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Angela Bassett Will Be Coretta Scott King To Mary J. Blige's Betty Shabazz In 'Betty & Coretta'

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 23, 2012 9:20 PM
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ruby angela

Angela Bassett and Ruby Dee will join Mary J. Blige in the Lifetime original movie project previously titled Parallel Lives, but now has a working title, Betty And Coretta.

It's a project we've been tracking for about a year now, and it looks like it's finally heading into production.

The film will center on the relationship between Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King - specifically, accoring to THR, it'll follow how they continue on as single mothers, after their husbands are assassinated - their husbands being Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

As already reported, Mary J. Blige will play Betty Shabazz (news that was met with much venom when we initially announced it, as I recall), and Angela Bassett will play Coretta Scott King.

Ruby Dee will appear on-screen as a "historical witness" to narrate the story, "as someone familiar with the events of both their lives."

Yves Simoneau, who recently directed a Beauty And The Beast TV-movie for ABC Studios, will direct Betty And Coretta, from a script penned by Shem Bitterman (he last wrote and directed a feature dramedy titled The Job in 2009).

The film will be produced by Blige, as well as Larry Stanitsky, with Jaja Johnson and Polly Anthony executive producing.

Production is set to begin in September; no word yet on when it'll air.

So... Mary J. Blige sharing the same screen with Angela Bassett and Ruby Dee. Huh... This should be interesting. Worth noting, Angela Bassett has played Betty Shabazz on screen in the past... twice. Maybe she can show Mary J. Blige a thing or two.

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  • Joseph G. | August 27, 2012 11:45 PMReply

    Crabs in a bucket on this site. That's all there is. Everyone is always shouting "why she and not I?"

  • Akimbo | August 27, 2012 10:30 PMReply

    No interest in seeing this, just wanted to note that the "Beauty and the Beast" project Simoneau directed was actually a pilot that wasn't picked up to series. Both ABC & the CW did BatB pilots this past pilot season.

  • curious1 | August 24, 2012 9:07 PMReply

    ROGER GUENVEUR SMITH should play MALCOLM X!!!!!!!!!!!

  • curious1 | August 27, 2012 3:41 PM

    Donella, Denzel gave a superb performance but that was over 20 years ago
    and this is a story focusing on the powerful women behind
    Malcolm and Martin so Roger Guenveur Smith is a great idea. He looks more
    like Malcolm than Denzel and will give it a unique take.

  • Donella | August 26, 2012 7:31 PM

    Also, Lee cast Roger Guenivere Smith as Huey Newton in a stage play, so it would be confusing to see him as Malcolm X. And, Denzel Washington so thoroughly dominated the role of X, he would be a hard act for anyone to follow.

  • Kelea | August 24, 2012 9:57 PM

    LOL. Considering his role with Denz in Spike Lee's movie it's going to be hard for me to take that seriously. But on a more serious note, Roger Guenveur Smith is a very capable actor. I just can't see him opposite Mary J. He will have to do all the work there.

  • LIL NUT | August 24, 2012 4:34 PMReply

    i swear to god, you fuckin naysayers are sickening! hiding behind your computer screens, lashing out against people putting in work. they don't owe any of you critical fuckers a damn thing. remember, when you write such mean spirited and careless things, you're talking about someone's mother or daughter or sister. find something good to say or just shut the fuck up!

  • bondgirl | August 27, 2012 11:50 PM

    Melissa is the pot calling the kettle black. Not even a week ago did she make an insipid comment about some show with a black female lead and her white co-star...instead of a lauding a "bizarre, brilliant African movie." You are more than welcome to go over to Deadline, where all the threads lead to how Obama is destroying the country. LOL

  • Said in Los Angeles | August 27, 2012 11:22 PM

    Melissa's flow, that's a great sequential scenario you posted...on point...

  • noel | August 25, 2012 6:24 AM

    Sorry Melissa. Thank you again.

  • noel | August 25, 2012 6:23 AM

    Thank you merrisa. Perfectly said and outrageously sad

  • Melissa | August 24, 2012 5:18 PM

    I know it gets quite irritating but its the same ten people everytime making pseudo-intellectual, but ultimately embarrassing comments well expected of them. I'm starting to think the bloggers have caught onto this and throw out bait. Want to get BW to comment? Show a bm/ww canoodling. Want to get BM to comment? Show a black actress with her 16th white love interest. Want to divide Blacks, genderwise? Talk about lightskin/darkskin. Want to unite Blacks? Complain about white Hollywood. Want no one to comment? Write about a bizarre, brilliant African movie.

