Lodric D. Collins, who currently stars in BET’s The Oval series, is set to play Motown artist Smokey Robinson in the MGM/Bron Creative Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect. Liesl Tommy is directing the film which has Jennifer Hudson starring as the legendary singer. Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige, Marc Maron. Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Skye Dakota Turner, Heather Headley, and Tate Donovan also co-star. The film will track the rise of Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom. Scott Bernstein and multiple Grammy-nominated producer Harvey Mason Jr. are producing the pic. Aaron L. Gilbert and Jason Cloth are executive producers. Production began last month and the film will be released on Aug. 14, 2020, in the U.S. with Universal handling overseas. Collins, whose credits include Grimm, Z Nation, and The Haves and the Have Nots, is repped by Brave Artists Management.
Sopranos alum Vincent Pastore has been cast in The Birthday Cake, an indie crime drama which is being helmed by first-time film director Jim Giannopoulos. He joins previously announced Ewan McGregor, Val Kilmer, Lorraine Bracco, Ashley Benson, and Shiloh Fernandez. The pic, co-written by Giannopoulos, Fernandez, and Diomedes Raul Bermudez, follows Giovanni (Fernandez) who, on the 10th anniversary of his father’s death, reluctantly brings a cake to his uncle, a mob boss. Just two hours into the night, Gio’s life is forever changed after he learns the truth about what happened to his father. Fernandez, Bermudez, and Siena Oberman are producing. Pastore, who was recently seen in Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga and Hawaii Five-0, is repped by Abrams Artists Agency and McGowan Rodriguez Management.
Michael Braun (The Affair) has joined New Regency’s thriller Deep Water, which stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. Directed by Adrian Lyne, the film follows an attractive young married couple, Vic and Melinda Van Allen, whose mind games with each other take a twisted turn when people around them start turning up dead. The couple staves off divorce in a loveless marriage by allowing each to take lovers, but it becomes messy as Highsmith exposes the surface facade of American suburban life. The pic is based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. Zack Helm and Sam Levinson wrote the screenplay. Producers are Garrett Basch, Steven Zaillian, Entertainment 360’s Guymon Casady and Ben Forkner, Anthony Katagas, and Arnon Milchan. Braun, repped by D2 Management and Leading Artists, recently co-starred in The Day Shall Come indie comedy opposite Anna Kendrick.