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Forest Whitaker Now Attached To Star In Kasi Lemmons' 'Black Nativity' Musical

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by Tambay A. Obenson
December 3, 2012 11:35 AM
5 Comments
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It was in September when we announced that Fox Searchlight's planned Kasi Lemmons' musical Black Nativity, had been put on hold, due to the fact that an actor to play the lead male role had yet to be secured.

The project initially had Samuel L. Jackson's interest, as well as Laurence Fishburne, and several other *name* black actors in that age group, but they all reportedly passed on the project, which I thought was strange. It wasn't entirely clear exactly why all of these actors passed on the role (although it was noted that Samuel's asking price may have been too much for the film's reported $10 million budget). It was stated that the role needed an actor who could sing, and be believable as the father of Jennifer Hudson (who's already attached to star in the project).

With that list of criteria - black, old enough, can sing, and be a recognizable *name* actor willing to work within a $10 million budget - the pool of available actors is a very small one. 

This of course speaks to the non-cultivation of black actor/stars in Hollywood, which we've addressed a lot on this blog.

Now comes word, courtesy of Black Film, that Forest Whitaker has been cast as the male lead. Although I can't help but wonder if he was one of those actors who was initially interested but passed, and now, for whatever reason, has returned.

Angela Bassett is also attached to star in the film as J-Hud's mother (now Whitker's wife), which is based on Langston Hughes' Broadway gospel musical.

The project has actually been in the works since 2009, when we first announced it. The story centers on a young black teen from Baltimore, who is sent to Harlem by his mother to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged grandparents. The boy then learns the real meaning of faith and family when his grandfather delivers a Christmas Eve sermon and "a stylized, dream-sequence retelling of the classic Nativity story."

Let's see if Forest sticks, or if we'll be talking about a replacement in another few months.

The project is now set to go into production early next year.

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5 Comments

  • aswilliams | December 3, 2012 6:43 PMReply

    I thought Marlon Brnado couldn`t sing in the 1953 movie Guys and Dolls alongside Frank Sinatra but he definitely was very solid and my expectations were very different.

  • Michaboa | December 3, 2012 5:28 PMReply

    If I remeber correctly, When Forest Whitaker was on a talk show he mentioned he was trained as an Operatic tenor!

  • D.C. Kirkwood | December 3, 2012 2:59 PMReply

    I don't think this project is going to turn out well. I just have a strange feeling there are other problems with this project other than the asking price of the actors. I know that Samuel and Laurence command a lot per film but they both have sacrificed their salaries before for projects they beliveved in. Especially with Angela Bassett being involved??? Something just isn't right with this project. What about Avery Brooks who would be perfect for this role? I just think there is a weak script and they are trying to sell the movie off of the names of the cast. JMO

  • ALM | December 3, 2012 1:34 PMReply

    Lord, Nadia you read my mind. My first thought even before reading through the post was "Can he sing?". We know that Fishburne can sing. Can Sam Jackson sing? Maybe that's why he turned it down.

  • Nadia | December 3, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    Things that make you go hmm. Can Forest Whitaker sing?

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