‘Marshall’ director Reginald Hudlin will helm the project from Hyde Park Entertainment and Revelations Entertainment.
Morgan Freeman is taking on the role of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Powell, a biopic from Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment.
Reginald Hudlin, who is coming off the Thurgood Marshall biopic Marshall, will direct the drama, which will be produced by Amritraj and Lori McCreary, Freeman’s partner at Revelations Entertainment.
Ed Whitworth wrote the script that was on the 2011 Black List and is set during Powell’s tenure as Secretary of State in the George W. Bush White House.
Powell, who went from respected Army general to the first African-American Secretary of State, initially opposed the U.S.’ invasion of Iraq, not believing dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But he capitulated to hawkish voices in the White House and made a now-infamous case for war to the United Nations Security Council. The evidence he presented was later discredited, and Powell has described the event as a low point in his career.
The script tells of the lead-up to his UN presentation.
Executive producing the film are Hyde Park’s Priya Amritraj and Addison Mehr. Freeman is also exec producing, along with Revelation’s Kelly Mendelsohn.
Hyde Park is in postproduction on Prey, a thriller which is a co-production with Blumhouse, and is developing an adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, which will star Saoirse Ronan and Annette Bening.
Hudlin’s Marshall stars Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad in the story of a career-defining case for the man who would one day become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. He is repped by CAA.
Freeman and McCreary’s Revelation Entertainment has produced such films as Invictus, in which Freeman portrayed another prominent black figure, Nelson Mandela, and is behind such shows as CBS’ Madam Secretary, which is now in its fourth season, and NatGeo’s The Story of Us With Morgan Freeman.
Freeman, repped by CAA, last appeared on the big screen in the crime caper comedy Going in Styleand will appear in Disney’s upcoming fantasy The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
It’s Real, Raw and Funny Conversation with comedian DL Hughley. Each week DL gives his uncensored perspective on current news, social issues and Pop and Urban culture. Joined by his wingman “News Guy” Guy Lambert they “chop it up” on politics, social behavior, entertainment and more. Our contributors and guest are from various backgrounds with a wealth of knowledge and insight. When you put all that together it’s not just the truth it’s The Hughley Truth.
Chance the Rapper continues to show love for his city.
The 24-year-old Chicago native bought all of the Marshall tickets for the entire day at two different theaters on the day of the film’s release. He made the announcement via a press release that he wrote himself and posted to Twitter. He also teased that something special might be going down at the 3 p.m. showing: “Come to the one at 3 I’m good at surprises and stuff,” he said.
This isn’t the first time that Chance the Rapper purchased a whole lot of tickets for people to see a movie for free, either. He bought a whole day’s worth of tickets to Get Out showings back in February at one of the same theaters that he promoted this time around. It might be wise to start camping out at the Chatham 14 Theaters on 87th Street for all future movie releases just in case.
Marshall is now in theaters and stars Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, and Sterling K. Brown. You can watch the trailer for the film above.
Don’t look now, but Supreme Court justices are becoming popular culture avatars.
First, Ruth Bader Ginsburg transmogrified into the Notorious RBG and now a magnetic Chadwick Boseman plays Thurgood Marshall as a confident and charismatic young attorney buff enough to be an action hero in the energetic and audience friendly “Marshall.”
Directed by veteran Reginald Hudlin, “Marshall” shrewdly concentrates on a single highly dramatic case early in Marshall’s career when he was a kind of “Have Law Books, Will Travel” attorney for the struggling NAACP, criss-crossing the country with a briefcase full of legal tomes defending clients whose only crime was their race.
Hudlin, better known these days for his prolific TV work, has not directed a theatrical feature for many years, but he was clearly drawn to the Marshall project out of respect for the attorney who won the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case and in 1967 became the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.
But the director, whose forte is comedy, was not going to make a dry look at a great man. Instead, working from a script by Michael Koskoff and Jacob Koskoff, he tells his story in crowd-pleasing broad strokes, in a sense crossing “Eyes on the Prize” and “Perry Mason” with some laughs thrown into the mix.
Star Boseman, with a “Black Panther” feature in his future, has made something of a career playing famous folks like Jackie Robinson (in “42”) and James Brown (in “Get on Up”). He’s introduced, muscular back to the camera, ironing his own shirt. But no matter how fit carrying around all those heavy law books has made him, this is a man not to be defined by his physique.
Nothing if not a passionate and committed advocate for equality under the law, Marshall, even at this early stage of his career, specialized in speaking truth to power. Unassailably confident, even cocky, he believes in taking charge and getting things done.
The year is 1941, Marshall is 32, and next on his agenda is a case in tony Greenwich, Conn., tailor-made for tabloid headlines, which it has been getting.
Wealthy white socialite Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson), a Bryn Mawr graduate no less, has accused her black chauffeur, Joseph Spell (Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown), of raping and then trying to kill her.
But though newspapers tossed around phrases like “lurid orgy” and “night of horror,” the uneducated Spell insists to Marshall that he never touched the woman in question.
Here’s something refreshing—a great-man biopic, simply titled “Marshall,” that’s more concerned with the man in his earlier years than with the greatness to come.
You get a hint from the opening music, a breezy jazz riff that might sound insufficiently serious for a full account of Thurgood Marshall, the civil-rights attorney who won a landmark victory in the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, and the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. But “Marshall” doesn’t try to cover the glory days of a magnificent career.
Set in 1941, it’s focused on a real-life Connecticut trial in which the hero, a rising star for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, defended a black chauffeur accused of kidnapping and raping a wealthy white woman in Greenwich. And Marshall—a terrific performance by Chadwick Boseman —comes off at the outset as full of himself to overflowing. In other words, here’s an irreverent movie with a quirky ring of truth.
