Langston Hughes conceived of Black Nativity in the 1960s as a euphoric stage musical version of the birth of Jesus with a black cast. The show is still regularly performed as written, but writer/director Kasi Lemmons (Talk to Me) chose to add material to create a more traditional narrative throughline for the feature adaptation. In the movie, a single Baltimore mother (Jennifer Hudson) sends her son Langston (newcomer Jacob Latimore) to stay with her estranged parents (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett) in New York City during the holidays. While there, Langston falls asleep in the Chistmas Eve sermon and dreams of a “Times Square Bethlehem.” Latimore says the songbook has something for everyone: “The music is just like the music nowadays. Some R&B, soulful gospel and a little rap before I go through my spiritual journey.”
To give you an idea of the tone: Mary J. Blige, sporting electrified blonde curls, plays a mysterious guardian angel character named “Platinum Fro.” That alone should compel you to check out the first images from Black Nativity after the jump.
Opening this weekend is director Antoine Fuqua’s (Training Day) White House actioner Olympus Has Fallen. The film stars Gerard Butler as a disgraced Secret Service agent called back to duty when terrorists take over the White House and capture the President (Aaron Eckhart). The film also stars Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Robert Forster, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, and Rick Yune. If you’ve been waiting for Butler to return to action, you’re going to be very happy watching Olympus Has Fallen. Not only is the film a hard R for graphic violence, it features Butler kicking ass in some great action set pieces. Watch some clips here.
During the recent New York City press junket, I got to speak with Eckhart and Bassett. We talked about how the film is a hard R realistic take on what could actually happen to the White House, the way they prepared for their roles, the great cast, and more. In addition, I also got updates on I, Frankenstein and Black Nativity. Hit the jump to watch.
We have a couple of quick casting stories for you this morning. First up, I’m pleased to report that Kasi Lemmons‘ gospel musical Black Nativity has finally found a lead actor by casting Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker. As we previously reported, both Samuel L. Jackson and Lawrence Fishburne passed on the movie, which follows a young black teen who spends Christmas with his estranged grandparents. Through his grandfather’s Christmas Eve sermon and a stylized, dream-sequence retelling of the classic Nativity story, he learns about the importance of faith and family. According to Blackfilm, “Whitaker is expected to play multiple characters during the Nativity sequence.” Angela Bassett will play the boy’s grandmother, and Jennifer Hudson will play the mother. As a big fan of Lemmons’ last film, Talk to Me, I’m glad that production is set to begin in January 2013.
Hit the jump for casting news on McG‘s action film starring Kevin Costner.
Although Kasi Lemmons’ musical Black Nativity was scheduled to start production in New York this October, Fox Searchlight has put the picture on hold due to difficulty landing a male lead. The picture is based off of a Langston Hughes play that re-imagines traditional Christmas carols in a gospel style. Black Nativity was set to center on a young black teen who spends Christmas with the grandparents he’s never met: “Through his grandfather’s Christmas Eve sermon and a stylized, dream-sequence retelling of the classic Nativity story, he learns about the importance of faith and family.” What’s strange about this news is that Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) and Oscar nominee Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do With It) are already set in supporting roles, yet top talent like Samuel L. Jackson and Laurence Fishburne have passed. More on this after the jump. [Update: We've updated this story with new information, which you can find after the jump.]
Writer/director Kasi Lemmons (Talk to Me) is developing a feature adaptation of the Broadway musical Black Nativity at Fox Searchlight. If all goes according to plan, Lemmons will do so with a trio of Oscar-nominated talents. Variety reports Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, and Jennifer Hudson are in talks to join the project. The gospel musical follows a young black teen who spends Christmas with the grandparents he’s never met: “Through his grandfather’s Christmas Eve sermon and a stylized, dream-sequence retelling of the classic Nativity story, he learns about the importance of faith and family.” Jackson and Bassett would play the grandparents, and Variety suggests Jackson will “likely play multiple characters during the Nativity sequence.” Hudson is making a deal for the role of the single mother who sends the boy to the grandparents.
Hit the jump for a clip from a recent performance of the Langston Hughes musical.