Trailer for The Big Cigar shows Black Panther FBI fakeout

The first trailer for Apple TV+’s The Big Cigar, below, looks like so much fun I almost don’t want to know how true the “incredible true story” about Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton actually is. And as of Friday, the show’s on with its first two episodes.

The upcoming drama series tells the tale of Newton enlisting a Hollywood producer to fake out the FBI, providing cover for the political activist’s escape to Cuba in 1974. That came after Newton jumped bail on murder and assault charges he called false.

UPDATE: The Big Cigar now airs on Apple TV+. The first two episodes came out Friday. The third episode airs May 24.

The Big Cigar trailer plays up wild Black Panther-FBI fake-out with Hollywood’s help

The six-episode drama The Big Cigar “tells the incredible true story of Newton’s escape to Cuba,” Apple TV+ says. André Holland stars as Newton. And before we go any further, “The Big Cigar” is the title of the fake movie production that aided Newton’s escape.

I say I don’t want to know how true to history the movie is for good reason. I’ve gotten into the habit lately of reading source material for Apple TV+ movies and shows. And sometimes that comes back to bite me.

An example would be when I read the book behind the Manhunt series about the chase for Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. The way the show (understandably) tried to make the storytelling more visual by having august and asthmatic Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (played by Tobias Menzies) chase down perps and interrogate people all over the place drove me nuts. In reality, he ran the manhunt’s frantic operations from a telegraph room.

The Big Cigar‘s big story

Notably, The Big Cigar limited series is executive produced by NAACP Image Award winner Janine Sherman Barrois, Jim Hecht and Joshuah Bearman. And perhaps even more notably, multi-award-winning actor/director/producer Don Cheadle directs and executive produces the first two episodes.

Whether or not it’s because of Cheadle’s influence, the The Big Cigar trailer feels like it was made for an Ocean’s Eleven-style caper movie. (Cheadle played cockney-accented munitions expert Basher Tarr in that 2001 heist comedy.)

Here’s the Apple TV+ description of The Big Cigar:

Based on the magazine article of the same name by Joshuah Bearman (Argo), who also serves as executive producer, The Big Cigar tells the incredible true story of Hollywood revolution meeting social revolution. It’s a wild caper about Black Panther founder Huey P. Newton escaping from the FBI to Cuba with the assistance of famed producer Bert Schneider in an impossibly elaborate plan — involving a fake movie production — that goes wrong every way it possibly can.

Will The Big Cigar pull off the caper, or will it turn out to be a silly mess? Hard to say just from the trailer, which Apple TV+ released Wednesday.

The Bearman article appeared in Playboy in December 2012, but does not appear to be available online without subscription. Holland stars alongside Alessandro Nivola, Tiffany Boone, P. J. Byrne, Marc Menchaca, Moses Ingram, Rebecca Dalton, Olli Haaskivi, Jordane Christie and Glynn Turman.

And by the way, this 1977 Washington Post article about Newton’s return from Cuba to face charges serves as a pretty nifty time capsule.

Watch The Big Cigar trailer

Sherman Barrois (Claws, Self Made) serves as showrunner for The Big Cigar. Executive producer Hecht (Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty) wrote the first episode. The series comes from Warner Bros. Television. Other executive producers are Bearman, Joshua Davis and Arthur Spector (Little America) through Epic.

The six-part series debuts May 17 with two episodes, followed by a new one each Friday through June 14.

Watch The Big Cigar and other dramas on Apple TV+

The six-part series The Big Cigar debuts May 17 on Apple TV+ with two episodes, followed by a new one each Friday through June 14. With many dramas on offer, the service is available by subscription for $9.99 with a seven-day free trial. You can also get it via any tier of the Apple One subscription bundle. For a limited time, customers who purchase and activate a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy three months of Apple TV+ for free.

After launching in November 2019, “Apple TV+ became the first all-original streaming service to launch around the world, and has premiered more original hits and received more award recognitions faster than any other streaming service. To date, Apple Original films, documentaries and series have been honored with 471 wins and 2,090 award nominations and counting,” the service said.

In addition to award-winning movies and TV shows (including breakout soccer comedy Ted Lasso), Apple TV+ offers a variety of documentaries, dramas, comedies, kids shows and more.

Watch on Apple TV

Source: Apple TV+

This post first published on April 24, 2024. We republished it on the show’s air date, May 17, 2024.

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