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A Conversation With Don Cheadle

 

Monday, July 9--------The Film Society of Lincoln Center hosts a special preview screening of TALK TO ME tomorrow evening at the Walter Reade Theater, with star Don Cheadle as its special guest. The film, directed by Kasi Lemmons, is the true story of "Petey" Greene, who became an iconic radio personality known for his championing of black soul music and frank political rants. TALK TO ME opens this Friday via distributor Focus Features.

During the 1960s at radio station WOL-AM in Washington, DC, Greene became the voice of his generation by fully expressing himself, sometimes to outrageous effect, to "tell it like it is" about racism, inequality and political power in America. With the support of his tempestuous girlfriend Vernell (played by Taraji P. Henson), Greene challenged the political powers that be and the staid radio bureaucracy, as exemplified by the station's programming director (played by Chiwetel Eljiofor). Greene's combination of biting humor and social commentary created the benchmark for future "shock jocks" Don Imus and Howard Stern, as well as for such political comedians as Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart. Following the screening, Cheadle will be joined by Film Society associate director of programming Kent Jones for a frank discussion of his career, future projects and political activism. Devil.....Devil.....

Don Cheadle has emerged as one of contemporary film's most prolific and skilled actors. Born in 1964 in Kansas City, Cheadle, 42, attended CalArts and began the grueling grind of auditions in Los Angeles in the 1980s. His first role of note was as one of the students in the television adaptation of the musical film FAME. His first substantial film role was in the Vietnam War epic HAMBURGER HILL, directed by John Irvin. Cheadle then was cast in a number of unexceptional projects, until he finally clicked as a murderous thug in the film noir drama DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS (1995). That role won him the Best Supporting Actor prize from the Los Angeles Film Critics.

He next scored as the "black midnight cowboy" porn star in BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997) and as the incarnation of Sammy Davis Jr. in the television film THE RAT PACK (1999). He was lauded for his performance in the ensemble cast film TRAFFIC (2000), a project that inspired him to use a similar multiple-character format for a frank inspection of contemporary race relations in Los Angeles. Cheadle came on board as producer and peddled the script by Paul Haggis to various studios before finally landing at Lionsgate Films. The film, CRASH, became a sleeper hit and won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2004.

The following year, Cheadle got his first Oscar nomination for his role in HOTEL RWANDA (2005), a blistering account of the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s. While filming in Africa, Cheadle traveled to the Darfur region of Sudan, to personally witness the horrific genocide that was beginning to unfold. He has since become a vocal advocate for international aid and involvement in this on-going tragedy. "As Americans, we must take the lead and show the world that we will not sit by while innocents are slaughtered", Cheadle declared in a recent interview. He has executive produced a documentary entitled AN INDIFFERENT WORLD, which will be released this Fall.

Juggling a busy acting career (he has a recurring role in the highly successful OCEANS 11/12/13 series and was seen this past winter in the dramedy REIGN OVER ME opposite Adam Sandler) and his political activism, Cheadle is moving forward to direct his first film.....a biopic of legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, a personal icon for the actor. He will play the enigmatic jazz giant, a role that will certainly catapult him to the top ranks of Hollywood's elite, and may spell Oscar gold for this committed and singular acting talent. 

For more information on this program, to buy tickets and to find out about future Film Society programs, log on to their website: www.filmlinc.com.

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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