Will Smith To Star As Father of Venus & Serena Williams In ‘King Richard’

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There’s a new film in the works and it will tell the story of the father of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams. Will Smith will star in the film ‘King Richard’ as Richard Williams, based on a script by Zach Baylin.

According to Variety, it will center on Richard Williams overcoming tremendous hardship, skepticism, controversy, and his own troubled past to raise two of the greatest and most talented athletes. Despite having no tennis background, Williams drew up a 78-page plan for Venus and Serena’s professional tennis careers. He began giving them tennis lessons on public courts in Compton. The sisters would then go on to become tennis champions and arguably two of the best athletes in the game – with Serena winning twenty-three Grand Slam tournaments and Venus winning seven.

Will Smith is not only starring in ‘King Richard’ but will also be serving as a producer through his Overbrook Entertainment banner. You can catch him starring in ‘Aladdin’ for Disney, as well as on the set of a movie I’m super excited for, ‘Bad Boys For Life’.

Tessa Thompson & Nnamdi Asomugha To Star In Jazz-Era Romance Film ‘Sylvie’

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Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha will star in an upcoming jazz-era romance film titled ‘Sylvie.’ Set in New York City between the late 1950s and early 1960s, the film follows Sylvie (Thompson) who meets aspiring saxophonist Robert (Asomugha) when he takes a job at her father’s record store in Harlem. After a summer romance that comes to an end, the two fatefully reconnect several years later and find that their feelings for each other have never disappeared.

According to Deadline, ‘Sylvie’ is currently in production and will be directed by Eugene Ashe, who also serves as the screenwriter. Asomugha and Thompson will not only star in the film, but the pair will also be producing and executive producing. Asomugha will produce the film through his iAm21 Entertainment label along with Jonathan Baker, Gabrielle Glore, and Matthew Thurm.

Tessa Thompson will also star in the upcoming film, ‘Men in Black: International,’ as well as the voice of character Lady in live-action/ CG hybrid remake of ‘Lady And The Tramp’ for Disney.

Ryan Coogler To Produce Film About The Rise & Fall of Black Panther Fred Hampton

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Ryan Coogler is working on his latest project — and there’s no better time to make the announcement than during Black History Month. The Black Panther director is teaming up with Charles D. King to produce a brand new film for Warner Bros. titled Jesus Was My Homeboy, which tells the story of iconic Black Panther Party (BPP) member Fred Hampton.

According to Deadline, Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) is in talks to star as Fred Hampton, with Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) in talks to star as William O’Neal. O’Neal is the man who betrayed then 21-year-old Hampton by providing the FBI with a detailed layout of Fred Hampton’s apartment, which resulted in a controversial 1969 raid that killed both Hampton and fellow BPP member Mark Clark. The film, as seen through William O’Neal’s eyes, will also explore how the FBI infiltrated the Black Panthers and the psychology of their informant. In the angry controversy after the raid, the Chicago Tribune reports, police maintained they were justified in opening fire, but the Panthers saw the raid as a pretext for killing Hampton.

Fred Hampton was an activist and revolutionary. He also served as chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers organization and deputy chairman of the national Black Panther Party.

Set to executive produce Jesus Was My Homeboy, which will be co-financed by Warner Bros. and King’s production banner MACRO, is Sev Ohanian, Zinzi Coogler and MACRO’s Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks. The screenplay is based on a story originated by Shaka King, Berson and the Lucas Bros.

‘Clemency’ Filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu First Black Woman To Win Grand Jury Prize At Sundance

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It was a successful year for female filmmakers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Taking home one of the four Grand Jury Prize awards, for her work on ‘Clemency’, is filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu. Chukwu is the first black woman to win the festival’s highest honor for her U.S. Dramatic entry.

‘Clemency’ tells the story of a prison warden struggling with the emotional demands of her job. The death row drama was both written and directed by Chukwu and also stars Alfre Woodard.

“When everybody was saying ‘no’ this story does not have an audience, you, Sundance, and the people who have seen this film have proven that there is an audience for this film, and I thank you!” said Chinonye Chukwu after accepting the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize for the film.

This year’s other Grand Jury Prize winners include Nanfu Wang’s “One Child Nation” (U.S. Documentary), Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir” (World Dramatic), and Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s “Honeyland” (World Documentary). All of the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize awards given to competition films were either directed or co-directed by a female filmmaker.

Ava DuVernay, who was the first black woman to win a directing award at Sundance in 2012, took to Twitter to congratulate Chinonye Chukwu on her major win.