  • Frustrated AF | August 24, 2012 3:45 PMReply

    Everybody's talking about MJB. Does nobody see the travesty in Angela Bassett, arguably our most talented thespian, playing the same ol' same ol'? No, disparagement to the legendary Coretta Scott King but, her life story is not going to give Angela any challenge at all in the acting arena. We've seen her do this many times before. I dont care if you change their names to Katherine Jackson, Betty Shabazz, Voletta Wallace, or Rosa Parks, its the same perfect, flaweless, do no wrong character. And it's not worthy of Angela's talents, it actually hinders her by typecasting herself further. Get some less talented actress to do it opposite MJB and cast Angela in the female Expendables as the kick ass action heroine or as a villain/antagonist in any film, or as the sexy maneater. Something different, damn! This is such a shame....

  • Frustrated AF | August 28, 2012 3:13 PM

    @JOSEPH G Actually I could give a damn about Angela Bassett working with white actors. She's the one that has taken miniscule parts in movies like The Score and Music of the Heart for the sole purpose of working with top A list white actors (Robert Deniro and Meryl Streep). She wanted to work with them not because of their color but because of her respect for them as fellow thespians and she took a lesser part, in the height of her career, to do it. Do I agree with that? Not even a little, but I understand it.

    Now, I know she has an extraordinary range and has played different characters through out her career and has the range to do much more. I know that but, do you? Does the average movie goer? Do the Hollywood movie producers who are doing the casting know? The characters I mentioned are the characters shes KNOWN for, but we can go deeper. Have you heard of a little indie movie by Giancarlo Esposito called Gospel Hill? No, I know you haven't but Angela's character in that film is a school teacher by day, civil rights activist by night. Pretty much all the characters I mentioned rolled up into one ball of one dimensional, flawless, goody goody perfection. And that would be okay, for a lesser talented actress to do, but its a waste for Angela. It means continuing to typecast herself by playing Mrs. King is, IMHO, a mistake.

    I'd implore you, Joseph, to look at the bigger picture. We're probably missing out on some would-be classic film performances by Angela while shes playing Coretta. I really hope I'm wrong though...

  • Joseph G | August 27, 2012 11:36 PM

    @FRUSTRATED AF Y'all always feel black actors have to be in a film with white actors to be considered doing great acting. It's nothing wrong with the characters she plays and she plays them well. Also, Angela has played a variety of different characters. The ones mentioned are the one's you know.

  • Melissa | August 24, 2012 5:24 PM

    Angela in the Expendables? Yes please! I too would love to see her play a non 'Mary-Sue' role but perhaps she/Hollywood don't see her in any other way? Who knows!

  • Kenneth | August 24, 2012 1:43 PMReply

    Why are so many of us content, and excited by, the same old stories? We know who Betty and Coretta were. Are their stories going to be told for eternity? Let's move on. @Lifetime Channel-- there are plenty stories about black people that can be told. And plenty of black writers who have stories to tell! Nobody's asking for this again-- why do you keep doing this? This shit has got to stop. I don't want to hear anymore about MLK, Malcolm X, Mandela, or anybody whose story has been done to death already. And while we're on the subject, let's stop doing biopics for a while. Can we get some of our creative juices flowing? Can we see some original stories?

  • Joseph G. | August 27, 2012 11:40 PM

    @Kenneth Maybe you don't want to hear about it, but think about those who are still ignorant of these stories. Not everything is for you.

  • Nadell | August 24, 2012 1:41 PMReply

    What is really going on with casting directors as of late? Well, specifically concerning films about women of color (black women)....

  • Donella | August 24, 2012 12:50 PMReply

    Severe miscasting of two roles. Bassett is strongly identified with the role of Betty Shabazz. To act opposite that role will throw viewers familiar with her work out of the movie. Blige doesn't have the acting skill to cover the emotional range of Coretta King.

  • ALM | August 24, 2012 12:18 PMReply

    Two questions:

    1. Why is this a Lifetime movie as opposed to a feature film? Heck, I'm not famous. Do Lifetime movie about me, but to minimize both Mrs. King and Mrs. Shabazz to this is a travesty.

    2. What do Yves Simoneau and Shem Bitterman know about these women? What makes them more qualified than any American student that has heard of these women in history class to make a film? If you produce/direct a film of this nature, you should have an above average amount of knowledge on the subject matter.

  • BluTopaz | August 24, 2012 1:07 PM

    I actually don't mind that it's not a feature film. Lifetime is producing other Black women-centered content so this fits right in. Unless it's something scandalous (like that soon to be God-awful Nina Simone sci-fi flick), then a movie like this will be seen as a history lesson. I think more people will see it on tv. But I agree with you re: the filmmakers--where are they getting their research from; if this is more historical fiction created by whitefolks I'm not interested.

