Posted Oct. 30, 2007 -- "Monster's Ball" producer Lee Daniels will direct "Push," based on the bestselling novel by Sapphire about an overweight, illiterate African-American teen in Harlem. Rocker Lenny Kravitz make his feature-starring debut alongside Mo'nique, Paula Patton and newcomer Gabourey "Gabbie" Sidibe.
The story centers on Clareece "Precious" Jones, who, just as she's about to give birth to her second child, is accepted into an alternative school where a teacher (Patton) helps her find an alternative path in her life. Mo'nique plays the girl's mother and Kravitz plays a nurse who shows kindness to Jones.Sidibe won the role of Precious after 300 young girls auditioned in casting calls around the country.
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"Push" is "as important to me as 'Roots,' and I'm honored that Sapphire entrusted me with her book," said Daniels, who after producing films like "Monster's Ball" and "The Woodsman," made his directing debut on the Helen Mirren-Cuba Gooding Jr. starrer "Shadowboxer."
Daniels recently wrapped the Mariah Carey starrer "Tennessee," directed by Aaron Woodley and financed by Smokewood Entertainment Group.
Rhames to Knock Out Liston Biopic
Ving Rhames will star in "Phantom Punch," portraying infamous heavyweight fighter Sonny Liston in a biopic directed by Robert Townsend, reports Hollywood Reporter.
"Phantom" will chronicle Liston's rise to fame as a boxer and the single "phantom punch" he took at the hands of Muhammad Ali that many believe led to the end of his career. The 24th of 25 children born to an Arkansas sharecropper, Liston at one point served prison time for robbing a gas station and another for beating up a police officer. He turned to fighting as a way to gain respect and became world heavyweight champion in 1962.
Liston is best remembered for the incident that took place just two minutes into the 1965 match with Ali. The fighter -- who had seldom been knocked to his feet -- went down from what was long debated as a felonious punch. The photograph from the fight's conclusion was mmortalized on the cover of "Sports Illustrated."
Rhames recently joined Jeremy Piven in Neal Brennan's "The Goods: The Don Ready Story" for Paramount Vantage and will be seen next in "The Tournament" and "The Gift." Townsend, who is known to wear multiple hats as actor, director, producer and writer, will be seen next in the drama "Of Boys and Men" and the comedy "Tao of the Golden Mask."
Elba to Sign on "The Human Contract"
Idris Elba is in negotiations to star in Jada Pinkett Smith's directorial and screenwriting debut, "The Human Contract," reports Blackfilm.com.
Elba, who stars in the upcoming holiday film "This Christmas," would play Julian Wright, a charming and prosperous businessman who hides a secret from the rest of the world which tears his soul apart every day. As his personal life falls apart, he meets Michael Reed, a gorgeous stranger who entices Julian to forget his rigid corporate world and try a more bohemian lifestyle, a decision that will not only affect his own life but those of his boss and co-workers. The move also inspires his half-sister, Rita, to re-examine her life with an abusive husband.
Pinkett Smith's husband, actor Will Smith, is producing the film under his Overbrook Entertainment shingle along with partner James Lassiter.