Stars on ABC Movie "A Raisin in the Sun" 12/17/06
PRODUCTION STARTS ON A SPECIAL MOVIE ADAPTATION OF LORRAINE HANSBERRY'S
"A RAISIN IN THE SUN," STARRING AWARD-WINNING BROADWAY CAST
Sean Combs to Star and Executive-Produce His First Movie
Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald, Sanaa Lathan and John Stamos Also
Headline the Stellar Cast
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, Executive Producers of the Oscar-Winning
Best Picture "Chicago," to Executive-Produce
Production has started in Toronto on a special three-hour television
movie adaptation of "A Raisin in the Sun," the play that
inspired a generation. Sean Combs, who will reprise the role of Walter
Lee, Jr., which brought him recent acclaim, will star along with the cast
of the award-winning Broadway revival, who will recreate their roles for
the film, including Emmy and Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, four-time
Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, Tony Award nominee Sanaa Lathan, plus
"ER" star John Stamos. "A Raisin in the Sun" will air
during the 2007 season on the ABC Television Network.
"A Raisin in the Sun" tells the story of a family living and
struggling on Chicago's South Side in the 1950s. A fiercely moving
portrait of people whose hopes and dreams are constantly deferred, "A
Raisin in the Sun" was the first play written by an African American
woman to be produced on Broadway. It premiered in 1959 with a cast that
included Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Ruby Dee and Louis
Gossett Jr. A Columbia Pictures feature version with the same cast
followed in 1961.
Combs appeared opposite Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball" and
made his acting debut in the film "Made." Phylicia Rashad won
the Best Actress Tony Award for her role -- becoming the first African
American actress to ever win the Tony in this category. Audra McDonald won
the Best Featured Actress Tony Award for her role in the play, and Sanaa
Lathan was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress for her
performance in "A Raisin in the Sun."
The ground-breaking drama portrays a brief period of time in the life
of the Younger family as they anxiously await the arrival of a $10,000
life insurance check made out to Lena Younger (Phylicia Rashad, "The
Cosby Show"), the family matriarch, from the estate of her late
husband, Walter Lee. Everyone in the family has their own ideas about how
they plan to use their new-found wealth and are eager for their new lives
Lena, who would like to retire from her job as a domestic for a white
family, dreams of escaping the claustrophobic, one-room tenement apartment
to, at long last, own a house, a dream she shared with her late husband.
Her son, Walter Lee, Jr. (Sean Combs), who currently works as a chauffeur,
longs to prove his manhood by owning his own business and is obsessed with
investing in a liquor store, which he thinks will solve the family's money
problems. His wife, Ruth (Audra McDonald, HBO's "Wit," ABC's
"Annie," the upcoming Broadway production of "110 in the
Shade"), is also a domestic in a white household and shares the
ambition of living in a larger home. His sister, Beneatha (Sanaa Lathan,
"Out of Time," "Something New"), is desperately
seeking her own identity and ways to express
herself. On one hand, she looks to having a new, independent life and
wants to go to medical school. But she also is being pursued by two very
different men: George Murchison (Sean Patrick Thomas, "Barbershop 2:
Back in Business"), a wealthy black man who is more interested in the
superficial aspects of life and Joseph Asagai (David Oyelowo, "The
Last King of Scotland"), a fellow classmate who peaks her interest in
exploring her intellectual and spiritual roots in Africa.
Lena purchases a house with the insurance money, surprisingly, in an
all-white residential neighborhood. In order to bolster her son's
self-confidence, she entrusts the remaining funds from the insurance
windfall to Walter, with part of the money going toward Beneatha's medical
school. Walter decides to go in with his friend, Bobo (Bill Nunn,
"Spider Man"), and a fast-talking scam artist, Willy Harris (Cephas
Jones, "Law & Order"), to buy a liquor store.
Meanwhile, when the Claybourne community discovers that they are about
to have a black family move in, their "home improvement"
association conspires to try and buy out the Younger family to prevent the
neigborhood from becoming integrated. Mr. Lindner (John Stamos, A&E's
"Wedding Wars"), the neighborhood's emissary, makes Walter an
offer to sell, which he refuses. As the family continues to pack up their
belongings, Walter learns that his business investment has literally
disappeared. The family is overwhelmed, outraged at Walter for throwing
their dreams away and conflicted about their prospects. Walter considers
making a deal with Lindner for their house to replace the missing money.
But in the end, Walter takes a stand and refuses to be intimidated,
becoming a better man in the process. The Younger family faces a somewhat
uncertain life, but are imbued with a newfound sense of optimism and
determined not to delay their dreams any longer.
The movie will be produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron's Storyline
Entertainment, Sean Combs' Bad Boy World Wide Entertainment Group and Sony
Pictures Television. The show's Broadway producers, Carl Rumbaugh, Susan
Batson and David Binder, will also serve as executive producers. Kenny
Leon, who received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Director for
his staging of the play on Broadway, will be making his film debut with
this movie; and Paris Qualles, writer of the critically acclaimed and
Emmy-nominated "Tuskeegee Airmen" and "The Rosa Parks
Story," will adapt Hansberry's play for the new movie event.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron executive-produced the Oscar winning Best
Picture "Chicago" and the Emmy-winning "Gypsy,"
"Cinderella," "Annie," "Serving in Silence"
and "Life with Judy Garland." Their films have won six Academy
Awards, five Golden Globes, eleven Emmy Awards and two Peabodys. For their
work in television, their movies have amassed 66 Emmy nominations.
"A Raisin in the Sun" is a production of Storyline
Entertainment and Bad Boy World Wide Entertainment Group in association
with Sony Pictures Television