NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock, is not only bringing original series, but also original films. Shadow and Act has learned of the streamer’s first slate of original movies and it is a diverse lineup.
The films include the stateside bow of BBC’s Anthony, the documentary Black Boys, The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show, documentary A Most Beautiful Thing, and Emilio Estevez’s directorial debut, The Public.
The UK film Anthony is based on a true story. In 2005, 18-year-old Black student Anthony Walker was murdered in an unprovoked, racially motivated attack in Liverpool that shocked the nation. The film examines the impact of Walker’s murder by exploring what may have happened had he lived. It stars Toheeb Jimon as Anthony Walker, Rakie Ayola as his mother Gee Walker, Julia Brown as his wife Katherine and Bobby Schofield as his friend Mick. Anthony premieres Sept. 4.
From executive producer and MSNBC host Joy Reid and director Yoruba Richen, The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show is a documentary film “that chronicles the seminal event and almost-forgotten moment in American history during which legendary entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte hosted the iconic Tonight Show in place of Johnny Carson for an entire week. Amidst a backdrop of riots across the country and the Vietnam War, Belafonte introduced a fractured, changing country to itself for five nights with guests that included entertainment icons Aretha Franklin and Sidney Poitier as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.”
“When I started this film, I thought that I was telling the story of Harry Belafonte’s historic achievement as the first African American to host a full week of late-night television,” said director Yoruba Richen. “I soon discovered the film was not only about this week during a politically volatile time in U.S history but also a journey through Harry’s incredible career, political activism and enduring influence. I discovered how relevant it is to today when we are in a time of political crisis, much like 1968, the year Harry hosted the show.” The film premieres on Sept. 10.
The documentary, Black Boys, “celebrates the full humanity of Black men and boys in America. Utilizing conversations and stories around education, criminal justice and sports, the film reveals the emotional landscape of those experiencing racism and invites us to reimagine an America in which Black boys experience true belonging and unlimited possibilities.” Produced by Malcolm Jenkins, it features interviews with Vic Mensa, Carmelo Anthony, Greg Scruggs, Cris Carter, Chris Long, Jemele Hill, Malcolm London, Dr. John King Jr. It premieres on Sept. 10.
Another documentary, A Most Beautiful Thing, chronicles the first Black high school rowing team in the nation made up of young men from the West Side of Chicago. It takes “a deep dive into the rowing team’s backstory, examining the issues of inter-generational trauma and violence. After twenty years out of the boat, the death of a former coach brings the team back together to race once more for their sons and their community. In an extraordinary turn of events, team captain Arshay Cooper invites members of the Chicago Police Department to join their reunion team. What happened next was unexpected for all involved.” The film, narrated by Common, is based on Cooper’s memoir of the same name. Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade executive produce the film, dropping Sept. 4 on Peacock.
The Public, which first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018 is finally seeing the light of day as Peacock has acquired it as one of its original films. Estevez directs the film in which “an act of civil disobedience turns into a standoff with police when homeless people in Cincinnati take over the public library to seek shelter from the bitter cold.” The film’s all-star cast includes Alec Baldwin, Estevez, Jena Malone, Taylor Schilling, Christian Slater, Che “Rhymefest” Smith, Gabrielle Union, Jacob Vargas, Michael K. Williams, and Jeffrey Wright. It drops on Sept. 15