Elijah Kelley to Play Sammy Davis Jr. in New Hulu Limited Series

According to the Hollywood Reporteractor Elijah Kelley will play Sammy Davis Jr. in a new limited series picked up by Hulu.

What is happening:

  • The project comes to Hulu from Empire co-creator Lee Daniels, who is under an overall deal with 20th Century Studios.
  • It will be an eight-episode limited series exploring the artist’s life and told through the lens of his racial identity and relationship to the black community.
  • The untitled series is based on Wil Haygood’s book, In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr., and will chart his rise from childhood stardom on the vaudeville stage where he became one of the most celebrated black performers of the 1950s and 1960s (and the only black member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack). At the same time, he spent most of his career shrouded in controversy and ridicule – about his affairs with white movie stars, his 1960 marriage to Swedish actress May Britt, his conversion to Judaism, his closeness with the Kennedys (and later Richard Nixon) and his alcohol and drug problems.
  • Daniels and frequent collaborator Thomas Westfall (USA vs. Billie Holiday) will write the series. Both Daniels and Westfall are set to produce, and Daniels will also direct the drama’s first two episodes.
  • Kelley will produce alongside writer, Haygood. Marc Toberoff is also set as executive producer.
  • News of the Sammy Davis Jr. project first came out in mid-2019, when Daniels and Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone were set to produce the series based on the same book.
  • A filming location and production start date have yet to be determined.