Tara Nicole Whitaker will make her feature directorial debut with “Pierre the Pigeon-Hawk,” an upcoming musically-driven animated film which she will co-direct alongside John D. Eraklis.
The film’s cast includes such heavy-weight talents as Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Coolidge, Kenan Thompson, Howie Mandel, Luis Guzmán, Paul Blackthorne, Jamal Trulove, Domenick Lombardozzi, Evan Ross and Ashlee Simpson. Will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson and Snoop Dogg recently joined the ensemble voice cast and will executive produce “Pierre The Pigeon-Hawk,” which is intended to promote diversity, inclusion, and community.
“I am beyond delighted to join this incredible team of artists, musicians and storytellers to explore Pierre’s world and bring this wonderfully vibrant and inspiring tale of self-discovery to life,” Whitaker said in a statement.
Whitaker’s involvement is a glass-ceiling shattering moment. She is one of the first Black women to direct a major animated movie, an important milestone for representation behind-the-camera. Whitaker is currently working at Disney Plus directing on “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” which is set for a 2022 release and will be joining the “Pierre” team at the end of 2021. She has been responsible for designing and helping bring characters to life at studios such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Netflix. She has also illustrated several children’s books, including the “My Baby Loves” series, and the best-selling “Shady Baby”.
“Pierre the Pigeon-Hawk” unfolds in NYC, and centers on a bird named Pierre (will.i.am) who is the product of forbidden love between a hawk (Goldberg) and a pigeon (Mandel) …Pierre (will.i.am) is rejected by both communities. Tired of not fitting in, Pierre sets out on a mission to discover where he truly belongs. During his adventure, he unites with a band of unlikely friends including a recently escaped bear from the Central Park Zoo, Ophelia the owl (Hudson) whose genius is outweighed only by her madness, and a pair of rag tag, pop-cultured city squirrels, Scratch (Snoop) and Sniff (Thompson). Amidst a journey of self-discovery, Pierre finds the courage to inspire animals from all backgrounds to change their ways and open their minds to a new way of thinking. It will take a hybrid bird to unite a hybrid world.
John D. Eraklis is producing alongside Toonz Media Group, Ciaran Crampton and Chase Muratore’s Sugar Water Entertainment. Sugar Water Entertainment is providing financing in partnership with Toonz Media Group. Jamal Trulove and Delbert Whetter are executive producing with co-executive producers Sentwali Holder and Jennifer Fowler. The film is being produced and directed remotely and is in pre-production at Toonz Media Group studio in Spain. CAA Media Finance handling domestic sales with Highland Film Group handling international sales.
“We are thrilled to have Tara coming onboard,” said Eraklis. “She is an incredibly talented artist, animator and director, whose voice was the missing piece of our puzzle.”
Exodus Film Group recently partnered with Pearl Street Films on “Flash Before the Bang,” a coming-of-age drama about an all-deaf high school track and field team. The film will be told through the lens of a deaf writer/director, Jevon Whetter, and will star Troy Kotsur, who recently appeared in the Sundance Film Festival film “CODA.” Exodus’ past productions include the animated features “Igor,” “The Hero of Color City,” and “Bunyan & Babe.”
By Brent Lang, Variety