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.
Queen Latifah To Play Blues Icon Bessie Smith In HBO Films Biopic From Dee Rees, Lili & Richard Zanuck
Technology, not executive hypersensitivity, accounted for the blackout of last night’s Grammy Awards broadcast on AT&T U-verse systems around Orlando at a potentially controversial moment in the proceedings, the company says. The show went dark just as performers Macklemore & Lewis prepared to sing their song “Same Love,” with Queen Latifah set to use her new authority to officiate at weddings to marry 33 couples. AT&T says that’s when a fiber cut left customers experiencing “a brief disruption of local TV affiliate channels, including CBS.” Technicians made the repairs in about 10 minutes. “We sincerely apologize for the perceived implication of the timing. It definitely was not purposeful,” AT&T says.
Jamal Hill’s Brotherly Love is the latest feature from Queen Latifah‘s Flavor Unit shingle (Beauty Shop, Just Wright, The Queen Latifah Show) joining the rapper-turned-filmmaker’s slate of TV and film projects. In West Philadelphia, born-and-raised basketball star Sergio Taylor (Eric D. Hill Jr.) deals with the early pressures of fame. Alongside older brother June (Cory Hardrict), who lost his own hoop dreams to the streets to provide for the family after their father’s death, and sister Jackie (CrazySexyCool‘s Keke Palmer), whose own musical ambitions are sidetracked by love, Sergio faces life-altering decisions on the streets of Philly known as “The Top” and “The Bottom.” Pic, written and directed by Hill, is set against the backdrop of Philadelphia’s famed Overbrook High School, whose real-life alumni include Will Smith and Wilt Chamberlain. Flavor Unit Entertainment, Jacavi Films, and Electric Republic are producing with Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone, Yaneley Arty, Jacob York, and Rene Garcia aboard as exec producers. Romeo Miller, Logan Browning, Eric Hill, Quincy Brown, Faizon Love, Macy Gray, and Malik Yoba also star.
EXCLUSIVE: CAA just signed Queen Latifah, who just recently launched her new chat show, The Queen Latifah Show. A musician, Oscar-nominated actress, label president and author, Latifah is producing the talker through her Flavor Unit Entertainment production company with partner Shakim Compere, and Overbrook Entertainment’s Will Smith, Jada Smith, and James Lassiter. Latifah had been a longtime client of Randi Michel at WME. This move happens after Michel transitioned to Principato Young as a manager. She still reps Latifah.
Among Flavor Unit’s credits are Steel Magnolias, which Latifah starred in and became Lifetime’s third most-watched telecast, and HBO’s Life Support, for which Latifah won a Golden Globe Award and got an Emmy nom. Latifah remains repped by her Flavor Unit partner Shakim Compere and Principato Young and her attorney is Stewart Levy of Eisenberg Tanchum & Levy.
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s TCA conference on the Sony lot introducing her new daytme talk show, Queen Latifah said she had “already invited the Prez and Mrs.” to be guests on the show during a visit to the White House. Latifah did not say whether POTUS and the first lady had agreed or declined to make an appearance on The Queen Latifah Show, which makes its debut September 16. The new talk host added bluntly when asked if she could see herself tapping her friends in show biz as guests: “Yes, I can picture myself doing that. I just know this is going to be the place where they want to come.”
EXCLUSIVE: Flavor Unit Entertainment partners Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere are teaming with Meek Mill and James Lindsay of Dream Chasers Films to produce a film based on Mill’s song “The Tony Story“. Mill will star in the film which is a fictional American crime drama influenced by Mill’s experiences growing up hard in Philadelphia. The script is being written by Carlito Rodriguez. Directing will be Cess Silvera, who helmed an excellent 2002 crime film called Shottas.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., and MIAMI, Feb. 5, 2013 — Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Flavor Unit Entertainment, the production company owned by Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere, today announced an exclusive licensing agreement for movies in the U.S. In the first-look deal, Netflix will have its pick of movies that will debut on the world’s leading Internet television subscription service shortly after their theatrical release from the company that produced box office hits like “Bringing Down the House” and “Beauty Shop”. Beginning in Spring 2013, Netflix members can exclusively enjoy Flavor Unit titles including the thriller, “House of Bodies”, starring Terrence Howard and Peter Fonda and “Percentage” starring Ving Rhames, Cam’ron and Macy Gray.
EXCLUSIVE: Longtime WME agent and partner Randi Michel is leaving the agency to head the New York office of Principato-Young Entertainment. They are still working out the particulars regarding clients as she transitions from agent to manager, but it is expected that Sean Hayes, Queen Latifah and John Travolta will join her and remain WME clients.
