|A Huey P. Newton Story: Press Release|
Spike Lee and Roger Guenveur Smith Collaborate to Bring the Legacy of Huey P. Newton, Black Panther Movement to PBS
Public Television Premiere Portrays Complex Man Who Challenged America
Film and Actor Nominated for NAACP Image Awards
"We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace."
From the 10-point Platform of the Black Panther Party -- 1966
San Francisco, California -- Actor and writer Roger Guenveur Smith has adapted his Obie Award-winning solo performance of A Huey P. Newton Story into an innovative film for television directed by long-time colleague and Oscar-nominee Spike Lee. Smith's stream-of-consciousness monologue is inspired by the writings and interviews of Newton, the late co-founder of the Black Panther Party of Self-Defense. A Huey P. Newton Story marks the seventh collaboration of Smith and Lee, others including Do the Right Thing, School Daze, Malcolm X, Get on the Bus, He Got Game and Summer of Sam.
Lee and Smith bring to life Newton's history, philosophies and flavor in A Huey P. Newton Story, presented on PBS by KQED San Francisco on Wednesday, February 13 at 9 p.m. (check local listings). A Huey P. Newton Story is an original production of Luna Ray Films and BLACK STARZ! in association with PBS and the African Heritage Network.
Lee complements Smith's performance with an imaginative mixture of multiple
camera angles and documentary footage in concert with frequent collaborators
-- designer Wynn Thomas, director of photography Ellen Kuras and editor
Barry Alexander Brown. Taped before a live audience in New York City,
A Huey P. Newton Story also features an Obie Award-winning
score by Marc Anthony Thompson and guest solos by Grammy Award-winning
The play toured international stages for several seasons to critical and popular acclaim. The film A Huey P. Newton Story has begun a similar trajectory, hailed at film festivals around the globe -- including Venice, London, Vancouver, Acapulco, Oslo, Jamaica and Havana. Domestically, it has recently garnered NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special and Outstanding Actor in the same category.
The youngest of seven, Huey P. Newton was born in a Monroe, Louisiana and moved with his family to Oakland, California as a child. In 1966, the 24-year-old Newton, with Bobby Seale, co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Newton and Seale articulated a ten-point plan of liberation which placed the Panthers in the international spotlight and made them the target of a well-documented program of government harassment. In 1967, Newton was arrested for the murder of an Oakland police officer which inspired thousands world-wide to take up the chant, "Free Huey!" Acquitted in 1970, Huey emerged triumphantly, only to be confined in a penthouse apartment, his self-described "stucco cell."
Leading a creative, complex and controversial life, Newton was an enigmatic figure. A largely self-educated political theorist and poet, Newton published an autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide; To Die for the People, a collection of essays; On Common Ground, conversations at Yale University; and Insights and Other Poems. In 1974, Newton went to Cuba, fleeing murder and assault charges in Oakland. He returned to Oakland in 1977 to stand trial, once again avoiding conviction. In 1980, he earned a Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Cruz. His dissertation was published as War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America. Newton spent the last years of his life fighting protracted legal battles and self-acknowledged vices. In 1989, he was murdered in Oakland by a 24-year-old drug dealer, his life tragically extinguished on the same streets where he had labored to deliver "All Power to the People."
"Huey was in a struggle with American society and he was also in a struggle with himself," commented Smith. "As he boxes shadows, looking into his cracked mirror, there we are, looking over his shoulder, perhaps catching a glimpse of ourselves."
A Huey P. Newton Story is presented on PBS by KQED San Francisco. Luna Ray Films produced A Huey P. Newton Story. Producers for Luna Ray Films are Steven Adams, Bob L. Johnson and Marc Henry Johnson. Executives-in-charge for KQED are DeAnne Hamilton, Danny L. McGuire and Regina Eisenberg.
Funding of A Huey P. Newton Story is made possible by BLACK STARZ!, a member of The STARZ! Encore Group; PBS; The African Heritage Network; The National Black Programming Consortium; and the KQED Campaign for the Future Program Venture Fund. Additional funding for Web content has been provided by the Ford Foundation.
KQED operates KQED Public Television 9, the nation's most-watched public television station (in prime-time), and Digital Television 30, Northern California's only public television digital signal; KQED Public Radio 88.5 FM, the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation; the KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources; and kqed.org,which harnesses the power of the Internet to bring KQED to communities across the Web.
BLACK STARZ!, a channel of Starz Encore Group LLC, is the only movie channel created exclusively to meet the unique entertainment choices of the African-American community. BLACK STARZ! features exclusive new hit movies, original productions, classic movies, independent movies and films from Africa and the African Diaspora. Find programming information on the Web at starzencore.com. Starz Encore is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Media Group (NYSE: LMGa and LMGb).