David Makes Man: Tarell Alvin McCraney Examines the Struggles of the Soul

Published on 14 Aug 1919
movie news David Makes Man: Tarell Alvin McCraney Examines the Struggles of the Soul

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s anticipated new drama series “David Makes Man,“ from Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney, premieres this week the hourlong drama centers on a 14-year-old prodigy from the projects who is haunted by the death of his closest friend and relied on by his hardworking mother to find a way out of poverty. He must choose between the streets that raised him or the higher education that may offer him a way out – and it is the crucial depiction of that interior struggle that gives the series its soul.

“It’s rare that the interiority of black men is depicted on screen,” McCraney said. And in his series, the title character’s interior life is so generously examined, and sumptuously illustrated in rich, symbolistic terms, bringing to life the dreams and disappointments of young black men from poor and working class backgrounds who live in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety. “A black man enters any space and that’s all that people see, bringing with them their own biases and prejudices,” he said. “But we are walking complexities just like everybody else, and deserve to see those complexities shown in all their diversity.”

Inspired by the writer's impoverished youth in Florida, McCraney speaks about navigating a career that has unfolded on a singular trajectory: He's an openly gay black man from working-class Liberty City, who has been ernately described as a “genius“ and “prodigy,“ excelling in what have historically been mostly white, heterosexual spaces. His resume includes an International Playwright in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company in England, Chair of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama, member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, and most recently, an Oscar. However, he still sees himself as something of an industry outsider.

“I have always navigated these spaces with a sense of knowing that I'm being &lsquoallowed' entry by the gatekeepers,“ he said. “They say, &lsquothis space is being occupied by Tarell McCraney, and there isn't any room for any more like him.’ And that's just not what I want my experience to be, because it's not a notion that affords me the kind of nurturing and healing I need as a queer, black, male artist, and I long for moments when I'm part of a community. Otherwise it's kind of isolating.”

It is that need for community that brought him and his series to OWN, where “David Makes Man” joins a lineup of other dramas created by and/or starring African Americans, including “Queen Sugar,” “Greenleaf,” and new addition “Ambitions,” which premiered in June. “I don't want to be the only voice in the room, talking about &lsquothe black experience’,” he said. “And at OWN, we haven’t had to explain certain things simply because I’m surrounded by black people and other black creatives. And I want to be in conversation with them.”

The series stars Akili McDowell “The Astronaut Wives Club“ as the titular David, a passionate young teen who toggles between two distinct personas that reflect his surroundings, employing a vivid imagination to escape the inherent trauma caused by poverty. The young actor immediately identified with that life.

“One reason why I took the role is because David and I have so much in common,” McDowell said. “For example, his mother is a single parent. My mother is also a single parent. And that reality is the foundation for everything else that happens. I know what it feels like to think that you have to be the man of the house, and help my mother wherever I can.”

Working with the young actor to bring the character to life meant many in-depth conversations. And given the emotionally dark places David goes, McCraney would at times have to pull McDowell from the abyss.

“There are moments when he got so deep into the character that I would have to kind of bring him back, just to remind him of where he is, and to make sure that he remained grounded in our reality, and not in that of the character he’s playing,” McCraney said. It was important to him that McDowell trusted him completely, and he created an environment that allowed for honesty and openness, given the emotional cost.

For McDowell, landing the part gave him “new life,” he said. And while he is critical of his performance, he’s pleased with the end product, and is looking forward to audience reactions – and quite possibly significant changes in his personal and professional life – once the series premieres.

Emotionally demanding, “David Makes Man” requires patience, but it's worth it. The series is filled with timely psychological and social observations. But what is maybe most intriguing about David is not necessarily his plight so much as the way McCraney characterizes him as the center of a quiet storm of almost dreamlike interruptions.

The atmosphere calls to mind “Moonlight,“ and even borrows some of the film's stylistic touchstones, bathing images in evocative colors, accompanied by a melancholic score that sets the lyrical tone.

“From the very beginning, it was important for us to be clear that we were making a 10-episode film and not a series in the traditional sense,” said McCraney, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay for “Moonlight” along with Barry Jenkins. “A lot of thought went into the color schemes depending on where David is physically and mentally in any given scene. So yes, given it a cinematic look was very intentional.”

