Hollywood Black Docuseries From Justin Simien, Forest Whitaker Greenlit at MGM+

MGM+ has greenlit a docuseries titled “Hollywood Black” directed by Justin Simien, who executive produces alongside Forest Whitaker.

In four parts, “Hollywood Black” focuses on the history of Black actors, writers, directors and producers who fought for their place in the entertainment industry. The series is based on the book of the same name by historian Donald Bogle.

Simien is best known for writing and directing the 2014 film “Dear White People” and creating the Netflix series of the same name. He also directed and wrote 2020’s “Bad Hair,” and directed “Haunted Mansion,” the 2023 horror film based on the Disney theme park ride, which debuts later this year.

Whitaker’s prominent credits as an actor include “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “The Butler,” “Black Panther” and more. In TV, he has narrated the 2002-2003 revival of “The Twilight Zone,” led the “Criminal Minds” spinoff “Suspect Behavior” and appeared in 11 episodes of “Empire.” Currently, he stars in the MGM+ drama “Godfather of Harlem. As a producer, he has worked on films such as “Fruitvale Station,” “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” and “Passing.”

“Hollywood Black” is executive produced by Simien and Kyle Laursen on behalf of Culture Machine; Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi on behalf of Significant Productions; and Dave Sirulnick, Stacey Reiss, Jon Kamen and Jeffrey Swartz on behalf of RadicalMedia. Amy Goodman Kass serves as showrunner. MGM will distribute the series internationally.

“We are thrilled to work with Justin Simien, Jeffrey Schwarz, RadicalMedia, and to expand our prolific creative partnership with Forest and Nina,” said Michael Wright, head of MGM+. “’Hollywood Black,’ like other recent MGM+ docuseries, is an entertaining and thoughtful look at a vital part of American culture, examining the evolution of Black cinema and the talented artists who built it. It is a timely and relevant look at the Black experience in Hollywood.”

“Hollywood, like many American industries, was built on Black culture and Black talent, even though it excluded Black people from many of its origin stories,” said Simien. “This series seeks to illuminate present-day controversies, from #OscarSoWhite to the almost regular ‘blackface reveal’ of prominent white celebrities, told through the lens of Black individuals throughout Hollywood history. It’s the most important story I’ve been able to tell to date, on such a large scale, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to tell it with this team.”

“We love collaborating with visionary filmmakers, so it’s an honor to team up with Justin Simien/Culture Machine and Radical Media on Hollywood Black, especially alongside such immense support from Michael Wright and MGM+,” said Whitaker. “Through this meaningful exploration of Black history in cinema, we’re excited to celebrate its future.”

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