“Congrats to @ChinonyeC and the cast and crew of her film,” she tweeted. “And all the casts and crews of every film at Sundance this year. Beautiful fest lineup with many gems. Brava, @KimYutani and the whole Sundance team!”

Chukwu joins Desiree Akhavan, Ryan Coogler, Debra Granik, Damien Chazelle, and many more big names as winning the Grand Jury Prize for their U.S. Dramatic entries.

‘Clemency’ is still seeking U.S. distribution.

Issa Rae & Kumail Nanjiani To Star In Romantic Comedy ‘The Lovebirds’

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Following the announcement of a brand new film she’s set to star in alongside Regina Hall and Marsai Martin, Issa Rae remains booked and busy as she will be starring in yet another film, this time alongside Kumail Nanjiani.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ‘The Lovebirds’, written by Aaron Abrams, Brendan Gall, and Martin Gero, is a romantic comedy that centers on a couple on the brink of a breakup. The pair subsequently become embroiled in a bizarre and hijinks-filled murder mystery, and as they get close to clearing their names and solving the case, the twosome needs to figure out how they, and their relationship, can survive the night.

The Paramount project goes into production at the end of this month with Michael Showalter set to direct. Showalter previously directed Nanjiani on the set of the 2017 film ‘The Big Sick’. Nanjiani, Rae, and Showalter are also serving as executive producers.

Coming to theaters on April 12th will be a new body-switching comedy film starring Regina Hall, Issa Rae, and 14-year-old ‘Black-ish’ actress Marsai Martin. It was recently announced that with the film, titled ‘Little’, Martin would become the youngest black executive producer in Hollywood history. Read more here.

Marlon Wayans Reflects On The Anniversary of ‘The Wayans Bros.’ & ‘Don’t Be A Menace’

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been as long as 23 years since the release of ‘The Wayans Bros.’ and ‘Don’t Be A Menace’, both of which could easily be rated as must-haves to add to your black sitcom and movie collection.

Marlon Wayans recently took to Instagram to reflect on the history of both projects and thanked fans for supporting him and his brother Shawn Wayans’ vision. He addresses being “skewered by critics, attacked by elders and often attacked by groups.” Marlon also reveals that ‘The Wayans Bros.’ show never received credit for being the premiere show of the WB network and beating NBC’s #1 hit show ‘Friends’ in many markets, including Atlanta.

“24 years ago today, The Wayans Bros. show premiered,” said Marlon. “We were 21 and 23 years old kids from the projects of Manhattan that created, exec produced, and starred in our very own sitcom. We were fearless, young, crazy, funny, physical, edgy, and free. We got skewered by critics, attacked by elders and often attacked by groups. Shawn and I never caved. We kept it “real.” We did it for the audience. They never credited us with being the premiere show of the WB network. Never gave us credit for often beating NBC’s #1 hit show Friends in many markets, including Atlanta. Never got the respect to do a final episode after a five-season run.”

‘The Wayans Bros.’ show premiered in 1995 and starred Marlon and Shawn Wayans, John Witherspoon, Anna Maria Horsford, Paula Jai Parker, Lela Rochon, and more. It’s a comedic sitcom that revolved around the everyday lives of brothers, Shawn and Marlon. Shawn owned a local newsstand, where he and his brother Marlon worked on a daily basis.

Marlon also says that through their work on the show, he and Shawn were able to learn what it takes to write and produce a successful television show.

“We got to develop as young artists on a weekly basis in front of the world,” he wrote. “We learned the skill set to make us movie stars. And most of all we made a classic tv show that still runs and still makes people laugh until this day.”

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24 years ago today the wayans bros show premiered. We were 21 & 23 year old kids from the projects of Manhattan that created, exec produced, and starred in our very own sitcom. We were fearless, young, crazy, funny, physical, edgy and free. We got skewered by critics, attacked by elders and often attacked by groups. Shawn and i never caved. We kept it “real”. We did it for the audience. They never credited us with being the premiere show of the WB network. Never gave us credit for often beating NBC’s #1 hit Friends in many markets including Atlanta. Never got the respect to do a final episode after a five season run. But what we did get was the respect and love from our audience. We learned to write and produce a successful television show. We got to develop as young artist on a weekly basis in front of the world. We learned the skill set to make us movie stars. And most of all we made a classic tv show that still runs and still makes people laugh until this day. 25 years later we are still doing it. Still growing. Still evolving. And still making people laugh. Wayans Bros was a dream we had as young boys watching abbot and Costello and the Honeymooners every night in our bedroom. I loved every moment of doing that show. I thank all my friends and writers THAT WORKED ON THE SHOW. All the executives at WB. i thank my cast especially @johnnywitherspoon Pops who still and will always be pops to me. And most of all my hero, my big brother and my partner Shawn. We made a classic. Love ALL of the fans that supported and forgive all those that did not. It’s all love and a part of the process. I’m just glad 24 years later y’all still laughing. And we still need a final episode #wayansbros #wayans #history

