Tag: “The Chi”

Academy Award Winner Common’s Freedom Road Productions Signs Television Deal With Lionsgate

Common (via Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, actor, producer and Academy Award-winning musician Common has signed an overall deal with Lionsgate Television. Under the new agreement, Common’s Freedom Road Productions will develop new series projects for the studio.

“We’re thrilled to have the talented multi-hyphenate Common join our television team along with his longtime manager and producing partner Derek Dudley, president of production Shelby Stone, and creative executive Melisa Resch,” said Lionsgate executive vice president and head of worldwide scripted television Chris Selak. “Common’s expertise from working across all different artistic platforms offers a rich and exciting creative vision to our group. We look forward to the bold, premium content Freedom Road Productions will bring to our deep and diverse television slate.”

Common has starred in installments of Lionsgate’s “John Wick” and “Now You See Me” film franchises, and the Chicago native also currently stars in and executive produces “The Chi” on Showtime.

“I’m proud to expand my relationship with the innovative content creator Lionsgate,” said Common. “The studio offers a collaborative, creative freedom that is unique in the entertainment industry, which makes them a perfect partner for Freedom Road Productions. I’m looking forward to teaming up with Kevin, Chris and the Lionsgate collective on exciting and fresh television programming.”

‘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/

Emmy Award-Winning Actor/Writer/Producer Lena Waithe Covers April Issue Of ‘Vanity Fair’

by Danielle Jennings via hellobeautiful.com

The last year has been a whirlwind for actress/writer/producer/creator Lena Waithe. After making history by being the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (for the Netflix hit Master of None,) creating the new Showtime hit series The Chi and co-starring in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film Ready Player One. Waithe is living her best life and now she can add Vanity Fair cover girl to the list.

You might as well get used to seeing and hearing about Lena Waithe for years to come, as the young Hollywood power player is breaking down boundaries and providing top-tier work with each project. As she covers the April 2018 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, Waithe gets candid about her career, her future and being a queer POC.

Excerpts from Lena Waithe x Vanity Fair interview:

[On how life has changed since her Emmy win]: “How has the Emmy changed me? It got me all these meetings that I go in and say I’m too busy to work with you—you should have hollered at me. You can take my call when I call you about this black queer writer over here who’s got a dope pilot, or this person over here who’s got really cool ideas, or this actress who’s really amazing but nobody’s seen her.”

[On being a black writer in Hollywood]: “The hardest thing about being a black writer in this town is having to pitch your black story to white execs,” she says. “Also, most of the time when we go into rooms to pitch, there’s one token black executive that sometimes can be a friend and sometimes can be a foe. I wonder if they think it makes me more comfortable, if that makes me think that they’re a woke network or studio because they’ve got that one black exec. It feels patronizing. I’m not against a black exec. I want there to be more of them.”

[On being a black gay woman in Hollywood]: “Being black and gay, having dreadlocks, having a certain kind of swag, and dressing the way I do,” she explains, she is sometimes told by certain well-meaning admirers or fashion wannabes, “ ‘That’s dope, you’re cool.’ I don’t feel validated by that. . . . I don’t want to be White. I don’t want to be straight. I don’t want to blend in. . . . I try to wear queer designers who happen to be brown and makin’ shit.”

In addition to her other projects, Waithe also just got the greenlight for her TBS series Twenties which is loosely based on her early years in Los Angeles and tells the stories of three black women making their way in Hollywood.

Source: https://hellobeautiful.com/2987441/lena-waithe-covers-april-issue-of-vanity-fair/

Essence Magazine to Honor ‘Game-Changers’ Haddish, Waithe, Among Others at Black Women in Hollywood Awards

Tiffany Haddish is one of four women being honored at the March 1, 2018 event in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File) (Associated Press)
by Associated Press via washingtonpost.com

NEW YORK — “Girls Trip” changed the game for Tiffany Haddish, and now she’s being honored as one of Essence Magazine’s “game-changers” at its annual “Black Women in Hollywood” awards.

“Girls Trip” was one of last year’s big hits and made Haddish a breakout star. The comedian is one of four women being honored at the March 1 event in Beverly Hills, California.

“The Chi” creator and “Master of None” star Lena Waithe will also be celebrated; she became the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing last year.

Danai Gurira of “The Walking Dead” stars in the upcoming “Black Panther.” Gurira also created the Tony-nominated “Eclipsed,” among other works. Tessa Thompson broke new ground in her role in last fall’s superhero hit “Thor.”

Essence magazine editor Vanessa De Luca says the honorees are “raising their voices to benefit all women.”

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/celebrities/essence-honors-game-changers-haddish-waithe-among-others/2018/02/06/54083e84-0b46-11e8-998c-96deb18cca19_story.html?utm_term=.ad9ee8c26f95

Creator and Executive Producer Lena Waithe’s Freshman Series “The Chi” Renewed for 2nd Season by Showtime

by Joe Otterson via Variety.com

Emmy winner Lena Waithe‘s “The Chi” has been renewed for a second season at Showtime, the premium cabler announced Tuesday.

The renewal comes after the series has aired just four episodes of its 10 episode first season. In addition, Ayanna Floyd Davis has signed on for Season 2 as executive producer and showrunner. Davis, who wrote the third episode of the series, has written for and produced shows such as “Empire,” “Hannibal,” and “Private Practice.”

Produced entirely in Chicago, “The Chi” is a coming-of-age story centering on a group of residents who become linked by coincidence but bonded by the need for connection and redemption on the city’s South Side. The series was created and executive produced by actor/writer Waithe.

The ensemble cast for Season 1 includes Jason Mitchel, Jacob Latimore, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Alex Hibbert, Yolonda Ross, Armando Riesco, and Tiffany Boone.

Source: http://variety.com/2018/tv/news/the-chi-renewed-season-2-showtime-1202681682/