Huey P. Newton Biographical Series ‘The Big Cigar’ Lands at Apple With Don Cheadle to Direct, André Holland in Talks to Star

Janine Sherman Barrois will serve as showrunner on story of Black Panthers co-founder’s escape to Cuba in the 1970s

Don Cheadle Andre Holland The Big Cigar
Photo by Chris Pizzello / Photo by Dylan Coulter

Apple TV+ announced Thursday that it has acquired “The Big Cigar,” a six-episode miniseries telling the story of Black Panthers co-founder Huey P. Newton’s years of exile in Cuba during the 1970s.

Oscar nominee Don Cheadle will executive produce and direct the first two episodes of “The Big Cigar,” with “Moonlight” star André Holland in discussions to star as Newton. NAACP Image Award-winner Janine Sherman Barrois (“Claws”) will serve as showrunner and an executive producer.

Written by “Winning Time” co-creator Jim Hecht, “The Big Cigar” is based on the Playboy article of the same name by Joshuah Bearman (writer of the story “Argo” is based on); the pair developed the story together.

Janine Sherman Barrois Jim Hecht Josh Bearman The Big Cigar
Photo by Gloria Mesa / Photo by Scott Nathan / Photo courtesy of Apple

Per the official description, “The Big Cigar” will tell “the extraordinary, hilarious, almost-too-good-to-be-true story of how Newton relied on his best friend, Bert Schneider, the Hollywood producer behind “Easy Rider,” to elude a nationwide manhunt and escape to Cuba while being pursued into exile by the FBI.”

“The Big Cigar” comes from Warner Bros. Television and Barrois’ Folding Chair Productions. Alongside Barrios, it’s executive produce by Hecht, plus Bearman, Joshua Davis and Arthur Spector via their Vox Media-based production company Epic.