'Scandalous!': Janet Mock To Direct Jeremy Pope As Sammy Davis Jr. In Film On His Romance With Kim Novak

July 30 2020

Fresh off of his Emmy nomination for Netflix's Hollywood, a buzzy package reunites Jeremy Pope with Janet Mock for Scandalous!

The film, directed by Mock, would see Pope star as Sammy Davis Jr. and chronicle his love affair with white actress Kim Novak. Jonathan Glickman, producer of the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, an Jon Levin are set as producers. Glickman's deal is at MGM and Mock is based at Netflix. But according to the Deadline exclusive on this, the pic will be shopped. It is set to film this fall in LA, land a distributor, and land the actress who will play Novak. Mock is reworking a script with Matthew Fantaci.

The report gives more detail on the project and the Davis/Novak story:

The drama is Romeo and Juliet set in the backdrop of the Hollywood studio system, when star images were carefully controlled. Davis was the color barrier-breaking star who was making $25,000 a week at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas and became one of the first black stars to appear in a dramatic role on television on General Electric Theater. Novak was a discovery of notorious Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn, who relied on her to replace previous discovery Rita Hayworth, whose string of marriages dimmed her starpower. Novak was the next rising star of Vertigo, and when she and Davis fell in love after being matched up by Tony Curtis, the pressures brought to bear on both were unimaginable as word of their romance hit the Hollywood gossips.

Legend has it that each had reasons to fall in love: Davis had been the victim of extreme racism from the days he got his nose flattened in the army fighting his fellow soldiers all the time, and initially wasn’t able to stay in the Vegas hotels where he performed, until pal Frank Sinatra interceded. He would later tell a biographer he wanted to show them all by dating the most desirable white woman. He took flack from civil rights leaders who thought it unwise for Davis Jr to date outside his race, and it got dangerous for him when a hit was placed on Davis — it was believed that Cohn called in the contract. While Sinatra and gangsters like Mickey Cohn and Sam Giancana kept him safe in Vegas, Davis was forced into a bogus marriage with a Black singer, Loray White, to call off the heat.

Mock's feature directorial debut, a film on journalist Janet Cooke, was announced in February. Pope is set to have a role in the third season of FX's Pose.

Of course, this project is not related to a biopic that was announced a few years ago on Davis at Paramount, as well as the miniseries from Tom Hanks and Lee Daniels that was announced last year.

 

READ MORE:

Janet Mock Sets Feature Directorial Debut With Janet Cooke Film At Netflix

 

Photo: Getty Images

 

by Trey Mangum on July 30 2020

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