August 23, 2012 5:56pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Angela Bassett to Play Coretta Scott King in Lifetime Movie (Exclusive)
Angela Bassett and Ruby Dee are heading to Lifetime.
The duo has joined the cast of the female-skewing cable network's TV movie Betty and Coretta, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
The telepic, first announced during the network's upfront presentation in May, tells the dual stories of Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz as they carry on as single mothers following the assassinations of their husbands, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Bassett will play King opposite Mary J. Blige, who co-stars as Shabazz in the effort previously known as Parallel Lives. Dee will appear onscreen as a historical witness to narrate the duo's story as someone familiar with the events of both their lives. Betty and Coretta remains a working title for the project.
Larry Sanitsky, Blige, Jaja Johnson and Polly Anthony are on board to executive produce the project, with Shem Bitterman and Ron Hutchinson attached to pen the project; Yves Simoneau will direct.
Bassett, who starred in Fox's failed spy drama pilot Rogue, picked up an Image Award for her turn as Shabazz in the 1992 feature Malcolm X. Other credits include her Oscar-nominated role as Tina Turner in 1994's What's Love Got to Do With It as well as Green Lantern and Akeelah and the Bee. She's repped by Gersh, Lighthouse and Fox Rothschild.
Civil rights activist Dee, meanwhile, is best known for A Raisin in the Sun and Roots, for which she took home an Emmy for her performance. She's repped by Artists Agency.