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The Big Cigar

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The Big Cigar
Genre
Based onThe Big Cigar
by Joshuah Bearman
Developed byJim Hecht
Directed by
  • Don Cheadle[1]
  • Damon Thomas[1]
  • Tiffany Johnson[1]
Starring
ComposerRobert Glasper[2]
Country of origin
  • United States
  • Canada[a]
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes6
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Dan Kaplow
  • Adam Ben Frank
  • Joshua Levey[c]
Cinematography
Editors
  • John Peter Bernardo
  • Avril Beukes
  • Kyle Bond
  • Rebecca Valente
Running time39 minutes[5]
Production companies
Original release
NetworkApple TV+
ReleaseMay 17 (2024-05-17) –
June 14, 2024 (2024-06-14)

The Big Cigar is a biographical drama thriller miniseries developed by Jim Hecht, based on the 2012 Playboy article of the same name by Joshuah Bearman.[6][7] Following the events of the Black Panther Party in 1970s, the series is about party founder Huey P. Newton escaping from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to Cuba with the help of Bert Schneider for an elaborate plan.

The miniseries stars André Holland, Alessandro Nivola, Tiffany Boone, P. J. Byrne, and Marc Menchaca. The Big Cigar premiered its first two episodes on Apple TV+ on May 17, 2024,[8] and received mixed reviews from critics. The series concluded on June 14, 2024.

Premise[edit]

Set in 1974,[9] the series chronicles the manhunt for Huey P. Newton, the founder of the Black Panther Party, who seeks the help of film producer Bert Schneider as he tries to escape to Cuba.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

  • André Holland as Huey P. Newton: The main protagonist, who is the founder of The Black Panther Party.
  • Alessandro Nivola as Bert Schneider: The film and television producer. He and his business partner Steve Blauner hid Newton due to him being convicted of murder and assault.
  • Tiffany Boone as Gwen Fontaine: The wife of Huey P. Newton who is a party member of the organization.
  • P. J. Byrne as Stephen Blauner: Bert's business partner and childhood friend. He and Bert helped and collaborate with Huey on a series of wild schemes.
  • Marc Menchaca as Sydney Clark: An FBI agent dressed as a hippie who never gives up interrogating the organization, family members and anybody related to Huey.

Recurring[edit]

Guest[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.Title [6]Directed byTeleplay by [6]Original release date [10]
1"Panther/Producer"Don Cheadle[11]Jim HechtMay 17, 2024 (2024-05-17)
Excited on his overturned conviction, Huey P. Newton reignites a revolution and meets an unexpected donor.
2"The Cuban"Don Cheadle[11]Janine Sherman Barrois & Jim HechtMay 17, 2024 (2024-05-17)
Huey and Bert's bold plan falls into place. Huey attempts to move the Black Panther Party away from armed confrontation.
3"Guns & Matzah"Damon ThomasLaurence Andries & Gwendolyn M. ParkerMay 24, 2024 (2024-05-24)
Huey and Eldridge stand divided. Bert and Steve clash over Huey. The road to Cuba becomes increasingly treacherous.
4"What Are Friends For?"Damon ThomasJanine Sherman Barrois & Jim HechtMay 31, 2024 (2024-05-31)
A chaotic confrontation leads to a change of plans. Huey and Bobby’s differences come to light. Agent Clark pulls out all the stops.
5"Lost Paradise"Tiffany JohnsonLaurence Andries & Valerie Woods & Ameer HasanJune 7, 2024 (2024-06-07)
Clark puts pressure on the Mexican government. Tragedy strikes Bert. Huey receives life-changing news—and hits another roadblock.
6"The Pirate"Tiffany JohnsonJim Hecht & Joshuah BearmanJune 14, 2024 (2024-06-14)
Bert works hard to prove his loyalty. Gwen inspires a grand gesture. Huey’s legacy lives on. Series Finale.

Production[edit]

It was announced in December 2012 that Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris were set to direct the project for Sony Pictures, at the time developed as a film, with Joshuah Bearman, author of the source article, and Jim Hecht set to write the screenplay.[12]

The project, now a miniseries, was given a greenlight from Apple TV+ in April 2022, with André Holland cast to star. Don Cheadle was announced to be directing the first two episodes in addition to executive producing.[11] In June, Tiffany Boone and Alessandro Nivola joined the cast,[13][14] with Marc Menchaca and P. J. Byrne joining the next month.[15][16] In August, Jordane Christie, Moses Ingram, Olli Haaskivi and Glynn Turman were cast to recur in the series.[17][18][19][20] Additional recurring cast including Jaime Ray Newman and Noah Emmerich was announced in September.[21]

Filming for the series began in Toronto in June 2022, as revealed by showrunner Janine Sherman Barrois.[22] By August, production was occurring throughout Hamilton, Ontario, where Hamilton City Hall was being used as a double for San Francisco International Airport.[23]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

On Variety, author Aramide Tinubu wrote that, "André Holland is stellar as Huey P. Newton, but 'The Big Cigar' never ignites".[24]

Judy Berman of Time Magazine gave a favorable review and wrote, "That Newton’s wariness of mass culture frames the story from the very beginning is a sign that viewers are in for something much smarter, bolder, and more challenging than the entertainment industry’s typical, sanitized take on radical politics".[25]

Elisa Guimaraes of Collider gave the series 3 out of 4 stars. She praised Holland for his depiction of Huey P. Newton.[26]

The Guardian writer Ellen E. Jones also gave the show 3 out of 5 star rating. She criticized "that Hollywood can’t be trusted to tell the stories of Black radicals".[27]

