Monday Mixer: Don Cheadle to play America’s first black billionaire

Kansas City native Don Cheadle has signed to star in a film based on the life Jeremiah G. Hamilton, America’s first black billionaire, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Kansas City native Don Cheadle has signed to star in a film based on the life Jeremiah G. Hamilton, America’s first black billionaire, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Invision/The Associated Press

KC’s stars

▪ From War Machine to Daddy Warbucks: KC’s Don Cheadle has signed on to star in a movie about Jeremiah G. Hamilton, America’s first black billionaire.

The Hollywood Reporter says the film will be loosely based on Shane White’s 2015 book “Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Billionaire.”

“White’s book details the rise of Hamilton as he is chased out of Haiti and becomes a broker and land agent in 19th century New York, his success prickling both white and black society,” the site said. “He broke many taboos of the times, including marrying a white woman and owning stock in rail companies on whose trains he wasn’t legally allowed to ride. When Hamilton died, obits at the time called him the richest black man in America.”

The film will be written by Cheadle’s collaborator on the Miles Davis film “Miles Ahead.”

▪ Like the way she do: Singer Melissa Etheridge, the Leavenworth native who sang the national anthem at the Royals’ home opener, told PrideSource all about her newest venture: Selling weed and products for smoking it.

“I’m not as much of a drinker. I actually just smoke, and yes, smoking helps me write very much — smoking helps me every day,” Etheridge said.

She told the site she got turned onto weed as she battled breast cancer in 2004.

“Part of what we really want to be is sort of the ‘Cannabis for Dummies.’ I can really take everybody through this,” she said. “It’s good for you. And I’ll show you the choices and how to do it if you’re scared and stuff; that’s really what I want my brand to be.”

▪ Wonderful stories: “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, who grew up in Lawrence, has a lot to say about the Amazing Amazon and superhero movies, in general.

“Really, every action sequence is from her point of view and for her story,” Jenkins told “So there was no point in the movie that we were ever like … ‘Look at this extravaganza!’ She witnesses a battle on a beach that rocks her world and changes her understanding of what warfare is. Then she comes to man’s world and she see’s a war that everybody says is impenetrable and nothing can be done about it and she says, ‘What am I gonna do about it?’ So that makes it fun.”

She said don’t expect superhero movies to go away anytime soon.

“It’s not about superheroes,” she told Blasting News. “It’s about the method of universal storytelling that all people have that is not of one religion, one thing, that America ended up inventing as a way to tell these metaphors about all different kinds of states of being. There’s a million movies to be told with [these] common characters.”

“Wonder Woman” is scheduled to open June 2.

▪ Speak up: Kansas City, Kan., native Janelle Monáe has been selected to give the commencement address May 13 at Dillard University in New Orleans.

On the way

▪ Alicia Solo (formerly Alicia Solombrino of Beautiful Bodies) performs Thursday at the Encore Room at the Uptown Theater. Tickets are $10 at

▪ Dead Man Winter, side project of Trampled By Turtles’ front man Dave Simonett, performs Thursday at Knuckleheads. Tickets are $15 in advance through

▪ Of Montreal performs Friday at the RecordBar. Tickets are $20 through

Stuff to do

▪ Comedian (and former state champion wrestler for Shawnee Mission West) Tim Gaither performs Thursday-Saturday at Stanford’s Comedy Club. Tickets are $10-$25 through

▪ “Welcome to Night Vale,” the podcast that’s “Prairie Home Companion” for the sci-fi set, comes to the Uptown on Friday. Tickets are $22.50-$32.50 through

▪ The Lyric Opera presents “The Pirates of Penzance” Saturday at the Kauffman Center. Tickets are $40.50-$210.50 through

▪ Looking ahead to next Monday, “WWE Raw” comes to the Sprint Center on April 24. Tickets are $17-$112 through

New this week

▪ Books: A.E. Kaplan, “Grendel’s Guide to Love and War”; Sarah Maine, “Beyond the Wild River.” More here.

▪ Music: Brad Paisley, “Love and War”; Angaleena Presley, “Wrangled”; Incubus, “8”; Ray Davies, “Americana”; Robyn Hitchcock, “Robyn Hitchcock”; Sheryl Crow, “Be Myself”; Ron Sexsmith, “The Last Rider.” More here.

▪ Movies: “The Lost City of Z”; “Free Fire”; “The Promise”; “David Lynch: The Art of Life.”

▪ Video: “Split”; “Sleepless”; “The Founder”; “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.” More here.

▪ Games: “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.” More here.

David Frese: 816-234-4463, @davidfrese