NEW MICHAEL JACKSON PLAY FINDS ITS STAR: Tony nominee Ephraim Sykes is set to star as the King of Pop in MJ the Musical, which debuts this summer. Producer Lia Vollack and The Michael Jackson Estate announced Sykes' starring role Thursday. Christopher Wheelson is directing the show, which will cover Jackson's career milestones feature Jackson's catalog of hits and a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. Despite the scrutiny and accusations the late pop star's personal life have seen recently, Sykes has said he looks forward to showing Jackson's "human" side. Sykes has appeared in Hamilton: An American Musical, Memphis, Newsies, Motown and The Little Mermaid.
CHARLIZE THERON TO BE HONORED: The Palm Springs Film Festival Awards Gala will honor the Oscar-winning Charlize Theron for her work as Megyn Kelly in Lionsgate's Bombshell. "Over the years, Charlize Theron has created so many memorable roles including her performances in Monster, North Country, Young Adult, Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde, Tully and so much more," said fest chairman Harold Matzner in announcing the news. "In her latest film, Bombshell she gives yet another award-worthy performance through her striking physical transformation of her portrayal as Megan Kelly." She is joining fellow honorees Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger. The Gala will take place January 2nd at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
FIRST LOOK MEDIA'S STREAMING SERVICE SETS DEALS WITH BBC, KESHET: At launch, First Look Media's streaming service Topic has signed deals with BBC Studios and Keshet International. Among the deals: BBC Three comedy Enterprice, cop thriller Moses Jones; Keshet's dystopian drama Autonomies, Commandments and dark comedy Stockholm. Topic launched Thursday.
MAKING WOLF HEADED FOR SMALL SCREEN: Mum producer Big Talk and Ray Donovan scribe Sean Conway are teaming up on an adaptation of Tade Thompson's African Noir novel Making Wolf, for television. The book will be published by Constable in paperbook in May of 2020. The story follows Weston Kogi, a London security guard who returns to his West African home country and thinks claiming that he works as a homicide detective is a harmless exaggeration. But when he's kidnapped and forced to investigate the murder of a local hero, his life—and the fate of his country—depends on him.