Haddish is in talks to join the ensemble of “The Kitchen,” which is the directorial debut for “Straight Outta Compton” screenwriter Andrea Berloff, who is also writing the script. The film is based on the comic book series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle for Vertigo from DC Entertainment. The series has gained a cult following since debuting in 2014 to critical acclaim. The Irish mafia story is set in Hell’s Kitchen, N.Y., in the 1970s. When the FBI comes in and does a sweep of the mob, several men are arrested. Their wives end up taking over and running the business much more viciously than the men ever did.
“The Temp,” which is set to be produced by Will Packer, who also produced the hit comedy “Girls Trip” featuring Haddish’s breakout performance.
Universal acquired the original pitch for “The Temp” from Dana Fox, who will also write the female-driven comedy. Fox will produce alongside Packer who will produce through his Universal-based Will Packer Productions. Will Packer Productions’ James Lopez will also produce and Haddish will serve as executive producer.
Haddish’s other upcoming projects include starring alongside Tracy Morgan in TBS’ “The Last OG,” which will be released in 2018; she recently wrapped production on Universal’s “Night School” opposite Kevin Hart. She also has “Limited Partners” in development with Paramount, which she will star in and serve as an executive producer on the project as well.
Outside of her film and TV projects, she is also set to release her book “The Last Black Unicorn,” which comes out Dec. 5, and just announced 2018 dates for her new stand-up tour “She Ready.”
by Nellie Andreeva (with Mike Fleming) via deadline.com
A century and a half after slavery was abolished in the U.S., the wounds left by one of the darkest periods in American history are far from healed, as evidenced by the controversy surrounding the recent announcement of HBO’s upcoming drama series Confederate, from Game Of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, which explores an alternate timeline of seceded southern states where slavery is legal and has evolved into a modern institution.
Another alternate history drama series, which has been in the works at Amazon for over a year, also paints a reality where southern states have left the Union but takes a very different approach. Titled Black America, the drama hails from top feature producer Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like A Man) and Peabody-Award winning The Boondocks creator and Black Jesus co-creator Aaron McGruder.
It envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny. The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming “Big Neighbor,” both ally and foe, the United States.
The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc. Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.
The Packer/McGruder project was announced back in early February, but at the time, it was untitled, and the producers would not divulge any details about the storyline beyond it revolving around an alternate universe in the vein of Amazon’s flagship The Man in the High Castle. It was HBO’s announcement of Confederate this month that prompted the Black America team to reveal the project’s premise.
“It felt this was the appropriate time to make sure that audiences and the creative community knew that there was a project that preexisted and we are pretty far down the road with it,” Packer told Deadline. Black America, which Packer said is in “very, very active development” with McGruder “off and writing,” originated at Amazon Studios. The service’s head of content Roy Price called Packer more than a year ago while the producer was on the set of his latest box office hit, Girls Trip.
Price soon reached out to McGruder with whom Packer had briefly worked in the past on Think Like A Man and had been looking to team up again. “Being a fan of Aaron, I thought he definitely had the right tone, the right voice, the right wit to handle a project like this,” Packer said. “Aaron and I sat together and talked about what a huge opportunity and responsibility it would be to do this project and do it right.” As for the tone of the hourlong series, it’s “a drama, but it wouldn’t be Aaron McGruder without traces of his trademark sardonic wit,” Packer said.
Black America creates the kind of utopia that has been on the minds of generations of black Americans for whom the series may have a sense of wish-fulfillment. “It was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American,” Packer said. “You would be hard pressed to find many black Americans who have not thought about the concept of reparation, what would happen if reparations were actually given. As a content creator, the fact that that is something that has been discussed thoroughly throughout various demographics of people in this country but yet never been explored to my knowledge in any real way in long-form content, I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to delve into the story, to do it right.” Continue reading ““Straight Outta Compton” Executive Producer Will Packer and “Boondocks” Creator Aaron McGruder Reveal Alt-History Drama “Black America” in the Works at Amazon”→
According to Deadline.com, Universal’sGirls Trip has earned director Malcolm D. Lee not only his second A+ CinemaScore following 2013’s The Best Man Holiday, but also the best opening of his career at the domestic B.O. with $30.4M, beating Holiday‘s $30.1M. This is an incredible start for a movie that cost under $20M, is getting across-the-board positive reviews (plus, Tiffany Haddish‘s viral Will-and-Jada swamp story on “Jimmy Kimmel” exists because of this movie, so even more reason to give it up to “Girls Trip”) and it’s great for comedies in a marketplace. On Friday, the film made $11.7M and eased 5% on Saturday for $11.1M.
