EXCLUSIVE: Samuel L. Jackson is helping to bring Eugene Lee’s Pulitzer-nominated play East Texas Hot Links to the big screen with Lee as director. The project is being financed through Night Fox Entertainment which co-financed the apocalyptic tale Z for Zachariah and starred Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie and Chris Pine. Roadside Attractions released that film on Aug. 28.
East Texas Hot Links is the story of how a single night at a “colored only” bar in Jim Crow era East Texas tests the strength and loyalty of a small African-American community and changes their lives. Lee’s play, which initially bowed in 1991, was a one-act, 90-minute performance set in the pre-civil rights era in Texas at a little eatery called Top o’ the Hill Cafe which was designated as “for coloreds only.” The world outside the cafe in 1955 America was considered dangerous and redneck Klan. When the play was released initially, the NY Times wrote of it: “Imagine a collaboration between August Wilson and Sam Peckinpah, and you’ll have a good idea of ‘East Texas Hot Links’.” Lee and Jackson are said to be old friends.
The Los Angeles production of the play was graced by a critically-acclaimed performance from Loretta Devine, who later went on to win an Emmy for a guest appearance on Grey’s Anatomy and appeared as part of the ensemble cast in Crash, which won the Best Picture Oscar. Casting is currently underway with John Beasley (The Soul Man) in the role of Boochie Reed. Beasley, who has a theater in Omaha Nebraska and did a revival of the play in 2012, also serves as producer. Plans are being made now to shoot next spring in Los Angeles.
The film was adapted by Lee. Rachel Griffin and Night Fox Entertainment’s Timothy Christian and Rab Butler will produce and Jackson will executive produce along with Night Fox’s Ryan Johnson.
Night Fox Entertainment is based in Omaha, NE with an office in Los Angeles. Jackson is repped by ICM Partners and Anonymous Content.