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3 items from 2005


Delany nabs 'Kidnapped' pilot on NBC

7 December 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Emmy winner Dana Delany has been tapped to star in NBC's drama pilot Kidnapped from Sony Pictures Television and studio-based 25C Prods. Delany joins Linus Roache, Mykelti Williamson, Delroy Lindo, Carmen Ejogo and Boris McGiver, who previously were cast in the project penned by Jason Smilovic and to be directed by Michael Dinner (HR 11/28). Described as a blend of suspense thriller and family drama, Kidnapped revolves around a wealthy New York family whose 15-year-old son is kidnapped and held for ransom, with the story being told from multiple points of view. »

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Quintet 'Kidnapped' for multi-POV pilot at NBC

28 November 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Mykelti Williamson is set and Linus Roache and Delroy Lindo are in negotiations to star in NBC's suspense drama pilot Kidnapped. Carmen Ejogo (HBO's Lackawanna Blues) and Boris McGiver (Taxi) also have been cast in the project, produced by NBC Universal Television in association with Sony Pictures Television and studio-based 25C Prods. Penned by Jason Smilovic and to be directed by Michael Dinner, Kidnapped, which is described as a blend of suspense thriller and family drama, revolves around a wealthy New York family whose 15-year-old son is kidnapped and held for ransom with the story being told from multiple points of view. »

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Lackawanna Blues

27 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

PARK CITY -- "Lackawanna Blues" is a spirited, joyful celebration of an indomitable earth mother and the vibrant black community in which she thrives. The film also celebrates the auspicious entry of George C. Wolfe into filmmaking. One of the most critically acclaimed stage directors in New York (and sometimes Los Angeles), Wolfe came aboard to help shape this unusual HBO Films' adaptation of Ruben Santiago-Hudson's Obie-winning one-man play. Fortunately, he got seduced into making his feature directing debut.

Like many men of theater with an eye for cinematic detail -- a list that runs from Orson Welles to Sam Mendes -- Wolfe brings a hot theatricality to moviemaking and an instinct for blending dramatic intensity with telling imagery. "Lackawanna Blues" airs Feb. 12 on HBO, but its Sundance reception might lead to more theatrical exposure.

Santiago-Hudson's autobiographical one-man show, in which he changed characters in a heartbeat, explored his youth, growing up in the early 1960s at 32 Wasson Ave. in Lackawanna, N.Y., in the midst of a thriving black community in that Great Lakes city.

The future actor and writer is raised not by his Puerto Rican father, Ruben Sr. (Jimmy Smits), or his mother, Alean (Carmen Ejogo) -- who drift out of his life in losing battles with their own demons -- but by a large, maternal woman everyone calls Nanny (the amazing S. Epatha Merkerson). She runs a boarding house, though that term doesn't do justice to the establishment. The place is a combination diner and halfway house for drifters, grifters and people damaged by life -- by World War II, racism, alcohol and drugs -- where everyone comes to gamble, drink, dance to a jukebox and, by all means, crash Nanny's Friday night fish fry.

Quite a place for a young boy everyone calls Junior Marcus Carl Franklin) to grow up. Nanny protects and guides the boy as if he were her own. But then she is a natural-born fixer, a person predisposed to help people who lack a social safety net and to nurture broken souls. It's her gift, and it fills her life with joy.

Make no mistake: Nanny is tough. She must deal with a philandering husband, Bill (Terrence Howard), many years her junior; Lem (Louis Gossett Jr.), a one-legged refugee from a mental hospital; crazy Pauline (Macy Gray), forever stalking romantic rivals with a switchblade; Freddie (Santiago-Hudson), a war vet looking for respect; and tenant Small Paul Jeffrey Wright), rumored to have killed a man.

One thing nearly all have in common is a gift for gab. Everyone tells stories -- stories about a jealous homicide, drunken accidents, the loss of an arm or the Negro League Baseball. Santiago-Hudson weaves these stories through action that takes place in and around the boarding house and Maxie's night club. There's a whole culture of storytelling here, as if the past for these haunted souls is somehow more golden and vital than the harsh present.

Wolfe and Santiago-Hudson both have appreciation for telling details -- how clothes matter, especially when getting dressed up for a night at Maxie's, and how shoes matter even more. They show how people use words as weapons and means of seduction. Then, in the background, there is Otis McClanahan (Robert Bradley), a blind blues player whose songs echo the stories being told, and the jump-and-shout music by Maxie's bandleader (Mos Def), whose rhythms set everyone to dancing. And all the while, Ivan Strasburg's nimble camera glides through this energetic scene with silky grace.

LACKAWANNA BLUES

HBO Films

Credits:

Director: George C. Wolfe

Writer: Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Based on the play by: Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Producer: Nellie Nugiel

Executive producers: Halle Berry, Vincent Cirrincione, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Shelby Stone

Director of photography: Ivan Strasburg

Production designer: Richard Hoover

Music: Meshell Ndegeocello

Costumes: Hope Hanafin

Editor: Brian Kates

Cast:

Nanny: S. Epatha Merkerson

Jr.: Marcus Carl Franklin

Ruben Santiago Sr.: Jimmy Smits

Alean: Carmen Ejogo

Bill: Terrence Howard

Pauline: Marcy Gray

Lem Taylor: Louis Gossett Jr.

Bandleader: Mos Def

Dick Barrymore: Ernie Hudson

Small Paul: Jeffrey Wright

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 94 minutes »

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3 items from 2005


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