TriStar Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to The Woman King, a film inspired by true events that will star Oscar winners Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o. The original story is from Maria Bello, and Cathy Schulman’s Welle Entertainment will produce with Davis and Julius Tennon of JuVee Productions, and Bello of Jack Blue Productions.
Based on the true events that took place in The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful West African states in the 18th and 19th centuries, The Woman King tells the story of Nanisca (Davis), general of the all-female military unit known as the Amazons, and her daughter Nawi (Nyong’o), who together fought the French and neighboring tribes who violated their honor, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.
“The Woman King is the powerful true story of an extraordinary mother-daughter relationship,” TriStar Pictures president Hannah Minghella said. “And there’s no-one more extraordinary than Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o to bring them to life.”
Added Schulman: “Black Panther just showed us how the power of imagination and lore could reveal a world without gender and racial stereotypes. The Woman King will tell one of history’s greatest forgotten stories from the real world in which we live, where an army of African warrior women staved off slavery, colonialism and inter-tribal warfare to unify a nation.”
Viola Davis has never been afraid to speak out for what’s right — from issues like sexual assault to the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry, and beyond. Now Davis is using her star power to focus on another worthy cause: childhood hunger.
As the Ambassador for the Hunger Is campaign, “The How to Get Away With Murder” star has spearheaded a campaign that has raised more than $20 million since 2014 to help provide meals to children all over the country who normally do not have enough to eat.
“The continued success of this program is not only exciting but it’s a sign of the strength our communities possess to bring about positive change,” Davis said in a press release. “Too many children go without breakfast in this country, and it’s all of our duty to work toward fixing that problem.”
A huge number of American children struggle with hunger every day. In fact, 1 out of every 6 children in America live in a household without consistent access to adequate food and 3 out of 4 K-8 teachers say they regularly see students come to school hungry, according to the Hunger Is campaign.
1 OUT OF EVERY 6 CHILDREN IN AMERICA LIVE IN A HOUSEHOLD WITHOUT CONSISTENT ACCESS TO ADEQUATE FOOD
Providing these hungry kids with even just a daily breakfast can make a huge difference. For example, students who regularly start the day with a healthy breakfast have an average 17.5% increase in standardized math scores, according to Hunger Is.
The nominees for the 2017 Primetime Emmys were announced this morning, and among them are nods in the Best Comedy Series category for writer/creator/star Donald Glover‘s freshman FX half-hour “Atlanta” as well as writer/creator Kenya Barris‘ veteran ABC show “Black-ish,” which also garnered nods in the Lead Comedy Actor and Actress categories for its stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. Glover also picked up a nod for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.
Emmy winner Viola Davis was recognized again for her role as Annalise Keating in ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” and Sterling K. Brown came through in the Lead Actor in a Drama Series category for his work on the popular NBC hit “This is Us.” Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton were acknowledged for their Supporting Roles in “Westworld,” as was Samira Wiley for her work in the original Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Up against Wiley in the same category is her former “Orange Is the New Black” castmate Uzo Aduba.
Additionally, Leslie Jones grabbed a nomination in the Supporting Role in Comedy category for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” and RuPaul Charles got some love in the Host for a Reality/Reality-Competition Program category for his work on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Behind the scenes, Donald Glover earned his third Emmy nomination for “Atlanta” in the directing category, and his fourth, along with his brother Stephen Glover, for Writing for a Comedy Series. Ava DuVernay & Spencer Averick were nominated in the Writing for a Nonfiction Program category for their outstanding work on the Netflix documentary “13th.” The full list of nominees follows below:
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”)
Claire Foy (“The Crown”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)
Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”)
Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)
Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”)
Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)
Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”)
Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)
Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”)
Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”)
Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
William H. Macy (“Shameless”)
Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”)
The Screen Actors Guild‘s SAG-AFTRA Foundation announced today that Emmy®-nominated actor Rashida Jones will receive its Actors Inspiration Award, an honor recognizing artists who give back to the community by championing worthy philanthropic causes which make a difference in the world. On Monday, June 12th, the award will be presented to Ms. Jones at the Foundation’s 8thAnnual Los Angeles Golf Classic, an event benefiting its assistance and children’s literacy programs.