The film, which was directed by Reginald Hudlin, is adept at portraying the social and legal forces arrayed against the chauffeur, Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown), in a trial that gains national attention as an example of racism in the North. Spell has already been convicted in Greenwich’s court of public opinion. Now the judge, played by James Cromwell, and the prosecutor, played by Dan Stevens, ooze patrician empathy for the alleged victim, Eleanor Strubing (fine work by Kate Hudson ).
Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad PHOTO: OPEN ROAD FILMS
To complicate Spell’s defense even further, bad blood boils up between Marshall and his local co-counsel, Sam Friedman ( Josh Gad, in another terrific performance), who is white, Jewish and innocent of experience in criminal trials. Dismayed by the need to have another lawyer on the case, Marshall is furious, and initially helpless, when the judge warns him that anything he has to say must be expressed through Friedman; coming, as he does, from out of state, the NAACP ace may not speak in open court.
An important part of the drama’s substance lies in the two men turning their fraught relationship into a partnership that foreshadows the national alliance between blacks and Jews in the emerging civil-rights movement. But that’s an abstract description of a prickly situation slowly blossoming into an affecting and funny bromance. Before this happens, it’s a case of role reversal in which Marshall treats Friedman like a white man might treat a Pullman porter. “Would you help me with that?” Marshall asks casually on his arrival at Bridgeport station, indicating a suitcase full of law books that Friedman promptly lugs to a waiting car. Once comity prevails, the co-counsels are co-equals in friendship and respect.
Kate Hudson in ’Marshall’ PHOTO: OPEN ROAD FILMS
Some of the writing on the fringes of the drama can be uneven. At Minton’s Playhouse, the legendary Harlem jazz club, Marshall runs into the poet Langston Hughes and the writer Zora Neale Hurston in a scene that plays like an over-earnest outtake from “Midnight in Paris.” But the trial sequences have a distinctive, authentic tone that clearly flows from one of the two writers, Michael Koskoff, having had a decades-long career as a civil-rights attorney with specific experience in racially charged cases. ( Jacob Koskoff, his co-writer and son, has prior experience writing scripts.) And the courtroom drama, exciting in its own right, is enhanced by re-creations—Newton Thomas Sigel did the elegant cinematography—of what the accuser and the accused say happened, of what might have happened and of what probably happened in this all but forgotten case that Thurgood Marshall tried long ago. “Marshall” is a movie that surprises at every turn.
When we heard that Reggie Hudlin was directing a movie about Thurgood Marshall, starring the new Black Panther Chad Boseman, we did the happy dance: Shmoney Dance. Nae Nae. Hit Them Folks. We did them all.
Hudlin is as Hip-Hop as it gets in Hollywood.
Since the 90s, he and his brother have set the tone for the modern era of Black cinema. Exaggeration? We think not. While Russell Simmons can brag about introducing Black comedians to the world through HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, Hudlin can pop his collar also! It was Hudlin that provided the iconic funnyman Robin Harris his first feature film, Bebé Kids and produced one of the best stand-up specials on the late comic. Hudlin introduced big screen films to the community through the House Party franchised starring Kid N’ Play, QueenLatifah, Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell and Full Force. This college-feel good classic not only captured the fun side of Hip-Hop but afforded rappers an opportunity to dip their toes in the Hollywood pond. But for this writer, what makes Hudlin so Hip-Hop is his film Boomerang starring a young Halle Berry, Eddie Murphy, the fabulous Eartha Kitt and the gut-busting John Witherspoon. Or the Boondocks with Aaron McGruger? Or Django starring Jamie Foxx? Or the animated Black Panther movie (or the graphic novel series)? Or his title as the President of BET Networks during the great Reconstruction Era that shifted the quality of programming from videos that did not elevate the community to that which reflected a more rounded glimpse into the diverse mosaic of Black life. He gets that there are many stories of Black and Brown people that deserve to be told. And he tells them. Which brings us to Marshall— his most substantial and influential work yet.
Thurgood Marshall, our country’s first African American Supreme Court Justice, deserves to be immortalized on film. His legendary case Brown v. Board of Education etched him in the history book annals for eternity. But Hudlin chose not to lift that case. Hudlin lifted in this film (that hit the screens this past weekend debuting to $3 million in its first few days) a more obscure case: The State of Connecticut vs. Joseph Spell.
In this case a white and wealthy Greenwich socialite named Eleanor Strubing accused her chauffeur, Joseph Spell of raping her. This was in the 1940s and so you already know this was going to be a case of epic degrees of bias. This is when the NAACP gets a whiff of the trial and sends their superman of an attorney, Thurgood Marshall to the rescue. At the time, Marshall was one of the top lawyers for the organization and it was his job to travel the country and offer free counsel to people of color who were in need. In the movie, Marshall comes off more of a bad-assed action figure than a stiff-necked-suit-and-tie-wearing litigator. Imagine the swag of Big Daddy Kane, the confidence of JAY-Z and the intellect of former President Barack Obama,with a splash of Batman’s sarcasm. Welp… that is Hudlin’s Marshall and we were all the way there for it.
Lastly, what was a definite Easter-egg for the Hip-Hop community were the special cameos of Jussie Smollet (as Langston Hughes), Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas (as Zora Neale Hurston), Trayvon Martin’s parents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton and his attorney Benjamin Crumpto remind us that this was a generational effort without the heavy handed use of rap music. It also reminded us that the struggle is still real and the work that began with Marshall has to be continued by us and completed by the next generation.
Perhaps, Hudlin’s charge to the Hip-Hoppers is to get busy. Are you ready?