Busy Kenny Leon will direct Halle Berry in MLK drama

Ever-busy Atlanta director Kenny Leon will direct Halle Berry in her Broadway debut, along with Samuel L. Jackson, in Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop."

Berry told reporters at the Los Angeles premiere of her film "Frankie and Alice" this week that her involvement in the stage drama about the imagined last night of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, rumored for months, was definite.

Leon, in Los Angeles this week finishing up his second directing stint on ABC's "Private Practice," confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Berry would play the role of the hotel maid/angel.

"Halle will bring that film appeal to the stage combined with a rawness and honesty not to matched," Leon said in an e-mail. "She and Sam were amazing in [Spike Lee's 1991 film] ‘Jungle Fever,' and I'm looking to bring their unique chemistry to the stage."

"Mountaintop" rehearsals are to begin in August, with previews starting in September, Leon said.

Meanwhile, here are some updates on the Atlanta director:

  • With "Mountaintop" moved later into 2011 than originally planned, Broadway producers are "trying to fast-track" a revival of William Mastrosimone's 1982 drama "Extremities" for spring, said Leon, who would direct. There are no casting announcements yet for the drama about a young woman attacked in her home who turns the tables on a would-be rapist.
  • The Leon-directed production of Marcus Gardley's drama about black church burnings in Alabama, "Every Tongue Confess," may transfer to New York sometime after it closes in Washington on Jan. 2. Phylicia Rashad stars in the world premiere that is inaugurating the Arena Stage's Kogod Cradle.
  • Leon's "Private Practice" episode, "Heaven Can Wait," is set to premiere Jan. 13.
  • Kenny Leon True Colors Theatre Company's revival of "Black Nativity" continues at Atlanta's Southwest Arts Center through Dec. 30.