HBO News Blog

David Simon & Oprah Behind MLK Miniseries

By Jef Dinsmore on Mar 5, 2014 to HBO News

We have been wondering now for a while what David Simon’s next HBO project would be. Now we have our answer. According to Person_DavidSimonhe will be writing a miniseries about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. for Harpo Productions and its CEO Oprah Winfrey.

Miss Winfrey has had the film rights to the award winning book trilogy America: In the King Years by Taylor Branch and was interested in bringing an adaptation to HBO as early as 2010. The three books are entitled Parting The Waters, Pillar of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge. That deal fell through and then in 2013 Harpo Productions was blessed with another development deal and is considering THESE THINGS HAPPEN, MOODY BITCHES and a “family drama about a black president of a liberal arts college” as potential HBO projects. But the biggest project for Harpo would clearly be this six-hour miniseries. Oprah may have her OWN network, but even she knows that HBO is a place for quality programming and a perfect place for this miniseries. And who better to spearhead it but the man behind THE CORNER, THE WIRE, GENERATION KILL and TREME.

People_OprahWinfreyIt did not look promising that David Simon would be doing much of any television after TREME, but was appreciative of the creative time spent with HBO. We addressed that in both What’s Next for HBO’s David Simon? and What’s Next for HBO’s David Simon? (Part II).  He has found something now to inspire him – the adult life of Martin Luther King Jr. The miniseries is said to cover MLK and his relationships with Lyndon Johnson, John F and Robert Kennedy, as well as the freedom rides, the Birmingham and Selma campaigns, and the poor people’s march on Washington that he was organizing when he was killed in Memphis.

The tomes, rich in details, will provide Mr. Simon with plenty of historical background to flesh out the project. If you think about his body of work on HBO alone you can see how he fits this project quite well. He has made the black experience his own via his stories of struggle and promise. Teamed with Oprah, who has a long list of connections both in the artistic and political circles, they can make this miniseries hBook_TKingYearsappen. But how fast will it happen? A script has to be written first. We, of course, have the HBO Miniseries OLIVE KITTRIDGE coming yet this year. So, a logical timeframe could possibly be a Martin Luther King Day premiere next February?

Are you excited that David Simon returns so soon to HBO, especially since David Milch’s latest isn’t going to happen? We know that a number of MLK biopics have been filmed over the years, but does this big in-depth, maybe even definitive, story sound of interest to you? Any ideas who should play King? How about Oprah; are you glad her company is working with HBO? Let us know what you think about the project and we will do our best to keep HBOWatch up to date with its development.  

  • Only getting around to reading this now, but it’s great news. Is this definitely greenlit? I’m just a bit wary after what happened to Milch and The Money.

  • Anything new coming from Mr. Simon is most fantastic news!

  • Ryo Shenmue

    Michael Potts as Martin Luther King.

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