by G. Brown
David Oyelowo spear-heading new police drama “The Black 22s” The proposed drama is based on the true story of the country’s first all-black police squad in St. Louis. The black squad found itself taking on the gangland killers during Prohibition and also learned all their enemies weren’t on the wrong side of the law. The black officers discover they were set up to fail by their own bosses. Oyelowo will produce “The Black 22s” for the National Geographic Channel. He calls “The Black 22s” the black “Untouchables” and says his “goal is to serve up a kinetic and vibrant show that displays the excitement and energy of America in the 1920s, with a cinematic punch.” No word on when the show will begin production or who will be joining the cast.
Jacob Latimore joins Will Smith in “Collateral Beauty” The 20-year-old singer/actor has landed a role of a lifetime starring alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Although little is being said about the details of the role he’s playing, the New Line Cinema film is creating lots of buzz and the emotional, raw story is already being tossed about as an Oscar caliber movie. Latimore joins an all-star cast for this in which Smith stars as a successful Big Apple advertising executive who suffers a deep personal tragedy and retreats from life. His colleagues devise a plan to force Smith’s character to come face to face with his grief. The New Line Cinema film also includes cast members Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren. Principal photography is currently underway on “Collateral Beauty” and the film is expected to be released to theaters in December of this year.
The controversial “Nina” starring Zoe Saldana headed for April release It’s taken a lot of clawing, fighting and controversy to finally get the story of a woman known as “the high priestess of soul” to the big screen. The 15-time Grammy nominee enthralled fans with her music and her personal life. Tragically, the cost of fame for Simone was a high one. She spent years mired in depression, alcoholism, and isolation until a friend, Clifton Henderson, helped her find her way back from the brink of destruction. The on-screen drama was almost buried by the behind-the-scene drama which threatened the project. The lead role was initially to be played by Mary J. Blige who was replaced by Saldana six years later because producers believed the actress brought more of an international appeal. The Saldana choice has not come without backlash in the form of protests and petitions from critics who say Saldana is not “black enough” to play Simone. A dark make up which some call “black face” had to be applied to make Saldana look the part. Despite the commotion, Saldana joined the cast along with David Oyelowo (Henderson) and Mike Epps (Richard Pryor). Here’s your First Reel Look at “Nina” which opens in theaters on April 22.
For Black Hollywood this week, that’s a Wrap!