Michel has been at WMA and then WME for 21 years. Aside from the clients I mentioned above, she repped Hank Azaria, Steve Buscemi, Chris Diamantopoulos, David Duchovny, Jenna Elfman, Dan Fogler, Latifah’s production company Flavor Unit Entertainment, Hayden Panettierre, Odeya Rush, Ella Travolta, and Rufus Wainwright. Michel began in the Beverly Hills office of WMA before moving to its New York office seven years ago.
“We have long admired Randi,” said Peter Principato and Paul Young. “She represents a diverse client base with originality and creativity. She’ll be an excellent leader to head our New York office.”
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures TV‘s The Queen Latifah Show is now a go for a fall 2013 launch. I’ve learned that, in a competitive situation, the daily syndicated talk show, executive produced by Latifah, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, has gone to the CBS TV Stations in a premium deal that will have the strip on the 16 CBS Owned & Operated stations.
The Queen Latifah Show will feature celebrity interviews, human interest stories, comedy, pop culture and musical performances. It is expected to showcase Queen Latifah’s talents, blending comedy and music into her hosting duties.
Shortly after the dust settled on this fall’s syndicated daytime talk show launches that failed to produce a breakout hit, Sony TV began conversations with station groups about the Queen Latifah talker, garnering interest from multiples places. I hear negotiations went down to the wire with the CBS and NBC station groups. The sale comes exactly a year after Sony TV, Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit and Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment closed a deal to develop a daytime talk show for the Oscar-nominated actress to host. In May, Corin Nelson was tapped as executive producer.
This is a rare major syndicated talk show acquisition for the CBS TV Station group that involves the flagship CBS stations. (The group includes duopoly stations in a number of major markets that are independent, the CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates). What is even more rare is the group going for a show not produced/distributed by its sister company CBS TV Distribution.
Five-time Emmy® Award-winning producer Corin Nelson has been named executive producer of Queen Latifah‘s new syndicated talk show from Flavor Unit Entertainment, Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. The multi-topic daytime series, covering everything under the umbrella of entertainment, is expected to launch in the fall of 2013.
“Given Queen Latifah’s profile, stature and accomplishments, it was vital for us to find someone who complemented such a tremendous talent to helm this show,” said Holly Jacobs, executive vice president, U.S. reality and syndicated programming, Sony Pictures Television. “We knew the diversity of Corin’s experience in daytime and late night, her collaborative spirit, tremendous creative chops and passion for the medium made her a perfect match.
Lifetime has assembled the cast of its Steel Magnolias reboot. Queen Latifah has signed on to star in and executive produce the original movie, an updated, contemporary TV adaptation of the play and 1989 film. She is joined on the all-black cast by Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad, Jill Scott, Adepero Oduye and Rashad’s daughter, Condola Rashad.
Produced by Sony Pictures Television, Steel Magnolias chronicles the lives and friendship of six women in Louisiana: M’Lynn (Queen Latifah), Ouiser (Woodard), Clairee (Phylicia Rashad), Truvy (Scott), Annelle (Oduye) and Shelby (Condola Rashad). Supporting each other through their triumphs and tragedies, they congregate at Truvy’s beauty shop to ponder the mysteries of life and death, husbands and children — and hair and nails — all the important topics that bring women together. In the 1989 movie, the roles were played by Sally Field (M’Lynn), Dolly Parton (Truvy), Shirley MacLaine (Ouiser), Darryl Hannah (Annelle), Olympia Dukakis (Clairee), and Julia Roberts (Shelby). The remake, which is slated to begin production next month in Atlanta for a debut later this year, will be executive produced by Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Latifah, her producing partner Shakim Compere and Shelby Stone. Kenny Leon, who previously helmed ABC’s TV adaptation of the play A Raisin In The Sun – also from Sony TV, Zadan and Meron — is directing from a script by Sally Robinson (Iron Jawed Angels) based on the play and feature screenplay by Robert Harling.