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In the year that followed the release of ‘The Wayans Bros’. show, Shawn and Marlon released their first film, a hood-classic comedy titled ‘Don’t Be A Menace’. It’s a parody of several classic black films, including ‘Boyz n the Hood’, ‘South Central’, ‘Menace II Society’, ‘Higher Learning’ and ‘Juice’.

“23 years ago, Don’t Be A Menace opened in theaters during a snowstorm and STILL managed to open to 12.5 million dollars,” Marlon writes. “Our first movie. Our baby. We gathered the jokes, figured out the characters and set pieces. Then, I went off to do Above The Rim to pay our bills while Shawn and crazy Phil write the first pass. When I returned, we did 19 more drafts under the supervision of the GOAT Keenen Ivory Wayans.”

Marlon goes on to reveal how unsuccessful their first cut of the movie was but says Keenen put them back work. After writing what Marlon describes as “damn near a whole new movie,” they would go on to shoot the new cut and that would become the movie we know and love as ‘Don’t Be A Menace’.

Marlon offers up a few words of encouragement to never give up.

“All the work you do is practice for the more work you’ll have to do. And yes, I’m still working, practicing for the more work I will have to do to become the beast I’m trying to be. Thank you Ivory.”


Eddie Murphy To Reprise Role As Prince Akeem In ‘Coming To America 2’

Since being released 30 years ago, it looks like the wheels are turning for a ‘Coming to America’ sequel. The original classic film was released in June of 1988 and told the story of a very wealthy and pampered Prince Akeem, played by Eddie Murphy, who comes to America in search of a bride.

Eddie Murphy, who will reprise his role as Prince Akeem, will be directed by Craig Brewer for Paramount Pictures. According to Deadline, Brewer recently directed Murphy in the Rudy Ray Moore biopic ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ and landed the position to direct Murphy once again. In addition to Eddie Murphy, the plan is to bring back the original cast, which includes Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, James Earl Jones, and John Amos.

“After many years of anticipation, I’m thrilled that Coming to America 2 is officially moving forward,” Murphy said in a statement. “We’ve assembled a great team that will be led by Craig Brewer, who just did an amazing job on Dolemite, and I’m looking forward to bringing all these classic and beloved characters back to the big screen.

Kenya Barris will be rewriting the script, which was originally penned by Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield. Deadline reports that in the sequel, Akeem learns about a long lost son, and must return to America to meet his unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda.

Kenya Barris shared what makes Craig Brewer the perfect director for this project.

“Craig’s ability to create a distinct cinematic world with each of his films is not only impressive, but also what made him exactly the voice and vision we needed to bring this story to life,” said Barris. “From Hustle and Flow to his work with Eddie on Dolemite Is My Name, he never fails to blow me away. He is a true auteur and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have him on board.”

Murphy is producing with Kevin Misher and Barris is executive producing. There is no start date for ‘Coming to America 2’, but the hope is that production begins in 2019.

‘Black Panther’ Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter To Be Honored At Costume Designers Guild Awards

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Ruth E. Carter, the woman behind the costumes for Marvel’s Black Panther film, will be honored at the 2019 Costume Designers Guild Awards (CDGA) by receiving their Career Achievement Award. She is also nominated for Excellence In Sci-Fi/ Fantasy Film for her work on the movie. The CDGA celebrates excellence in film, television, and short form costume design.

“The decades of iconic costumes and her stunning designs from this year’s Black Panther certainly speak for themselves. As one of the most innovative and passionate leaders in her craft, the CDG board and its members can think of no more deserving recipient of the CDGA 2019 Career Achievement Award than Ruth E. Carter,” said Salvador Perez, President of the Costume Designers Guild.

With 30 years of experience and over 40 projects under her belt, Carter has styled for films including of course Black Panther, Sparkle, Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Ava Duvernay’s Selma, and Marshall from director Reginald Hudlin.

Ruth E. Carter’s nomination at the CDGA will not be her first time being recognized as she has received two Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design, the first African American to be nominated in this category, according to Deadline. In 2002, Carter received the Career Achievement Award from the American Black Film Festival and the 2015 Black Women in Hollywood Award from Essence.

