EXCLUSIVE: Lili Simmons (Power Book IV: Force), Kim Coates (The White Houe Plumbers), Igby Rigney (Midnight Mass), Tom Bower (El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie) and Justin Marcel McManus (Power Book II: Ghost) will topline Southern Gothic (working title), an upcoming indie drama from writer-director Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society), which has wrapped production.
The story is set in the dangerous and shady world of illegal, high-stakes keno gambling, in a run-down plantation house owned by Nick (Coates) in the rural South, at the turn of the 21st century. Nick is enamored with the smart, tough and charming Keno ace Diana’s (Simmons) intent to win big and is determined to stake her. Little Nick (Rigney), a one-time prodigy keno hustler, now reduced to servicing pool tables, strikes up a friendship with Diana and coaches her to win against the odds. Diana must then prove herself in a man’s world to earn a match against Beaumont DuBinion (McManus), the undisputed world’s greatest keno player, who, it turns out, has a contentious and violent history with Nick.
Schulman is producing the film alongside three-time Emmy winner Rick Wallace (Major Crimes), Sara Sometti Michaels (Crime Story) and Seth Michaels (Free Dead or Alive), with Amy Lippens (House) having served as casting director and co-producing.
“I grew up around keno and though it’s hard to find now, it’s an exciting game and I never forgot it,” said Schulman. “I’m thrilled and grateful that so many great actors and film artists have come together to help bring this genre-bending story to the screen.”
Schulman won an Academy Award in 1990 for his screenplay to Peter Weir’s classic, Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams. His feature directorial debut—the dark comedy 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, starring Joe Pesci—was released by Orion Pictures in 1996. Schulman also wrote or co-wrote films including Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Second Sight, What About Bob?, Medicine Man, Holy Man and Welcome to Mooseport. He also served as a producer on the latter film, and exec produced titles including Indecent Proposal and Me, Myself & Irene. He co-wrote and co-produced the HBO pilot The Anatomy of Hope with Rafael Yglesias and J.J. Abrams, and recently collaborated with Callie Khouri, Trae Crowder, and T Bone Burnett on the writing of Amazon pilot The Useful Idiots. He served on the board of directors and then as Vice President of the Writers Guild of America, West, and President of the Writers Guild Foundation, and serves on the advisory council of Humanitas.
Wallace is a frequent collaborator of Steven Bochco’s who has produced or exec produced more than 350 hours of prime time, hour-long dramatic television, including the series Hill St. Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, M.D., Men in Trees, The Closer and Major Crimes. He won three Emmys for L.A. Law, and was nominated twice more.
Simmons is garnering attention for her starring role on Power Book IV: Force, which recently set ratings records for Starz, and was quickly renewed for a second season. Force‘s Starz debut delivered the biggest series premiere audience for any show in the premium cable outlet’s history, garnering 3.3 million cross-platform viewers in the U.S. alone. The actress has also appeared on the television side on HBO’s Westworld, the first season of HBO’s True Detective, Showtime’s Ray Donovan, and four seasons of Cinemax’s Banshee. She’s also been seen in features including the acclaimed Western Bone Tomahawk, and the thriller Sound of Violence, which premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival.
Coates will next be seen starring alongside Woody Harrelson, Justin Theroux and more on HBO’s The White House Plumbers. He’s also appeared on series including Action Royale, Van Helsing, Pretty Hard Cases, Bad Blood, Ghost Wars, Godless, Sons of Anarchy and Prison Break. Other notable film credits include Fantasy Island, Goon and Goon: Last of the Enforcers, Strange Weather, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Silent Hill, Assault on Precinct 13, Unstoppable, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, Auggie Rose, Battlefield Earth, Waterworld and The Last Boy Scout.
Rigney will next appear on Mike Flanagan’s Netflix series The Fall of the House of Usher and The Midnight Club, having recently been seen in his Netflix show, Midnight Mass. Additional credits include the films F9: The Fast Saga and Joe Bell.
Bower has been seen in films including El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Light of My Life, Digging for Fire, Out of the Furnace, I Melt with You, Crazy Heart, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, The Hills Have Eyes, North Country, Nixon, Raising Cain, Die Hard 2 and Beverly Hills Cop II. He’s also been seen on such series as Bosch, Ray Donovan, Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Private Practice and Monk, among many others. He’ll next appear in Christopher Landon’s feature We Have a Ghost, with Jennifer Coolidge, David Harbour and Anthony Mackie, and Rodrigo Garcia’s Raymond & Ray, with Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor.
McManus can currently be seen on Starz’s Power Book II: Ghost. Additional credits include the series Search Party and Star.
Schulman is represented by Industry Entertainment and Jackoway Austen Tyerman; Simmons by Paradigm, Kate Linden Management and attorney Stuart Rosenthal of Goodman, Genow, Schenkman; Coates by A3 Artists Agency and Mainstay Entertainment; Rigney by A3 Artists Agency, Canopy Media Partners and Jackoway Austen Tyerman; Bower by UTA; and McManus by Innovative Artists and Stride Management.