The series also boasts “Moonlight’s” sensitivity. It invites audiences on a tumultuous journey through the life of a black boy and demands that you empathize with him. “It will be painful at times, but we sometimes have to navigate terrain that is littered with landmines in order to get to a place of healing,” said McCraney. “John Hughes made several movies that depicted the rich interior lives of young white American men and women. I just want the same for people who look like me.”

Netflix’s “High Flying Bird“ marked a turning point for McCraney as he settled into the role of writer for hire. But “David Makes a Man“ ensures that he hasn't lost touch with his abilities as a personal storyteller.

The series’ main cast is rounded out by veteran actress Phylicia Rashad, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Elvis Nolasco, Gillian Williams, Juanita Jennings, Lisa Colon-Zayas, Lindsey Blackwell, Lela Rochon and Nick Creegan. Debuting at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Wednesday, August 14, immediately following “Queen Sugar,” the premiere for “David Makes Man” will be presented with limited commercial interruption.

Source: Indiewire

"ACADEMY AWARD WINNER" RELATED
Published on 18 Aug 1919
movie news David Makes Man: Tarell Alvin McCraney Examines the Struggles of the Soul

From playing a completely graceless stepmother in “Fleabag” to embodying the tragic, gout-ridden Queen Anne in “The Favourite,” British actress Olivia Colman can do it all. And now, the Academy Award winner and 2019 Primetime Emmy nominee will lend her voice to the 31st season of “The Simpsons,” adding to an enviable guest roster that will include John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Jason Momoa, Bob Odenkirk, John Mulaney, and Jane Goodall.

“The Simpsons” executive producer James L. Brooks tweeted that Colman will play “the most down home femme fatal [sic] ever who attracts every man she's ever met but falls hard, harder than she ever imagined, for Homer Simpson.” Brooks also teased the performance to say, “Just this second came from recording one of the best guest appearances in Simpson's [sic] history. No kidding, I am flying.“

Olivia Colman is currently an Emmy nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for “Fleabag,” opposite series creator, writer, and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge. This year, Colman beat the odds and bested Glenn Close’s performance in “The Wife” to take home Best Actress at the Academy Awards for her iconic performance in “The Favourite.” In 2016, she was Emmy-nominated for “The Night Manager,” and will next take the reign as Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s “The Crown.”

She recently shared with Harper’s Bazaar her awkward real-life run-in with the Queen. “It was at a British Film Institute gathering to raise the profile of British film, independent film,” she said. “We suddenly found ourselves, two hundred people, in a big queue… A gentleman with epaulettes said, ‘Don't overdo it, little bow, and you say, Your Majesty, and your Royal Highness, and go. Make it as swift as possible and go. ‘Alright, Okay.’ And I managed to remember what to say, sort of sticky-handed and bit sort of stumbly. That was it!”

Colman’s vast and varied credits on television include a celebrated run on the British mystery series “Broadchurch,” along with roles in “Flowers” and cult favorite “Peep Show.” Her turn on “Fleabag” is truly a wondrous thing to behold, and she is indeed the likely favorite to take home the honor this year.

Source: Indiewire

"ACADEMY AWARD WINNER" RELATED
Published on 17 Aug 1919
movie news David Makes Man: Tarell Alvin McCraney Examines the Struggles of the Soul

Faye Dunaway is having a rough summer.

Once called the worst person in Hollywood by Bette Davis, the Academy Award winner is once again in hot water amid the unfolding disaster of her busted Broadway bow in “Tea at Five.” Last month, she was fired from the Broadway play because of allegedly bizarre behavior including hurling objects at crew members and slapping her wig-fitting team, throwing salad on the floor, and insisting no one wear white to rehearsal because it’s distracting.

Now, according to Page Six, she’s being sued by one of her handlers who alleges she verbally harassed him by calling him a “little homosexual boy.” The plaintiff, Michael Rocha, was tasked with running Dunaway’s errands, helping her take her meds, managing her schedule, and transporting her to and from rehearsals of the play, which is now being recast and mounted in London. Per Rocha’s court papers, Dunaway “regularly and relentlessly subjected plaintiff to abusive demeaning tirades“ and used his sexual orientation to “demean and humiliate him at work.” He has also turned in audio evidence of her abuse.

Rocha, who was fired on June 12 under the guise that Dunaway was no longer “comfortable” working with him, also alleges that the “Network” and “Chinatown” star called other workers “little gay people.”

