At the top of ABC’s TCA presentation, topper Paul Lee announced an overall deal with Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave writer John Ridley. The pact with ABC Studios comes on the heel of ABC’s pickup of his dark drama pilot American Crime to series for this coming season. “He is an extraordinary showrunner,” Lee said of Ridley, who started his career in television before segueing to features.
The Shield alum Benito Martinez and Deadwood‘s W. Earl Brown have been cast in American Crime, ABC’s drama pilot written and exec produced by John Ridley, fresh off winning an Oscar for 12 Years A Slave. It centers on the racially charged murder of a war veteran and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the players involved. Martinez, repped by SDB Partners, will play Alonzo, a hardworking, middle-class widowed father whose son is accused of the crime. He previously recurred on Sons Of Anarchy and is coming off an arc on House Of Cards. Brown, repped by Greene & Associates and manager Lynn Rawlins, will play Tom, the emotionally distraught father of Lily, widow of the murdered war vet. He next will be seen in Draft Day and Wild.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Christy Grosz is editor of AwardsLine.
Screenwriter John Ridley and the late Solomon Northup, author of 12 Years A Slave, won the 26th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award for best book-to-film adaptation. The winner was announced tonight at a black-tie gala, chaired again by Taylor Hackford and Helen Mirren and held at the Doheny Memorial Library on the USC campus. Ridley was moved to tears in discussing Northup and his memoir as he accepted the award. “There’s a very special relationship that forms between the writer and the originator,” said Ridley, who was joined by several of Northup’s descendants at the ceremony. Ridley praised the novelist and spoke about how adapting the book has been a new and different experience. “The clarity with which he wrote, the evocative language…” Ridley said. “Until I read Solomon’s memoir, I didn’t know what being a writer was about.”
ABC has given a pilot green light to American Crime, a drama from John Ridley, writer of the slavery feature 12 Years A Slave. The TV project, which also tackles racial issues, is set in California’s Central Valley. It centers on a racially charged murder and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the players involved. The case takes on greater meaning in the community, bringing to the forefront America’s hardened views on race, class and gender politics. Ridley wrote the script and is executive producing with former ABC Studios head of drama-turned-producer Michael McDonald through ABC Studios. 12 Years A Slave has emerged as a leading Oscar contender following its Golden Globes win on Sunday. Ridley started in television before focusing primarily on features for the past few years. American Crime joins other ABC drama pilots How To Get Away With Murder, Sea Of Fire as well as series Secrets & Lies.
John Ridley, writer of the slavery feature 12 Years A Slave, is returning to television with another project that takes on racial issues. ABC has put in development drama American Crime, written/executive produced by Ridley and executive produced by former ABC Studios head of drama-turned-producer Michael McDonald through ABC Studios. Set in California’s Central Valley, American Crime centers on a racially charged murder and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the victims, the accused and their families. The case takes on greater meaning in the community, bringing to the forefront America’s hardened views on race, class and gender politics. Ridley, repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment, is in Oscar contention with his script for 12 Years A Slave, which kicked off the awards season today by leading the Gotham Independent Film Awards nominations. Ridley started in television before focusing primarily on features for the past few years. He was just tapped by MGM to do a rewrite on Ben-Hur.
EXCLUSIVE: MGM has set 12 Years A Slave scribe John Ridley to do a rewrite on Ben-Hur, a new adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, which Timur Bekmambetov will direct, based on the Ben-Hur spec the studio bought from Keith Clarke (The Way Back). The intention is to begin casting soon and start production on this big sprawling film in the spring. It’s based on the book that for its time outsold every book but The Bible until it was eclipsed by Gone With The Wind. Sean Daniel and Joni Levin attached to produce, and Clarke and Jason Brown exec producing.
MGM released the 1959 Charlton Heston-starrer Ben-Hur, as well as the 1925 silent film Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. MGM sold the Heston film to Ted Turner in the 1980s, but the book is public domain. The studio’s decision makers, Gary Barber and production president Jonathan Glickman, loved the spec that is faithful to the book and carves out an identity that is different than the 1959 William Wyler film that focused on the adult blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur (Heston) and Messala (Stephen Boyd).
Ridley most recently scripted Red Tails, but his adaptation of 12 Years A Slave has thrust …
Former Warner Bros executive John Ridley has joined Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way as Vice-President of Production. “I’m looking forward to John helping us to connect with the best filmmakers and storytellers in the business,” said DiCaprio today. Ridley will work directly with Appian’s President of Production Jennifer Davisson Killoran. “We are so pleased to bring John into the Appian Way family,” said Killoran. Formally joining the Warner Bros-based production company next week, Ridley will work on the Eli Roth-directed and Brian Tucker re-written Harker, starring Russell Crowe. He will also be a part of Appian’s development of Erik Larson’s 2003 Devil In The White City and Gone Baby Gone author Dennis Lehane’s new novel Live By Night. DiCaprio, who is currently filming Appian’s The Wolf of Wall Street with director Martin Scorsese, will star in White City. Ben Affleck is set to write, direct and star in the Live By Night adaptation. Ridley was recently VP of production and development at Hollywood Gang Productions A former assistant to Jeff Robinov, he was a Creative Executive at Warner Bros from 2008 to 2010 when he left to join Hollywood Gang.
