Jeremy Pope is to portray Sammy Davis Jr.
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Janet Mock is building a story based on Davis’ life and how it was changed by his relationship with the white actress Kim Novak.
The relationship was groundbreaking because interracial romance was frowned upon by an arguably racist society at the time.
Now Mock and Pope are preparing to give the world a fresh look into the entanglement and the drama it caused within Hollywood via a movie named ‘Scandalous‘.
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.
Shadow and Act adds…
Jonathan Glickman, producer of the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, an Jon Levin are set as producers.
Production kicks off in the Fall.