Story: Almost Christmas tells the festive story of a beloved patriarch who asks his family for one gift this holiday season: to get along. If they can honor that wish and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another, it will be a Christmas miracle. Source: Almost Christmas Movie, official site; IMDB.
a/k/a Blue Goose Hollow Release Date: 5/16/15 (HBO) Genre: Drama/Biography MPAA Rating: Not Available Studio(s): Flavor Unit, Zanuck Company, Shelby Stone Productions, HBO Director: Dee Rees
Cast: Queen Latifah (Bessie Smith), Michael K. Williams (Jack Gee), Tika Sumpter (Lucille), Khandi Alexander (Viola), Mike Epps (Richard), Mo’Nique (Ma Rainey), Charles S. Dutton (William “Pa” Rainey), Bryan Greenberg (John Hammond), Oliver Platt (Carl Van Vechten).
Story: Film focuses on Smith’s transformation from a struggling young singer into “The Empress of the Blues,” who became one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s and is an enduring icon today. Source: HBO.
Update:Shadow & Act reported on 2/24/15 that the film will offer an intimate look at the determined woman whose immense talent and love for music took her from anonymity in the rough-and-tumble world of vaudeville to the 1920s blues scene and international fame, capturing her professional highs and personal lows, and ultimate legend.
On July 10th, Eurweb reported that HBO released a cast list and other details regarding its upcoming film Bessie. Co-stars include Michael K. Williams (Boardwalk Empire) as Bessie’s husband Jack; Khandi Alexander (Scandal) as Bessie’s big sister, Viola; Mike Epps as Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest; Tika Sumpter (The Haves and Have Nots) as Lucille, a performer and romantic interest; Tory Kittles (True Detective) as Bessie’s older brother Clarence; Oliver Platt, as fame photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten; Charles Dutton as Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey; and Oscar winner Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey.
Written and directed by Dee Rees, the movie will focus on “Smith’s transformation from a struggling young singer into ‘Empress of the Blues’ and one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s,” notes HBO in a statement. Source(s): Eurweb, HBO.
Details: Rapper, award winning actress, and talk show host Queen Latifah will star in and executive produce a biopic for HBO based on the life of iconic blues singer Bessie Smith. Known as the “Empress of the Blues” and considered the greatest blues singer of all time, Smith sang alongside Ma ‘Mother of the Blues’ Rainey at an early age. She later performed in minstrel shows and cabarets to become a successful singer and vaudevillian actress and eventually rose to become the most acclaimed and highly paid African American entertainer of the 1920s and ’30s. In spite of her many successes, Smith fought to overcome the challenges of a stormy personal life, including a tempestuous marriage and bisexual relationships. Her career took a hit due to alcoholism and the Great Depression, and as she was trying to make a comeback, she lost her life in a major car accident.
The film is based on Chris Albertson’s biography Bessie and the screenplay is being penned by Dee Rees, writer-director of the critically acclaimed Pariah. According to a Shadow and Act columnist, who viewed a February 2014 draft of the screenplay, it features 20 musical numbers and the story is “a wild ride led by Bessie’s bubbling personality, free-wheeling style and push to steer her own life and career. Her character is portrayed as brash, feisty and unafraid to fight, which makes her an electric performer but wreaks havoc in her personal life.”
It is rumored that production is set to begin this month (mid-June 2014) in Atlanta. (Sources: Moviepilot; Project Casting; Shadow and Act).
Story: Blackbird revolves around a dysfunctional family in a religiously conservative small Mississippi town. After the young daughter goes missing, the family begins to fall apart. The son, played by newcomer Julian Walker, is a star singer in the church choir, but later comes to realize he is gay – something that does not settle well with the Baptist community. Ridiculed by his mother (Mo’Nique) and supported by his father (Isaiah Washington), the family struggle to stay together as one.
Details: As reported in Deadline on January 6, 2014, this is Mo’Nique’s first screen starring turn since the ferocious portrayal as an abusive mother in 2009′s Precious won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Patrik Ian Polk-directed Blackbird, an adaptation of the novel by Larry Duplechan. Mo’Nique is also exec producer with her husband, Sidney Hicks, through Hicks Media. Newcomer Julian Walker plays the star singer in the church choir who feels like a misfit in his high school and struggles with his sexual awakening and the realization he is gay, something that doesn’t land well in a religiously conservative small Mississippi town. This coincides with his younger sister going missing and his parents splitting up. Mo’Nique plays another character who’s not going to win mother of the year awards: the youth’s heartbroken mom, who blames her son’s lifestyle revelation for his sister going missing. Washington plays his supportive father trying his best to help his son’s transition to manhood. (Source(s): Movie Pilot, Deadline).