HBO has greenlighted its next high-profile longform project, a film about iconic blues singer Bessie Smith who will be portrayed by Queen Latifah. Written and directed by Dee Rees, the filmmaker behind the Sundance- and Indie Spirit Award-winning Pariah, the untitled film chronicles how Smith overcame her tempestuous personal life to become one of the most acclaimed performing and recording artists of the 1920s and ’30s, earning the nickname Empress of the Blues. The project, produced by HBO Films in association with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Lili and Richard Zanuck’s the Zanuck Company, is based on the life story of Smith and the biography Bessie written by Chris Albertson. The Oscar-winning duo of Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard Zanuck executive produce with Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel, while Hallie Foote serves as co-executive producer and Ron Schmidt as producer.
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