Tessa Thompson Launches Production Company ‘Viva Maude’

Tessa Thompson is expanding her Hollywood reach…

The 37-year-old part-Panamanian and part-Mexican American actress is moving into the production arena with a new production company, a first-look deal at HBO and HBO Max and executive-producing two big book adaptations – Who Fears Death and The Secret Lives of Church Ladies.

Tessa Thompson,

Thompson, who stars on HBO’s Westworld, has launched Viva Maude with a two-year deal at the WarnerMedia-owned cable network and streaming service.

“I’m beyond thrilled to officially launch my production company, Viva Maude, which has been a real passion project and labour of love over the last few years,” said Thompson. “I’m elated to begin this partnership and to bring entertaining and impactful television projects to my friends and collaborators at HBO and HBO Max. Together we are committed to developing interesting and inclusive stories with inventive creators and to discover new voices and visionaries.”

Thompson, who stars in and executive produced the Amazon Studios feature film Sylvie’s Love, will exec produce the two projects in development at HBO and HBO Max as part of the deal.

Who Fears Death is an adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s eponymous book. In the works at HBO since 2017 with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin as one of the exec producers, Aïda Mashaka Croal, a writer on Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, has also come board as showrunner, writer and exec producer.

Who Fears Death tells the coming of age tale of Onyesowu in post-apocalyptic North Africa where her story makes her an outcast.  She must go on a journey from self-reproach to love, but to do so she’ll have to overcome untold obstacles—defeating her hated sorcerer father and becoming the instrument of prophetic deliverance for a land of oppressed people, all the while fighting to master the terrifying powers growing inside her.

At HBO Max, Thompson is also exec producing an adaptation of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. The short story collection, written by Deesha Philyaw, was published in September and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. It contains nine stories about Black women, church, and sexuality.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. Different generations of women characters grapple with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions. With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be.

Thompson will exec produce with author Philyaw, who is also writing the adaptation.

Thompson’s other credits include Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Endgame, Annihilation, Sorry to Bother YouSelmaand Dear White People and she co-stars alongside Ruth Negga in Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut feature film Passing as well as Creed III and Thor: Love and Thunder.

She is also a producer on QCode’s fiction podcast The Left Right Game, which Amazon purchased the rights to adapt into a television series, with Thompson exec producing the series.

Colman Domingo Signs First-Look Deal with AMC Studios

It’s a new deal for Colman Domingo

The 50-year-old Guatemalan American actor, playwright and television/stage director has signed a first-look deal with AMC Studios, the studio behind Domingo’s zombie drama series Fear the Walking Dead.

Colman Domingo,

Domingo made his debut as Victor Strand in a two-episode guest arc during the first season of Fear the Walking Dead, a spinoff from The Walking Dead.

He was made a series regular at the start of Season 2. He made his directorial debut on the show and has directed two episodes to date.

“From the moment AMC viewers first saw Colman Domingo as the mysterious and dynamic Victor Strand in season one of Fear The Walking Dead,they haven’t been able to look away, and neither have we,” said Sarah Barnett, President of AMC Networks Entertainment Group & AMC Studios. “He has become a core character of the series and, as anyone who knows him knows, his talents go far beyond that one character in that one show. He is a writer, producer and performer who can move effortlessly between film, television and the stage and we are thrilled to be expanding our relationship with this extraordinary talent and individual through this first-look deal with AMC Studios.”

Domingo is currently in production on the upcoming sixth season of Fear the Walking Dead and stars in A24’s Zolawhich premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He’s also had a recurring role on HBO’s Euphoria and will be seen in Jordan Peele’s spiritual sequel to the 1992 gothic horror film CandyMan, as well as opposite Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman in the Netflix film adaption of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,produced by Denzel Washington.

Domingo, 20-year veteran theater director, co-wrote the book for the Broadway musical Summer: The Donna Summer Musical and for the Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole  musical.

At AMC, he developed a series based on his play Dottwo years ago.

Domingo’s film acting credits also include Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could TalkSelma, Lee Daniels’ The Butler,  Steven Spielberg’s LincolnFirst Matchand Spike Lee’s Miracle At St. AnaRed Hook Summerand Passing Strange

Amazon Acquires Global Rights to Tessa Thompson’s Romantic Drama “Sylvie’s Love”

Tessa Thompson’s latest Love is headed to Amazon…

Amazonhas acquired the global rights to Sylvie’s Love, starring the36-year-old half Afro-Panamanian and part-Mexican American actress/singer,for an amount that’s reportedly in the high-seven-figure range.

Eugene Ashe wrote and directed the film, which played in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Ashe is a former Sony Music recording artist from Harlem, New York, who has performed on numerous film soundtracks and is a fellow of the Writers Guild of America East Diversity Lab at Columbia University.

Tessa Thompson,

Set in the summer of 1957 in New York, Sylvie (Thompson) helps around her father’s record store as she awaits her fiancé’s return from war—until sweet saxophonist Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha) walks in looking for a day job to subsidize his residency at the Blue Morocco lounge. Their chance meeting kindles a deep passion in each of them unlike anything they’ve felt before. Sylvie’s mother immediately disapproves and reminds Sylvie of her engagement, while Robert’s band books their first big gig overseas. As time passes, the sexual revolution begins, and Motown becomes king, the two fall in and out of each other’s arms, but never out of love.