RelishMix sees Girls Trip‘s momentum fueled by its cast’s passion to promote on social media. “It’s encouraging to see an entire cast get behind a film — every cast member is social and activated, which is a true rarity. So, many of the YouTube views are surely driven by the super-social cast, led by Queen Latifah’s 18M followers,” reported the social media firm. Jada Pinkett Smith counts 8.9M followers across Facebook and Twitter.
“Girls Trip is a break-through comedy that is providing audiences with big entertainment, big laughs,” said Universal domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou, “Malcolm D. Lee is a master at creating characters and telling stories that resonate, and in conjunction with producers Will Packer and James Lopez, has brought us a fresh, raunchy, empowering comedy.”
In other box office news, World War II drama “Dunkirk” came in at number one this weekend, earning $50.5 million, but sci-fi spectacle “Valerian” crashed hard, collecting only $17M in its fifth-place debut. The top 5 were rounded out by holdovers “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which earned $22M in its third week, and “War for the Planet of the Apes,” scoring $20.4M in its second.
Walt Disney World Resorts, in conjunction with Essence Magazine and comedian Steve Harvey, recently hosted its 9th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy in Orlando, Florida. After selecting from thousands of applications, Disney rewarded 100 U.S. high school students and their chaperones with a four-day seminar (March 3-6) geared towards inspiring, exposing and guiding them on how to achieve their dreams.
After kicking off the long weekend leading a parade down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and being welcomed by Walt Disney World President George Kalogridis, Walt Disney World Vice President and Executive Champion Tracey Powell, Essence Editor-At-Large Mikki Taylor, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and host Steve Harvey, the Dreamers are immersed in intensive sessions with motivational speakers such as Jonathan Sprinkles and Capital Prep School Founder and Principal Dr. Steve Perry to help them understand how to overcome obstacles, learn from failures and how to work hard to make their dreams become reality.
Additionally, the Walt Disney World theme parks become vibrant “classrooms,” where Dreamers participate in hands-on, intensive “Deep Dive” workshops led by industry experts. Covering a myriad of career paths ranging from animation to imagineering to marine biology, the Deep Dives do more than expose students to a career choice; they bring to life an opportunity that otherwise might seem distant or impossible.
Celebrities such as MC Lyte, Tamera Mowery, Loni Love, Lance Gross, Lamman Rucker, Silento and film producer Will Packer also gave their personal time and shared their knowledge with the Dreamers on what it takes to gain and maintain an unconventional career.
“It has literally been so amazing,” said Dreamer Deja Kirk from Oklahoma City, who is interested in becoming an elasmobranchologist (a marine biologist who specializes in sharks and rays). “I’m not one to be corny at all, I’m usually a very stoic person, so for me to be so excited about this is really huge. Even if you don’t know what you’re going to do, just getting the general exposure to everything I feel like not only am I prepared to pursue my career, if I were to change it in any way I still have a really good foundation for whatever I want to do.”
This week, Good Black News will be bringing you even more stories from this unique event, including spotlights on several Dreamers, perspectives from their parents, as well as interviews with some of the dedicated professionals who gave their time and wisdom to DDA this year.
Uptown Ventures Group, the parent company of UPTOWN Magazine, announced today they will honor award-winning television and film actress Nia Long at their annual “UPTOWN HONORS HOLLYWOOD” Pre-Oscar Gala, presented by Lexus and hosted by comedian Chris Spencer. The event will take place on Thursday, February 25 at Lure, in Hollywood, CA.
The evening will pay tribute to Long’s career including her memorable roles in John Singleton’s critically-acclaimed film, Boyz n the Hood, family comedy dramaSoul Food, romantic drama Love Jonesand comedy drama The Best Man. Long has won three NAACP Image Awards, hosted several awards shows including “Black Girls Rock” and the “Trumpet Awards,” and has also been honored by PETA.
“We are excited to celebrate the accomplishments of our friend, the talented Nia Long. Her career continues to flourish and we have supported and been a part of her Hollywood journey from the beginning. This evening will salute her many past, present and future works and contributions to the entertainment industry,” said Len Burnett, Co-CEO and Chief Revenue Officer, UPTOWN Ventures Group.
Past honorees have included Malcolm D. Lee, Will Packer, Salim Akil, Lee Daniels, Ava DuVernay, as well as Reggie Hudlin and Warrington Hudlin.
Nicole Ari Parker has landed a role in A Meyers Christmas, Universal’s comedy starring Danny Glover and Gabrielle Union. It revolves around an estranged family that is brought together for the holidays for the first time since the mother’s death. Parker will play Sonya, the loving wife of Jackson and mother of his two kids. Mo’Nique, Kimberly Eliseand Jessie T. Usher co-star in the pic, which is set to open November 11, 2016.
