Ava DuVernay’s MLK Film ‘Selma’ On Fast Track, Oprah Winfrey Joins As Producer
As some Martin Luther King films struggle, there’s one about the civil rights icon that seems to be moving along. Paramount Pictures is close to sealing the deal for the domestic distribution rights to “Selma,” King‘s 1965 landmark voting rights campaign in Alabama.
The project has been in the works for some time, and got a major boost recently when Oprah Winfrey came on board as producer. Director Ava DuVernay, who joined the project last July, has rewritten the original script by Paul Webb. It was actually the rewrite by DuVernay, who recently directed Scandal, that convinced Winfrey to become part of the project, according to Deadline Hollywood.
“This marks the second MLK project that Winfrey is overseeing. Her Harpo production company is also behind a seven-part HBO miniseries ‘America: In the King Years’,” reports Black America Web.
Now with Winfrey behind it, Selma seems to be on the fast track, and it is expected to start filming soon. Pathe UK, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Christian Colson are also producers on the project.
Meanwhile, another MLK project has been plagued with trouble. DreamWorks and Warner Bros rejected director Oliver Stone’s rewrite of a script for a King bio pic. Stone withdrew from the project. And Paul Greengrass’ MLK biopic Memphis isn’t ready to roll either.
Selma has gone through its own set of changes. Lee Daniels was to direct but the funding wasn’t ready in time and he went on to direct The Butler. Prior to his leaving the project, Daniels had even gathered a star-studded cast — David Oyelowo, Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson, Ray Winstone, Robert De Niro, and Cedric the Entertainer. Jackman gained 30 pounds to play Jim Clark, a sheriff who arrested King, reports Black America Web.
After Selma producers saw DuVernay’s micro-budgeted indie, the 2012 drama Middle Of Nowhere, which was shot in 19 days in and around LA they asked her to direct the MLK project. Oyelowo, who was leading man in Nowhere, will play King.
DuVernay, a publicist turned screenwriter and director, is the first black woman to win Best Director at Sundance for Middle of Nowhere, her second feature.