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Netflix Delays Preview of ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ Due to Chadwick Boseman’s Death

Fern Siegel

Chadwick Boseman, best known for “Black Panther,” died last Friday. He was also one of the stars of the Netflix movie “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” based on the August Wilson play.

Netflix has delayed a virtual preview event of the movie, scheduled for today, which also stars Oscar winner Viola Davis (“Fences,” “The Help”) and Colman Domingo.

The film had been scheduled for release later this year.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” takes place in the 1920s during a recording session of Rainey, a preeminent blues singer, played by Davis, and her band members. She is late to the rehearsal, which gives the band a chance to share their own stories. The movie also chronicles the fight for the soul of the blues between Rainey, her band and her white manager.

Wilson’s drama, a meditation on race in America, won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play in 1985.

The movie is one of Boseman’s final screen performances. He plays Levee, a trumpeter who is interested in Rainey’s girlfriend and eager to make his own name in music.

Co-Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos stated of Boseman’s death: “It’s impossible to imagine working at the level he has while valiantly battling his illness. His legacy as a person and an artist will inspire millions.”