Actor Don Cheadle is set to direct the first two episodes of the Huey P. Newton limited series, “The Big Cigar” on Apple TV. The limited series will consist of six episodes in partnership with Warner Bros. Television.
“Moonlight” actor André Holland is in negotiations to play the lead role. Newton co-founded The Black Panther Party for Self Defense with Bobby Seale in 1966, and the series will chronicle his exile to Havana, Cuba, while evading prosecution from the FBI.
The series is based on an article written for Playboy magazine, which alleged Newton’s friend Bert Schneider, who was a producer of the Peter Fonda film “Easy Rider,” helped the Black Panther while he was on the run. Joshuah Bearman, who is the author of the Playboy article, will also produce the six-part limited series.
Newton fled the United States after being charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and assault by the federal government. Newton lived in Cuba for three years before returning to the U.S. to face prosecution and was tried for killing a police officer in Oakland, California, in 1968. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
However, the conviction was overturned during Newton’s appeal. He was tried twice more but never convicted after both juries were deadlocked. Newton was released in 1971 after spending nearly three years incarcerated. Newton was murdered in Oakland in 1989 by drug dealer and Black Guerilla Family and Tyrone Robinson, who was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 32 years.
Holland has also starred in “Selma” as well as the television series “Castle Rock,” the Netflix series “The Eddy,” and “American Horror Story” on FX. In addition to being an award-winning actor, Cheadle is also a talented director. The “Traffic” actor has also directed several episodes “House of Lies” on Showtime, in which he also starred, as well as the Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead” in 2015. “Winning Time” creator Jim Hecht will write the script as well as executive produce the series.