summer in Mississippi. One evening, Till was kidnapped from his bedroom and savagely beaten by white men because he whistled at a white woman. At Till’s funeral, his mother Mamie had an open casket to showcase the brutality of her son’s death.

Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, the men responsible for Till murder, were found not guilty of their crimes, but later publicly admitted their involvment. Currently there are no writers for the mini series or an expected release date.

Earlier this year, famed film critic Roger Ebert‘s widow, Chaz Ebert, announced her own Emmett Till project.  We are not sure if both these Till projects will see the light of day, but we certainly hope so.  The more the history of African Americans is explored, and this particular turning point in the early struggle for racial justice and civil rights, the better.

Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Buy Film Rights to WWI Graphic Novel “The Harlem Hellfighters”

Harlem Hellfighter Book Cover - P 2014

Sony has picked up rights to The Harlem HellfightersMax Brooks‘ upcoming graphic novel based on the true story of an African American WWI Army infantry unit.  Caleeb Pinkett and James Lassiter will produce for Overbrook Entertainment.  Hitting stores on April 1st via Broadway Books, The Harlem Hellfighters is based on the Army’s 369th infantry division, an African-American unit fighting in Europe during World War I. Breaking down racial barriers, the unit spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and went on to win countless decorations.

Though they returned to the U.S. as heroes, the unit faced tremendous discrimination, even from their own government. The story chronicles their journey from the enlistment lines in Harlem to the training camp at Spartanburg, South Carolina, to the trenches in France.  The graphic novel was illustrated by Caanan White. Brooks will also adapt the script.

Brooks, the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, wrote the book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, which was adapted for Paramount’s Brad Pitt-starring film that grossed $202 million domestically and $540 million worldwide. A sequel is currently in development.

article by Rebecca Ford and Borys Kit via hollywoodreporter.com

Jay Z and Will Smith Sell Electronic Music Comedy with Calvin Harris to HBO

Calvin Harris Jay Z HBO

The DJ that has brought dance music fans songs including “Feel So Close” and “We Found Love” is making a move towards the small screen. According to Variety.com, HBO is developing a half-hour comedy with Calvin Harris that takes place in the world of electronic music entitled Higher.  Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh on board to write the pilot, with a starry lineup of executive producers including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay Z, James Lassiter, Tyran Smith, Miguel Melendez, Mark Gillespie and Dean Wilson, along with Harris.

No word yet on the plot of Higher, which will hail from Overbrook Entertainment, Three Six Zero Group and Marcy Media. Jay-Z and Will Smith have previously collaborated on the Broadway production Fela, and are also teamed on forthcoming feature musical Annie.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson