Update: Fox Searchlight has confirmed that the film is still in active development. A start date has yet to be scheduled.
Boasting an all-star cast including Jennifer Hudson and Angela Bassett, the Langston Hughes adaptation “Black Nativity” seemed like the perfect Christmas release when it was announced this summer. However, as the film geared up for its start date and a variety of leading men surrounded the project, it now appears that casting hesitation has spelled doom for the film and its future.
Weeks before its October New York production was booked to begin, Fox Searchlight has announced the Kasi Lemmons-directed project will hold on shooting for now, after several male leads including Samuel L. Jackson and Laurence Fishburne passed on the script. Centered around a Baltimore single mother (Hudson) who sends her teenage son to his grandparents’ Harlem house for Christmas, the musical required the difficult task of finding an actor suitable to play Hudson’s father (across from Bassett as the grandmother), who could also supply a quality set of pipes for the gospel tunes featured throughout — both aspects likely narrowed the search beyond repair.
However, even with the low budget attached to the project, the fact that Hollywood-approved black actors remain at a minimum inevitably hurt the casting choices, and so another production falls to shambles as a result. It’s a shame too, because Lemmons — who made her directorial debut with the 1997 drama “Eve’s Bayou” — remains an underrated director with vision, but until she gets another project going, we’ll have to wait and see where she lands next. [THR]