With little fanfare, these stars have been holed up in St. Luke’s Church on Convent and 141st–a half block from City College–off and on over the past couple of weeks shooting the upcoming film Black Nativity. A holiday-themed musical, Nativity is based on a Langston Hughes play that tells the story of a Baltimore single mom (JHud) who sends her son to New York City to stay with the grandparents (Whitaker and Bassett) he’s never met. At the helm: Kasi Lemmons, one of Hollywood’s handful of success black female directors, who made Eve’s Bayou and Talk to Me. Look for it Christmas 2014.
Nativity joins a growing list of movies and TV shows made in here. On the small screen, The Carrie Diaries, Law & Order: SVU, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, The Americans, Smash, The Following and many others are shot in locations around New York City. Mayor Bloomberg’s Made in NY incentive program has made the city much more attractive for TV, cable and movie productions.
But the shoot hasn’t been without drama: On February 16, Whitaker was accused of stealing and frisked at a deli near Columbia University. A rep for the Academy Award-winning Whitaker told TMZ: “Forest asked that, in the future, the store change their behavior and treat the public in a fair and just manner.”