ROUNDUP - Fela Bio-Pic, Slamdance Gems, Festival Blues, Idris On TV, Oxford Over NFL, Nona Gaye Returns
- FELA KUTI BIOPIC IN THE WORKS. Focus Features is developing a biopic about Fela Kuti, the Nigerian musician and political maverick who gained fame in the U.S. for his fusion style of music known as Afrobeat. It's about time! If we can get biopics about Biggie and Aaliyah, surely, Fela deserves the same treatment. I just hope they get an unknown to play the part; an actor from his home country would be wonderful, but, I doubt that'll happen.
- indieWIRE spotlights 5 films to see at Slamdance (not Sundance), and Tina Mabry's Mississippi Damned, which I wrote about previously on this blog, is one of them. Erick Kohn writes,
This lusciously photographed period piece, set in a lower class southern community in 1986 and 1998, showcases writer-director Tina Mabry’s ability to handle the complexities of an ensemble drama with her very first feature. An impoverished black family (including David Malcolm Kelley, who plays Walt on ABC’s “Lost”) cope with dreams of greater ambitions. Whether confronting sexual tensions (in one case, a latent homosexual relationship) or monetary woes, the characters in “Mississippi Damned” represent the voice of a discontented people, which comes through loud and clear.Black dramas are tough sells, so I'd expect Mabry's film to face some challenges in finding a distributor. I hope to have her, and/or her producers on my podcast some time soon.
- The Hollywood Reporter says Film festivals are prepping for a year of "downsized aspirations," stating,
Many organizers believe the healthy economy of the past decade created a bubble of film festivals, and that a retrenchment was inevitable... Right now times are tough for a lot of people, and some companies and festivals will go under... But those that survive are going to be the ones able to get really lean, focus on basics, identify what really matters and get stronger.There are far too many film festivals, I think, so, I consider this a good thing.
- IDRIS ELBA TO JOIN NBC'S 'OFFICE': As I stated in a post yesterday, more minority performers seem to be finding better opportunities for steady employment in television, and more are migrating in that direction - and rightfully so! Stringer Bell himself, aka Idris Elba, is following the likes of Laurence Fishburne, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett and others, to star as a new rival to Steve Carell's character in the NBC hit, The Office. While details are being kept under wraps, NBC did say the actor will play a no-nonsense hire who rankles star Steve Carell's character. I've actually never watched an episode of The Office, despite its wealth of accolades; but I might tune in to see how Elba meshes.
- COLLEGE FOOTBALL STAR PASSES ON NFL TO GO TO OXFORD: How often does something like this happen? Rarely! According to draft experts and analysts, Florida State University football player Myron Rolle would be among the top 50 players selected in the 2009 NFL draft, meaning instant fame and fortune. However, Rolle, who won a Rhodes scholarship in November, has decided to instead take advantage of the opportunity and head overseas, to Oxford, to earn a one-year Master's degree in medical anthropology. Smart move! However, he told the New York Times that he would enter the 2010 NFL draft. So, fame and fortune will likely still come, but it's a risky move for anyone hoping for a pro-sports career. He could get hurt in the next 13 months, and he'll have to kiss the NFL goodbye. Still a bold, smart move...
- AND LASTLY, Sony Pictures has acquired rights to the underground fighting drama Blood and Bone, an out of competition Sundance selection, which stars Michael Jai White as an ex-con who takes the underground fighting world by storm, in his quest to fulfill a promise to a dead friend. The deal was struck on the eve of the Sundance Film Festival, reports Variety.
Nona Gaye (where the heck has she been?), Eamonn Walker, Julian Sands, and UFC contender Kimbo Slice round out the cast.
The trailer is below, and from the looks of it, I think I'll pass! I'm guessing Sony will release it on DVD, i.e., no theatrical.