Hollywood is filled with scandal and we’re about to get a little bit more of it, thanks to Janet Mock and Jeremy Pope.
According to Deadline, Pope is set to star as Sammy Davis Jr. in Scandalous, an upcoming film based on the interracial love affair between Davis and Kim Novak (Vertigo). Mock will direct the drama as well as “polish the script” by Matthew Fantaci.
Speaking of draaaaama, Deadline has the scoop on what this biopic will explore:
The drama is Romeo and Juliet set in the backdrop of the Hollywood studio system, when star images were carefully controlled. Davis was the color barrier-breaking star who was making $25,000 a week at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas and became one of the first black stars to appear in a dramatic role on television on General Electric Theater. Novak was a discovery of notorious Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn, who relied on her to replace previous discovery Rita Hayworth, whose string of marriages dimmed her starpower. Novak was the next rising star of Vertigo, and when she and Davis fell in love after being matched up by Tony Curtis, the pressures brought to bear on both were unimaginable as word of their romance hit the Hollywood gossips.
Legend has it that each had reasons to fall in love: Davis had been the victim of extreme racism from the days he got his nose flattened in the army fighting his fellow soldiers all the time, and initially wasn’t able to stay in the Vegas hotels where he performed, until pal Frank Sinatra interceded. He would later tell a biographer he wanted to show them all by dating the most desirable white woman. As for Novak, she was being exploited by Cohn in loan-out deals to other studios that paid him fortunes while she made pennies starring in movies; Cohn was also a suffocating and malignant influence on her. This was a way to establish her independence. But mostly, the stars just fell in love.
Throw in some civil rights leaders controversy, a reported hit taken out on Davis and a breakup…and you have quite the recipe for a scandalous motion picture.
I’m excited about this initial casting and continuous partnership. Following the premiere of Netflix’s Hollywood ( which Pope and Mock worked together on), Pope’s stardom blasted into the atmosphere on another level as viewers couldn’t help but take their eyes off of his stirring performance as “Archie.” Plus, the recent Emmy nominee already has historic real-life role experience as he portrayed Eddie Kendricks onstage in Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations (for which he earned one of his Tony noms, the other being for Choir Boy in 2019, becoming the sixth actor to be nominated in two categories in the same year).
The plan for this pic is to find its Kim Novak and start shooting in Los Angeles this fall. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more details on this one. Color me intrigued.