Category: JuVee Productions

Hawaiian Family Drama From Viola Davis, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen Set at ABC (Exclusive)

Former Time journalist Lisa Takeuchi Cullen will write ”Ohana,’ based on Kiana Davenport’s 1994 novel ‘Shark Dialogues.’

ABC is headed back to Hawaii.

The network is teaming with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions to develop the hourlong drama ‘Ohana. The potential series is based on Kiana Davenport’s 1994 novel Shark Dialogues and follows four hapa women who reunite when their grandmother, a mystic known as a kahuna, dies mysteriously and leaves them the family plantation.

Former Time staff writer and foreign correspondent Lisa Takeuchi Cullen will pen the adaptation.

“So many Hawaii-set stories have been told from the white point of view,” Cullen tells The Hollywood Reporter. “This is a story we’re passionate about telling from the point of view of native Hawaiians — Pacific Islanders, people of Asian descent and people of hapa heritage.”

Each of the four protagonists is of a different mixed ethnicity — half-white, half-Japanese, half-Filipino and half-black — and their unexpected shared inheritance will force them to overcome years of jealousies, misunderstandings, resentments and secrets.

“‘Ohana is Hawaiian for ‘family,’ and that is a big part of who we are and what we want JuVee to support: embracing cultures and points of view from all over the world and showing that we all can relate and connect to each other,” Tennon and Davis, who are married, said in a joint statement.

The deal comes as Crazy Rich Asians’ $35 million five-day opening has provided the comp needed to prove the marketability of Asian-American stories. Cullen says she referenced the Warner Bros. film in her pitch, and it was sold the day Crazy Rich Asians opened.

“The landscape has shifted dramatically in the last 12 months, and maybe in the last week,” she says, adding that she was recently pitched a different idea from a producer who told her, “I would be very open to [the protagonist] being cast with an Asian-American actor, because I think Crazy Rich Asians is going to be the biggest movie this year, and there’s going to be a huge demand.”

“At JuVee, we’re passionate about compelling stories with diverse perspectives, told by diverse voices like Kiana and Lisa, so this project is a perfect fit,” says Andrew Wang, head of TV for JuVee, which has an overall deal with ABC Studios.

JuVee Productions is repped by CAA and The Lasher Group. Cullen is repped by WME and manager A.B. Fischer at Literate Inc.


ABC to Present First Look at Viola Davis & Julius Tennon’s Documentary Series The Last Defense at The 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

ABC will screen the first episode of documentary series “The Last Defense,” from executive producers Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, XCON Productions and Lincoln Square Productions, at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival on FRIDAY, APRIL 27. The seven-episode docu-series explores and exposes flaws in the American justice system through emotional, in-depth examinations of multiple DEATH ROW cases. This first hour of a three-hour- arc takes a look at the case of Julius Jones, a star college athlete convicted of shooting a father of two at point-blank range as his attorneys race against the clock to get him a new trial before his execution date is set.

Previously announced in June 2017, “The Last Defense” will look at cases from all angles
returning to the scene of the crime, re-interview witnesses and delve BEYOND the details of the crime and court proceedings to take a deep look into the personal stories of the subjects, seeking to trace the path that led them to their place on Death Row. With incisive, compelling storytelling, “The Last Defense” gives voice to those who can no longer be heard. “The Last Defense” executive produced by Viola Davis and Julius Tennon for JuVee Productions, Christine Connor and Lee Beckett for XCON Productions, Vanessa Potkin and Aida Leisenring for Lincoln Square Productions to air on the ABC Television Network.


‘Two Sides’: Viola Davis’ True-Crime Docuseries Sets Premiere Date On TV One

Deadline shares that JuVee Productions and L. Plummer Media will be releasing a new docuseries which will be narrated by Viola.

TV One has set the premiere date and unveiled key art (below) for Two Sides, an hourlong limited four-part true-crime docuseries that looks at officer-involved deaths in the Black community, executive produced by Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions and Lemuel Plummer (L. Plummer Media), with narration by Davis. It’s set to premiere Monday, January 22 at 10 PM ET on TV One.

Focusing on four headline-grabbing fatal police encounters during 2014–2015, the series analyzes and presents multiple points of view of the highly charged cases involving Eric Garner (New York), Ezell Ford (California), John Crawford (Ohio), and Sandra Bland (Texas). See details of each below.

“Two Sides continues TV One’s mission to represent the issues and concerns of the importance to the Black community,” says D’Angela Proctor, TV One Head of Original Programming and Production. “Inspired by courageous acts such as NBA Champions LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers who donned ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirts in honor of Garner during pregame warm-ups, and the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick who kneeled during the anthem prior to games for an entire season to raise awareness of police brutality, we wanted to utilize our platform to shine a light on this pressing issue. We’re honored to work with Viola and Julius who have been active voices in the fight for equality to explore both sides of this dynamic equation, which continues to dominate social and political discourse in America.”

