As Empire enters into its final season and Star has been canceled, Lee Daniels continues to push forward, rolling out new projects. His next big adventure will reportedly tackle the life and legacy of Sammy Davis Jr., the iconic, Rat Pack entertainer. According to Deadline, Daniels has wanted to take on a Sammy Davis Jr. project for quite some time and has partnered with Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and Playtone to deliver a biopic miniseries.
It’s all still in the preliminary stages, but producers are said to be leaning on Wil Haygood’s 2003 book In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. for inspiration. Deadline also reports that there have been multiple attempts to get a Davis project in the works but nothing has quite developed. It will be interesting to see how Daniels will artistically recreate Davis’s crossover into capturing the attention, and hearts, of mainstream white America during a time of heavy segregation and ethnic division. His inclusion in the Rat Pack—comprised of Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop—shifted his celebrity and he later starred in films like Sergeants 3 and Oceans 11.
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His relationships with white actresses also created controversies in his personal life and career. After he and Kim Novak became an item, Columbia Pictures’s co-founder, president, and production director Harry Cohn threatened to kill Davis. In order to save his own life, he reportedly married a black woman as a cover.
The story of Davis’s life will surely be entertaining for viewers, but we pose the question: who should play the role? Comedian Tommy Davidson became known for his hilarious impression of Davis, but that was more for comedic value. Jamie Foxx killed it as Ray Charles, but is he the perfect fit for Sammy? Who would you cast for the part?