Director Lee Daniels had long planned for David Oyelowo to play Martin Luther King Jr in Selma, until that film suffered a series of setbacks. Daniels instead just set Oyelowo to play the role of Yardley in The Paperboy. He’ll play a journalist who teams with another writer (Matthew McConaughey) to investigate a murder conviction for a death-row inmate (John Cusack) in Florida. It’s based on the Pete Dexter novel, and Millennium/Nu Image picked up the Pedro Almodovar-produced film during Cannes.
Oyelowo is about to open as the businessman whose greed inadvertently hatches an infestation of intelligent primates in Fox’s Rise of the Apes. Oyelowo, who got his start in the British spy series MI-5, also plays a role in The Help this summer. He is repped by ICM, Glenn Rigberg and UK-based Christian Hodell.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that MLK date waits for him. While I’d heard that King’s heirs put pressure on Daniels, the financing was in place with distribution from The Weinstein Company when Daniels chose The Paperboy over Selma and his other civil rights project, The Butler. Daniels also had a cast that included Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson and Robert De Niro.
While there is currently uncertainty over the status of the Paul Greengrass-directed Martin Luther King Jr film Memphis and the Lee Daniels-directed MLK film Selma, Samuel L. Jackson has just committed to playing the civil rights leader on Broadway in The Mountaintop. The move was long-rumored, but he will not be joined by Halle Berry, whose child-custody issues will keep her from joining Jackson. He becomes the latest film star to take a stage turn, and Broadway has been the better for it. Here’s the official announcement:
New York, NY – It was announced today that Samuel L. Jackson will make his Broadway debut starring as Dr. Martin Luther King in the Broadway production of the new play, The Mountaintop, by Katori Hall directed by Tony Award Nominee Kenny Leon (Fences, A Raisin in the Sun). The Mountaintop will begin performances on September 22, 2011, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street), with an official opening on Thursday, October 13, 2011. Tickets for The Mountaintop will go on sale at a later date.
The Mountaintop is produced by Jean Doumanian Productions, Sonia Friedman Productions, Ambassador Theatre Group, Jerry Frankel, Ted Snowdon, Bob Bartner, and Tom Wirtshafter.
In a joint statement, Ms. Doumanian and Ms. Friedman said, “The Mountaintop is a brilliantly conceived gem of a play. An ambitious work of fiction that is powerful, heartbreaking, humorous and exhilarating. We are thrilled to be bringing Katori Hall’s remarkable, Olivier-winning work to New York, and to present a singular new American voice to Broadway audiences. And we are honored to be presenting the Broadway debut of the great Samuel L. Jackson.”
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EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has dropped plans to finance and distribute Memphis, the Paul Greengrass-directed film about the final days and assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. The studio has halted progress on a film scripted by Greengrass and produced by … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: What has happened with Sony Pictures’ plans to mount an exciting new biopic of Cleopatra, with Angelina Jolie attached as the Egyptian queen, based on Stacy Schiff’s bestselling book Cleopatra: A Life? I’m told the director conversation right now … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Scott Rudin to produce Sinatra, the film Martin Scorsese will direct about the life of singer-actor Frank Sinatra. Rudin joins Mandalay’s Peter Guber and Cathy Schulman, who brought in the project to the studio almost two years ago after they secured life and music rights from Frank Sinatra Enterprises, which is a joint venture of the estate of Ol’ Blue Eyes and the Warner Music Group. Phil Alden Robinson had been the original writer, but I’m told they are looking for another scribe. Scorsese’s Sikelia is also producing as is Tina Sinatra.
Rudin, nominated twice in the Best Picture Oscar race this year for producing The Social Network and True Grit, produced the 1999 Scorsese-directed Bringing Out the Dead. Rudin’s currently producing the David Fincher-directed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which Steve Zaillian adapted from the Stieg Larsson novel, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the Stephen Daldry-directed adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel that stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. He is prepping at Paramount the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator, and at Universal he’s got the Paul Greengrass-directed Martin Luther King Jr. assassination drama Memphis. Read More »
Paul Greengrass is reportedly considering an MLK drama he’s written called Memphis, which would be produced by Scott Rudin. I’m told it’s by no means definite, but if Vulture’s scoop happens – it will happen fast, and will be done … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Despite facing a 3-year jail stretch after a long battle with the IRS, Wesley Snipes has become the catalyst for a feature that explores FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover’s campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. — and the fatal guilt carried by the Hoover henchman charged with wiretapping King’s phone and pulling dirty tricks. Snipes also tells me that he is producing and hopes to play a role in the Justin Stamm-scripted Code Name Zorro, one of several projects Snipes is percolating under his Maandi Media Productions banner. Snipes wouldn’t go into a lot of detail into his current IRS situation, other than to say “It’s all good, put it like that.” But the actor, who recently brightened up the ensemble of Brooklyn’s Finest but had to be replaced in Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna because he couldn’t leave the country, is itching to get busy again.
He has been using that energy to get a sit down with King’s son, Martin Luther King III, and Snipes said he came away with a family endorsement for a film that asks hard questions about how King was treated by Hoover’s FBI because the civil rights leader was seen as a threat. Snipes fell in love with the script and is producing with 4 Reel Entertainment’s Diana Stamm, Ed Elbert and Tony Oppedisano. “I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, and this is an important project that has my focus,” Snipes told me. “Acting is my main lane, and I’m planning to expand that, taking the success of films like Blade and marinating that into something that flourishes.”
So, how about another turn as the iconic Marvel Comics vampire hunter? “Maybe we get around to doing another Blade, except, from what I’m reading, every other actor is talking about playing him, and nobody is talking to Wesley,” he said. “How strange that they don’t come and talk to me about it.”
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