The Harlem Little League team is going to Disney.
The Mouse House has acquired a pitch from newcomer Yaphet Smith about the ball club for “Undercover Brother”-helmer Malcolm Lee to direct and Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule to produce.
Project is described as an uplifting story in the same vein as “The Rookie” that follows an underdog team struggling to make it to the Little League World Series.
The actual Harlem Little League team won nationwide attention in 2002 when it captured the New York State Championship and the Mid-Atlantic Region Championship, and reached the United States semifinals in the Little League World Series that year.
As part of the pitch purchase, Disney has optioned the rights to use the Harlem team’s moniker as well as the life rights to Dwight Raiford and his wife Iris, who founded the Harlem Little League in 1989.
Pitch becomes the first sale for Smith, who will receive low six figures as part of the sale.
A former attorney, Smith took part in the Sundance Institute’s screenwriting lab in 2002, from which his resulting script, “The Supermarvelous” attracted the attention of Blueprint managers Jewerl Ross and Danny Sherman. That script, about a historic series of abductions and murders that compel a 12-year-old boy to pursue love and resurrect faith, is undergoing a rewrite and is expected to shopped.
Writer-director Malcolm Lee most recently helmed Universal’s laffer “Undercover Brother” and the romantic comedy “The Best Man.”
40 Acres and a Mule’s Spike Lee and Sam Kitt will produce the Harlem Little League pic, which could begin lensing as early as next year.
Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group veeps Brigham Taylor and Jill Morris will oversee the project at the studio for which Spike Lee most recently helmed the drama “The 25th Hour.”