Roots

Roots (2016)Release Date:  5/30/16 (Made-for-TV)
Genre:  Drama/Historical
Rating:  NR
Running Time:  Unknown
Studio:  History Channel
Directors:  Bruce Beresford, Thomas Carter, Phillip Noyce, Mario Van Peebles

Cast:  Emayatzy Corinealdi (Belle), Laurence Fishburne (Alex Haley), Carlacia Grant (Irene), Malachi Kirby (Kunta Kinte), Rege-Jean Page (Chicken George), Mekhi Phifer (Jerusalem), Anika Noni Rose (Kizzy), T.I. (Cyrus), Forest Whitaker (Fiddler).

Story:  Remake of the classic TV mini-series that remains one of history’s most watched U.S. broadcasts.  The historical portrait of American slavery recounts the journey of one family and their will to survive and ultimately carry on their legacy despite hardship. Roots will be simulcast on the History Channel, A&E and Lifetime with a May 30th.  Source:  Dark Horizons.

Trailer:

Dope

DopeRelease Date:  1/24/15 (Sundance Film Festival)
Genre:  Comedy
Rating:  NR
Running Time: 115 mins.
Studio(s): Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions, IamOTHER Entertainment,
Revolt Films, That’s Dope.
Director: Rick Famuyiwa

Cast:  Shameik Moore (Malcolm), Zoë Kravitz (Nakia), Forest Whitaker (Narrator), Blake Anderson (Will), Tony Revolori (Jib), Kiersey Clemons (Diggy), Keith Stanfield (Bug), Rick Fox (Councilman Blackmon), Kimberly Elise (Lisa), Roger Guenveur Smith (Austin Jacoby), De’aundre Bonds (Stacey).

Story:  Malcolm is a high school geek with a high-top fade, carefully navigating life in The Bottoms, one of the toughest neighborhoods in Inglewood, California. He and his fellow outcasts share a voracious appreciation for all things ’90s hip-hop, opting to sport Cross-Colours and Z. Cavariccis at the risk of being clowned at school. He dreams of attending Harvard, but first he has to make it home every day. When a drug dealer takes a shine to Malcolm and invites him to his birthday party, Malcolm’s crew is swirled into a hilarious blender of offbeat characters and bad choices where redemption can only be found in Bitcoin. Source: Sundance.org.

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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:

Memphis (I)

Status: Development Status Unknown as of 7/3/14
Release Date: TBA
Genre: Drama/Biography
Rating: Not Available
Studio: Scott Rudin Productions/Veritas Films
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Forest Whitaker (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Story: The script depicts Dr. King’s final days as he struggled to organize a protest march on behalf of striking black municipal sanitation workers in Memphis, TN, where he was slain. That storyline is juxtaposed with an intense manhunt for King’s assassin, James Earl Ray, involving some of the federal authorities who, at Hoover’s direction, had dogged King’s every step with wiretaps and whispering campaigns before the civil rights leader’s death.

Details: Universal Pictures backed out of director Paul Greengrass’s would-be project in April 2012, after reportedly getting cold feet about the MLK estate’s issues with the allegations of infidelity in the screenplay. Then Greengrass turned his attention to Captain Phillips, his Somali pirates picture and the project was essentially abandoned. Now it is back on again with producer Scott Rudin in tow, but just not right away.

In May 2013, The Wrap revealed that Oscar winner Forest Whitaker may be adding another prestige project to his plate, as he’s in talks to play Martin Luther King, Jr. in writer-director Paul Greengrass’ drama Memphis.”  However, Greengrass, in an interview reported by Deadline in January 2014, promised that he will make the film, he just wants to do something else beforehand as he takes his time to find the right actor to play the Civil Rights leader. Source(s): Deadline, IMDB.

Check back for further details on Memphis as this story develops.  See also Selma.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

The ButlerRelease Date: 1/14/14 (DVD); 8/16/13 (theatrical)
Genre: Drama/Biography
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 132 mins.
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Director: Lee Daniels
Forest Whitaker (Cecil Gaines)
Oprah Winfrey (Gloria Gaines)
Mariah Carey (Hattie Pearl)
John Cusack (Richard Nixon)
Jane Fonda (Nancy Reagan)
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Carter Wilson)
Terrence Howard (Howard)
Lenny Kravitz (James Holloway) John F. Kennedy (James Marsden)
Story: The story of a White House butler who served seven American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family. (Synopsis taken from The Weinstein Co., official site).