JuVee executive producers Davis and Tennon both hope the show can help expand the dialogue around these incidents and provide an opportunity for real change to occur.

“With Two Sides you’ll hear how the incident transpired and how it affected change, or did not affect change. And, how the families are still being affected,” said Davis and Tennon in a joint statement. “This is a way for us to humanize these victims and not make them just a statistic. We also have to look at the other side of the story – our law enforcement’s point of view. Let’s come together and have a conversation around these issues so that we can come up with real solutions that will lead to positive change.”

In each episode, family and friends also share their accounts of where they were when their loved ones died, along with memories and recollections of their young lives. Law enforcement experts and independent commentators offer expertise and opinions on each incident with explanations of police regulations and procedures, as well as an analysis of the many factors involved in each of the four events.

The series also features commentary from contributors such as activist Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and attorney Christopher Darden, as well as representatives from various law enforcement agencies and other pundits.

“These cases sparked controversy that ignited a necessary movement throughout our country,” says TV One General Manager Michelle Rice. “The relationship between law enforcement and the African American community has been a precarious one for far too long and the conversation around reform must continue. There is a historical and deep divide that needs to be mended. We are privileged to present this unique series which offers an in-depth look into each story from two different perspectives, and hopefully influences an honest dialogue on the fractured state of police-community relations.”


In the summer of 2014, Eric Garner was choked and killed by NYPD officers while being arrested. The 43-year-old was standing outside of a beauty supply store in Staten Island, New York when police tried to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. The video of Officer Daniel Pantaleo putting Garner in a chokehold went viral. Although the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, a grand jury has thus far declined to indict Pantaleo.

Ezell Ford died at 25-years-old in August 2014 after being shot three times in the back during a scuffle with Los Angeles Police Department Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas. Competing accounts of the events surrounding Ford’s death sparked unrest and demonstrations. Almost two years later, in June 2016, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners concluded that only one of the officers was justified in the shooting. Upon receiving the ruling, the Ford family filed a lawsuit against the LAPD claiming $75 million in damages; the case was eventually settled out of court.

John Crawford III was shot by officers while carrying a BB gun at a Wal-Mart store in Beavercreek, Ohio. Crawford was only 22-years-old at the time of his death in August 2014. A grand jury failed to indict Officer Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow, leading to protests by members of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the summer of 2015, Sandra Bland was found hanging in her jail cell after being arrested at a traffic stop three days prior. Her death was ultimately ruled a suicide but Bland’s family disagrees. The dispute over Bland’s cause of death led to unrest in communities across the nation.

Two Sides is produced for TV One by L. Plummer Media in partnership with JuVee Productions.

Viola Davis, Malcolm D. Lee In Universal Deal For Terry McMillan Novel ‘I Almost Forgot About You’

Deadline shares the news of a new project for Viola!

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has has won an auction and has optioned from The Jackal Group the rights to Terry McMillan’s bestseller I Almost Forgot About You, which the studio will mount a star vehicle for Oscar-winning Fences star Viola Davis, with Girls Trip helmer Malcolm D. Lee directing. The Jackal Group’s Gail Berman and Joe Earley, who acquired McMillan’s novel back back in May, are producing alongside Davis, her husband and JuVee Productions partner Julius Tennon, and Lee and his Blackmaled Productions banner. Bidding on the package was competitive.

Ron Bass, the Oscar winning scripter of Rain Man and My Best Friend’s Wedding, will write the script with McMillan. They teamed on two other McMillan novel feature adaptations, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale. Those films fueled strong vehicles for Angela Bassett, and Whitney Houston, Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon. Now, Davis gets her turn.

She will play Georgia Young, a twice-divorced, successful optometrist. Despite a life, full of great friends and family, she hasn’t felt a romantic spark in awhile, and feeling bored and restless. She decides it’s time to change, and goes on a wild journey of self-discovery, reuniting with old lovers, and getting a brand new lease on life. Published by Crown, the book was a big bestseller, as is usual for McMillan, whose Disappearing Acts (HBO) and A Day Late And A Dollar Short (Lifetime) were also adapted by Hollywood.

McMillan played herself in the Lee-directed Girls Trip, so it’s not surprising they have a rapport. Lee is shooting Night School for Universal with Girls Trip‘s Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart leading the comedy ensemble.

Universal veep Sara Scott will oversee with Blackmaled’s Melanie Clark.

Davis is repped by CAA, manager Estelle Lasher and Lichter, Grossman; Lee is Paradigm and Del, Shaw, Moonves; The Jackal Group is Wendy Kirk at Ziffren Brittenham LLP; McMillan is WME and by The Friedrich Agency; Bass is ICM Partners, The Gotham Group and Jackoway Tyerman.

