Production moves forward on 'Harriet' - Silver Screen Beat
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Cynthia Erivo’s Harriet Tubman biopic ‘Harriet’ rounds out its cast as production moves forward

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Cynthia Erivo Harriet
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Focus Features announced Thursday that they have set production on Harriet, a new film chronicling the life of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who, as previously announced, will be played by Cynthia Erivo. The biopic will be directed by Kasi Lemmons from a screenplay she co-wrote with Gregory Allen Howard.

Based on the story of the iconic freedom fighter, Harriet follows Tubman on her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity. The film will begin shooting next month in Virginia.

“This is the story of a seemingly powerless woman who accomplished the extraordinary to save her loved ones, and in the process became a leader of and inspiration for her people,” said producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg. “While Harriet Tubman is a household name, most people don’t know the breadth of her story. Not only was she a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but she was a spy for the Union army and remains one of the few women to have led an armed expedition in US history.”

The cast also includes the likes of Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, and Clarke Peters. Debra Martin Chase with Martin Chase Productions, Daniela Taplin Lundberg with Stay Gold Features, and Gregory Allen Howard will produce the film.

“Tubman’s courageous life and the scope of her bravery is truly made to be told on the big screen.  The countless lives she saved, during a time of such hatred and danger to herself, can be described only as heroic,” said Focus chairman Peter Kujawski.  “We’re thrilled to be working with this incredibly talented group of filmmakers led by Kasi, Debra, Daniela, and Greg and this multi-talented group of actors in bringing Tubman’s life to film.”

Harriet, which does not currently have a release date, will be distributed by Focus Features and Universal Pictures International worldwide.

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Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield in talks to star in drama about Black Panther Party leader

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Black Panther Party movie Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield
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Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, who both starred in Jordan Peele’s psychological thriller Get Out in 2017, are set to reunite for the upcoming film Jesus Was My Homeboy, a historical drama detailing the controversial death of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton.

The film, which is being produced by Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and Charles King, will reportedly “follow the rise and untimely demise of Hampton as seen through O’Neal’s eyes,” according to Deadline.

Shaka King is directing and producing Jesus Was My Homeboy, working from a script he co-wrote along with Will Berson.

Kaluuya is in talks to play Hampton, while play Stanfield is in talks to play William O’Neal, a federal government informant who infiltrated the Black Panthers and provided authorities with key details about Hampton the layout of Hampton’s apartment.

Hampton and Mark Clark, another Black Panther Party member, would later be killed in Hampton’s Chicago apartment by a tactical unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, who were carrying out orders from Chicago police and the FBI in December 1969.

While their deaths were ruled to be a “justifiable homicide,” a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of relatives of Hampton and Clark found otherwise, and the City of Chicago, Cook County, and the federal government were required to pay $1.85 million to the plaintiffs.

Sev Ohanian, Zinzi Coogler, Kim Roth, and Poppy Hanks are executive producing the film, which is expected to begin production later this year.

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New photo teases Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys in Marielle Heller’s Mister Rogers biopic

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
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Tristar Pictures has released a new image from A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the upcoming Mister Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks in the role of the beloved children’s television show host. The film comes courtesy of Can You Ever Forgive Me? director Marielle Heller.

Per the film’s official synopsis, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is “a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod,” who you may have seen featured in the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? last year.

Written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, the story begins when a jaded magazine writer (Matthew Rhys) accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on Mister Rogers, following him as he overcomes his skepticism about Rogers and learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor in the process.

Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf, and Youree Henley are producing the film, which also stars Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Enrico Colatoni, Maryann Plunkett, Tammy Blanchard, Wendy Makkena, Sakina Jaffrey, Carmen Cusack, Noah Harpster, and Maddie Corman.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood will open in theaters just in time for awards season on November 22, 2019.

You can check out the newly released image above.

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Amid an intense wave of backlash, the Academy has decided to air all Oscar categories live

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Oscars
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In the wake of an intense wave of backlash, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Friday that they will be reversing their controversial decision to present four technical categories their awards during commercial breaks at the 91st Oscars ceremony next Sunday.

“The Academy has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards – Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling,” the AMPAS board of governors said in a statement. “All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format.”

Sources familiar with the matter tell Silver Screen Beat that the Academy’s change of heart came after AMPAS president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson met with members of the group’s cinematography branch Thursday evening to discuss the decision, which did not go over well with many Hollywood filmmakers and craftspeople.

“Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91st Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession,” read an open letter to the Academy signed by dozens of industry figures, including directors Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee and cinematographers Roger Deakins and Rachel Morrison.

The letter ends with a quote from Academy member Seth Rogen, who tweeted earlier this week, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to NOT publicly honour the people whose job it is to film things.”

The 91st Oscars will air live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 24 on ABC.

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