Just as FX Networks basks in the glow of some strong ratings for its first season of “American Crime Story” which fictionalized the O.J. Simpson trial of 1994, starring Cuba Gooding Jr as “The Juice,” a feature film based on another case handled by the man who was instrumental in Simpson’s defense – the late Johnnie Cochran (played wonderfully by Courtney B. Vance in the FX series) – is in development.
Film, TV and talent management company The Firm acquired an untitled script written by David McMillan, which centers on a case that Cochran took earlier in his career, involving Ron Settles, a black Cal. State University, Long Beach football player who was arrested in 1981, after he was pulled over for speeding, and got into a scuffle with the arresting white officers. The morning after his arrest, Settles was found severely beaten and hanging in his jail cell, leading to public outcry afterward over the nature of his death, which the police claimed was a suicide.
Sound familiar at all? #SandraBland
No one was prosecuted for Settles’ death, but the city of Signal Hill where it all transpired, did pay a large settlement to Settles’ family.
The case was an early high-profile case handled by Cochran, who represented the family.
Charles Burnett’s 1995 film “The Glass Shield” was inspired by the Settles case.
The Firm’s Robbie Brenner (“Dallas Buyers Club”) is producing along with Kevin McKeon, while Jeff Kwatinetz is executive producing.
“Kevin and I are so excited to work on David McMillan’s incredibly well-written, timely script,” Brenner said. “The subject matter resonates now just as powerfully as it did in 1981, and we look forward to making an honest, provocative and challenging film.”
It’s been announced today that Anthony Mackie has signed on to star in the film as Johnnie Cochran (he will also co-produce with Jason Spire and Robbie Brenner of The Firm. Jeff Kwatinetz will be exec producer along with The Firm’s David McMillan.
No director or ETA yet. But I should note that the writer of the script, David McMillan, is African American – noteworthy at a time when discussions about diversity in front of, and behind the camera, as well as who gets to tell *our* stories, continue to be central.
Certainly a timely project.
Mackie will next be seen on the big screen this weekend playing Falcon in “Captain America: Civil War.” On the small screen, he also plays Martin Luther King, Jr in the upcoming HBO telepic “All the Way,” which is based on a play by Robert Schenkkan. It stars Bryan Cranston, Melissa Leo, and Frank Langella, and will air on HBO on May 21, 2016. The movie follows Lyndon B. Johnson (Cranston) as he assumes the office of the U.S. Presidency after the John F. Kennedy assassination, and must work on the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Source: Shadow & Act