Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., Aunjanue Ellis and Lyriq Bent Set to Star in "The Book of Negroes" from Conquering Lion Pictures, Out of Africa Entertainment and Entertainment One Television

Academy Award, Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy winner Louis Gossett Jr., Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr., Aunjanue Ellis and Lyriq Bent will star in Conquering Lion Pictures, Out of Africa Entertainment and leading independent studio Entertainment One Television's (eOne) epic dramatic mini-series adaptation of The Book of Negroes, based on the Commonwealth Writers' Prize-winning novel by Lawrence Hill (published in the US, Australia and New Zealand as Someone Knows My Name). Ben Chaplin and Allan Hawco will also join the star-studded cast along with Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee and Primetime Emmy Award winner Jane Alexander. Principal photography begins this week in South Africa, kicking off Black History Month, and continues in Nova Scotia this spring. The show is slated to air on CBC in Canada and BET Networks in the US.

The mini-series is co-written by multiple-award winning filmmaker Clement Virgo (The Wire, POOR BOY'S GAME) and by novelist Lawrence Hill. Clement Virgo will direct.

Selected by The Oprah Magazine as a 2010 top Summer Read with close to a million copies sold worldwide, The Book of Negroes depicts the extraordinary life journey of Aminata Diallo - an indomitable African woman who cuts a swath through a world that is predisposed to underestimate her. Kidnapped by slave traders in West Africa and subsequently enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata must navigate her way through the American Revolution in New York, the isolated refuge of Nova Scotia and the treacherous jungles of Sierra Leone, before ultimately securing her freedom in England at the dawn of the 19th century.

"The Book of Negroes is a deeply inspirational, triumphant story that needs to be told, and we are proud to be part of a project that has the ability and pedigree to attract a cast as exceptional as Lou, Cuba, Aunjanue, Lyriq, Ben, Allan and Jane," said Carrie Stein, EVP Global Production, eOne Television.

"We are thrilled to join forces with the CBC, eOne and the talented cast and creative team for this special project. Aminata and her journey symbolize the indomitable spirit of so many of our ancestors who not only survived the horrible institution of slavery, but also prevailed under trying circumstances. It is that legacy that we hope will continue to inspire our young people today." said Loretha Jones, President of Original Programming, BET Networks.

Gossett Jr. has built an acclaimed career over the past decades. His credits include such classics as A RAISIN IN THE SUN and AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN and more recently, WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO?, TAKING WOODSTOCK and the television series Boardwalk Empire.

Gooding Jr.'s credits include JERRY MAGUIRE, A FEW GOOD MEN and AS GOOD AS IT GETS, and more recently, LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER, DON JON, MACHETE KILLS and upcoming film CARRY ME HOME.

Ellis' credits include Academy Award winning films RAY and THE HELP, as well as the hit television show The Mentalist. Ellis and Gooding Jr. will also reunite on screen together for the first time since HBO's GIFTED HANDS: THE BEN CARSON STORY, and have acted opposite each other in MEN OF HONOR.

Bent's credits include eOne's television series Rookie Blue, HOME AGAIN and three chapters of the SAW horror feature film series.

Chaplin's credits include THE THIN RED LINE, MURDER BY NUMBERS, and more recently, Francis Ford Coppola's TWIXT and upcoming Disney live-action film CINDERELLA.

Hawco is the co-creator, executive producer, head writer, and star of the CBC hit television series Republic of Doyle. His credits also include H2O and The Trojan Horse.

Alexander has a wealth of esteemed credits to her name including KRAMER VS. KRAMER and THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, and more recently, TERMINATOR SALVATION and hit television series The Blacklist.

Gossett Jr. is represented by Michael Mann Management. Gooding Jr. and Ellis are represented by ICM Partners. Ellis is also represented by TMT Entertainment Group. Bent is represented by The Associates Talent & Literary Management Inc. Chaplin is represented by UTA and Independent Talent Group in the UK. Hawco is represented by Garry Goddard Agency. Alexander is represented by WME and Barking Dog Entertainment.

The Book of Negroes is an official Canada-South Africa co-production, executive produced by Damon D'Oliveira (WHAT WE HAVE, LIE WITH ME) and Clement Virgo from Conquering Lion Pictures; Lance Samuels (INESCAPABLE, Bang Bang Club) from Out of Africa Entertainment; Bill Niven (Marion Bridge) of Idlewild Films; and eOne's Carrie Stein (Coco Chanel, Burn Up, Diamonds) and Margaret O'Brien (Bitten, Rookie Blue). Other executive producers include Daniel Iron (Cairo Time, Away From Her) and Michael Levine (The Republic of Doyle).

The Book of Negroes is produced with the financial participation of the Canada Media Fund, Shaw Rocket Fund, Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia through the Equity Investment Program, Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia through The Eastlink Independent Production Fund, and with the participation of Cogeco Production Program. The series is produced with the assistance of the Nova Scotia Film Industry Tax Credit and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit. eOne handles the worldwide rights to the mini-series in all media. The Book of Negroes will be produced in association with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Black Entertainment Television.

1 comment:

  1. Clement Virgo is a pretty edgy director (Canada's answer to Steve McQueen perhaps?). Great cast and interesting material to work with. It's very telling that the CBC is taking such a large role in producing. BET is trying to emerge as a major programming force but they are not (yet) a major player, nor are they a major network. Still it is a step up for them.
    My only quibble is, I hope that soon, film and television production companies will move into the next century as there is also a wealth of poignant stories to be told that don't involve slavery.