HBO movie "Bessie" to film in Cov­ing­ton

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Just weeks af­ter the crew of the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic “Selma” filmed in Cov­ing­ton, an­other film about an African-Amer­i­can icon is com­ing to town.

The HBO film “Bessie” about famed Blues singer Bessie Smith is plan­ning to film scenes in down­town Cov­ing­ton be­tween June 16-20.

The Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil will vote at its Mon­day meet­ing on the pro­duc­tion com­pany’s re­quest to film at mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the Cov­ing­ton City Ceme- tery and homes on Emory, Cony­ers and Church streets.

The pro­duc­tion com­pany will set up its base camp at Legion Field, and also po­ten­tially use First Bap­tist Church and the Antiques and Stuff park­ing lot as well. The full list of clo­sures will be avail­able Mon­day. Ac­tress Queen Lat­i­fah will play the role of Bessie Smith, ac­cord­ing to the web­site Dead­line Hol­ly­wood, along with ac­tresses Mo’Nique (Pre­cious) and Khandi Alexan­der (Scan­dal).

Smith was one of the most pop­u­lar per­form­ing and record­ing artist of the 1920s and 1930s, per­form­ing at mul­ti­ple venues and record­ing hun­dreds of songs for Columbia Records, with mu­si­cians in­clud­ing Louis Arm­strong.

One of her fre­quent per­form­ing spots was At­lanta’s 81 The­ater was on De­catur Street a thriv­ing mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment scene for At­lanta’s black res­i­dents, ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple sources, in­clud­ing the At­lanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion.

Smith was so pop­u­lar she was called the “Em­press of the Blues” and be­came the high­est-paid black en­ter­tainer, ac­cord­ing to Chris Al­bert­son’s bi­og­ra­phy “Bessie,” upon which the movie is based. The film is writ­ten and di­rected by Dee Rees.

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