Sylvie's Love

Thompson’s previous credits include Selma, the Creed franchise and Men in Black: International. And she portrays Valkyrie in the superhero films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

John Leguizamo to Star in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix Limited Drama Series “Central Park Five”

John Leguizamo is Central Park bound…

The 53-year-old Colombian actor/comedian is set to star in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix limited series Central Park Five.

John Leguizamo

Leguizamo joins a cast for the four-part dramathat includes Michael K. Williams and Vera Farmiga.

The limited series sprawls from 1989 when five Harlem teens were incorrectly convicted first in the media and then twice in the courts for the brutal rape of a jogger in the NYC park to 2014 when Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise saw their names finally cleared.

Having been vilified by the likes of Donald Trump back in the late 80s and forced to spend years in jail each, the five sued New York City and settled for just over $40 million about four years ago. Before you take another breath, take into account that sum that works out to around $1 million for every year they collectively spent tossed behind bars for a terrible crime they never committed

Emmy winner, recent Special Tony Award winner and Bloodline star Leguizamo has signed on as Raymond Santana Sr., father of another one of the falsely accused boys of color.

Currently in pre-production in NYC and with principal photography starting in early August, Central Park Five also reunites its creator DuVernay for the fifth time with Selma cinematographer Bradford Young, who recently shot Solo: A Star Wars Story.Working with writers Robin Swicord, Attica Locke and Michael Starrbury, DuVernay co-penned each episode of the series.

The Queen Sugar EP and ARRAY founder is directing every episode of the timely drama.

Mendonca Filho Named to Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” List

Keep your eyes on Kleber Mendonca Filho

The Brazilian film director, screenwriter and producer will be honored as one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch during the Palm Springs Film Festival in January.The full list, which spans the creative landscape and puts a spotlight on a mixture of independent and studio filmmakers, includes Moonlight director Barry Jenkins.

Kleber Mendonca Filho

Mendonca Filho is being recognized for helming the Brazilian–French drama Aquarius, starring Sonia Braga as Clara, a retired music writer and the last resident of Aquarius building, who refuses to sell her apartment to a construction company that intends to replace it with a new edifice.

The film was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

“One of the most exciting things for me about the festival is being able to host Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch brunch,” said Michael Lerman, the festival’s Artistic Director. “Not only is it a fantastic event, but it also nicely compliments our festival program with selections from our Talking Pictures and Awards Buzz sections, as well as the director of our opening night film The Sense of an Ending, Ritesh Batra. It’s an exciting list this year!” 

Here’s the complete list:

Maren Ade, (“Toni Erdmann”)
Ritesh Batra, (“The Sense of an Ending”)
Otto Bell, (“The Eagle Huntress”)
Julia Ducournau, (“Raw”)
Geremy Jasper, (“Patti Cake$”)
Barry Jenkins, (“Moonlight”)
Emmett and Brendan Malloy, (“The Tribes of Palos Verdes”)
Kleber Mendonca Filho, (“Aquarius”)
William Oldroyd, (“Lady Macbeth”)
David Sandberg, (“Lights Out”)

Previous 10 Directors to Watch include Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Ava DuVernay (Selma) and Christopher Nolan (Memento).

The list debuted in 1996 and the annual event moved to the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January 2011.

Dash to Publish “There Goes My Social Life” Book via Regnery Publishing

There goes Stacey Dash’s life

The 48-year-old part-Mexican American actress, former Clueless star and Fox News contributor has signed a deal to publish There Goes My Social Life, Regnery Publishing revealed.

Stacey Dash

The book, scheduled for publication this summer, will discuss how Dash became a conservative, her upbringing in the South Bronx and her Hollywood career.

In a statement, Dash credited these things for her “strong opinions about the value of a good education, the importance of family, the inanity of political correctness, and the power of personal responsibility.”

Dash has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s most outspoken female conservatives. In 2012, she announced her disappointment in the Barack Obama-led White House, and endorsed Mitt Romney for president on Twitter, receiving enormous backlash from the movie and music industries.

More recently, Dash has made news for criticizing Patricia Arquette‘s Oscar acceptance speech championing equal pay for women.

“First of all, Patricia Arquette needs to do her history,” Dash said on an appearance on Fox News. “In 1963, Kennedy passed the equal-pay law. It’s still in effect. I didn’t get the memo that I didn’t have any rights.”

She criticized the controversy over the lack of diversity in this year’s Academy Awards nominees and the snubbing of Selma in the acting and directing categories. 

“I do know that if it were something conservative and there were not any black people in the audience or on the stage getting awards, there would be a lot of problems. [It’s a] double standard. They’re hypocrites.”

Regnery Publishing has had success publishing conservative females, including Phyllis SchlaflyAnn Coulter and Michelle Malkin. Dash is the first actress to secure a book deal with the company.