David E. Talbert (Baggage Claim) wrote and will direct A Meyers Christmas, which is produced by Will Packer and his Universal-based Will Packer Productions. Talbert also is executive producing alongside Lyn Sisson-Talbert, James F. Lopez, Union and Jeff Morrone. SVP Production Kristin Lowe and Creative Executive Chloe Yellin will oversee A Meyers Christmas for the studio.
Parker recurs as Katt on Fox’s freshman drama Rosewood starring Morris Chestnut and co-hosted the daytime summer talk show The Boris & Nicole Show.
Will Packer has renewed his overall deal with Universal Television. The two-year extension pact takes Packer’s Will Packer Productions banner through 2017 at the studio.
“The Wedding Ringer” and “Think Like a Man” producer is taking a major step into TV this fall, executive producing NBC comedy “People Are Talking,” and sitcom “Uncle Buck,”which debuts midseason on ABC. He’s also set to executive produce the “Roots” revival, which will air next year on History, A&E and Lifetime.
“Talking” stars Tone Bell, Mark Paul-Gosselaar, Vanessa Lachey and Bresha Webb as two different couples who are neighbors and best friends. Packer executive produces alongside writer D.J. Nash with director Pam Fryman. “Buck,” a take on John Hughes’ 1989 film, stars comedian Mike Epps as the title character.
“Will Packer is energetic, passionate, creative and wants to win,” Universal Television president Bela Bajaria commented. “He is a collaborative partner, a hands-on producer and is absolutely the best dressed!”
NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke added, “Will Packer has become such a fantastic addition to our Universal family. We are lucky to have such an enthusiastic and prolific producer so engaged in network television. Will, Korin [Huggins], and their team truly have their fingers on the pulse of entertaining and fun.”
Packer’s other film credits include “Think Like a Man Too,” “Stomp the Yard,” “Ride Along” and its upcoming sequel, which will hit theaters in January. He’s repped by UTA.
Screenwriters Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver are re-teaming with Malcolm D. Lee for the “Untitled Girls’ Trip Project” at Universal. This project marks the second time the trio have worked together after Barbershop3, which is currently in production.Barris is the creator of the ABC comedy series Black-ish and is also writing a feature adaptation of the 1970s TV show Good Times. Will Packer will be producing “Girls’ Trip” through his Will Packer Productions banner.
Packer’s next two titles at Universal are Straight Outta Compton as Executive Producer, bowing August 14, and Ride Along 2, which opens on January 15 in 2016. Lee’s highest-grossing film stateside was The Best Man Holiday. which made $71 million. Barbershop 3 will be released on February 19 next year.
ABC has picked up multi-camera comedy Uncle Bucktoseries, Deadline.com reports. The sitcom, starring Mike Epps and Nia Long, may air as a midseason replacement. Written by Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley, the series centers on Uncle Buck (Mike Epps), a fun-loving but irresponsible guy who needs a job and a place to stay. By happy coincidence, his brother’s nanny has just quit and his brother and sister-in-law need his help. James Lesure, Iman Benson, Sayeed Shahidi and Aalyrah Caldwell co-star.
Cragg and Bradley executive produce with Will Packer, and Korin Huggins and Phil Traill co-executive produce. This is the second series order for feature producer (“Think Like A Man”, “Ride Along”) Packer. In his first TV development season, he scored two comedy pilots through his Universal TV-based Will Packer Prods., People Are Talking at NBC and Uncle Buck at ABC. Both have now been given series orders.
“Roots” is returning to TV next year as a big-ticket event series production to air across History, A&E Network and Lifetime next year.
Producer Will Packer and LeVar Burton, an original “Roots” cast member, are shepherding the project with Mark Wolper, son of the original producer of the 1977 ABC miniseries, David L. Wolper.
Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald and Charles Murray are on board to write the new rendition of the saga of Kunta Kinte, which follows his capture in Africa as a young man through his enslavement in colonial America. “Roots” is based on Alex Haley’s landmark novel of the same name.
“My career began with ‘Roots’ and I am proud to be a part of this new adaptation,” said Burton. “There is a huge audience of contemporary young Americans who do not know the story of ‘Roots’ or its importance. I believe now is the right time to tell this story so that we can all be reminded of its impact on our culture and identity.”
The original eight-part miniseries was a sleeper megahit for ABC that aired over consecutive nights in January 1977. There’s no word yet on how many hours the new “Roots” will run.
A&E Networks execs said producers will work closely with historians and other experts to incorporate new information about the historical period uncovered since the original book and mini were released.
“Kunta Kinte began telling his story over 200 years ago and that story went through his family lineage, to Alex Haley, to my father, and now the mantle rests with me,” said Wolper. “Like Kunta Kinte fought to tell his story over and over again, so must we.”
Said Packer: “The opportunity to present one of America’s most powerful stories to a generation that hasn’t seen it is tremendously exciting. Contemporary society needs this story and I’m proud to be a part of it.”