Drama focuses on high school teacher, inmate students

In a preemptive mid-six-figure bid, Columbia Pictures has collared “Rikers,” a fact-based drama that will be scripted by Donald Martin for Winkler Films.

“Rikers” is a drama revolving around a high school program for teenagers who are passing through Rikers Island, a holding prison in New York. The school was set up after the state was sued for not supplying educational opportunities for inmates.

Martin optioned the story of a teacher who was bouncing from job to job before taking what seemed like the worst teaching post imaginable. Once he penetrated the tough veneer of the inmates, he discovered that the teens excelled in areas like poetry and music and were eager to learn.

“The story is about this teacher and one kid in particular who shows that it is possible to change peoples’ lives through education,” said Winkler Films’ prexy Rob Cowan. “It is an uplifting story, but there is great dramatic tension as well.”

The Summit/Great North Artists-repped Martin is currently writing for Wes Craven Films “The Day I Went Missing,” and with Anni Chi he’s scripting the period action-adventure “Women Warriors of the Yang Family.”

Winkler Films is in post-production on “She’s De Lovely,” the Cole Porter pic that Irwin Winkler directed for MGM, toplining Kevin Kline with Ashley Judd.

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