EXCLUSIVE: Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance have renewed the overall deal with MTV Entertainment Studios for their Bassett Vance Productions, and have set Heist 88, starring Vance, as the first feature under the new pact.
Directed by Menhaj Huda (Kidulthood),the film, which is currently shooting in Chicago, reunites two-time Emmy winner Vance with his The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story co-star Keesha Sharp and Bentley Green, who recently starred alongside him in AMC’s 61st Street.
In addition to Vance, Sharp and Green, Keith David, Xavier Clyde, Nican Robinson and Precious Way also star in Heist 88, which is Inspired by true events and tells the unbelievable story of one of the largest bank heists ever to occur in the United States.
In the film, written by Dwayne Johnson-Cochran, Vance portrays Jeremy Horne, a criminal mastermind with an innate ability to convince anyone to do just about anything, who decides to pull one last job before going to prison in 1988. He recruits four young bank employees to steal close to $80 million dollars via a sophisticated takedown of the banking wire system.
“This character is inspired by a man who was able to convince a small group of young people who were at the lowest rungs of their bank to join him in committing one of the biggest crimes against the US banking system in this country’s history,” Vance said. “At its core, it’s an unapologetically compelling story that throws back to where we are today. What is the American dream and who does it work for?”
Sharp will play Bree Barnes, an elegant, smart, political consultant that possesses a criminal mind and is Jeremy’s love interest.
David will portray Buddha Ray (Raymond Oliver), a master safecracker and mentor to Jeremy.
Clyde will play Danny Pugh, a nerdy, comic book collector who is brilliant with numbers, data and loves research but has given up on his job at the bank.
Green will portray Marshall King, a cocky, energetic, house music DJ and Jeremy’s nephew.
Robinson will play Rick Windom, a young loyal bank employee working in “the back of the bank” for nearly six years with dreams of becoming a stockbroker.
Way will portray LaDonna Sanders, a beautiful, bright, bank employee who is ambitious but unseen at First Chicago Bank.
Bassett Vance Productions produces Heist 88 alongside MTV Entertainment Studios and Gunpowder & Sky. Bassett, Vance, Lynnette Ramirez, and Johnson-Cochran executive produce for Bassett Vance Productions, Van Toffler and Barry Barclay for Gunpowder & Sky.
Under the Bassett and Vance’s first deal with MTV Entertainment Studios, which the duo made in 2020, their company has produced Smithsonian Channel’s One Thousand Years of Slavery and a limited series on the Tulsa Race Massacre, slated for a 2023 release. Bassett Vance Productions’ upcoming slate is focused on movies, including the Romeo and Juliet-themed Love Radio, now in development.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with MTV Entertainment Studios,” said Bassett Vance Productions Head of Development, Lynnette Ramirez. “We are looking forward to developing more films together beyond our current active slate, which includes the drama Heist 88 and the shared vision for our upcoming four-part event series based on The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.”
Heist 88 has been a passion project for Vance, Bassett and Johnson for years. It was set as a series at FX in 2017 and a fictionalized version of the story was later in development, also as a series, at HBO. After Vance and Bassett signed the deal with MTV Entertainment Studios in 2020, they gave the script to the studio executives who loved it as a movie.
The decision dovetailed with the shift in strategy across the Paramount Media Networks from scripted series to original movies.
“First of all, we’re huge fans of Courtney and Angela’s work, they are stellar storytellers and creatives so when we had the chance to partner with them on making movies, we were over the moon, they were at the top of our our list, said Nina L. Diaz, President of Content and Chief Creative Officer, Paramount Media Networks & MTV Entertainment Studios “And then the script came in, and as our focus shifted to movies, particularly for our suite of cable brands from Paramount Network to VH1 to Comedy Central, it seemed like a great opportunity to bring this true crime story to life, especially because it is a hugely popular genre with our audiences.”
The partnership between Paramount Media Networks’ MTV Entertainment Studios and Bassett Vance Productions stems from Paramount’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative, a global effort to provide opportunities and help advance content creation for a new generation of BIPOC and women leaders in front of and behind the camera.
Sharp is repped by A3 Artist and Vault Entertainment. Huda is repped by Zero Gravity Management, APA and Doug Stone.