Starring Queen Latifah, "Bessie" is written and directed by filmmaker Dee Rees ("Pariah"). Currently in production in Atlanta, it co-stars Michael K. Williams, Khandi Alexander, Charles S. Dutton, Oliver Platt and Mo'Nique. It premieres in 2015.
HBO also said Mike Nichols will direct fellow Oscar winner Meryl Streep in "Master Class." Drawing on the legendary master classes given by opera star Maria Callas, it is based on the Tony award-winning play of the same name by Terrence McNally, who will adapt his work for the screen.
The announcements were made Thursday at the summer TV critics' tour, as was good news from sister network Cinemax about its upcoming series "The Knick." This drama of a circa-1900 New York hospital has been rewarded with a second season prior to its Aug. 8 premiere. It stars Clive Owen, with both 10-episode seasons directed by Steven Soderbergh.
With HBO's freshman drama "True Detective" landing best-actor Emmy nominations on Thursday for both leads, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, this question was renewed: Who will star in the series' second season, which is expected to feature an entirely new cast?
Michael Lombardo, president of HBO programming, promised an announcement soon, perhaps even next week.
One option being considered, he joked: "Doing the new season with puppets."