The 2019 Costume Designers Guild Awards will take place on February 19 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

Regina Hall First Black Woman To Receive New York Film Critics Circle Award For Best Actress

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Actress Regina Hall has been recognized as the first black woman to receive a New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) award for Best Actress. Hall took home the award for her role in ‘Support The Girls,’ a film which centers on Hall’s character, Lisa Conroy.

Conroy is a general manager at a sports bar called Double Whammies. An incurable den mother, she nurtures and protects her female employees fiercely, but over the course of one challenging day, her optimism is tested by sketchy employees, bad customers, and an even worse boss.

The NYFCC awards gala took place at New York’s Tao Downtown restaurant on Monday night. Regina took to Instagram to celebrate the historic win.

“So honored to be the first Black woman to receive the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress,” she wrote.

Regina Hall started her acting career in 1997, taking on small roles in television before landing her first film in 1999 as Candace “Candy” Sparks in the Malcolm D. Lee written and directed film ‘The Best Man’ as well as the 2013 sequel, ‘The Best Man Holiday’. She went on to star in other films such as ‘Scary Movie’, ‘Love & Basketball’, ‘Malibu’s Most Wanted’, ‘Think Like A Man’, ‘Girl’s Trip’, and so much more.

Congratulations to Regina!

Over 45 Million Netflix Accounts Watch ‘Bird Box’ Movie In Its Opening Week

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Over the weekend, I was finally able to set aside time away from the busy holiday schedule to watch one of the most talked about Netflix films. After constantly being asked, “Have you seen the new Bird Box movie on Netflix?” and countless social media memes to which I could not relate to or yet understand, I knew I had to see this movie.

Whether you thought the movie was great or totally disagreed with all of the hype, it was watched by over 45 million Netflix accounts, which turned out to be a major hit for the streaming service. According to Netflix, Bird Box was watched by 45,037,125 accounts in its opening week. It’s the first time Netflix has shared a concrete number for any streaming content, according to Forbes.

Bird Box, which stars Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Rosa Salazar, Jacki Weaver, and Lil Rel Howery, was directed by Susanne Bier and based on the novel by Josh Malerman. According to the film synopsis, it tells the story of a mysterious force that decimates the population through vision. If you see it, you die. The survivors must now avoid coming face to face with an entity that takes the form of their worst fears. Searching for hope and a new beginning, a woman (Sandra Bullock) and her children embark on a dangerous journey through the woods and down a river to find the one place that may offer sanctuary. To make it, they’ll have to cover their eyes from the evil that chases them and complete the trip blindfolded.

If you haven’t yet seen the film, check out the trailer below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2AsIXSh2xo&w=560&h=315]

Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions Company Now Accepting Film & TV Script Submissions

Following the success of Get Out and the already highly anticipated 2019 film Us, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to work alongside the talented Jordan Peele or his production company?

Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions company is now accepting film and television script submissions via their website. That’s right. If you feel as though you have what it takes to become Hollywood’s next groundbreaking storyteller, this is an opportunity that you should not pass up. While the website does not provide a deadline for submissions, it does contain a Terms & Conditions section that I highly recommend you read in full before submitting your script. This is an agreement between both you and Sunken Place Studios.

Coming to theaters in March 2019 is Jordan Peele’s new thriller and follow-up to his Oscar-nominated film Get Out. Us stars actress Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide and Winston Duke as Gabe. The couple travels up the Northern California coast with their children to Adelaide’s childhood beachside home where they encounter a family of demoniac home invaders who look exactly like them.

“Stories about monsters are one of our best ways of getting at deeper truths and facing our fears as a society,” Peele recently said of the film.

Us, which Peele describes as “the simple truth that we are our own worst enemies,” hits theaters on March 15.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNCmb-4oXJA&w=560&h=315]

Viola Davis To Produce & Star In ‘The Fighting Shirley Chisholm’ For Amazon Studios

It’s only been a few days since the announcement was made that Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis signed a first look film deal with Amazon Studios through her production company JuVee Productions and the first project under that agreement has been unveiled.

Viola Davis is set to produce and star in The Fighting Shirley Chisholm. Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman in Congress (1968) and the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties (1972). Davis will play the role of Chisolm.

According to Deadline, Amazon Studios acquired the title in what was described as a fierce bidding war. Homegrown Pictures’ Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow, Dear White People) and Mel Jones will be producing alongside JuVee Productions. Set to direct will be Novitiate‘s Maggie Betts with the screenplay written by Adam Countee.

Viola Davis is currently starring in the Steve McQueen directed screenplay Widows, as well as Amazon Studios’ Troupe Zero, alongside Alison Janney and Jim Gaffigan.