Viola Davis & Larry Wilmore Producing ‘Black Don’t Crack’ Comedy Set At ABC

Deadline has shared the news that Viola is helping produce a new ABC comedy series.

How To Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis has teamed with Insecure co-creator Larry Wilmore for Black Don’t Crack, a multi-camera comedy, which has sold to ABC.

Written and executive produced by Insecure co-executive producer Regina Hicks, Black Don’t Crack is named after the popular urban phrase articulating the notion that African Americans’ skin does not wrinkle and ages slower than people from other ethnicities. It centers around three former sorority sisters who lost touch after college reunite during a pivotal point in each of their lives and realize that now that they are of a certain age sometimes it’s okay to crack and no one will be there for you like your sisters.

Davis and her producing partner/husband Julius Tennon executive produce via their JuVee Productions. Wilmore executive produces through his Wilmore Films. ABC Studios, where JuVee and Wilmore Films are both under overall deals, is the studio.

“Viola and I are inspired by Regina Hicks and to have Larry Wilmore EP is a dream,” said Tennon. “Seeing these three African American women who appear not to age but, to have challenges that we can all relate to and in a way, we have not seen before, will be a revelation.”

Wilmore serves as an executive producer on HBO’s praised comedy Insecure, which also explores the black female experience. He co-created the series with star Issa Rae.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this exciting project and to collaborate with the crazy talented, Regina Hicks,” Wilmore said. “BDC is hilarious, heartwarming, and shines a light on women who are hiding in plain sight.”

JuVee also is developing, with XCON Productions and ABC News, a six-part true-crime documentary series for ABC, and also has neurotic thriller drama Head Games with Chuck Rose in development at the network. JuVee is repped by CAA, The Lasher Group and Lichter Grossman.

Wilmore is repped by UTA, 3 Arts and Tom Hoberman. Hicks, whose series credits also include Girlfriends, Instant Mom and Marlon, is repped by UTA and 3 Arts.

JuVee Prods’ Julius Tennon On Inclusion, Giving Voice & Viola Davis

Julius talks about JuVee’s new film The Personal History Of Rachel Dupree and his other half, Viola.

Julius Tennon and Viola Davis’ JuVee Productions is an artist-driven indie that seeks to produce economical yet premium and character-driven stories with an emphasis on narratives from a diverse range of emerging and established voices. Tennon is at the Cannes Film Festival this week talking up Davis-starrer The Personal History Of Rachel Dupree which Good Universe is selling internationally. QC Entertainment, which is producing the title with JuVee, is co-repping North American rights with CAA.

Tennon, who is attending his first Cannes, sat down this week to discuss the new project as well as JuVee’s mission statement. “We’ve become the company that’s the voice to the voiceless. For us, everything is about inclusion… We know that these talented people exist, but opportunity is really sparse. So while we are not trying to change the industry, what we want to effect is a change so that there’s more doors opening,” says Tennon.

He adds, “It’s always good to see people of color involved. The industry is shifting. What’s happening now is that people of color across the board, not just African Americans but all people of color, want to see a reflection of themselves and there’s proof in the pudding with a lot of these films that have come out.”

QC Entertainment most recently produced and financed, with Blumhouse Productions, Jordan Peele’s box office smash Get Out, which has grossed more than $200 million at the global box office. Universal is releasing and just had a fantastic start in Korea with the title. Tennon and I touched on that film’s success as well as other recent titles like Hidden Figures and Moonlight.

Claire McCarthy writes and directs Rachel Dupree, based on the novel by Ann Weisgarber. It sees the passionately in love Rachel (Davis) and Isaac DuPree head for the Dakota Badlands, chasing their dream of a home for themselves. After years of sacrifice, Rachel finds herself looking back on her dreams as a young woman. As a series of misfortunes befall the family, Rachel loses control of her destiny and she must decide whether to follow the only man she ever loved or to strike a new path of her own.


Viola Davis to Produce New Web Show ‘Emerging Artists Series’

Viola Davis and husband Julius Tennon’s production company JuVee Productions has released a new five-part web series called “Emerging Artist Series,” which highlights the experiences of multiple up-and-coming creatives working in several different areas throughout the entertainment industry.

“We put this series together because we wanted to give artists a platform to share their experiences. It’s an important part of the inclusion conversation happening now in Hollywood that’s often overlooked…simply giving people the space to be heard,” Tennon said.

The series was produced by Lisa Nicole Bell, who utilized her experience with documentaries and unscripted television to showcase the varying twists and turns of each artist’s journeys.

The web series comes on the heels of the April announcement that JuVee Productions is attempting to raise $250,000,000 in an effort to expand globally and increase their production of diverse and inclusive content. The production company’s latest effort is the short “Night Shift,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year.