Hulu Orders Sammy Davis, Jr. Biographical Series From Director Lee Daniels

Hulu has picked up Lee Daniels' passion project, a series about multi-talented performer Sammy Davis Jr., per Variety. The development deal may be new, but the concept isn't: Outlets first reported Daniels' interest in a biography of the artist back in 2013.

Actor Elijah Kelley, who previously worked with Daniels on "The Butler" in 2013, has been tapped as the as-yet-untitled series' lead. Kelley is also known for playing Ricky Bell in "The New Edition Story" and the Scarecrow in NBC's "The Wiz Live!" The actor will also produce the Davis project and contribute original music to the show.

A long-overdue spotlight

Despite his tremendous contributions to American culture and art, Davis has never been the sole subject of a biopic. The closest Hollywood has gotten to portraying the breadth of his life was in the 1998 HBO film "The Rat Pack," which saw Don Cheadle step into the role alongside portrayals of Davis' contemporaries, including Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. A Davis film biopic, led up by a producing team at Paramount that includes Lionel Richie, was reportedly also in the works back in 2018.

The Daniels-led project will be an eight-episode limited series that explores the entertainer's life and his "complex relationship with the Black community," according to Variety. The series is based on the book "In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr.," a 2003 biography by Wil Haygood. Haygood's book traces the star's life from his early childhood days in vaudeville to the dangerous pre-Civil Rights era and beyond. Davis' life was undoubtedly full enough to fill an eight-hour series. He broke ground as the only person of color in the team of crooners known as The Rat Pack, and his personal life garnered as many headlines as his professional one. Davis passed away in 1990.

The biographical series marks the second major Lee Daniels project to gain momentum in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the filmmaker publicly reconciled with "Precious" star Mo'Nique and cast her in his upcoming Netflix horror film "Demon House." The exorcism thriller is based on an allegedly true story. It, too, has been in the works for several years, with Daniels first reportedly expressing interest in "Demon House" back in 2014 before a rights lapse tied up the project.

Daniels will executive produce and co-write the Davis series for Hulu, with Marc Toberoff and Thomas Westfall also on board as executive producers. Daniels is slated to direct the first two episodes, and Westfall will serve as his co-writer for the series.

The still-untitled Sammy Davis, Jr. series will debut on Hulu, but has no announced release date.