HBO Films: BESSIE is another project HBOWatch has brought to everyone’s attention before the official announcement from HBO. Here now is that Press Release:
QUEEN LATIFAH STARS IN AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCES
HBO FILMS’ BESSIE,
THE STORY OF ICONIC BLUES SINGER BESSIE SMITH,
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY DEE REES,
SHOOTING IN ATLANTA AND DEBUTING IN 2015
Oscar nominee Queen Latifah (Chicago and Golden Globe/SAG award winner for HBO Films’ LIFE SUPPORT) stars as legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in HBO Films’ BESSIE, written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Dee Rees (Pariah). Currently in production in Atlanta and debuting in 2015, the film focuses on Smith’s transformation from a struggling young singer into “The Empress of the Blues,” one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s and an enduring icon today. The cast also features Michael K. Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg, Charles S. Dutton and Mo’Nique. BESSIE is executive produced by Queen Latifah (pictured), Shakim Compere, Lili Fini Zanuck, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel.
Michael K. Williams (Omar Little of THE WIRE & Chalky White of BOARDWALK EMIPRE) stars as Bessie’s husband, Jack Ghee. Khandi Alexander (Denise of THE CORNER & LaDonna on TREME) plays Bessie’s big sister, Viola. Mike Epps (The Hangover and an episode of THE SOPRANOS) plays Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest. Tika Sumpter (Ride Along, Sparkle) plays Lucille, a performer and romantic interest. Oliver Platt (X-Men: First Class, BORED TO DEATH) plays famed photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten. Bryan Greenberg (HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA’s Brian Epstein) portrays renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond. Tory Kittles (TRUE DETECTIVE’s Thomas Papania) plays Bessie’s older brother, Clarence. Charles S. Dutton (HBO Films: SOMETHING THE LORD MADE, OZ) portrays Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey. Mo’Nique (Precious, The Parkers) portrays blues legend Ma Rainey.
Filmmaker Dee Rees (pictured) was critically acclaimed for her feature film Pariah, about a teen who struggles with her sexual identity. It won Best Independent Film from the African-American Film Critics Association and Best Cinematography Award at Sundance 2011, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. The film and Rees also received multiple nominations from the Black Reel Awards and Black Film Critics Circle. Rees’ documentary feature Eventual Salvation received a 2007 Sundance Documentary Fund Grant and premiered on the Sundance Channel in Oct. 2009. She also made HBO’s WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS. The New York Times selected Rees “One of the 20 Directors to Watch” and FilmmakerMagazine called her one of “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”
This HBO Film has a top-notch cast and director attached and looks to be another quality film to add to the list of notable original programming HBO offers. And imagine what a hot score it will be! We will keep track of it. Are you looking forward to HBO Films: BESSIE?