Tag: film projects

Oscars: Shaq Enters the Race With Basketball Doc ‘Killer Bees’ (Exclusive)

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The Lakers legend and fellow producer Larry Gagosian, the noted art dealer/gallerist, will bring the film to Hollywood for a special screening and reception on Oct. 24.

“I’ve been to the Hamptons 20 times,” Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal told me on Friday when I spoke with him exclusively about his entrance into the Oscar race as a producer of the documentary feature Killer Bees. “But I’ve been on the rich people’s side — the Leonardo DiCaprio, the Puffy, the Beyonce side, with the boats, where people are well off — so when I was told there was another side, I was like, ‘That’s impossible!'”

So, at the urging of his friend Glenn Fuhrman, O’Neal screened an early cut of Ben Cummings and Orson Cummings‘ 82-minute documentary feature about the primarily black Bridehampton High School basketball team — nicknamed the “Killer Bees” — and its coach, Carl Johnson as they defended their 2015 state title while simultaneously confronted with racism, gentrification and income inequality. “I was quite surprised by what I saw,” the 46-year-old said. “I was like, ‘This is a story that needs to be told.'”

O’Neal and art dealer/gallerist Larry Gagosian, a Hamptons local, signed on to the film as producers, with Fuhrman joining as an executive producer. The doc had an awards-qualifying run in theaters on both coasts the week of July 27 — it played at the Cinema Village in New York and Laemmle’s Monica Film Center in Los Angeles — and it subsequently hit VOD on Aug. 7 before, appropriately enough, playing at the Hamptons International Film Festival on Oct. 6.

O’Neal couldn’t be at the Hamptons for the film’s premiere, but he says he had already made several trips to Bridgehampton to meet with the kids — he even shot hoops with the team. “When they saw that I was a regular person, I think that’s what shocked them the most,” he recalled with amusement. “I came in by myself, no bodyguards, no entourage, wearing the same jeans as they were, same clothes, same sneakers — and I think they realized that I was an older version of them.”

On Wednesday, O’Neal, along with Gagosian, Fuhrman and the Cummings brothers (Bridgehampton High alums), will bring their film to Hollywood, hosting a screening and reception for friends with boldfaced names and members of the Academy’s documentary branch, in the hope that the film may gain some Oscar traction ahead of voting to determine the shortlist for the best documentary feature Oscar. (O’Neal will also join me for an episode of THR‘s ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast that will cover his entire life and career, and will post soon thereafter.)

O’Neal has served as a producer on several projects since retiring from basketball in 2011 — among them, the 2016 30 for 30 episode “This Magic Moment,” the 2017 religious drama Steps and the 2018 documentary A Week in Watts. Still, I half-jokingly had to ask him if he is feeling more motivated to move into the realm of awards-caliber projects these days so that he can snag an Oscar like his former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, with whom he always enjoyed fierce competition and who took home the statuette for best animated short in March for his autobiographical film Dear Basketball. “Oh, that’s funny,” he replied with a laugh. “That’s funny. It would be nice [to win]. But when I put these films out, I hope that they will touch people emotionally. Lives aren’t going to change otherwise. If you win awards, you win awards. But nothing I’ve done outside of basketball has been about winning awards.”

And does he intend to continue producing films after this one? “Of course,” O’Neal said emphatically. “We’ve got a lot of stuff in the works. Now that I’m retired and have much more time, yes, I want to do it much more.”

Regina Hall Is Magnetic, Warm and Devastating In ‘Support The Girls’

Women, black women especially, have often been left to sweep up the things that everyone else in society leaves behind. The same can be said for Lisa, (portrayed by an astounding Regina Hall) in Andrew Bujalski’s brutally honest but warm dramedy Support the Girls. Lisa is the general manager of a Hooters-like sports bar, crudely named Double Whammies, in the suburbs of Austin, Texas. She spends her days keeping the local joint running smoothly and mothering the slew of scantily clad 20-something waitresses who report to her. Going well above and beyond her job description, Lisa manages all of the drama and angst that come with being a young woman trying to scrape together a life for yourself while wearing a cleavage-bearing belly shirt and cut-off booty shorts.

Michael Ealy Joins Kofi Siriboe-Led MACRO Romantic Drama ‘Really Love’

Michael Ealy has joined Kofi Siriboe in MACRO’s romantic drama, Really Love.
Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing is the woman lead alongside Siriboe. Really Love will be helmed by Angel Kristi Williams in her feature directorial debut. Felicia A. Pride co-wrote the script with Williams. MACRO is financing and producing the film, brought there by producer Mel Jones.

The film is set in a gentrifying Washington D.C. and follows a rising black painter (Siriboe) who tries to break into the competitive art world while balancing a whirlwind romance he never expected. Mack Wilds, Naturi Naughton, Jade Esthe and Uzo Aduba have co-star.  Jones, King, Kim Roth and Aaliyah Williams are producing. MACRO’s Poppy Hanks, Latisha Fortune, Sanford Grimes, Stephanie Allain, Kim Coleman and Pride are executive producers.

Production is underway in Baltimore and D.C.

VH1 Moving Ahead on TLC Biopic

You might recall last December’s news from VH1, announcing that the network was developing a biopic on pop/ hip hop/ R&B group TLC. Skip ahead about a year later, to tonight’s news that the project is still very much alive, and, in fact, is set to begin shooting in early 2013, with casting underway. From a VH1 press release, screenwriter Kate Lanier (What’s Love Got To Do With ItSet it OffBeauty Shop) has penned the screenplay for the film, which is currently untitled, and it’s said that Chilli and T-Boz have signed on as consultants and executive producers of the movie, along with Bill Diggins and Maggie Malina, as well asAlexander Motlagh for Pop FilmsJeff Olde and Jill Holmes are serving as executive producers for VH1, on what is currently being called Untitled TLC Biopic.

VH1 says that the feature film is the first in a series of scripted music-focused TV movies that will air on VH1. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in early 2013, with casting in full swing; although no word on what actors are in the running; whether they’re looking at known actors, or fresh faces.

Stay tuned…

VIBE x F.I.T. Present A Screening Of ‘Color Outside The Lines’

VIBE and Fashion Institute of Technology’s Black Student Union and Art Awareness & Appreciation Club present Color Outside The Lines, a documentary that explores the history of the Black tattoo artist, the art and intricacies of ink, and it’s cultural impact. Moderated by VIBE’s Online Style Editor Keenan Higgins, the screening will be followed by a discussion with special guest panelists. Read details here.