There is a limited series on Lena Horne, in the works at Showtime. The series is called Blackbird: Lena Horne America, after Horne’s favorite poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
The limited series on Lena Horne will span 60 years of her life, from dancing at the Cotton Club when she was 16, through World War II and stardom of the MGM years, McCarthyism, the civil rights movement and her triumphant return to Broadway.
The series will encompass her deepest relationships: Paul Robeson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Joe Louis, Billie Holiday, Hattie McDaniel, Ava Gardner and Orson Welles, to name a few. A direct descendant of slaves and their enslavers, Horne had to navigate stardom during Jim Crow.
She laid herself down and made herself a bridge for everyone who came after her, and finally achieved her own liberation to become one of America’s greatest legends.”
The entertainer and activist’s granddaughter Jenny Lemut is on-board with the project as a writer and an executive producer.
“Bringing my grandmother’s story to the screen required a multi-generational effort,” said Lumet.
Grandma passed her stories to my mother, who now passes them to me, so I may pass them to the children of our family. Lena’s story is so intimate and at the same time, it’s the story of America – America at its most honest, most musical, most tragic and most joyous. It’s crucial now. Especially now. She was the love of my life.”
Lumet will write the first few episodes with her longtime producing partner, Alex Kurtzman.
Horne was a celebrated actress, singer, and dancer in her time. Horne starred in films like Cabin in the Sky,” Ziegfeld Follies, Stormy Weather, and The Wiz. On top of her work as a nightclub performer, she released a multitude of albums, winning four Grammy Awards throughout her career. She also starred in her own one-woman Broadway show, “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.”
Horne wasn’t just a celebrated entertainer but she was also a fearless civil rights activist. She famously refused to play for segregated audiences during her time entertaining troops with the USO during World War II. She also attended the March on Washington in 1963 and advocated on behalf of numerous organizations dedicated the helping Black people in America.
CBS TV Studios is producing the series along with Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout. Heather Kadin will serve as an executive producer as well.
News of the limited series on Lena Horne was first read on Variety.