Bessie Smith Biopic Shaping Up on HBO

By Rachel Cruz | 2 years ago
Bessie Smith Biopic Shaping Up on HBO

The planned Bessie Smith biopic on HBO is slowly taking shape as casting announcements have been recently released by the network. Joining Queen Latifah (“Single Ladies”), who will play the titular role in the TV movie, are Oliver Platt (“Fargo”), Bryan Greenberg (“How to Make It in America”) and Tory Kittles (“True Detective”). Read on to learn more about the production.

The TV movie will look into the life of the iconic blues singer, who rose to fame in the early 1920s until 1930s and is considered one of the greatest singers of her time. Dubbed the “Empress of the Blues,” Smith led a troubled youth and stormy married life despite all the acclaim. The show will touch on how the jazz singer has able to overcome the challenges in her personal life.


Platt will play the role of Carl Van Vechten, the famous photographer and close friend of Bessie Smith, while Greenberg’s role is that of John Hammond, the music producer and critic. Kittles will be playing Clarence, Smith’s brother.

Also in the cast are Mo’Nique, Mike Epps (“The Hangover Part III”), Khandi Alexander (“Scandal”), Charles S. Dutton (“Zero Hour”)  and Tikae Sumpter (“The Haves and Have Nots”). Michael K. Williams (“Boardwalk Empire”) has been chosen to play the role of Smith’s husband, Jack Gee.

Latifah will serve as the show’s executive producer, while Dee Rees has been picked to write and direct the TV movie, which is tentatively entitled “Blues Goose Hollow.”

Indiewire posted a review of the draft of the script, describing this as “strong, entertaining and with a compelling narrative.” The site also said that Latifah has been interested in doing the character of Bessie Smith many years ago and could not have picked a better time to do this. Smith is reportedly a bisexual, and the TV movie is not going to be subtle about exploring this. However, it should send a strong positive message about body image.

And that’s the news we have for “Blues Goose Hollow,” the biopic that will feature Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith. Listen to Bessie Smith singing in the video below. Follow Movie News Guide (MNG) for more about this story and other entertainment bits.

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Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress