In recent years, different players have tried to create a big film or miniseries connected to Martin Luther King Jr. For all sorts of complicated reasons, it has not happened.
The latest effort, as reported by Deadline.com, includes some heavy hitters. “The Wire” creator David Simon is working with HBO to develop a six-hour miniseries adaptation of “America: In the King Years,” based on Taylor Branch’s heralded book trilogy. And Oprah Winfrey will be involved as a producer.
Winfrey is also developing a film called “Selma” focused on King’s pivotal voting rights campaign in 1965.
Simon confirmed the news to the Baltimore Sun but said another project is ahead of it in the pipeline.
Another King-related movie has been in the works with Jamie Foxx as King. Oliver Stone was to direct but he dropped out in January, saying in Tweets he wanted to portray King as a fully former human being with flaws but the film studios would rather canonize him.
Stone, in a Tweet, wrote he wanted to include issues of King’s infidelity, his conflicts with the non-violent movement and “King’s spiritual transformation into a higher, more radical being.” The studios objected, he wrote.
Paul Greengrass faced similar pressures in 2011 with Universal Pictures for his film “Memphis,” focused on the final days of King’s life. There were rumors at the time the King family was not pleased with the script.
In 1978, NBC aired a three-night miniseries about King starring Paul Winfield as King.