CW Greenlights Reality Singing Series From Queen Latifah & Dave Broome For Summer; Gloria Estefan & John Rich Set As Mentors
EXCLUSIVE: The CW is looking to make a splash this summer with a music competition series from Queen Latifah and The Biggest Loser creator/executive producer Dave Broome. The project, tentatively titled The Star Next Door, has pop diva Gloria Estefan and country star John Rich set as mentors. The series, which has received a 10-episode order, is expected to tap a couple more mentors in the coming weeks. Like other shows, The Star Next Door will go on a nationwide search for undiscovered artists, but in doing so it is taking the opposite approach to most other singing competition series, where auditions are held throughout the country and those that are selected are brought in to Hollywood. In The Star Next Door, the mentors, including Estefan and Rich, will travel to where the talent is and immerse themselves in the lives and towns of these local performers while preparing them for the chance to represent their home city live on national TV. The show will be produced in cooperation with the local CW stations in the markets where the contestants live. The Star Next Door is being produced by Raquel Prods, the reality production unit of CW sibling CBS; Broome’s 25/7 Prods; and Flavor Unit Entertainment, …
With a slew of daytime syndicated talk show projects jockeying for a fall 2012 berth, a big one is entering the fray for fall 2013. Queen Latifah is set to host a new daytime talk show that Flavor Unit, her company with Shakim Compere, will co-produce with Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. Compere and Overbrook’s Miguel Melendez, who were instrumental in getting the project together, will serve as executive producers with Queen Latifah and Overbrook’s Lassiter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Queen Latifah and Smith have a lot in common — both started in hip-hop before segueing into acting and then producing and both have earned Oscar nominations. In fact, Latifah’s first role was an arc on NBC’s The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, which starred Smith, also in his first acting gig. “We’ve had a long and successful history both personally and professionally with Overbrook’s Miguel, JL, Jada and Will,” Compere said. “We share a common vision and have been wanting to collaborate for quite some time.” In addition to Queen Latifah’s work with Smith on Fresh Prince, she starred opposite his wife, Pinkett Smith, in the 1996 movie Set It Off. “We are excited to join forces with Latifah and as well as Sony Pictures TV on this new venture,” Melendez said. “This forum is the perfect place to showcase Latifah’s tremendous range of talents and unique ability to connect and inspire people.” Sony TV’s relationship with Pinkett Smith and Overbrook stems from their recent collaboration on the TNT series Hawthorne, which starred Pinkett Smith and was produced by Sony and Overbrook. Additionally, Overbrook has had a long relationship with Sony on the film side, most recently producing together the hit Karate Kid remake.
Sony could’ve fast-tracked the talk show for a fall 2012 launch but opted to give it time to develop the way the studio did with The Dr. Oz Show, which has been the No. 1 syndicated daytime talk show in women 25-54 for the past three weeks. Sony TV does not have a contender for fall 2012 as the studio has been very selective with daytime projects, taking its time to find one that it feels it can throw its full support behind. Besides, the 2012 field is overcrowded already with talk shows hosted by Katie Couric and Steve Harvey already cleared for launch, Maury spin-off Trisha Goddard close to a go after getting picked up by Sinclair a week ago, and several other shows — including Twentieth’s Ricki Lake, Warner Bros’ Bethenny Frankel and CBS TV Distribution’s Jeff Probst — looking for station clearances.
EXCLUSIVE: Queen Latifah and Flavor Unit Entertainment partner Shakim Compere are backing Percentage, a drama scripted by Elya Ottenberg that marks the first film shot in Flavor Unit Studios, the Miami soundstages built by Latifah and Compere. Directed by Alex Merkin, the drama stars Cam’ron and Omar Gooding as two New York hustlers who are on the run from a drug deal gone bad. They settle in Miami to build a new empire in the world of credit fraud, but their success brings unwanted attention from law enforcement and Miami’s most notorious criminals. Macy Gray, Ving Rhames, Antwan Tanner, Robert Watson and Malinda Williams also star. Latifah is producing with Compere and Eric Tomosunas, and the film is being independently financed by the Flavor Unit partners and Cam’ron, the hip hop artist and actor.
VH1′s original movie Single Ladies, executive produced by Queen Latifah, will spawn the music/reality channel’s first hourlong scripted series. Stacey Dash, LisaRaye McCoy, Charity Shea, and DB Woodside starred in the movie, which was shot in the summer. Production on the eight-episode series will start at the end of this year, with the movie and the series both premiering in July 2011. Queen Latifah is set to guest star on the show. Single Ladies, written by Stacy Littlejohn and directed by Tamra Davis, is a relationship comedic drama set in the world of Atlanta fashion, music, and celebrity.
CBS today said that it will bring back the People’s Choice Awards on January 5th with Mark Burnett returning as executive producer and Queen Latifah as host. For CBS, which also recently renewed the Tonys for next year, this means extending another one of its long-running awards franchises. But this year, all awards show deals are being put under a microscope as the Primetime Emmy Awards are looking for a new home. Meanwhile, the upstart Paleys, the recently announced TV awards by the Paley Center For The Media whose inaugural show is set for May 2012, are looking for a network too. While the Paleys are often positioned as a rival to the Emmys, some call them “thinly-veiled People’s Choice Awards” because viewers will be able to vote in some way on the Paleys as they will “engage the public in the selection process,” according to the Paley Center. Of course, the People’s Choice Awards include film and music categories too, but the Paleys won’t limit the show only to TV either as it is designed to “celebrate video programming across platforms”. As for reality series producer Burnett, it feels like he is spending more and more time on awards shows these days between the People’s Choice Awards and the MTV Movie Awards.