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Amy Winehouse Biopic ‘Back to Black’ Adds to Cast with Jack O’Connell, Eddie Marsan and Lesley Manville

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Let the casting of music biopics commence! As we’ve been hammered with news of superstar musician biopics each and every week, we have more news of one that is filming currently with Back to Black about the late, great Amy Winehouse. While it was reported back in January that Industry star, Marisa Abela will be leading as Winehouse, we now have details courtesy of Deadline on who will be joining the British pop star’s life story on screen. 

The report indicates that Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, ’71), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Another Year) and Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, The World’s End) will all appear alongside Abela in Back to Black. O’Connell is set to play Blake Fielder-Civil, the love of Winehouse’s life who she was married to from 2007 until 2009, just a few years prior to her death as their love was unfortunately addled by prescription drug abuse and alcohol as well as multiple stints in rehab for both of them. Marsan will play Winehouse’s father while Manville will play Winehouse’s maternal grandmother in the film.

Back to Black will follow the life of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all-time in Amy Winehouse. Her sophomore album (which the film is named after) won her 5 Grammy Awards all at the young age of 25 just before her untimely death in 2011 at age 27. The film will focus on Amy’s creativity, genius and upbringing at Camden High School in the UK before she propelled into stardom.

The film will be written by Matt Greenhalgh and directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson reuniting the two of them after their 2009 film Nowhere Boy, which chronicled John Lennon’s formative years and adolescence. Taylor-Johnson is coming off directing episodes of Hunters and Solos for Amazon but is best known for helming Fifty Shades of Grey

O’Connell had a big 2022 starring in Netflix’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover and MGM+’s new original series, SAS Rogue Heroes. He’ll next star as professional race car driver Peter Collins in Ferrari. Manville most recently starred as Princess Margaret in the recent season of The Crown for Netflix and in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. Marsan is best known for playing Ray Donovan‘s brother, Terry in the hit Showtime series but will next appear in the film, Fair Play with Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor.

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Adventure

‘1883’ Spinoff Series ‘Bass Reeves’ Adds Dennis Quaid to Cast

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Dennis Quaid (Far from Heaven, The Day After Tomorrow) is the latest star to join the cast of Bass Reeves, a new drama series coming from Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone, Tulsa King) and Paramount+, according to DeadlineBass Reeves was announced as a spinoff to the Yellowstone prequel, 1883 back in May 2022 with David Oyelowo (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time) attached to star as the legendary lawman.

Bass Reeves will follow Oyelowo as someone who is known to many as “the greatest frontier hero” in American history in his own series on Paramount+. The streamer already houses so many Sheridan-fronted programs, most recently, Mayor of Kingstown starring Jeremy Renner returned for its second season while CIA drama, Lioness added to its cast with Nicole Kidman and Morgan Freeman. Some believe that Reeves served inspiration to “The Lone Ranger” having worked as a peace officer for Indian territory capturing over 3,000 criminals on that land. Quaid will play Sherrill Lynn, a Deputy U.S. Marshall within the show.

Quaid most recently voiced the character Jaeger Clade in Disney’s animated feature Strange World which is currently available to stream on Disney+. He’ll also star in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming HBO Max series Full Circle alongside Zazie Beetz, Claire Danes and Emmy-winner Jharrel Jerome. 

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Anthony Hopkins to Lead Peacock Gladiator Drama ‘Those About to Die’

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Peacock is one of the streamers that has yet to break through in terms of their original content getting recognized for awards contention. One such series that might change that fate for the streaming service is Those About to Die and it’s starting to build out its cast. According to Variety, 2-time Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, The Father) is the first to join the drama series which comes from Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow). Saving Private Ryan screenwriter Robert Rodat will script the series.

Hopkins will play the character known as Emperor Vespasian in the series which is set in the world of gladiatorial battle. It will be an ensemble drama following many different Roman characters that will set forth for violent affairs in the arena among other complexities such as political power and corruption so expect a starry cast for this Peacock drama. Hopkins’ character is described as “despised by the Patricians jockeying for position in the Empire and looking to supplant his heirs to the throne the first chance they get. Vespasian became the Roman emperor after a ten-year civil war. We expect to get more casting news soon as the show will begin filming in Rome in March.

Anthony Hopkins is coming off a terrific performance in James Gray’s Armageddon Time in 2022 after winning his second Academy Award for his role in The Father the year prior. He’ll next voice a character in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon for Netflix and also will star in British drama One Life alongside Helena Bonham Carter and Jonathan Pryce. Emmerich is coming off directing the sci-fi disaster film, Moonfall in 2022.

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Drama

Antoine Fuqua to Helm Michael Jackson Biopic ‘Michael’ for Lionsgate

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It’s the age of the comic book movie, however, it is also the age of the music biopic. Ever since the massive hit, Bohemian Rhapsody chronicled Freddie Mercury and the rise of the super group Queen, there has been a clamoring for these biographical re-telling’s of the lives of superstars in the world of music. One name that is ripe for a big-budget film about their life is the late Michael Jackson and it appears that we’re closer to that reality. With news coming from an exclusive over at Deadline, Antoine Fuqua (The Magnificent Seven, Training Day) is set to helm the feature telling of the legendary King of Pop in the film, Michael.

Though there is a storied history about the rise, fall and controversy surrounding the life of Michael Jackson, Fuqua has handled controversial material before, even most recently with his film, Emancipation starring Will Smith for Apple, which released at the end of last year following his slap of comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards. Fuqua will direct from a script from John Logan (Skyfall, The Aviator) which will be produced by Graham King, who won an Academy Award for The Departed. King also produced the aforementioned Bohemian Rhapsody, setting a powerhouse team for the feature. 

King and Logan have long called Michael a “passion project” for the duo. Sources say that the film will cover all musical points in Jackson’s life from his start with the Jackson 5 as a child, to his rise to King of Pop status shattering records with his solo records. The film will also detail his allegations of pedophilia that framed his later years until his death in 2009 due to cardiac arrest.

The production schedule for Michael is moving ahead rather quickly as Lionsgate aims to start filming later this year once Fuqua wraps production on The Equalizer 3. Fuqua started as a director of music videos for Prince and Stevie Wonder before helming his feature directorial debut, Training Day, so he might just be the perfect fit to helm the life story of Jackson. 

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