Lionsgate, the leading next generation studio, and Harpo Films, Inc. announced today that they will partner to develop the film, Will You Be My Black Friend?, starring Chris Rock (the upcoming Good Hair, I Think I Love My Wife, The Chris Rock Show). The project is based on a magazine article of the same name written by GQ senior correspondent Devin Friedman. Published in the magazine's November 2008 edition, Will You Be My Black Friend? chronicles Friedman's unorthodox and admittedly self-conscious quest to make "black friends." The producers of Will You Be My Black Friend? are Oprah Winfrey, Kate Forte, President of Harpo Films, and Carla Gardini, Senior Vice President, Production of Harpo Films. Lionsgate will distribute worldwide. The announcement was jointly made today by Joe Drake, Lionsgate Co-Chief Operating Officer and Motion Picture Group President, Mike Paseornek, Lionsgate President of Motion Picture Production and Harpo Films' Forte.
Winfrey is a co-presenter with Lionsgate on its eagerly anticipated fall release from director Lee Daniels, Precious. Winfrey is also an executive producer of the critically acclaimed film, which has won top awards at the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the San Sebastian International Film Festival and the Deauville American Film Festival.
Said Paseornek, "We're thrilled to continue our relationship with Oprah Winfrey and Harpo Films by bringing Will You Be My Black Friend? to the screen. The cinematic potential of Will You Be My Black Friend? jumped out at us immediately; after all, Devin launches his search for black friends by posting an ad on Craigslist. But what really makes the piece special is Devin's voice, which is honest, astute and extremely funny. We can't imagine a better actor to help bring this story to life than Chris Rock, who is simply one of the smartest, boldest comic talents working today." Commented Forte, "We're delighted to partner with our friends at Lionsgate on Will You Be My Black Friend? This is a story that takes on themes of race and friendship in a very modern and unexpected way, and we think audiences across the spectrum will find a lot to laugh about and think about."
Gardini brought the project to Harpo Films, and will be supervising the production alongside Paseornek; Lionsgate Director of Development Charisse Nesbit will also be working on the project. Rock's latest film, the Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary Good Hair, opens Friday, October 9th and is being released by Roadside Attractions, in which Lionsgate owns a minority stake. Rock is repped by ICM.
The deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by Robert Melnik, Lionsgate Executive Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, and for Harpo Films by Scott Stein, head of Operations and Business Affairs.
Inspired by a true story, a white, married journalist living in Manhattan comes to the unnerving realization one night at a cocktail party that virtually his entire social circle is white. Indeed his entire existence has become steeped in a certain style of "whiteness": a rarefied industry (publishing); a weekend house in the Catskills; yoga; ambient music; and seasonal gourmet cooking. With help of the internet, a "white guy" sets off on a humorous journey to make "black friends," only to discover that regardless of race, the older you get, the harder it is to make friends.