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Sorry, musical fans. Because Fox Searchlight struggled to lure a proper male lead to its planned Christmas feature Black Nativity, the movie -- for the moment -- is dead.
Director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou, The Caveman’s Valentine) was scheduled to begin filming Nativity in New York City in October, according to THR. But after several actors, including Samuel L. Jackson and Laurence Fishburne, passed on the film’s male lead, Searchlight decided to postpone the start date … perhaps indefinitely.
The odd part is that THR says Lemmons (who worked with Jackson in the past) already has two bankable, Oscar-winning talents in Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson attached to key roles. The film, which adapts Langston Hughes’ play, leans on traditional Christmas carols sung in a Gospel style. And because of that, the male lead has to be able to carry a tune, which cuts the potential talent pool in half. THR, however, lists a number of talented African-American performers who fit that bill, including Jamie Foxx. Shouldn’t Searchlight be able to find someone who can hold their own against Bassett and Hudson in what sounds like a winning film?
That’s probably why Searchlight reportedly is hedging its bets slightly instead of pulling the plug altogether. “Start dates shift on every film we’ve ever been involved with,” an insider tells THR about Black Nativity. So there’s a very good chance it will still happen. But the October start appears to be off the table unless a male lead is hired. Fast. Stay tuned for details as the story develops.