The Big Cigar: Everything We Know So Far

Apple TV+ appeared on the streaming scene just three years ago, yet the platform has already built up a reputation for must-see shows. From award magnet "Ted Lasso" to trippy workplace thriller "Severance" to alternate history drama "For All Mankind," the streamer seems to have a knack for developing interesting projects. The latest is "The Big Cigar," an upcoming limited series with an intriguing cast and a stranger-than-fiction real life premise. 

The series is one of several recent titles to document the history and legacy of the Black Panther party, with others including "Judas and the Black Messiah" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7." Only this time, the story will focus on a very specific era of one Black Panther leader's life, involving a pivotal friendship with a headline-making Hollywood figure. Here's everything we know about the show so far.

When and where to watch The Big Cigar

"The Big Cigar" will stream exclusively on Apple TV+, which, despite the name, can be accessed not just on Apple devices but on Roku, FireTV, internet browsers, and more. If you haven't checked out Apple TV+ yet, a subscription will cost you $4.99 a month, and the streamer includes a 7-day free trial.

The series is one of a handful of based-on-a-true-story limited series the platform has on the horizon, with others including Dennis Lehane's "Black Bird" and the Hurricane Katrina drama "Five Days At Memorial" both airing this summer. That being said, "The Big Cigar" has not yet set a premiere date.

What The Big Cigar will be about

The six-episode limited series tells the true story of Black Panther party co-founder Huey P. Newton, specifically chronicling Newton's 1970s escape to Cuba with the help of his friend, movie producer Bert Schneider. Schneider, who died in 2011, produced New Hollywood classics like "The Last Picture Show" and "Easy Rider," along with the Vietnam documentary "Hearts and Minds."

According to the Playboy article (archived via Longform) by Joshuah Bearman that inspired the series, Schneider had "a coke problem and a soft spot for radical politics," all of which came to a head when he helped smuggled Newton out of the U.S. when the FBI was after him in 1974. Despite the show being billed as a drama, Deadline reports that "The Big Cigar" is an "extraordinary, hilarious, almost-too-good-to-be-true story." The realities of the FBI's persecution of the Black Panthers is quite grave, so it'll be interesting to see if "The Big Cigar" strikes the complicated tonal balance it seems to be going for.

What we know about the The Big Cigar cast and crew

"The Big Cigar" has two compelling leads attached to star: "Moonlight" and "The Knick" star André Holland is set to play Newton, while "The Many Saints of Newark" and "Disobedience" actor Alessandro Nivola will play Schneider. Both pairs have put in incredibly compelling performances in the past, and it'll be thrilling to see them act opposite one another. The supporting cast also includes "Hunters" actor Tiffany Boone.

The series also has some big names behind the camera, starting with Don Cheadle. The actor and filmmaker is set to executive produce the series and direct its first two episodes. "Claws" and "The Kings of Napa" executive producer Janine Sherman Barrois will serve as the series' showrunner and EP. "Winning Time" creator Jim Hecht is writing the pilot and is also an executive producer. Bearman, Joshua Davis, and Arthur Specto also have EP credits on the project.