HBO casts Tyler Perry as black film pioneer Oscar Micheaux

Apparently HBO is developing a biopic about Oscar Micheaux, considered to be one of the earliest black film directors. Not only that, but they have also cast Tyler Perry in the lead role. The film will be based on the 2007 biography OSCAR MICHEAUX: THE GREAT AND ONLY: THE LIFE OF AMERICA’S FIRST BLACK FILMMAKER written by Patrick McGilligan.

To the surprise of no one who regularly reads my posts, I love this idea. It's a part of our film history that's greatly ignored, and the hardships that Micheaux went through can definitely make this a compelling biopic. I also like Tyler Perry as an actor, in the right role. He was great in GONE GIRL, for instance. And as long as he has no writing or directing input, I feel the project will be fine.

Also, the more I read up on the Micheaux guy, the more fascinating he seems. According to Variety:

[Micheaux was] a novelist turned director [who] raised the money to produce the film adaptation of his 1917 book “The Homesteader” after rejecting an option offer from another company when they refused to let him direct.

Micheaux is believed to have helmed more than 40 features between 1919 and 1948, working outside the confines of Hollywood in the face of discrimination against an African-American entrepreneur.

Early on, Micheaux tackled the problem of distribution by personally driving prints of his films to black communities around the country, where they played to segregated audiences. His films largely featured all-black casts and were an effort to counter racial stereotypes with humanistic portrayals of black life. His notable works included 1920’s “Within Our Gates,” a response to D.W. Griffith’s epic “Birth of a Nation”; 1931’s “The Exile,” his first sound picture; 1938’s “Swing!” and 1940’s “The Notorious Elinor Lee.” Many of Micheaux’s films have been lost to history given the lack of preservation and the decomposition of film stock of the era.

Yep. There's definitely a movie in there.

Meanwhile, no release date at the moment, but we'll keep you posted as more news develops.

Extra Tidbit: In the 1910s and '20s Chicago was dubbed "black Hollywood" because of so many prominent black filmmakers working there at the time.
Source: Variety



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