In their latest collaboration, director Spike Lee and writer John Ridley have teamed for an HBO biopic of Marion Barry, with Eddie Murphy attached to play the larger-then-life former Washington D.C. mayor. The HBO Films project, first reported by the Washington Post, is currently in development. Ridley is writing the script based on several pieces of source material, including the 1994 book Dream City by D.C. journalists Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood, who will serve as consultants. Lee is on board to direct. The two are executive producing with Murphy. HBO previously developed a Marion Barry biopic a decade ago with Jamie Foxx attached to star and Chris Rock to executive produce, but the project didn’t go forward. Barry, currently a member of the Council of the District Of Columbia, did two terms as a mayor of D.C., from 1979-91 and 1995-99, separated by a six-month stint in federal prison on drug charges that stems from a video of him smoking crack cocaine. Lee and Ridley, who have been developing a movie about the L.A. riots, recently partnered on HBO’s drama pilot Da Brick, which Ridley wrote an Lee is directing. The pilot is in consideration for a series pickup.
The story of the Tuskegee Airmen, first African-American pilots to fly in a combat squad during WWII, Red Tails is directed by first-timer Anthony Hemingway (with a lot of experience who served as 1st AD several features). It stars Cuba Gooding Jr, Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Michael B. Jordan, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley and Bryan Cranston. Screenplay is by John Ridley (Undercover Brother, Barbershop) and Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks). The 20th Century Fox release from Lucasfilm and Partnership Pictures opens January 20, 2012.
After a long search, newcomer John Boyega (Attack the Block) has landed the lead in HBO’s newly picked up drama pilot Da Brick, from Spike Lee, John Ridley, Doug Ellin and Mike Tyson. Boyega will play the central character, Donnie, in the ensemble drama, which was inspired in part by Tyson’s youth and explores what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America. Released from juvenile detention on his 18th birthday, Donnie begins an exploration of what it means to be a man both for himself, and to those around him. The role does require boxing skills. Lee is directing the pilot from a script by Ridley. Ellin, Ridley, Lee, Tyson and Jim Lefkowitz are executive producing.
HBO Picks Up Boxing Drama ‘Da Brick’ To Pilot; Doug Ellin, Spike Lee, Mike Tyson And John Ridley Executive Produce
EXCLUSIVE: It looks like Da Brick is a go at HBO. I hear the pay cable network has handed out a pilot order to the drama project about a young boxer from Entourage creator Doug Ellin, filmmaker Spike Lee, former boxing champion Mike Tyson and writer John Ridley. Ridley wrote the script for the pilot, which will be directed by Lee. Set in current-day Newark, NJ, nicknamed “brick city,” Da Brick is described as a contemporary exploration of what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America and is loosely inspired by aspects of Tyson’s youth. Search is under way for a young black actor to play the lead.
Da Brick stems from Tyson’s 2010 guest appearance on Ellin’s HBO comedy Entourage, a series inspired by executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s early years in Hollywood. “That’s when Mike asked me, why don’t we do with my life what we did with Mark’s life,” Ellin told me back in June, when Da Brick was still in development. “The initial idea was ‘Entourage meets The Wire,’ an edgy story about an up-and-coming boxer and his crew that is much more dramatic than Entourage.” While it was not a series Ellin felt he would write, he and his producing partner Jim Lefkowitz decided to develop and produce it through their company. Lefkowitz brought in Ridley who, in turn, brought in Lee, with whom he had been developing a movie about the L.A. riots. Ellin, Lefkowitz, Ridley, Lee and Tyson are executive producing Da Brick, with Tyson’s wife Lakiha Tyson and Azim Spicer, CEO of Las Vegas’ SpiceReel Prods, co-executive producing.
How is this for intriguing mix of creative auspices — filmmaker Spike Lee, former boxing champion Mike Tyson and Entourage creator Doug Ellin have come together to produce a drama series project for HBO, written by John Ridley and to be directed by Lee. The project, titled Da Brick, is described as a contemporary exploration of what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America and is loosely inspired by aspects of Tyson’s youth. Is its set in current-day Newark, NJ, nicknamed “brick city.” While the project is still in development, HBO has hired a casting director to explore casting choices for the lead, looking for young black actors who are also credible in the boxing ring.
Tyson appeared in a 2010 episode of Ellin’s HBO comedy series Entourage, playing himself. The original germ of an idea for Da Brick came out of a meeting the two had on the set of the veteran comedy, which was inspired by Mark Wahlberg’s early years in Hollywood. “That’s when Mike asked me, why don’t do with my life what we did with Mark’s life,” Ellin said. “The initial idea was ‘Entourage meets The Wire‘, an edgy story about an up-and-coming boxer and his crew that is much more dramatic than Entourage.”