Tag: Justin Simien

‘Dear White People’ Series Ordered at Netflix; Justin Simien to Write and Direct

Dear White People Sundance
“Dear White People” (photo via Variety.com)

article by Daniel Holloway via Variety.com

Netflix has given a series order to “Dear White People,” an adaptation of writer and director Justin Simien’s 2014 feature film of the same name. Simien will write all 10 half-hour episodes and direct the premiere. The series will begin production later this year and debut worldwide on Netflix in 2017.

“Dear White People” tells the story of a diverse group of students of color experiencing campus life at a fictional Ivy League university dominated by white students. Devon Shepard will serve as executive producer alongside Stephanie Allain Bray and Julia Lebedev, who executive produced the film.

The series will be produced by Lionsgate Television, which also produces “Orange Is the New Black” for Netflix. Lionsgate’s Roadside Attractions released the original movie.

“Justin is a gifted storyteller whose bold, unique vision is perfectly suited to Netflix,” said Cindy Holland, vice president of original content at Netflix. “His original film ‘Dear White People’ announced the arrival of a fresh, creative voice that had everyone talking, and we’re excited to have Justin create this new series for our members worldwide.”

“We’re proud to expand our partnership with our friends at Netflix on a comedy that tackles racial themes with a combination of intelligence, honesty, irreverence and wit,” said Chris Selak, executive vice president, television, Lionsgate Television. “Our original film with Roadside Attractions catapulted ‘Dear White People’ into the national conversation about race, and Justin and the rest of the creative team have an opportunity to expand this world and bring its timely and universal themes to a global television audience.”

The film version of “Dear White People” began life in 2012 as a concept trailer, which Simien paid for with his tax refund. The crowd-funded movie went on to win the U .S. dramatic special jury award for breakthrough talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

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Carl Jones’ Animated Musical “The Wizard Of Watts” Airs Saturday on Cartoon Network, Takes on Police Brutality

“The Wizard of Watts,” an animated musical coming to Adult Swim on Saturday, tackles police brutality during a charged time. (Credit: Adult Swim) 

LOS ANGELES — “The Wizard of Watts,” a coming animated television musical, was conceived two years ago as a big, fat gob of raucous entertainment wrapped around a nugget of racial commentary.

Then, with the musical’s animation already far underway, Ferguson, Mo., became a flash point, starting a national debate about race, overzealous policing and the need for officers to wear body cameras. Then came the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” and the broader protest against police brutality.

Suddenly, “The Wizard of Watts,” with its devastated black neighborhoods and army of pigs, took on greater weight. How the musical will be received by viewers at a racially charged cultural moment is anyone’s guess. But when it arrives on Cartoon Network’s after-hours Adult Swim block on Saturday, “The Wizard of Watts” will at the very least become one of those eerie instances of art accidentally mirroring life.

The primary villain in the Magical Land of Oz-Watts, where the story takes place, is a vicious pig clad in riot gear. Water does not neutralize this Oz villain; instead this baddie gets melted with a camcorder. “Oh, no! Not an irrefutable visual record of my illegal actions!” the anthropomorphized pig wails as he turns to mush at the musical’s climax.

Even Carl Jones, the director of “The Wizard of Watts” and one of its writers, was surprised at hitting such a cultural bull’s-eye.

“I take pride in tackling things with my gloves off, but animation takes such a long time to produce that you usually don’t end up being all that current,” he said.

Mr. Jones had noticed on social media how African-Americans were increasingly using cellphone cameras as “protection from police, like as a weapon,” he said.

“Nobody was talking about it and so I decided we had to take it on,” he said.

Continue reading “Carl Jones’ Animated Musical “The Wizard Of Watts” Airs Saturday on Cartoon Network, Takes on Police Brutality”

Sundance Award-Winning Writer/Director Justin Simien’s Film “Dear White People” Acquired by Lionsgate, Roadside

Dear White People Sundance

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have acquired all U.S. and Canadian rights to Dear White People, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.  Written and directed by Justin Simien, Dear White People follows the stories of four black students at Winchester University, where a riot breaks out over a popular ‘African American’ themed party thrown by a white fraternity.

The comedy, Co-starring Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) and Tessa Thompson (Veronica Mars), won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at Sundance.  “Justin Simien is a funny, fresh and current voice with his finger on the Millennials’ pulse,” said Roadside’s co-president Howard Cohen.

article via Variety.com