Now comes news that he's teamed up with filmmaker Spike Lee and 'Entourage' creator Doug Ellin to develop a drama series for HBO loosely based on his experiences growing up.
According to Deadline.com, 'Da Brick' is "described as a contemporary exploration of what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America." The drama will be set in Newark, NJ -- nicknamed "brick city" -- in the current day.
'Da Brick' will be written by John Ridley ('Three Kings,' 'Third Watch'). Ellin, Ridley, Lee, Tyson and Jim Lefkowitz are all executive producing, with Tyson's wife Lakiha Tyson and Azim Spicer, CEO of Las Vegas' SpiceReel Prods., co-executive producing.
First he played a clip of Spike Lee, who believes that Obama has been held up to impossible to achieve, Jesus-like standards. "He's not walking on water, but they're trying to nail him to the cross though," Lee explained, laughing.
Clint Eastwood, on the other hand, was his usual calm self when he stated his displeasure with Obama's job performance during a web interview with Katie Couric:
"I think he's nice a fellow," Eastwood said. "I enjoyed watching him campaign and winning the job, but I'm not a fan of what he is doing at the moment."
"I just don't think he's governing," Eastwood continued. "I don't think he is surrounding himself with the people he could have surrounded himself with."
Eastwood and Lee have have some pretty high profile disagreements in the past, so it shouldn't be that much of a surprise that the disagree on what currently ails President Obama.
But BP changed those plans.
After the Deepwater Horizon blew up in April, starting the epic Gulf oil spill that only recently got plugged, Lee knew he had more work to do on the follow-up to 'When the Leeves Broke.'
"The film is trying to tell what has happened in the last five years since August 29, 2005. So therefore we have to include the biggest oil disaster in the history of the world," Lee told a roundtable of reporters before his TCA panel earlier this month. "If I sat here and you guys see this film and you would've said 'Spike, what the f---? How come there's no BP in this movie?' Everyone would look at me like I'm crazy. It had to be included. So we included it, we had to start shooting again."
Watch the video after the jump.
Kudrow saw the long-running original show, which investigates the family history and genealogy of celebrities, when visiting Ireland, and decided to bring it to American audiences. The only question was, would she tell her own story on the show?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the documentary is set to start shooting today, with Lee taking his eye on New Orleans and the Katrina aftermath five years later. Lee's original series won accolades for its compelling depiction of New Orleans' citizens and how they coped within the aftermath of the tragedy.
The project is set to debut in Summer 2010.
We told you about Passing Strange back in May when PBS picked it up as part of its Great Performances series. Lee's doc is a filmed version of the theatrical stage production of the Tony nominated Broadway musical of the same name. It's about a young black man who travels to Europe in the 1970s to become an artist and live a bohemian lifestyle.
Lee is returning to TV with his latest project, Passing Strange, which has just been picked up by PBS' Great Performances series at the Tribeca Film Festival. Strange is expected to air on PBS next year.
The film is a theatrical stage production of the Tony nominated Broadway musical of the same name. It's about a black man who travels to Europe in the 1970s to find himself. The music is by Mark Stewart, or Stew, an acclaimed L.A. based singer/songwriter.
In other TV news, ABC Family has canceled its fledgling series 'Roommates,' John McCain is set to host a Memorial Day weekend war movie marathon on AMC, and PBS has nabbed Spike Lee's film adaptation of the Tony-winning rock musical 'Passing Strange.'
See more of today's TV headlines, casting scoops and premiere dates after the jump.
ESPN announced several film projects, both documentary and theatrical. The network will be presenting four documentaries this fall, one of which is by acclaimed director Spike Lee. On the surface the film seems pretty bland; it's just cameras following Kobe Bryant around on game day. But I'm sure you want to hear what Lee said about his film.
ESPN Senior VP, Ron Semiao, says "ESPN Films is honored to be collaborating with such accomplished storytellers and filmmakers for such an important sports and American story." Semiao was at the Beverly Hilton yesterday along with Branch Rickey III to discuss the project. Semiao added that doing this theatrical film was a natural extension for the company which tries to serve sports fans "however they consume sports content."
Lee's documentary was four hours long and initially premiered to a New Orleans crowd before airing on HBO last August. The program was filled with news photos and video footage, and all sorts of interviews from celebrities and regular folk who recount their experience in the aftermath of Katrina. Ultimately, the federal government and the Army Corps of Engineers are blamed for the sub-par levees and the response to the disaster.
NBC, FOX and ABC have each ordered up new pilots.
The pilot for M.O.N.Y., a new NBC drama about an average joe who becomes Mayor of New York, will be directed by Spike Lee, who also directed the pilot for the CBS series Shark and has a development deal with NBC.
Other pilot orders include Philadelphia General for FOX, directed by P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend's Wedding, 2003's Peter Pan) a comedy/drama focusing on a team of nurses; and Lipstick Jungle (NBC) and Cashmere Mafia (ABC), both of which Anna wrote about here.
Reading over the brief description of all these new shows, I can't help but notice there are a lot of series these days labeled as "comedic dramas" or something similar. It makes me wonder if perhaps it would be better to do away with such labels all together and let the audience decide for themselves whether a show is worth checking out. I understand networks and studios have to give people some idea what's on tap, but I think more and more genres are starting to meld together, and there are very few "straight comedies" or "straight dramas" left. These days it seems the effort is put toward just making an entertaining show, and not trying to remain within the confines of a "drama" or "comedy."
Other New Orleans-themed shows include two more cop shows based in the city that ABC passed on, and one called NoLa that NBC passed on even with the possibility that Spike Lee would direct the pilot. It's surprising, really, that K-Ville made the cut because the crisis in New Orleans continues. If nothing else, maybe it will renew the public's interest in that very damaged city.
[Via TV Tattle]
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