Sammy Davis Jr. Series From Lee Daniels Ordered at Hulu, Elijah Kelley to Star

Lee Daniels’ long-gestating Sammy Davis Jr. biographical series has been ordered at Hulu, with Elijah Kelley set to play the lead role.

The untitled series has received an eight-episode order at the streamer. Based on the book “In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr.,” the series is described as an exploration of Davis’ life through the lens of his racial identity and his complex relationship with the Black community.

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Davis rose from childhood stardom on the vaudeville stage to become one of the most famous African American entertainers of the 1950s and ’60s and the only Black member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack. At the same time, he spent most of his career surrounded by controversy and ridicule — over his affairs with white film stars, his 1960 marriage to Swedish actress May Britt, his conversion to Judaism, his closeness to the Kennedys and later Richard Nixon, and his problems with alcohol and drugs.

Daniels has been developing the project for years, going back to reports in 2013 that he was developing it as a movie for HBO. New reports surfaced in 2019 that he was developing it as a miniseries.

Daniels serves as co-writer and executive producer on the series and will also direct the first two episodes. Thomas Westfall is the other co-writer and co-executive producer. Kelley will produce and collaborate on some of the show’s original music in addition to starring. Marc Toberoff will executive produce with Haygood producing. 20th Television, where Daniels is under an overall deal, is the studio.

Kelley is no stranger to working with Daniels, having previously appeared in the hit feature “The Butler” as well as the Fox music drama “Star.” Kelley is also an accomplished dancer and singer in addition to acting, having starred in musical projects like New Line’s “Hairspray” in 2007 as well as NBC’s “The Wiz Live” in 2015 and “The New Edition Story,” the record-breaking miniseries for BET in 2017.

He is repped by Generational Entertainment and Ginsburg Daniels Kallis.

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