Poor Faye can’t catch a break. Back in 2017, she publicly humiliated herself when she erroneously named “La La Land” as the Best Picture winner on the Oscars stage, when “Moonlight” was the actual winner. It was not her fault that she and co-presenter Warren Beatty were handed the wrong envelope. She’s evidently still reeling from the trauma of it all.

Dunaway is no stranger to being called a diva. “Chinatown” director Roman Polanski once told a Rolling Stone reporter she was “a gigantic pain in the ass” following a film shoot rife with on-set hostility. Peter Biskind’s Hollywood tell-all “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” alleges that, while filming “Chinatown,” Dunaway had the nasty habit of urinating into trash cans and once, rumor has it, chucked a cup of her urine into Polanski’s face. Dunaway later told The Guardian that the accusation “doesn't even deserve the dignity of a response.“

Back in the 1990s, Dunaway also allegedly would drive up to a now-shuttered West Hollywood video store and wait for someone to come collect her tapes. If they took too long, she would “just toss them out the window.” In 2008, Dunaway left this gem of a voicemail for a journalist who was too focused on her controversial turn as Joan Crawford in the camp classic “Mommie Dearest.” The laundry list of Dunaway’s diva ways goes on and on.

Her performance as Katharine Hepburn in “Tea at Five” was fraught from the start, with the actress allegedly forgetting her lines, showing up late, and complaining about the lighting. While starring in the play in Boston, the actress apparently butchered her lines mid-performance, and complained about an audience member’s hat.

According to the now-unfolding lawsuit, Rocha wrote in an email to “Tea at Five”‘s general manager, “As I told you on Friday, she still thinks I'm her 24/7 servant and went off on me because I was not there yesterday afternoon or this morning doing her dishes…I worked for her 14 days straight now, and still doing my best to get her to rehearsals on time.“

IndieWire reached out for comment from Dunaway’s manager, who is currently on vacation.

Source: Indiewire

"ACADEMY AWARD WINNER" RELATED
Published on 15 Aug 1919
movie news David Makes Man: Tarell Alvin McCraney Examines the Struggles of the Soul

As “The Crown” gears up to introduce its next queen, Academy Award winner Olivia Colman, its creator is already eyeing her replacement. In an interview with EW, Peter Morgan let slip that while he has not yet discussed the possibility with Helen Mirren, the actress is a fan of the show.

Of course, Mirren is well-versed in the complexities of portraying the reigning Monarch of Great Britain, having already worked with Morgan on his lauded 2006 historical drama “The Queen.” That film, which was directed by Stephen Frears from a script by Morgan, earned Mirren her first and only Oscar she’s been nominated four times. Mirren has also played Queen Charlotte, Queen Elizabeth I, and will soon star as Catherine the Great in an upcoming HBO miniseries.

“She loves the show,“ said Morgan, who also serves as showrunner on the hit royal drama. “She thought there was nothing left to say, and I think she's really surprised.“

The possibility of closing out the series with Mirren is not too far off, especially seeing as when it came time to age up the show’s stars, Morgan got his first choice in Colman. “Olivia Colman was a list of one,“ he said. “I think I wanted to know [she would play the part] even before negotiations were done for seasons 3 and 4.“

First, she had to go and win an Oscar for playing Queen Anne in “The Favourite,” a fact Morgan doesn’t hold against her. “Obviously I'd have preferred her not to be playing another queen before. But it's so different &mdash such a different tone.”

Arriving nearly two years after the second season premiered, the Season 3 of “The Crown” spans the years 1964-77, ending just before Margaret Thatcher's election as prime minister in 1979. As has long been the plan for the series, every two seasons, it will jump ahead in time and fully recast its roles.

“Outlander“ star Tobias Menzies is stepping into the role of Prince Philip previously played by Matt Smith, while Helena Bonham Carter will play the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret played by Vanessa Kirby in the first two seasons. Both Smith and Kirby picked up Emmy nominations for their roles in Season 2.

Other cast members for Seasons 3 and 4 include Ben Daniels as Tony Armstrong-Jones, Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, Marion Bailey as the Queen Mother, and Jason Watkins as Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Colman is currently up for an Emmy for her role as the cloying stepmother to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character in “Fleabag.”

“The Crown“ comes back for its third season on Netflix on November 17.

