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Press Release Source: Showtime Networks Inc.

SHOWTIME Celebrates Black History Month With Two High-Profile Original Movies and Its Annual Black Filmmaker Showcase

Monday January 6, 11:44 am ET

February Original Programming Highlights Include: 'Good Fences,' 'Deacons For Defense' and Annual Black Filmmaker Showcase

NEW YORK, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- While SHOWTIME is known for its presentation of diverse programming 12 months of the year, during Black History Month, programs with African American themes take center stage. In 2003, the network is proud to present two Showtime Original Pictures featuring high-profile talent both in front of and behind the scenes. They are GOOD FENCES, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover and and DEACONS FOR DEFENSE, starring Forest Whitaker, Jonathan Silverman and Ossie Davis. The network will also highlight the works of six aspiring African-American filmmakers during its annual BLACK FILMMAKER SHOWCASE, in which the network has awarded one lucky filmmaker a $30,000 grant to make a short film that will premiere exclusively on SHOWTIME in the future.


Set to air on February 2 at 8:00 PM (ET/PT), GOOD FENCES stars Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover and is a moving portrait of an upwardly mobile African American family for whom the American Dream becomes a nightmare. Set in the 1970s, the film features Tom (GLOVER), an African American attorney who is determined to "end the Colored man's losing streak." When he takes on and wins a high-profile case -- defending a white man who set some black vagrants on fire -- he is thrust into the limelight. Now a hot-shot lawyer on the partner track, he moves his wife Mabel (GOLDBERG) and their two kids out of their mixed lower middle class town and into the posh, WASPy enclave of Greenwich, Connecticut. While Tom has a sense of pride for "making it," Mabel struggles to discover her identity within their newfound society. But when Ruth Crisp, an African American lottery winner, moves into their cul-de-sac and then wants to buy the house next door for her extended family, Tom becomes alarmed. Tom believes that he and Mabel will be blamed for this "black invasion" and that his anticipated appointment to the State Supreme Court is at stake. This film, produced by 40 Acres And A Mule Filmworks for SHOWTIME, is executive produced by Spike Lee and Sam Kitt with Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover serving as producers. The screenplay was written by Trey Ellis based on a novel by Erika Ellis. Ernest Dickerson serves as director.


Premiering on Sunday, February 16 at 8 PM ET/PT, DEACONS FOR DEFENSE is based on the true story of a group of African American men who chose to take an aggressive and armed stand in the civil rights movement. Starring Forest Whitaker, Jonathan Silverman and Ossie Davis, DEACONS FOR DEFENSE follows a group of African American men in Bogalusa, Louisiana who, instead of being passive and participating in "sit-ins," armed themselves with heavy artillery and organized their neighbors to fight against the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s. This black militia group, which has been forgotten by many, became a focal point in the civil rights movement at the time. Marcus (Whitaker) is a thoughtful family man and a war veteran who works in the local paper mill. When two white civil rights activists from the North, Deane (Silverman) and Hillibrand (Adam Weiner), arrive in Bogalusa, Marcus vehemently opposes his family's involvement in any of the civil rights meetings and protests organized by Deane and Hillibrand. Marcus changes his passive stance when he is arrested and beaten by the local cops for trying to defend his daughter during a peaceful protest rally that turns violent. When he doesn't come home from the police station, his wife Velma (Melanie Nicholls-King) goes to Reverend Gregory (Davis) and asks for his help. Marcus has to face the fact that his life has changed and he must now take a stand. His stand results in the creation of "The Deacons for Defense." DEACONS FOR DEFENSE is based on the book by Michael D'Antonio. The teleplay is written by Richard Wesley and Frank Military and directed by Bill Duke. Robert Rehme serves as the film's executive producer and is produced by Nick Grillo. DEACONS FOR DEFENSE is a Rehme production.


As part of a continuing commitment to develop and support up-and-coming African-American filmmakers, Showtime Networks Inc. will present its annual Black Filmmaker Showcase on February 4 beginning at 9:00 PM (ET/PT). The Showcase includes six shorts including UNJUST CAUSE, this year's winning short from filmmaker Edford Banuel. Banuel will receive a $30,000 grant to be used towards the production of a 15-30 minute short, which will air exclusively on SHOWTIME in the future. Additionally, SHOWTIME will premiere the short film JACOB's SOUND, a new short from past BLACK FILMMAKER SHOWCASE grant winner Anna Dudley.

UNJUST CAUSE (winning short)
Directed by Georgia resident Edford Banuel, UNJUST CAUSE is the story
of a man's death at the hands of over-zealous police officers as told
through the spoken word poetry of his girlfriend.

Directed by Rolando Hudson, this is the story of a middle-aged woman
(Mary Alice) who is mistakenly killed 22 years before her time, and is
given the opportunity to come back to Earth in the body of a beautiful
young woman.

Rod J. Emelle's WHAT WOULDN'T JESUS DO? sheds comic yet thoughtful
light on how Jesus would interpret our modern day experiences. Emelle
is a former writer for the WB's For Your Love, and series star James
Lesure portrays Jesus in this short film.

Directed by Antonia March and Jacqueline McKinley, MOVE is the story of
a confrontation between three white men and three black men in separate
cars on a country road as seen in three different time periods, 1938,
1968 and 2002. Starring rapper Coolio, this thought-provoking short
illustrates how these confrontations have taken on more deadly
consequences over time.

Kai Soremekun's LOCK HER ROOM tells the story of a young boy whose
desire to join a gang forces him to spend solitary time in an abandoned
locker room, where he is confronted by his sins.

Directed by previous grant winner Anna Dudley, JACOB'S SOUND is about a
deaf circus performer who learns how to talk in order to impress the
woman that he loves.

Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom Inc., owns the premium television networks SHOWTIME, THE MOVIE CHANNEL and FLIX, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME TOO, SHOWTIME SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME, SHOWTIME BEYOND, SHOWTIME NEXT, SHOWTIME WOMEN, SHOWTIME FAMILYZONE and TMC xtra. SNI operates and manages the premium television network SUNDANCE CHANNEL, which is owned by SNI, Robert Redford and Universal Studios. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SET (Showtime Event Television) Pay Per View. Additionally, the advertiser-supported television network SHOWTIME EXTREME is available in Spain through a joint venture with Media Park and the advertiser-supported television network SHOWTIME is available in Turkey through a joint venture with UK-based Zone Vision.

Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy.


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