IndieWire.com reports the filmmaker and Mo’Nique will collaborate on his upcoming feature film, “Blackbird.” The movie, which also stars Isaiah Washington, centers on Randy Rousseau (Julian Walker), a 17-year-old high school choir boy who struggles with religion, sexuality, a troubled home life, among other things while growing up in a small religiously conservative Mississippi town.
*Director Lee Daniels said he decided to come out as gay when he was a teenager in an attempt to upset his abusive father.
The filmmaker has spoken candidly about his troubled relationship with his police officer dad William, who was killed in the line of duty when Daniels was 15.
In a new interview with Out magazine, the 53-year-old reveals the extent of the violence he suffered at the hands of his father, explaining he was regularly beaten for acting effeminately and was even dumped in a trash can when he was caught wearing a pair of his mother’s high heels.
The director admits he told his family the truth about his sexuality to get back at his father.
“When I came out it was because I loathed my dad so much,” Daniels said. “I couldn’t understand how you could, with an extension cord, beat a 45-pound kid just because he’s aware of his femininity.”
However, Daniels insists the trauma he suffered as a child molded his vivid imagination, likening himself to the abused teen in his acclaimed 2009 movie “Precious.”
“For me it really created a world where I understood Precious, where you learn the power of the imagination,” she said.
*Things will be a little different when Showtime’s “The Big C” returns for its final run on April 29.
First, it will be renamed “The Big C: Hereafter.”
“The purpose of this title was really to speak about how it’s that very Buddhist concept that we’ve explored on the show in the past, that you’re as everybody’s lived, and we’re each dying every day. And as you die, you’ve lived,” explained executive producer Jenny Bicks during interviews for the show in January.
The series, entering its fourth season, follows the actions of high school teacher Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney) since she was diagnosed with terminal melanoma in season one. The show, billed as a comedy, is less about the cancer, and more about her struggle to finally live her truth – a journey that began long before her diagnosis.
As she copes with her illness, Cathy finds refreshing honesty in the many quirky relationships in her life – including her brassy former student-turned-live in guest Andrea Jackson, played by Gabourey Sidibe.
“‘The Big C’ was only my third audition ever, and so I didn’t have much experience, but the good thing about it is that I wasn’t spoiled by a lot of things,” Sidibe, 29, said of her entry into the show, fresh from her 2010 Oscar nomination for “Precious” – only her first audition ever. “I was so new when I got [to the show]. Now I’m horrible.”
Below, Sidibe says she viewed her experience on “The Big C” as a master class.
Other changes for season four aside from the title include the length of the four episodes, which increases from a half-hour to an hour. The premiere will pick up from last season’s cliffhanger, with Cathy leaving her family to go sailing with a stranger. The storyline in the four episodes will span September through May, with three months separating each hour.
Guest stars will include Brian Dennehy as Cathy’s father, Isaac Mizrahi as Andrea’s fashion mentor and Kathy Najimy as Cathy’s therapist. Watch a preview of the final season below.
*Sundance is over and marks another historical event in the record books.
And as we reported earlier, “Fruitvale” director Ryan Coogler went home a champ with not one major award, but two.
Not only did the film pick up the Audience Award, but also the Grand Jury Prize, the most celebrated, coveted award of the festival.
Now this is more historical than it appears. “Fruitvale” is one of the very few black films to receive an Audience Award or Grand Jury Prize at the festival, the first given in 1990, six years after Sundance started the awarding tradition.
“Fruitvale” turns out to be the fourth film at the fest to score both awards and the second black film to do the same in the festival’s history. “Precious” took home both prizes four years ago.
Read the breakdown here.
*Director Lee Daniels is feeling a bit “muzzled” while making his first PG-13 film.
“It’s very un-‘Precious’ and un-‘Paperboy,’” he tells The Hollywood Reporter of “The Butler,” about a White House staffer (Forest Whitaker) employed through eight presidential administrations.
“I can’t go into my bag of tricks on this one: no urination, no baby falling down the stairs, no cursing at all. We only have one ‘f–k,’ which Lyndon Johnson gets. I felt like I directed the film in handcuffs and a muzzle.”
A release date has yet to be announced for “The Butler.”
Geoffrey Fletcher, writer of 2009 award-winning film, “Precious,” has partnered with two of the biggest film companies to launch the Tribeca Film Festival and Bombay Sapphire the Imagination Series filmmakers competition.
The contest calls for filmmakers to submit a short film based on a short screenplay written by Fletcher.
“We’re looking for inspiration and passion above all,” Fletcher told The Huffington Post.
“Spending a lot of money [on a production] never guaranteed any inspiration from the heart on any project,” he added. “We really want to make it known that the greatest investment in this piece should be oneself.”
“At the end of the day that’s what resonates and inspires any audience,” Fletcher said.
With the contest, he hopes to inspire and cultivate new talent for the competitive industry.