Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Is a spy drama with two black actors as the male-female romantic leads a revolution for network television? At TCA today, the producers of NBC’s upcoming Undercovers, which is just such a show — hemmed and hawed in answering the question that really shouldn’t be a question in 2010 but, well, still is.
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EXCLUSIVE: While Precious director Lee Daniels continues to wait for financing to mobilize on the Civil Rights drama Selma, he has closed a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to rewrite and direct The Butler. The Laura Ziskin-produced drama is based on Eugene Allen. A servant in the White House over 34 years, Allen watched the eight presidents he worked for wrestle with and finally stem the tide of segregation. The film is based on a series of articles written on Butler by Wil Haygood. After Haygood’s first article, the long-retired Allen was invited to be a guest at the inauguration of the country’s first African American president, Barack Obama, bringing his experience full circle. The first draft was written by Recount‘s Danny Strong.
Daniels will begin re-writing immediately and I’m told the picture could be ready to start before year’s end–Daniels has gone as far as approach Denzel Washington about the title role–if Selma doesn’t finally get its funding together quickly. The film, about Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King and the marches that led to civil rights reform, might finally be verging on happening. Deals aren’t closed, but it looks like Harvey Weinstein’s The Weinstein Company will commit $8 million in funding for domestic distribution, with Pathe matching that amount and taking foreign. Daniels’ WME reps have lined up an equity investor–I’ve heard Skyline Pictures–to provide the remaining funds for a budget that is $18 million, after location rebates.
While Precious grossed … Read More »