Source: Indiewire

"ACADEMY AWARD WINNER" RELATED
Published on 02 Aug 1919
movie news David Makes Man: Tarell Alvin McCraney Examines the Struggles of the Soul
strong>EXCLUSIVE: Former Kevin Probably Saves The World star JoAnna Garcia Swisher is set to lead the cast Netflix's upcoming series Sweet Magnolias. She replaces Monica Potter who had been originally tapped for the role.

em>Sweet Magnolias, based on Sherryl Woods' popular series of novels published by Harlequin imprint MIRA books, is set in the charming small town of Serenity, South Carolina. It centers on three women, played by Swisher, Brooke Elliott and Heather Headley, best friends since childhood.

Netflix

Swisher will play Maddie Townsend, a low-key but resolute, warm and loving woman with a vocabulary like Southern poetry. She finds herself at a crossroads in her life and her best friends are trying desperately to convince her that now is the time for reinvention.

Woods executive produce with Sheryl J. Anderson, who also serves as showrunner. Dan Paulson, whose Daniel L. Paulson Productions is producing, also serves as executive producer.

Norman Buckley serves as co-executive producer and will direct six episodes of the series, which is currently filming.

Swisher is known for her starring roles in Kevin Probably Save the World and The Astronaut Wives Club, and recurring as Ariel on ABC’s Once Upon A Time. She’s repped by UTA and John Carrabino Management.

Source: deadline.com

"ACADEMY AWARD WINNER" RELATED
Published on 20 Jun 1919
movie news David Makes Man: Tarell Alvin McCraney Examines the Struggles of the Soul

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network has set a Wednesday, August 14 at 10 p.m. ET/PT premiere date for its anticipated new drama series “David Makes Man,“ from Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney “Moonlight“ and Warner Horizon Scripted Television.

An Oscar to his credit, his script for Netflix's Steven Soderbergh drama “High Flying Bird“ drawing high praise, and his Broadway production “Choir Boy“ having wrapped up a successful run in March, playwright and screenwriter McCraney continues to impress with his initial foray into television with the deeply personal “David Makes Man.”

Inspired by the writer's impoverished youth in Florida, the milieu naturally calls to mind “Moonlight,“ and even borrows some of the film's stylistic touchstones, bathing images in evocative colors, accompanied by a melancholic score that sets the lyrical tone.

The hourlong drama centers on a 14-year-old prodigy from the projects who is haunted by the death of his closest friend and relied on by his hardworking mother to find a way out of poverty. He must choose between the streets that raised him or the higher education that may offer him a way out.

Boasting an executive producing team that includes actor Michael B. Jordan via his Outlier Society Productions and Oprah Winfrey, the series stars Akili McDowell “The Astronaut Wives Club“ as the titular David, a passionate young teen who toggles between two distinct personas that reflect his surroundings, employing a vivid imagination to escape the inherent trauma caused by poverty.

“David Makes Man”

OWN

The up-and-comer is joined by veteran actress Phylicia Rashad as David's teacher Dr. Woods-Trap. “David Makes Man“ also features Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Elvis Nolasco, Gillian Williams, Juanita Jennings, Lisa Colon-Zayas, Lindsay Blackwell, Lela Rochon and Nick Creegan.

McCraney serves as executive producer of the series alongside Dee Harris-Lawrence, who serves as showrunner. Mike Kelley and Melissa Loy under their Page Fright production banner are also executive producers.

Speaking with IndieWire in January, McCraney was thrilled by the talented team he’s surrounded with, who alleviated some of the pressure that comes with being the sole creative force behind his first television project. “I've got Michael B. Jordan and Oprah producing,“ he said. “My showrunner, Dee Harris-Lawrence, is a black woman then there are our writers and cast members, so it's a village. And I know my experience of being a gifted student or having to be used to schools that are far outside your neighborhood, and the psychological weight of all that, is not just my experience alone. So I think the story will resonate with others.“

For Winfrey, the project couldn’t have come to OWN at a better time. “It literally took my breath away,” she said in a press statement. “The whole piece is just one exed, beautiful, intriguing, penetrative poem. We’re now doing poetry on scripted TV.”

“David Makes Man” marks the latest addition to the network’s growing original scripted content offerings, which also includes “Queen Sugar,“ “Greenleaf,“ and new family saga “Ambitions“ from box office hit-maker Will Packer.

The premiere will be presented by Lexus with limited commercial interruption, immediately following “Queen Sugar” in the 9 p.m. ET/PT slot. With today’s premiere announcement, the network has unveiled the series’ official trailer. Check it out below:

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Source: Indiewire

movie news David Makes Man: Tarell Alvin McCraney Examines the Struggles of the Soul
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