By Bill Vaughan
Showtime presents a unique take on American history with the new mini-series “The Good Lord Bird” premiering Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. on the network.
Based upon the National Book Award-winning novel by James McBride (serving as an executive producer along with Ethan Hawke, who stars as 19th-century abolitionist John Brown), the story is described as “a humorous, dramatic and historical tapestry of Antebellum America, spotlighting the complicated and ever-changing racial, religious and gender roles that make up the American identity.”
“The Good Lord Bird” is told from the point of view of Onion (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a fictional enslaved boy who becomes a member of Brown’s motley family of abolitionist soldiers during Bleeding Kansas — a time when the state was a battleground between pro- and anti-slavery forces — and eventually finds himself participating in the famous 1859 raid on the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry.
Brown’s raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended but was the instigating event that started the Civil War.
Actor Daveed Diggs (“Snowpiercer,” “Blindspotting”) was buzzed when Hawke gave him the book and asked if he would come on board as famed orator and statesman Frederick Douglass.
“I was obsessed with it and I laughed the whole time,” said the performer who won a Tony Award for Broadway’s “Hamilton.” “Getting to see [him] in that way was so exciting to me. I’m not trying to make a career of playing figures from history, but if I was going to ever play Frederick Douglass this is the one.”
“The history of him I got to draw from was incredible,” Diggs added. “I got to recite the Fourth of July speech that’s one of the greatest speeches ever made and it still is true as it ever was. That was an incredible honor for me. He did have a black wife and a white mistress. We don’t talk about that but it’s true. There was a period when they were in the same house. We don’t think about that as even a thing that would’ve been possible at that time.”
“Then we get to filter that through the eyes of a kid who until very recently hadn’t seen anything off the plantation. This is his first time in the North when he meets Frederick Douglass. That allows the Fred that I play to be ridiculous when he is ridiculous. It allows that kind of stuff to seem pompous because it is. That doesn’t have to make him any less brilliant, I think. Onion refers to him as King of the Negroes. That is hilarious and Frederick might agree with it. Like deep down. He wouldn’t say it in public.”
“The Good Lord Bird” also features David Morse (“Blindspot”) as Dutch Henry Sherman, Steve Zahn (“Treme”) as Chase, Wyatt Russell (“Lodge 49”) as Jeb Stuart, and Orlando Jones (“American Gods”) as The Rail Man; with a renowned group of directors including Albert Hughes (“Menace II Society,” “Dead Presidents,”), Haifaa Al-Mansour (“Nappily Ever After”), Kevin Hooks (“Passenger 57”) and Darnell Martin (“Cadillac Records”) at the helm.
CLIPPETTES: Misty Copeland visits Politics and Prose virtually Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. for a discussion of her new children’s book “Bunheads,” an illustrated telling of her early experiences in ballet classes. It’s free, and books are available for purchase at EventBrite.com …
Yara Shahidi (“Grown-ish”) has become the first person of color to be cast as the fairy Tinker Bell for Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of “Peter Pan & Wendy” …
“Black Lives Matter” co-founder, artist and activist Patrisse Cullors’ new commissioned video work “Malcolm X Revisited,” explores both the iconic historical figure and the current impact of the movement for Black lives exclusively at 8 p.m., Oct. 2-3 at www.redcat.org/event/patrisse-cullors-malcolm-x-revisited …
Samuel L. Jackson is bringing his iconic Nick Fury to Disney+ for a new Marvel series to begin airing in 2022 …
Urban One’s exclusive virtual HBCU experience, “One Yard,” continues Oct. 3 with The Step Off hosted by actor, producer, and Howard grad Lance Gross at OneYard.Co or on Facebook and Instagram:@1Yard.Co …
“Who You Gonna Call?,” the Ray Parker Jr. bio-doc previewed here with the Grammy winner last February, has been acquired by Sony Pictures Television for distribution next year …
L.A. Phil and KCRW are presenting previously recorded concerts from the World Festival with Flying Lotus and dancehall queen Santigold on the bill Oct. 4. Tune in at 6 p.m. for a 30-minute DJ set before the show …
A prequel to Disney’s 2019 live-action adaptation of “The Lion King” has found its director — Oscar winner Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight,” “If Beale Street Could Talk”) …
Lenny Kravitz discusses his new memoir “Let Love Rule” with NBC’s “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon at livetalksla.org, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. $37 will include a shipped copy, signed bookplate and ticket to watch …
Also that evening, From The Ford presents a 2018 concert featuring legendary dance music bandleader Louie Vega and EOL Soulfrito 2 at Facebook Premiere.
