Andre Holland To Lead Apple TV+ Historical Black Panther Drama Series, The Big Cigar

"The Knick" and "Castle Rock" star Andre Holland is circling "The Big Cigar," an upcoming Apple TV+ miniseries about Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton and his flight from the FBI to Cuba in the 1970s. Don Cheadle will direct the first two episodes of the six-episode series, which is set to be adapted from a Playboy magazine article. Cheadle previously directed and starred in the 2015 Miles Davis biopic, "Miles Ahead."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "The Big Cigar" will follow "how Newton turned to his best friend, 'Easy Rider' producer Bert Schneider, and eluded a nationwide manhunt" before fleeing the country to Havana. Janine Sherman Barrois, who won an NAACP Award last year for executive producing the Octavia Spencer Netflix series, "Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker," will serve as showrunner on "The Big Cigar." Jim Hecht, the co-creator of HBO's "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty," is on board as writer and executive producer.

The Black Panthers onscreen

Movies like "Judas and the Black Messiah," and to a lesser extent, "The Trial of the Chicago 7," have brought renewed attention to the history of the Black Panthers in recent years. Newton co-founded the party with Booby Seale, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the latter film. Like Fred Hampton, the civil rights leader that Daniel Kaluuya portrayed in "Judas and the Black Messiah," Newton was assassinated, though his death (at the age of 47) came some years later in 1989.

"The Big Cigar" sounds like it will cover the period from 1974 to 1977 when Newton jumped bail on a murder charge and escaped to Cuba. He eventually returned to the U.S. and stood trial — twice — with both trials ending in deadlocked juries (per

Since his breakout role in "The Knick," Holland has appeared in films like "Moonlight," and more recently, "Passing." He also starred in "The Eddy," the eight-episode Netflix musical drama, which had a couple of episodes helmed by Damien Chazelle, the director whose 2016 film, "La La Land," was mistakenly announced as the winner of Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards in place of "Moonlight."

"The Big Cigar" is being produced by Warner Bros. Television, the same studio behind the Emmy-winning "Ted Lasso." In addition to Hecht, Sherman Barrois, Joshuah Bearman, Joshua Davis, and Arthur Spector are all attached as executive producers. The series is still in the casting stages and there is no release date for it yet, but we'll keep you posted.