Rashida Jones is an actor, director, producer, screenwriter, musician and activist. Her philanthropy includes work with the International Rescue Committee, traveling around the world as an advocate for the nonprofit which delivers lifesaving care to people fleeing conflict and natural disaster; serving on the board and as a celebrity ambassador for Peace First, a youth organization that encourages the development of the world’s next generation of peacemakers; and supporting Oceana in its mission to protect and restore the world’s oceans. In addition, she lends her voice to several other important charities including Amnesty International, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and The Trevor Project. Ms. Jones is also a supporter of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s online children’s literacy program Storyline Online (storylineonline.net) and will be filming a new video for Storyline Online following the Actors Inspiration Award ceremony. She will join the ranks of actors Viola Davis, Lily Tomlin and Chris Pine as Storyline Online advocates. Rashida Jones’ commitment to supporting vulnerable populations around the world, the environment, and children’s literacy embodies the spirit of the Actors Inspiration Award. Continue reading “Screen Actors Guild Foundation to Honor Rashida Jones with 2017 Actors Inspiration Award for Philanthropy”→
JuVee Productions – the integrated film, television and digital production company created by Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, is embarking on an effort to raise $250,000,000 in a global expansion plan for the development, production and distribution of diverse and inclusive film and digital content.
The fund will be used to develop, finance, produce and distribute a slate of multiple feature films and branded digital content that will see the relatively young production company expand its footprint globally. “The shift in storytelling should be inclusive and we aim to make it a reality,” says Julius Tennon in a press statement.
Launched in 2012 by Davis and Tennon, JuVee Productions is a Los Angeles-based artist driven production company that develops and produces independent film, television, theater, and digital content across all platforms. JuVee Productions aims to become the go-to creative hub where the next generation of filmmakers and artists have the space to craft dynamic stories spanning the broad spectrum of humanity.
The company’s most recent project is the courtroom drama “Custody” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and aired on the Lifetime network last week. The short film “Night Shift” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of this year and continues to tour the film festival circuit.
Upcoming the production company has the film adaptation of “The Personal History of Rachel DuPree” which Davis is starring in; a biopic on Barbara Jordan (the first Southern African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives), also with Davis starring; and a TV period series set up at ABC titled “The Zipcoders,” set in 1968, about a group of black teenagers form a rock ‘n’ roll band who aspire to be like The Beatles; and there’s also Davis’ Harriet Tubman film with HBO.
Moonlight topped off its amazing awards-season run by earning the Best Picture Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards. Moonlight director/writer/producer Barry Jenkins accepted the award at the end of the night after a shocking turn of events where La La Land was mistakenly called to stage to receive the Academy’s highest honor. Jenkins also won with co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor in Oscar history to win the Best Supporting Actor Award.
The star-studded evening also saw an energizing opening performance of “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Original Song nominee Justin Timberlake, a medley of two songs from “La La Land” by its co-star John Legend (“City of Stars” went on to win the Original Song award) and a standing ovation for Best Feature Documentary presenter, Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who was introduced by “Hidden Figures” stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae (and wheeled out on stage by current NASA astronaut Yvonne Cagle).
There were also Oscar presentations from Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, but one of the biggest highlights of the evening was the speech delivered by three-time nominee and Best Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis:
People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies, exhume those stories, the stories of the people who dreamed. I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.
Davis went on to thank her co-stars and Best Director/Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington, her family and her parents.
The Hollywood Reporter, one of entertainment media’s flagship outlets, announced that NBA legend, actor, activist, cultural commentator and New York Times bestselling author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the publication as contributing editor. In his role, Abdul-Jabbar will pen a regular column and conduct select celebrity interviews. Abdul-Jabbar’s first column on race and romance in La La Land will run in the Feb. 24 print issue and online at THR.com.
“With decades of experience in the media spotlight and a keen eye on the pop culture landscape, Kareem will bring a unique perspective to The Hollywood Reporter’s readers on critical issues like race, gender and the role of media in society,” said Matthew Belloni, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter. “His voice will be an especially important one as The Hollywood Reporter continues to expand its coverage and grow its global audience.”
On his new role, Abdul-Jabbar said, “I’m excited to join The Hollywood Reporter because it allows me to continue to write about the intersection of politics and pop culture, which is where our values and beliefs are forged.”
Abdul-Jabbar has contributed a number of guest columns to The Hollywood Reporter in recent months. In November, he conducted a wide-ranging interview with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, who appeared together in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s classic 1983 play, Fences. Abdul-Jabbar also recently penned columns focusing on the issues of the day, calling on black celebrities to be “fearless” in standing up to the current president, intoning on the social and psychological effects of reality-romance series The Bachelor and comparing Trump’s refugee ban to a “bad horror movie.”
In addition to The Hollywood Reporter, Abdul-Jabbar has contributed to publications like The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time, Esquire and TheHuffington Post.
If you’ve ever seen or read an August Wilson play, you know that writing is how the late playwright processed the world around him – a magnificently black world filled with funk and nuance in which language plays a central role. For Wilson, though, learning how to work with that language as a writer didn’t happen overnight. “For the longest time I couldn’t make my characters talk,” Wilson told me several years ago before his death in 2005. “I thought in order to incorporate the black vernacular into literature, the language had to be changed or altered in some way to sound more clear … until I realized that it’s no less romantic and meaningful to say, ‘It’s cold outside.’” As a play, Wilson’s Fences, which tells the story of a working-class black man – who was denied a baseball career in the major leagues – trying to raise his family in mid-century Pittsburgh, gives us that blunt romance and powerful meaning. As a movie, it gives us Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Enough said.
