DEADLINE – EXCLUSIVE: Regina King has started production in New Orleans on One Night In Miami, with Kingsley Ben-Adir (The OA) as civil rights activist Malcolm X, Eli Goree (Riverdale) as Cassius Clay right before he became Muhammad Ali, Aldis Hodge (Clemency) as gridiron great Jim Brown, and Grammy and Tony Award-winner Leslie Odom, Jr. (Harriet) playing singer Sam Cooke.
The film is an adaptation of the Olivier-nominated stage play by Kemp Powers, who wrote the script. Set on the night of February 25, 1964, the drama follows the brash young Cassius Clay after he shocked the world by knocking out seemingly invincible Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion. While crowds of people swarm Miami Beach to celebrate the match, Clay – unable to stay on the island because of Jim Crow-era segregation laws – spends the evening at the Hampton House Motel in Miami’s African American Overtown neighborhood celebrating with three of his closest friends: Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown. All of them were beginning to assert themselves in the Civil Rights movement and the empowerment of black people, and it was an evening to share their thoughts with each other on their responsibility to use their influence and stature to benefit the black community. By night’s end, they leave each other determined to define a new world.
”’One Night in Miami is a love letter to black manhood that powerfully explores themes of race, identity, and friendship,” said King, who makes her directing debut fresh from winning the Oscar for the Barry Jenkins-directed If Beale Street Could Talk. “Each of them has contributed so much to culture and history. We’re so excited to have Kingsley, Eli, Aldis, and Leslie in the lead roles showing a different side of these iconic men.”
The play was originally staged in 2013, taking an actual event — the meeting between the iconic figures — and imagining what transpired between them as their friendship, successes and shared struggles fueled their paths to becoming galvanizing figures of their era. Odom will perform Cooke’s songs, including A Change Is Gonna Come.
Jess Wu Calder and Keith Calder of Snoot Entertainment (Blindspotting) and Jody Klein of ABKCO (The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus) are producing, with King and Powers the executive producers.
The cinematographer is Tami Reiker (Beyond the Lights), costume designer is Francine Jamison-Tanchuck (Just Mercy), the production designer is Barry Robison (Hacksaw Ridge) and editor is Tariq Anwar (King’s Speech and American Beauty).
Ben-Adir is repped by CAA. Goree is repped by Authentic Talent and Literary Management and Play Management. Hodge is managed by Jason Priluck, Paradigm, and Ziffren Brittenham. Odom Jr. is repped by Untitled, CAA, and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer; King is repped by ICM Partners, John Carrabino Management, and Del, Shaw.