*First lady Michelle Obama praised award-winning performer Cicely Tyson Monday at a special White House screening of her latest work, “The Trip to Bountiful.”
The event was held in recognition of African-American history month, which FLOTUS said is about “honoring those who came before us” and “resolving to do our part to live up to that example.”
The Tony-Award winning play — originally created by playwright Horton Foote in 1953 — was revived on stage by Tyson and a stellar cast which drew massive crowds during the show’s run on Broadway and earned accolades for their distinguished work. Cable network Lifetime tapped Tyson and her stage co-stars Blair Underwood and Vanessa Williams for a film adaptation, to debut next month.
Imani Hakim in the Lifetime Original Movie “The Gabby Douglas Story”
*Lifetime’s original movie about Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday with Imani Hakim – the little sister from “Everybody Hates Chris” – in the lead role.
Regina King plays Gabby’s mom, S. Epatha Merkerson stars as her grandmother and Sydney Mikayla plays the younger Gabby.
The tele-pic, which kicks off Lifetime’s Black History Month, will recount Gabby’s rough journey toward the gold.
Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr. in Broadway’s The Trip to Bountiful
*This year’s Tony Award nominated Broadway revival hit The Trip to Bountiful is currently in production in Atlanta for a television adaptation to premiere on Lifetime in 2014.
The film stars original cast members Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams who are joined by Blair Underwood in Cuba Gooding Jr.’s old role and Keke Palmer replacing Condola Rashad, the network announced today. Tyson also serves as an executive producer.
The play’s director, Michael Wilson, will make his television directorial debut with this project.
Author Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” set during the final years of the Jim Crow South, tells of one woman’s quest to reconnect with her past in order to ensure her family’s future.
Cicely Tyson and Condola Rashad in Broadway’s The Trip to Bountiful
Carrie Watts (Tyson) begrudgingly lives with her busy, overprotective son, Ludie (Underwood) and her snooty daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae (Williams). No longer able to drive and forbidden to travel alone, she wishes for freedom from the confines of the house and begs her son to take her on a visit to her hometown of Bountiful. When he refuses, Mrs. Watts is undeterred and makes an escape to the local bus station, where she befriends Thelma (Palmer), a young woman traveling home. When Ludie and Jessie Mae discover she is gone, they call in law enforcement to help, but Mrs. Watts is one step ahead of them and convinces the local sheriff to help her on her journey home to Bountiful.
The Trip to Bountiful closed its triumphant Broadway run on October 9.
*Yaani King (“Mad Men”) is set as a regular in Lifetime’s backdoor pilot “Deliverance Creek,” a slavery-set drama from Nicholas Sparks Prods. and Warner Horizon, reports Deadline.com.
It centers on Belle (Lauren Ambrose) who attempts to defend her family’s land by any means necessary and is pushed into becoming an outlaw by the corrupt bank that runs their town.
King will play Kessiah “Kessie” Washington, a quick witted plantation slave who forges her own freedom papers and sets out for Deliverance Creek with a desperate plan to save her family from slavery.
King was one of a handful of black actresses to star in AMC’s “Mad Men.” Last season, she played Peggy’s secretary Phyllis.
Gabby Douglas, Gymnast, Olympic Champion, attends ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Blu-ray/DVD Release Event at the California Science Center on September 10, 2013 in Los Angeles
*Gabrielle Douglas, the first black gymnast in Olympic history to become the Individual All-Around Champion and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics, will be the subject of Lifetime movie.
The cable network has greenlighted “The Gabby Douglas Story” (working title), an original movie starring Imani Hakim (“Everybody Hates Chris”) and Sydney Mikayla as the two-time Olympic gold medalist, “Southland” alum Regina King as her mother and S. Epatha Merkerson (“Law & Order”) as her grandmother.
Mikayla will portray Douglas during her childhood while Hakim will play her as a teenager and young adult. Douglas also will appear in the film, produced by Sony Pictures TV.
The film will begin during Gabby’s early years, including the difficult decision to leave her mother Natalie (King), three siblings and grandmother (Merkerson) in Virginia Beach at age 14 and move to Des Moines, Iowa, to train with renowned coach Liang Chow (Brian Tee) to pursue her dream of Olympic glory. The move paid off, and Gabby at 16 made it onto the 2012 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team — known as “The Fierce Five” — winning Team Competition and Individual All-round gold medals.
She recently returned to the gym, training on her own in Los Angeles with the goal of competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics.