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Casting News – Teyonah Parris Is Spike Lee’s Lysistrata + NWA Biopic Casts its Tupac, Jussie Smollett Heads ‘Underground’

Casting News - Teyonah Parris Is Spike Lee's Lysistrata + NWA Biopic Casts its Tupac, Jussie Smollett Heads 'Underground'

Some casting news I previously missed that you should know about…

– First, Teyonah Parris (“Dear White People,” “Mad Men,” “Survivor’s Remorse”) has joined the cast of Spike Lee’s much-discussed drama (and it hasn’t even been made yet) “Chiraq,” joining a cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Hudson, John Cusack, Jeremy Piven and Wesley Snipes to name a few.

Set against the backdrop of Chicago’s gun violence, the film is a modern spin on the Greek comedy “Lysistrata” – in short, the women of Greece refused to have sex with their husbands, all in an effort to bring an end to the Peloponnesian War, via the signing of a peace treaty. In Spike’s film, the story will center on a woman’s quest to end gang warfare in Chicago, likely via similar methods as used by Lysistrata; i.e., no sex for the brothas in the middle of the gang war, until the violence ends… and it all unfolds as a musical comedy. Parris will play what is evidently the lead role of Lysistrata, so this is quite a coup for the actress. We’ll probably review the screenplay before the film comes out.

– Second, the “Straight Outta Compton” cast now also includes Marcc Rose playing Tupac in the film, which will be in theaters in August. This was just reported by Entertainment Weekly; I’m surprised it wasn’t previously announced, with the film set for release in a couple of months, and I’d think would be wrapping up post-production at this point. Recall that Rose was rumored to be director John Singleton’s choice to play Tupac in his Tupac Shakur biopic, which is currently in Limbo, since the director exited the project, replaced by Carl Franklin. So this could serve as an intro to Rose as Tupac for the biopic that’s to come later.

– And finally, Jussie Smollett will be joining his sister, Jurnee Smollett-Bell in WGN’s underground railroad drama, titled “Underground.” The star of Fox’s breakout soap opera “Empire” joins a series that also features Adina Porter, Mykelti Williamson, Amirah Vann, Aldis Hodge, Alano Miller, Christopher Meloni and Jessica De Gouw, in a period drama created by Misha Green (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Joe Pokaski (“CSI”), which Anthony Hemingway will direct the first two episodes of (there will be 10 total), with a 2016 debut eyed. Smollett will play Josey, who is described as a wild-eyed runaway slave who doesn’t trust anyone.

That’s all for now…

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