Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw arrive to a special screening of Fox’s “Touch” at Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on April 23, 2012 in North Hollywood
*Relativity has acquired worldwide rights to Gina Prince-Bythewood’s next film “Blackbird,” reports Deadline.com.
The film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Noni Jean, a hot new artist who has just won a Grammy and is primed for stardom. But the pressures of success compel her to nearly end her life until she is saved by a young police officer. They fall hard for each other, despite the protests of their parents who want each to focus on their own career ambitions. But he might be the missing piece to unlock her artistic potential.,
Nate Parker and Danny Glover co-star.
Prince-Bythewood will direct from her script; Relativity has acquired worldwide rights and will finance the film. Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh is producing with Stephanie Allain.
Mbatha-Raw’s resume includes leading roles in NBC’s “Undercovers” opposite Boris Kodjoe, and Fox’s “Touch” opposite Kiefer Sutherland.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as social worker Clea Hopkins in the pilot for FOX's "Touch"
*Although the pilot aired in full nearly two months ago in what FOX called “a preview,” tonight marks the official series premiere of “Touch,” a supernatural drama starring “24” vet Kiefer Sutherland and “Undercovers” alum Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
As reported before the show’s initial Jan. 25 broadcast, Mbatha-Raw plays Clea Hopkins, a social worker who must evaluate the relationship between 11-year-old autistic boy Jake (David Mazouz) and his father Martin (Sutherland). Jake’s autism renders him mute; he only communicates through intricate numeric computations. His father soon discovers that Jake uses those numbers to uncover global catastrophic events that will happen in the future, and Martin feels obligated to try and stop them from happening – by any means necessary.
Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) meets Jake (David Mazouz) in "Touch"
“In this day and age of Internet and social network sites, cell phones and international travel, I think we’re more connected than ever before, on one level,” the Oxford, born Mbatha-Raw tells EURweb exclusively. “But that personal human connection, which is really what is at the crux of ‘Touch’ – that relationship between Martin and his son and his inability to communicate with his own son – is crippling for him and so emotionally difficult to deal with. How do you deal with a child that doesn’t talk, and yet seems to have these special savant-like gifts for numbers?
“My character comes into the fray as the social worker brought in to assess Martin and Jake, because it appears [Martin] is not an adequate father; initially the child keeps going missing. So she comes on board to see whether the state needs to intervene for the child’s best interest.”
(L-R) David Mazouz, Kiefer Sutherland and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in a scene from "Touch"
Mbatha-Raw, whose name means “our pride” in the Xhosa language of her South African father, had been acting in British television shows for six years before she landed her first American gig in 2010, NBC’s spy drama “Undercovers,” alongside Boris Kodjoe.
Below, the actress talks about her journey in show business, which includes a fortuitous flight delay at Heathrow Airport two years ago that changed her outlook on everything.
Below, the trailer for “Touch,” premiering (again) Thursday at 9 p.m. on FOX.
Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw speaks onstage during the 'Touch' panel during the FOX Broadcasting Company portion of the 2012 Winter TCA Tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on Jan. 8, 2012 in Pasadena
*She hunted down bad guys as an international spy on NBC’s ill-fated “Undercovers.” On Wednesday, actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw takes it down a notch as a social worker assigned to evaluate a young boy and his father as they hunt down bad guys in Fox’s new drama “Touch.”
Mbatha-Raw’s Clea Hopkins must evaluate the domestic situation of an autistic 11-year-old boy named Jake (David Mazouz) and his father, Martin (Kiefer Sutherland). Jake, by the way, does not speak. He prefers to communicate through complex numeric computations – and as his dad finds out in the pilot, he uses those numbers to reveal specific atrocities that will happen in the future. This forces Sutherland to get his Jack Bauer on each week to stop the bad things before they happen – once he deciphers Jake’s math, of course.
(L-R) Kiefer Sutherland, David Mazouz, Gugu Mbatha-Raw in a scene from "Touch"
Mbatha-Raw, who saw plenty of action in “Undercovers,” will be a step removed from the good/evil battles this time around as Jake’s case manager.
“She has a lot to do with his case. She oversees his assessments, she has to liaise with Martin when he starts seeing these numbered connections,” Mbatha-Raw told EURweb exclusively at the Television Critics Association press tour this month. “Even though she goes along with it in the pilot, her first priority is always the child, and whether the state is going to take him away from Martin, because he’s got to prove himself as an adequate parent.”
Fox will preview the full pilot for “Touch” on Wednesday (Jan. 25) at 9 p.m. ahead of its official series premiere on March 19. [Scroll down to watch the trailer.]
In the audio below, Mbatha-Raw takes us back to “Undercovers,” and offers her own idea of what went wrong.
*The jet-setting is over for NBC’s spy drama “Undercovers” and its star Boris Kodjoe.
NBC announced today that it will not pick up additional episodes from the freshman series beyond the original 13-episode order, according to Deadline.com. The Warner Bros TV-produced show is currently filming Episode 12.
The news follows Wednesday night’s episode hitting another series low when it slipped to a 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demo.
The slickly produced light drama, whose pilot was directed by creator J.J. Abrams, broke primetime ground by featuring two black actors as the leads. But it got off to a disappointing start in the Wednesday 8 p.m. slot and never found traction with viewers.
The series will stay on for the next 2 weeks and will air its last original (for now) on December 1, reports Deadline. It was already set for preemption on Nov. 24 when NBC is airing a DreamWorks Animation holiday special. The fate of the remaining original “Undercovers” episodes is unclear.
This is the second new NBC series to get cancelled, along with legal drama “Outlaw.” The rest of NBC’s freshman class all received back-nine orders two weeks ago. At the time, “Undercovers” got a pickup for four additional scripts.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Samantha Bloom, Boris Kodjoe as Steven Bloom in NBC's "Undercovers"
*NBC got some good news and bad news for two of its new dramas this week.
The network’s latest “Law & Order” franchise entry “Los Angeles” earned solid ratings in its Wednesday premiere, but numbers for the second week of spy series “Undercovers” slipped dangerously low, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“Law & Order: Los Angeles” (10.6 million viewers) grew from its “Law & Order: SVU” (9.9 million) lead-in and clearly won 10 p.m., reports Nielsen. At 8 p.m., though, “Undercovers,” starring Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, dropped 17% to 7.2 million.
“Undercovers” is prime time’s first drama to star two black actors in the lead roles. Kodjoe and Mbatha-Raw play married CIA operatives who take on sticky cases around the world while operating a catering business.
Most shows dropped off in viewers this week, and ABC’s “The Whole Truth” (4.6 million, down 5%) is firmly an at-risk show.
CBS won Wednesday with “Survivor” (12.2 million, down a bit), “Criminal Minds” (14.6 million, up a bit) and Week 2 of “The Defenders” (10.4 million, down 15%).
Fox’s two-hour “Hell’s Kitchen” averaged 6.1 million viewers, also down 15%.
ABC’s “Modern Family” (11.9 million) was down 6% from last week’s high-flying premiere, even with the heavily hyped “kiss episode.” The rest of its comedy block also fell: “The Middle” (8.4 million, down 5%), freshman comedy “Better With You” (7 million, down 11%), and “Cougar Town” (7 million, down 16%).