Chi-Raq

Chi-RaqRelease Date:  12/4/15
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  Unknown
Running Time:  Unknown
Studio(s):  40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, Amazon Studios
Director:  Spike Lee
Cast:  Nick Cannon (Chi-Raq), Teyonah Parris (Lysistrata), Anya Engel-Adams (Rasheeda), Wesley Snipes (Cyclops), Angela Bassett (Miss Helen), Michelle Mitchenor (Indigo), Ebony Joy (Marcy), Felicia Pearson (Dania), Samuel L. Jackson (Dolmedes), La La Anthony (Hecuba), Val Warner (Electra Johnson), Jennifer Hudson (Irene), John Cusack (Fr. Mike Corridan), D.B. Sweeney (Mayor McCloud), Steve Harris (Ole Duke).

Story:  According to Shadow and Act ,Teyonah Parris is playing the central character, in a story set against the backdrop of Chicago’s gun violence, and said to be a modern spin on the Greek comedy “Lysistrata” – the women of Greece refused to have sex with their husbands, all in an effort to bring an end to the Peloponnesian War, via the signing of a peace treaty. In Spike’s film, the story will center on a woman’s quest to end gang warfare in Chicago, likely via similar methods as used by Lysistra.  Possibly in consideration of an Awards season run (pre-screenings for the film have apparently impressed audiences so far) as an Oscar-qualifying run, Amazon Studios has set the release date for Spike Lee’s curious Chi-Raq, for December 4, in a theatrical release deal that involves both Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate.

Trailer:

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Details:  Deadline reported on 10/29/15, that the film is inspired by the Greek comedy Lysistrata but it has a hot-button subject, and that is one of the reasons it will be released five weeks out. The film is set in Chicago’s South Side, and covers the subjects of gang violence and clashes with police, a subject that most certainly has been in the news.

In April Shadow and Act wrote that the film has caused something of a firestorm in Chicago, with many people publicity speaking out in the media against the film – especially against the title, which they say further perpetrates the image of Chicago as Dodge City in 1885; Shootouts and drive-bys with people being killed left and right every day, everywhere. Source(s): Deadline, Shadow and Act, IMDB.

Whitney

Whitney and Bobby movie promo]a/k/a  I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story

Release Date:  1/17/15 (Lifetime)
Genre:  Drama/Biography
Rating: Not Available
Studio:  Lifetime
Director:  Angela BassettWhitney Still

Cast:  Yaya DaCosta (Whitney Houston), Arlen Escarpeta (Bobby Brown), Yolonda Ross (Robyn Crawford), Suzzanne Douglas (Cissy Houston), Mark Rolston (Clive Davis).

Details:  On 12/3/14 Shadow and Act reported, Whitney chronicles the headline-making relationship between the iconic singer, actress, producer and model Whitney Houston and singer and songwriter Bobby Brown from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity to their courtship and tumultuous marriage.  Houston’s vocal performances in the film are sung by Deborah Cox. The music featured in the film includes Houston’s hits “The Greatest Love of All,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “I’m Every Woman” and “I Will Always Love You” as well as Brown’s “Every Little Step.”  Source:  Shadow and Act.

Trailer:

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On 7/16/14 The New York Daily News reported, the first images from I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story were released earlier this week, one of which shows DaCosta recreating Houston’s iconic cover for her 1987 album “Whitney.” The other shows Escarpeta hugging DaCosta in a pose familiar to how Brown and Houston were often photographed.

One thing DaCosta won’t be recreating is the “Greatest Love of All” singer’s vocals. E! News reports that R&B star Deborah Cox will supply the vocal tracks for the actress’ musical performances.

The biopic, which is being directed by Houston’s Waiting to Exhale co-star Angela Bassett, is currently filming and is expected to debut on Lifetime in 2015.  Source:  The New York Daily News, IMDB.  Photo Source:  The Wrap.

According to an article published by the Daily Mail Reporter, former America’s Next Top Model contestant, Yaya Dacosta Alafia, will play Whitney Houston in an upcoming Lifetime Original Movie biopic set for release in 2015. According to Shadow and Act, the TV movie, tentatively titled “Whitney Houston” will chronicle the headline-making relationship between the iconic singer, actress, producer and model and singer, songwriter Bobby Brown. It will be set in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, during the early years of the couple’s relationship from the first time they met to their courtship and tumultuous marriage. Veteran actress Angela Bassett will make her directorial debut from a script penned by Shem Bitterman, who also wrote the 2013 Lifetime Original Movie, Betty & Coretta, in which Bassett starred in the title role of Coretta Scott King.

Alafia has some mighty big shoes to fill in playing the legendary diva, but the former reality TV star does have some acting experience as she previously had roles in All My Children, Ugly Betty, House, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Big Words, The Kids Are All Right, and TRON: Legacy.

While many fans are excited about the project, according to TMZ, Whitney’s family is ‘pissed’ about the made-for-television movie because they feel she deserves so much more. Pat Houston, Whitney’s sister-in-law, told the gossip site:  “Whitney is certainly worthy of more than a television movie. If Whitney were here today, this would not be happening.”  Whitney’s estate has reportedly already informed Lifetime of their displeasure and is said to be threatening a lawsuit if the network refuses to cancel production. The singer’s loved ones are planning their own big screen movie in the style of Michael Jackson’s This Is It, which they feel would be a more fitting tribute to the musical icon.  Sources: Daily Mail Reporter, Shadow and Act, TMZ.

Black Nativity

Black NativityRelease Date:  4/15/14, DVD; 11/27/13, Theatrical Release
Genre:  Drama/Musical
Rating:  PG
Studio:  Maven Pictures; Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director:  Kasi Lemmons
Cast:  Angela Bassett (Aretha Cobbs)
Jennifer Hudson (Naima)
Forest Whitaker (Reverend Clarence Cobbs)
Mary J. Blige (Angel)
Jacob Latimore (Langston)
Nasir Jones (Street Prophet /Isaiah)
Tyrese Gibson (Loot /Tyson)
Vondie Curtis Hall (Pawnbroker)

Story:  In a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ celebrated play, the holiday musical drama follows Langston, a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs. Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima. Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family. Source: Foxsearchlight.com, official site.

Trailer: