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Apple is going to chronicle the story of Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton’s escape to Cuba.
The tech giant has picked up The Big Cigar, a six-episode limited series based on the Playboy magazine article that detailed how Newton turned to his best friend, Easy Rider producer Bert Schneider, and eluded a nationwide manhunt to flee to Cuba; he was pursued into exile by the FBI.
André Holland (Moonlight) is in talks to star as Newton in the series that marks Apple’s latest collaboration with Warner Bros. Television (Ted Lasso, Shrinking).
Jim Hecht, who co-created HBO’s Lakers drama Winning Time from the book by Jeff Pearlman, will pen the script and exec produce The Big Cigar. Janine Sherman Barrois, who created TNT’s Claws and OWN’s Kings of Napa, will serve as showrunner. Both Hecht and Barrois worked on the story. Don Cheadle is set to direct the first two episodes. Exec producers include Hecht, Sherman Barrois, Joshuah Bearman, Joshua Davis and Arthur Spector (Little America) via the latter duo’s Vox Media Studios-based Epic banner.
The Big Cigar becomes the latest high-profile series to come to Apple from the Channing Dungey-led Warners, joining joins Emmy winner Ted Lasso, upcoming Jason Segel and Harrison Ford starrer Shrinking and Vince Vaughn starrer Bad Monkey. Sherman Barrois served as showrunner and developed both Claws and Napa via her Folding Chair Productions banner, which has been housed at Warners with an overall deal for years.
For its part, Epic previously teamed with Apple on anthology Little America, which is awaiting a return date for its second season.
Holland, whose credits include Netflix’s The Eddy, Hulu’s Castle Rock (for Warners), FX’s American Horror Story and Cinemax’s The Knick, is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Del Shaw.
Cheadle, who directed episodes of his former Showtime comedy House of Lies as well as 2015’s Miles Ahead, is with UTA and Viewpoint.
Sherman Barrois is with WME and Felker Toczek.
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