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RESPECT! Liesl Tommy Will Direct Jennifer Hudson in Aretha Franklin Biopic

Drew Shade

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The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, handpicked Jennifer Hudson to play her in a biopic and now according to Deadline Tony-nominated director Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed, InsecureQueen Sugar) has been picked by MGM to direct the movie entitled Respect. Liesl is the first black woman to earn a Tony Award nomination for Best Direction of a Play.

Tommy had to say: “The story of Aretha Franklin’s journey from child prodigy in Detroit to international supernova is rife with struggle and triumph, making her life one of the great American stories of all time. As a filmmaker, there is no greater gift than to be able to bring this transcendent chronicle of a woman’s fight for self-realization to visual life with the enormous talents of the soulful Jennifer Hudson, Callie Khouri, and our incredible producers.”

Hudson who made her Broadway debut with the revival of The Color Purple seems like the perfect fit for a film on the late great singer/musician/icon. Respect covers the life of the late Franklin from singing as a child in her father’s church’s choir to becoming an iconic superstar and civil rights activist. The film will track Franklin’s coming of age to icon status, with 20 No. 1 R&B hits, 18 Grammy Awards en route to becoming the first female to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hudson says: “It is an absolute honor to be a part of bringing Ms. Franklin’s story to audiences who adore her around the world. She is one of the most iconic and talented artists of all time, and what a dream come true it is to portray her extraordinary life on screen. I could not be more excited to be working alongside Liesl Tommy, a brilliant and thoughtful director, who is no doubt the perfect choice to lead the film,”

Founder/Editor-In-Chief of BroadwayBlack.com | Actor | Artist | 1/3 of @OffBookPodcast | Theatre connoisseur | All Audra Everything | Caroline over Change | I'm Not Charl Brown | Norm Lewis is my play cousin | Producing an all-black production of Mame starring Jenifer Lewis in my head

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The Big Screen

In The Heights Film Taps Corey Hawkins to Play Benny

Drew Shade

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Corey Hawkins Romeo & Juliet Opening Night 2013

The Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights is headed to the big screen thanks to Warner Bros., And according to Deadline the Straight Outta Compton star Corey Hawkins has been cast in the role of Benny, a taxi driver who works for the father of the young lady he is in love with, Nina. As a college student at Stanford, Nina is considered “the one who made it out.” However, Nina’s father won’t accept Benny as his daughter’s boyfriend

Set in Washington Heights in NYC, In the Heights follows the lives of people who battle with helping their neighborhood in the midst of gentrification as well as dealing with their own issues while experiencing a blackout. It was previously announced that Anthony Ramos (Hamilton) would lead the film as the bodega owner Usnavi.

“In The Heights” will hit movie theaters June 26, 2020, with a script written by Quiara Alegría Hudes and directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians)

Hawkins is a 2017 Tony Award nominee for his role in Six Degrees of Separation. The Julliard graduate also graced the Broadway stage Broadway in Romeo & Juliet alongside Condola Rashad and Orlando Bloom. He also was recently seen in Spike Lee‘s Oscar-nominated film BlacKkKlansman.

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Surprise!

Broadway’s American Son Starring Kerry Washington Will Be Adapted for Netflix

Drew Shade

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The Broadway play American Son starring Kerry Washington will find a home on the streaming platform Netflix. The announcement was made Monday night on the The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon by Washington who will reprise her role in the film adaption.

American Son follows the story of interracial parents who reunite in a Florida police station to search for answers about their missing teenage son.

The play won’t just be filmed but it will be adapted to be “a play/movie hybrid event” according to Washington.

Production is set to take place in February in New York City. Tony Award-winning Leon will return to direct and is also set to produce the Netflix transfer. The original cast including Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan, and Eugene Lee will all reprise their roles in the production.

American Son powerfully explores themes of family, love, and identity,” said Cindy Holland, VP originals at Netflix. “We are honored to work with Kerry Washington, Kenny Leon, Christopher Demos-Brown and the entire cast to bring this story from the Broadway stage to our members around the world.”

American Son is in its final week on Broadway. The show will close on Sunday, January 27th.

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