Black Nativity ready for production with Forest Whitaker attached as male lead

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Exclusive: Black Nativity ready for production with Forest Whitaker attached as male lead
by Wilson Morales

November 28, 2012

Blackfilm.com has exclusively learned that Kasi Lemmons‘ helmed musical Black Nativity will start production in late January 2013 with Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”) attached as the male lead, opposite Angela Bassett and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”). Fox Searchlight will distribute the film.

A few months ago, The Hollywood Reporter has stated that the studio decided to shut the film down before production began in October due to the lack of a Black male lead that can carry a film and match up with Bassett and Hudson. It stated that Samuel L. Jackson had backed out of the role and Laurence Fishburne had turned it down. Sources tell Blackfilm that Jackson was never on board to begin with.

‘Black Nativity’ tells the story of a teenage boy from Baltimore who is sent by his single mother to Harlem to spend Christmas with the grandparents he’s never met. Through his grandfather’s Christmas Eve sermon, he learns about the importance of faith and family. Hudson will play the mother who hasn’t spoken to her father since they had a falling out after she got pregnant. Bassett and Whitaker will play the boy’s estranged grandparents, Rev. Clarence and Aretha Cobbs. Whitaker is expected to play multiple characters during the Nativity sequence.

Lemmons is writing and directing the film based on Langston Hughes’ gospel musical that was first performed on Broadway in 1961. Casting director Tracy ‘Twinkie’ Byrd is currently putting together the rest of the cast. Production will run from January to March 2013 in New York City.

Bill Horberg and Celine Rattray will produce with Galt Niederhoffer and Daniela Taplin Lundberg, while Joy Goodwin will exec produce.

Whitaker had directed Bassett in the 1995 romantic comedy-drama and blockbuster hit “Waiting to Exhale” that also starred the late Whitney Houston, Lela Rochon and Loretta Devine. Whitaker also played Hudson’s father in the 2008 film, “Winged Creatures.”

He will next be seen opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Last Stand,” which theaters on Jan. 18 and he recently completed production on Lee Daniels‘ film, “The Butler.”


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