Dee Rees’ Bessie Smith biopic (announced on this blog a couple of weeks ago), which Queen Latifah is attached to star in, has added to its cast, with Deadline reporting that Mo’Nique and Khandi Alexander have signed up to play Ma Rainey “Mother Of The Blues.” and Bessie Smith’s older sister, Viola, respectively.
To be titled Blue Goose Hollow (the area in Chattanooga, Tennessee where she was born and raised), the film will be a biography of Bessie Smith, considered by many to be the greatest blues singer of all time. It will debunk many of the myths that have circulated about her since her untimely death in 1937.
Mo’nique can next be seen in Patrik-Ian Polk’s drama Blackbird, co-starring with Isaiah Washington; Alexander was most recently featured on Shonda Rhimes’ hit ABC series Scandal.
Dee Rees continues to add to her growing slate of projects, which includes a potential film adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel Martian Time-Slip (she owns the rights, given to her by Dick’s estate, basically for free); She’s also working on an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s 2012 novel Home; And there’s the crime thriller Bolo; and her teaming up with Viola Davis for an HBO series.
HBO, The Zanuck Company, Shelby Stone Productions and Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment are all listed as backers of the project, with a mid-June 2014 production start date in Atlanta eyed.