EXCLUSIVE: Steve McQueen, director of the Oscar-buzzed slavery feature 12 Years A Slave, is making his first foray into television with another project featuring a black protagonist. McQueen has teamed with World War Z co-writer Matthew Michael Carnahan, hip-hop mogul/producer Russell Simmons and Oscar-winning producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman (The King’s Speech) on the drama project, which is in development at HBO. Co-written by McQueen and Carnahan and to be directed by McQueen, the untitled drama is carrying McQueen’s signature style of provocative filmmaking and is described as an exploration of a young African-American man’s experience entering New York high society, with a past that may not be what it seems. We hear the project, described by some as “Six Degrees Of Separation meets Shame“, Russell Simmons Harriet Tubmanis being fast tracked, with casting choices already being explored for a potential shoot before McQueen starts his next movie. McQueen, Carnahan and Simmons executive produce with Canning and Sherman. Canning and Sherman produced McQueen’s second feature, Shame, with Canning also serving as an executive producer on McQueen’s feature debut, Hunger, which won the Camera d’Or in Cannes. McQueen’s third feature, 12 Years A Slave, got off to a strong box office start and is considered a prime Oscar contender. Simmons has been stepping up producing efforts through his recently launched RSTV, which has a first-look deal with HBO. 12 Years A Slave writer John Ridley also just set up a drama series project, a racially charged murder drama at ABC.

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