Apple TV+ debuts first look at Huey P. Newton drama series ‘The Big Cigar’

André Holland stars as Newton in the six-episode limited series.

Apple TV+ announced the release date and shared first-look photos Thursday of an upcoming limited series about Black Panther Party leader and social activist Huey P. Newton. 

“The Big Cigar” follows Newton during his 1974 escape to Cuba and is inspired by the 2012 Playboy magazine article of the same name, according to a press release. The first two episodes of the six-episode series will premiere on the streamer on Friday, May 17, with new episodes dropping every subsequent Friday through June 14. Joshuah Bearman, who wrote the “Big Cigar” magazine article, will serve as an executive producer on the Apple TV+ series alongside Don Cheadle, Janine Sherman Barrois and Jim Hecht.

André Holland stars as Newton in the Warner Bros. Television-produced show, with Cheadle directing and executive producing the first two episodes. Alessandro Nivola, Tiffany Boone, P.J. Byrne, Marc Menchaca, Moses Ingram, Rebecca Dalton, Olli Haaskivi, Jordane Christie, and Glynn Turman round out the cast.

André Holland stars as Huey P. Newton in “The Big Cigar,” a limited series premiering May 17 on Apple TV+. (Credit: Apple TV+)

“The Big Cigar” will dive deep into the remarkable true story of Newton’s escape from FBI custody with the help of movie producer Bert Schneider, who is played by Nivola. Newton and Schneider developed “an impossibly elaborate plan – involving a fake movie production — that goes wrong every way it possibly can,” according to the release. 

In a first-look photo shared with theGrio, Holland is shown dressed as Newton in one of the activist’s most iconic photos. Published in 1968, the original photo shows Newton wearing the signature Black Panther beret and a black leather jacket while sitting in a rattan chair. He is pictured holding a shotgun in one hand and a spear in the other, with Zulu-styled shields nearby and a zebra rug under his feet. 

Tiffany Boone and André Holland share a scene in “The Big Cigar,” an upcoming series about Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton. (Credit: Apple TV+)

Holland looks nearly identical to Newton in the Apple TV+ press photo from Episode Two of the series. In another first-look photo, Boone, who stars as Newton’s girlfriend and future wife, Gwen Fontaine, is shown smiling while holding Holland’s face.

Holland, known for his performance in the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” also stars in the Shirley Chisholm biopic, “Shirley,” and the 2024 independent film “Exhibiting Forgiveness.” Boone first came to fame starring in the Showtime series “The Chi,” before appearing in Prime Video’s “Hunters” and Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere.”

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