Taraji P. Henson, Cedric The Entertainer, and Mike Epps are joining previously announced stars Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the cast of Kasi Lemmons’ Talk to Me, Focus Features president of production John Lyons announced today. Focus will domestically distribute the film, which Sidney Kimmel Entertainment (SKE) is producing with the Mark Gordon Company. SKE’s Kimmel International has the picture on offer to the foreign marketplace.
The film’s screenplay is by Michael Genet with revisions by Rick Famuyiwa and Lemmons. Filming began this week for a theatrical release in 2007.
Messrs. Kimmel and Gordon are producing Talk to Me with Pelagius Films partner Joe Fries and Mark Gordon Company executive vice president of production Josh McLaughlin. SKE president of production William Horberg is executive-producing the film with Bruce Toll, Pelagius Films partner Joey Rappa, Cheadle, and J. Miles Dale. Focus senior vice president, production Jill Morris is supervising the film for Lyons; SKE senior vice president, production Josh Deighton is supervising for Horberg.
Talk to Me is the powerful real-life story of Ralph Waldo “Petey” Green (Cheadle), an outspoken ex-con who talked his way into becoming an iconic radio personality in the 1960s, in Washington, D.C. Sparked by both the era’s vibrant soul music and exploding social consciousness, Petey openly courted controversy at a white-owned station. Relying on his producer Dewey Hughes (Ejiofor) to run interference, Petey’s unprecedented “tell it like it is” on-air style gave voice and spirit to the black community during an exciting and turbulent period in American history.
Henson, most recently seen in the Academy Award-winning Hustle & Flow, Four Brothers (also with Ejiofor), and Focus’ Something New (also with Epps) and next to be seen in Smokin’ Aces, plays Petey’s supportive lover Vernell. Cedric, who stars in the upcoming action comedy The Cleaner and will be heard as part of the voice ensemble of the animated feature Charlotte’s Web, plays Nighthawk, an established radio personality with a more traditional style than Petey’s. Epps, most recently seen in Focus’ Something New (with Henson) and on his own HBO standup comedy special, plays Milo, Dewey’s prison-inmate brother.
Lyons said, “We’re so pleased to be working with Taraji and Mike again, and it’s great to have Cedric on board, as he will spark the other men in the cast. This is a gifted ensemble that, under Kasi’s direction, will do justice to Petey’s story.”