  • D.C. Kirkwood | August 24, 2012 11:36 AMReply

    I have to agree to disagree. I respect Mary J. Bliges willingness to finance and produce quality projects for herself and others. Some of these so called real actors and professionals need to take note. It seems that some of the real professionals have been real slack in producing and writing for others. Especially when many of the actors we admire have been in the film industry for over 20 years and earn a couple of million dollars a film. Chasing after an Oscar and Golden Globe should not be end all to be all. Real actors and Hip Hop actors need to consider longevity and job security. This requires us to collaborate with each other on various projects. There is just no getting around this. People get mad at singers and Pastor Jakes for making films. Basically letting them know that they need to stay in their lane and just write a check. That's bull, IMHO!!! Get off your lazy A list behind and out do them. These are low budget made for TV movies and biopics we are talking about not feature films. The END!!

  • Double Standard | August 24, 2012 10:42 AMReply

    I think Angela is a wonderful choice for Coretta. Where is the outcry of colorism though? She is not the 'right' skin tone, nor does she look like Coretta. Mrs. Basset has played Rosa Parks & now Coretta, she is darker than both, by some of y'alls standards this is colorism. Or is it only colorism when it's the other way around??? Smh

  • Nadine | August 24, 2012 4:04 PM have dialogues over whether or not rain is wet - is stupid. Apparently, the new en vogue thing on this site is for jack asses is to mock the targets of Colorism/white supremacy, downplay its effects and deny the tools of white supremacy. As I said.... idiot.

  • Nadine | August 24, 2012 3:54 PM

    Oh Kenneth...

  • Kenneth | August 24, 2012 1:34 PM

    @Nadine-- SYBAU. You're so smart, figure that one out.

  • Nadine | August 24, 2012 11:00 AM

    You're not profound and are an idiot.

  • SPIRIT | August 24, 2012 3:33 AMReply

    Some of yall are being very disrespectful. Mary j Blige is very passionate about everything she does. she was pretty good in Rock of Ages and with the right acting coaches she will be awesome in this one too. dont judge her untill u have seen the film. Beyonce gets the roles because of her LOOKS and FAME. but beyonce has proven she cannot act. she smiles in all her scenes like shes about to laugh. Marys not lady ga ga or beyonce or taylor swift so it couldnt be her pop appeal that got her this role. they must like her acting if they picked her. Mary is very good at dramatic scenes. give her a freakin chance. shes a actress now. shes been doin it for years now.

  • SPIRIT | August 24, 2012 4:04 PM

    MARIE, explain to me what u mean by she was "week" in that film? she hardly had a role in it. but the couple scenes she DID have wassent enough to show her skills. can u pls get on youtube and look her up in GHOST WHISPERERS? That shows marys acting skills. she was natural and pretty good. is she on a angela bassette level? NO, But with the right acting coaches mary can do this. some of yall are makin a big deal out of it like she just terrible at acting. the woman is pretty good. and she will get better.

  • Marie | August 24, 2012 9:16 AM

    @Spirit--there's nothing disrespectful about people feeling that Mary J. Blige has limited acting skills. I saw her in a Tyler Perry movie (can't even remember which one) and thought her performance was weak at best. If she was good in Rock of Ages it was because it's a musical which is essentially a 2-hour music video which requires limited acting skill (and that film was a flop.) Many of us commenting at this blog feel strongly that there are talented, skilled black men and women who are excellent at their craft. Blige is not one of them. Like many people in the music industry, she is trying to get into the "acting game" because it's more lucrative than singing and allows for a longer career. Period. We'll start showing Blige respect for her acting when we see her genuinely create a character over the course of 2 hours. It's likely that Dee and Bassett will out-do her anyway since they're true craftswomen. Singers should sing, athletes should play their game and actors should act.

  • bondgirl | August 24, 2012 1:15 AMReply

    Guess they haven't released the casting for the role of Medgar Ever's wife yet...stay tuned.

  • Just Sayin' | August 24, 2012 12:55 AMReply

    Oy vey! I guess money can buy some people anything. Both Mary J. and Beyonce keep buying themselves movie roles with real actors. ... MJ needs to take a cue from Alicia Keys. Step back and just stick to producing. ...Just sign the checks and let the professionals handle things.

  • Banta | August 24, 2012 12:10 AMReply

    More white people telling our stories. Thanks Lifetime. Can't wait....... NOT.

  • LeonRaymond | August 23, 2012 11:47 PMReply

    Angela Please no, don't lower your self to be on screen with this Hip Hopper, let her sing where she is awesome but please don't let her cross over to work with you. You and Ruby are going to look at each other and say "My God, we got an amateur in the room with us"

  • SimzBrazil | August 23, 2012 10:02 PMReply

    Oh no, Angie, nooooooo. :(

  • Adam Scott Thompson | August 23, 2012 9:28 PMReply


  • Jmac | August 23, 2012 9:46 PM

    Totally. Maybe it'll be good regardless. Like the premise.

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