Richard Roeper from the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a favorable review about the actor André Holland stating that he "does a brilliant job of capturing the complicated and charismatic Black Panthers co-founder".[28]

Nadir Samara from Screen Rant gave the series a average review of a 3 out of 5 stars, stating that the series is decent but critized the script due to it being "all over the place, neither the story nor the performance hit their peaks".[29]

Rory Doherty from Paste Magazine wrote that the series "is a slick caper that only superficially grasps its history lesson".[30]

On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 61 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[31]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 72% with an average rating of 6.5/10, based on 29 reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "A magnetic performance from André Holland gets The Big Cigar close to lighting up, but a lack of narrative focus slightly dampens the spark."[32]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sources differ regarding the country or countries of origin. Some indicate that the United States is the sole country of origin, while others list it as a co-production of the United States and Canada.[3][4]
  2. ^ a b c d co-executive
  3. ^ supervising producer

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Big Cigar - Cast and Crew - Apple TV+" (Press release). Apple TV+. Retrieved 2024-05-15.
  2. ^ The Big Cigar - Film Music Reporter
  3. ^ a b c d "The Big Cigar (TV Miniseries)". FilmAffinity.
  4. ^ "Watch The Big Cigar - Apple TV+". Apple TV+.
  5. ^ Martin, Peter (2024-05-16). "Now Streaming Review: THE BIG CIGAR, Rude, Rowdy, Righteous". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved 2024-05-16.
  6. ^ a b c "The Big Cigar". Writers Guild of America West. January 3, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  7. ^ Petski, Denise (2024-03-14). "'The Big Cigar': Premiere Date & First Look At André Holland As Black Panther Leader Huey P. Newton In Apple Limited Series". Deadline. Retrieved 2024-03-14.
  8. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (December 26, 2022). "The 10 Most Anticipated New Scripted TV Shows Coming in 2023". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 29, 2023.
  9. ^ Topel, Fred (2024-05-15). "'Big Cigar' cast looks back on Black Panthers leader's flight to Cuba". UPI. Retrieved 2024-05-15.
  10. ^ "Shows A-Z – The Big Cigar on Apple TV+". The Futon Critic. Retrieved March 19, 2024.
  11. ^ a b c White, Peter (April 7, 2022). "André Holland Set To Star As Black Panther Boss Huey Newton In The Big Cigar For Apple From Janine Sherman Barrois, Don Cheadle, Jim Hecht & Warner Bros. TV". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  12. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (December 12, 2012). "Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris Attached To Helm Huey Newton Pic The Big Cigar". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  13. ^ Petski, Denise (June 15, 2022). "Tiffany Boone Joins Andre Holland In Apple's Huey P. Newton Limited Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  14. ^ Kroll, Justin (June 27, 2022). "Alessandro Nivola To Co-Star With André Holland in The Apple Original Limited Series The Big Cigar". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  15. ^ Grobar, Matt (July 5, 2022). "Ozark Actor Marc Menchaca Joins Apple TV+'s The Big Cigar As Series Regular". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  16. ^ Otterson, Joe (July 6, 2022). "Apple's Huey P. Newton Series Big Cigar Casts P.J. Byrne as Steve Blauner (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  17. ^ Grobar, Matt (August 1, 2022). "The Big Cigar: Jordane Christie Joins Apple TV+'s Huey P. Newton Series As Recurring". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  18. ^ Grobar, Matt (August 2, 2022). "Obi-Wan Kenobis Moses Ingram Joins Apple's Limited Series The Big Cigar As Recurring". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  19. ^ Grobar, Matt (August 18, 2022). "The Big Cigar: Oppenheimers Olli Haaskivi Latest To Join Apple Series As Recurring". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  20. ^ Grobar, Matt (August 19, 2022). "The Big Cigar: Emmy Winner Glynn Turman To Play Huey P. Newton's Father In Apple TV+ Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  21. ^ Grobar, Matt (September 1, 2022). "The Big Cigar: Jaime Ray Newman, Noah Emmerich, John Doman, Chris Brochu & Breton Edwards Allen Round Out Cast Of Apple Series In Recurring Roles". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  22. ^ Janine Sherman Barrois on Instagram: @doncheadle @nicoleburkead & #moi #toronto #thebigcigar
  23. ^ Nolan, Daniel (August 12, 2022). "Apple TV+'s The Big Cigar brings Black Panther Party's Huey P. Newton to Hamilton". The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  24. ^ Tinubu, Aramide (May 17, 2024). "'The Big Cigar' Review: Huey Newton Series Doesn't Center the Activist". Variety. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
  25. ^ Berman, Judy (May 16, 2024). "Black Panthers Meet New Hollywood in the Bold, Thrilling Series The Big Cigar". Time. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
  26. ^ Guimaraes, Elisa (May 16, 2024). "'The Big Cigar' Review: Apple TV+ Miniseries Is More Political Drama Than Wild Caper". Collider. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
  27. ^ Jones, Ellen E. (May 17, 2024). "The Big Cigar review – proof that Hollywood can't be trusted to tell the stories of Black radicals". The Guardian. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
  28. ^ Roeper, Richard (May 16, 2024). "In well-made series 'The Big Cigar,' Huey P. Newton plots 'Argo'-style escape to Cuba". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
  29. ^ Samara, Nadir (May 16, 2024). "The Big Cigar Review: Apple TV+'s Take On The Manhunt For Huey Newton Doesn't Always Land". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
  30. ^ Doherty, Rory (May 16, 2024). "The Big Cigar Is a Slick Caper That Only Superficially Grasps Its History Lesson". Paste Magazine. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
  31. ^ "The Big Cigar". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
  32. ^ "The Big Cigar". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 21, 2024.

External links[edit]