TASTY QUIP: “I will ALWAYS eat and eat good! Believe that. I have ALWAYS believed in multiple streams of income so The Leakes are good, you ole cocaine head and you ole racist. No one knew you until YOU knew me. Remember I’m ICON. Don’t forget.” – NENE LEAKES on Twitter to Wendy Williams and Andy Cohen (who reportedly fired her from “Real Housewives of Atlanta”)
TC ON TV: Oct. 2 – “Savage X Fenty Show” (Amazon): Rihanna’s exclusive runway show premieres with the launch of a new menswear collection, Big Sean, Bella Hadid, Travis Scott, Rosalía and more. “Monsterland” (Hulu): Mike Colter, Nicole Beharie and Adepero Oduye guest star in this horror anthology series. “Vampires Vs. The Bronx” (Netflix): What’s this? Method Man, Chris Redd, Shea Whigham, The Kid Mero and some stars of tomorrow in a horror-comedy from Emmy winner Oz Rodriguez (“SNL”). “Song Exploder” (Netflix): Music artists (like Alicia Keys, R.E.M. and Ty Dolla Sign) reveal how they brought one of their songs to life. “The View” (ABC): South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison and Anthony Anderson. “Wendy Williams” (Syn): Hip-Hop legend Earl “DMX” Simmons appears to talk about his new film, “Chronicle of a Serial Killer.” “Warrior” (Cinemax): More of the period drama series based on the writings of martial arts legend Bruce Lee.
Oct. 3 – “Ready Or Not” (Fuse): The inspiring documentary about 17-year old activist Marcel McClinton’s race against a powerful incumbent for a seat on the Houston City Council. “Saturday Night Live” (NBC): Chris Rock returns to the show to host the 46th season opener with special musical guest Megan Thee Stallion.
Oct. 4 – “Rock Legends” (AXS): Lionel Richie, Billy Ocean and Michael Bolton are featured in “Soul Crooners.” “The Walking Dead” (AMC): The delayed epic 10th season finale airs followed by the new limited spin-off “The World Beyond.” “black-ish” (ABC): Stacey Abrams and Desus & Mero are the guest voices for this animated two-part election themed special directed by Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry (“Hair Love”). “First Ladies” (CNN): A six-part docu-series premiering with an extended profile on Michelle Obama. “Uncensored” (TV1): Debbie Allen
Oct. 5 – “Tell Me More” (PBS): Bryan Stevenson (“Just Mercy”) “The Third Day” (HBO): Naomie Harris enters the second arc of this creepy story as a mother surprising her daughters with a birthday trip to a strange isle. “Soulmates” (AMC): Kingsley Ben-Adir, so good as Barack Obama in “The Comey Rule” and reportedly fine as Malcom X in Regina King’s much anticipated “One Night In Miami,” is featured in this futuristic sci-fi about a test that unequivocally tells you who your soulmate is.
Oct. 6 – “Black Box” (Amazon): Mamoudou Athie (“The Get Down”) and Phylicia Rashad star in this psychological drama. “The Hispanic Heritage Awards” (PBS): Linda Ronstadt, Selena Gomez, Jessica Alba, Bad Bunny and America’s Farmworkers are this year’s honorees. “Siempre, Luis” (HBO): Delves into Luis A. Miranda Jr.‘s campaign to provide relief for his Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico homeland by bringing his son Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning production of “Hamilton” to the island. “Next” (Fox): John Slattery (“Mad Men”) portrays a Silicon Valley pioneer who teams with a special agent to combat a powerful artificial intelligence.
Oct. 8 – “Charm City Kings” (HBO Max): Meek Mill, Teyonah Parris and newcomer Jahi Di’Allo Winston topline this fact-based drama about Baltimore’s dirt-bike riders. “Celebrity Family Feud: (ABC): Lil Yachty vs. Macklemore and NFLPA Legends (Donovan McNabb, Adrian Peterson, Eddie George, Hines Ward) vs. NFLPA Pro-Bowlers (Cameron Jordan, Marcus Peters, Tyron Smith).
TASTY QUIP: “This social media trend of trying to literally criticize everyone to the bone is not fun nor cute. People aren’t perfect, you’re never gonna like ALL of everything. NEVER. You don’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. You can like some things about someone and dislike others, it’s possible for someone to be flawed and still be beloved. And in pure Virgo fashion, I don’t care if you disagree because you don’t exist.” – KEKE PALMER on Twitter
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at email@example.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.