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Netflix debuted the first look at the forthcoming, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, on Wednesday (Sept. 30). The film stars Viola Davis as the jazz legend, and Chadwick Boseman as her trumpeter, Levee.
Shot in Pittsburg last year, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom marks Boseman’s final film role. Boseman, 43, succumbed to colon cancer last month. “He did a brilliant job, and he’s gone,” said Denzel Washington, who is a producer on the film, told the New York Times. “I still can’t believe it.”
Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman star in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, a new film based on August Wilson’s award-winning play from director George C. Wolfe and producer Denzel Washington. @MaRaineyFilm premieres December 18. pic.twitter.com/ErhrQAW4nU
— Netflix (@netflix) September 30, 2020
Adapted from August Wilson’s play of the same name, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is helmed by director George C. Wolfe, and centers around the 1920s Chicago recording session of “Mother of the Blues.” The plot addresses topics of race, music, relationships, Rainey’s battle for control over her music, and exploitation of Black artists.
The “Godmother of blues,” whose birth name was Gertrude Pridgett, was born in Columbus, Ga, in 1886. Rainey started out performing in talent shows in her hometown, when she was around 12 years old. She went on to launch the Alabama Fun Makers Company with her husband prior to joining the Rabbit’s Foot Company where they performed in minstrel shows during the early 1900s. Husband and wife were known as “Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues,” before Rainey's career took her to New Orleans. In the Big Easy, Rainey met jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Joe “King” Oliver, Pop Foster, and Sidney Bechet. She was introduced to the blues in the early 1920s, signed a record deal with Paramount and became friends with singer Bessie Smith.
Rainey recorded over 100 songs in a span of just five years. She would later collaborate with Armstrong on multiple songs, and toured the South and Midwest with pianist Thomas Dorsey and the Wildcats Jazz Band. The groundbreaking powerhouse was also known for boldly singing about her bisexuality, most notably in “Prove It on Me,” released in 1928. Rainey’s career went into the decline during the latter portion of the '20s and she was eventually let go from Paramount. In the last five years of her life, Rainey had returned to her hometown where she ran three theaters. She died from a heart attack in 1939 at age 53.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom premieres on Netflix on Dec. 18.
Rapper and entrepreneur Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins has teamed up with FOX Soul for his very own talk show, Worth A Conversation with Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins. Set to premiere next month on the live and interactive streaming channel, Worth A Conversation aims to hold conversations on topics that resonate within the Black community and intersect entertainment, politics, social justice, sports, and more.
“It has been my passion and my drive to inspire, motivate, and educate my culture," said Jenkins in the official press release. "Every song I’ve ever written, every word I’ve uttered came from a real place and this is no different. Worth A Conversation is self-explanatory. I will talk about issues that directly affect my culture and it’s people. From the front porch conversations to real-life situations, Worth A Conversation is bridging the gap. I’m excited to be a part of the FOX Soul family and can’t wait to introduce you to Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins.”
It's no surprise that Jeezy is taking the hosting route. His fiancée Jeannie Mai serves as a co-host on the daytime syndicated talk show, The Real, which began it's run on the FOX network. Guess it's safe to say talk show hosting will soon be family business.
On the production end, Jeezy will serve as the show's executive producer alongside Solomon Fornie and Travis Garrett, and Jill King will serve as showrunner and executive producer.
Debuting October 14th at 7 pm PT / 10 pm ET, Worth A Conversation will be streamable on the FOX Soul app (on your mobile app or smart TV) or on foxsoul.tv.
Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi will portray Tinker Bell in Disney's forthcoming live-action version of Peter Pan, Deadline reports. The cast of Peter Pan and Wendy, directed by David Lowery, includes Oscar-nominated actor, Jude Law, as Captain Hook.
The casting of Shahidi, who is Black and Iranian, marks the first time that a person of color has portrayed the character, previously played on the big screen by Julia Roberts in Hook, a 1991 live-action reimagining of the classic fairytale.
Peter Pan & Wendy will be Shahidi’s second major feature film behind 2019’s The Sun is Also a Star. The 20-year-old actress scored her breakout role in ABC's Black-ish prioer to landing the spin-off Grown-ish. Additionally, Shahidi has appeared on several other hits TV shows such as Scandal, Family Guy, and Wizards of Waverly Place.
The release date for Peter Pan and Wendy is unclear but the film will reportedly debut in movies theaters versus an on-demand release.