Fences is on nationwide release now
I don’t go in for horror films at all – not even horror film parodies – but I also can’t think of a brighter, more innovative voice in film right now than Jordan Peele, one half of the masterful sketch comedy series Key and Peele, which he co-created with Keegan-Michael Key. And while the potentially great Keanu, co-written by Peele and Alex Rubin, was a disappointing failure, Get Out, which Peele both wrote and directed, looks legitimately genius. The premise is a pretty straightforward Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner setup – rich white girlfriend brings her smart, learned black boyfriend upstate for a weekend to meet the parents – what could go wrong? It’ll be awkward, parents will remark more than once on how articulate the black boyfriend is, lecture them both on how hard it will be to maintain an interracial relationship in this day and age, and then finally concede that love is all that matters. Or will it?
Get Out will be in theaters February 24
In America, when it comes to the mainstream celebration of black historical figures, we primarily see the spotlight shined on our athletes, entertainers and a handful of activists who generally get depoliticized posthumously. Seldom do we hear about engineers, innovators and mathematicians, much less our black women in those positions. It’s thrilling and really quite long overdue for a film like Hidden Figures, which tells the story of “colored computers” Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who worked at NASA in the early 1960s and played a vital role in getting John Glenn and the Friendship 7 into space. As Katherine Johnson, Taraji P. Henson is on career-best form – pushing her glasses up on her nose, hustling to the coloreds bathroom carrying a stack of data research, doing mathematical equations on a chalkboard – creating a truly revelatory performance. Octavia Spencer as Dorothy and Janelle Monáe as Mary are icing on the cake. An added bonus comes in the form of Pharrell Williams, who is a producer on the film and wrote original songs for the soundtrack that give the movie a beautiful sense of joy.
Hidden Figures is in nationwide release now
I Am Not Your Negro
The thing about James Baldwin, beyond his utter brilliance and undeniable prescience as a writer and public intellectual, is that he was like the blackest man who ever lived. And he wore it like a badge of honor. In the newly Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, Haitian-born film-maker Raoul Peck mines Baldwin’s unpublished writing about the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to create an intellectual and visual mosaic that somehow captures Baldwin’s own very personal and stubborn sense of blackness. It hits hard, and the film will make you long for the leadership and integrity of Evers, King and Malcolm in these increasingly divisive times. But it will also, if only temporarily, let you sit in the glory that is James Baldwin’s company.
The 2017 SAG Awards took place on Sunday night at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and among the winners were favorites Viola Davis for Best Supporting Female Actor in a Motion Picture (“Fences”) and Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (“Moonlight”), as well as surprise victors Denzel Washington for Lead Actor in a Motion Picture (“Fences”) and “Hidden Figures” for Best Cast Ensemble in a Motion Picture.
“Hidden Figures” also added $14 million to its box office numbers this weekend to cross the $100 million mark and bring its current total gross to $104 million.
Other notable wins were “Orange Is the New Black” for Best Cast in a Comedy Series and “Stranger Things” for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series.
The complete list of winners is below:
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Denzel Washington, “Fences” (WINNER)
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Reversing course from last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored “Moonlight,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and other people of color-centered works with Oscar nominations today (January 24).
The three films, each of which features a predominantly Black cast, compete in the “Best Picture” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” categories. Actresses Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) also square off for best “Actress in a Supporting Role.”
“Moonlight”‘s eight nominations are the most of any film this year besides the musical “La La Land.” They include “Best Director” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” for Barry Jenkins, and “Actor in a Supporting Role” for Mahershala Ali.
“Fences” star and director Denzel Washington received a best “Actor in a Leading Role” nomination. Playwright August Wilson‘s script, based on his original 1983 play, earned him a posthumous “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” nod.
Other acting nominees of color include Ruth Negga (“Loving”) for “Actress in a Leading Role” and Dev Patel (“Lion”) for “Actor in a Supporting Role.” Patel is the first performer of South Asian descent to receive an acting Oscar nomination since Ben Kingsley for 2000’s “Sexy Beast.”
Ava DuVernay‘s “13th,” Raoul Peck‘s “I Am Not Your Negro” and Ezra Edelman‘s “O.J.: Made in America” each received Documentary (Feature) nominations. The category also includes another Black director’s work: Roger Ross Williams‘ “Life, Animated,” and Joi McMillon became the first black female to be nominated in the Editing category for “Moonlight.”
This year’s nominations are far more diverse overall than last year’s, and NBC News reports that this year’s acting nominee pool is the most diverse in Oscar history.