Washington to take 2 gigs
Denzel Washington has lined up his next two directing assignments: Miramax Films’ “The Great Debaters” and Alcon Entertainment’s “Brothers in Arms.”Washington already is scouting locations for “The Great Debaters,” which is based on the true story of a professor at the historically black Wiley College in East Texas. In 1935, Melvin B. Tolson inspired his students to form the college’s first debating team, which went on to defeat Harvard in national championships. Kate Forte of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films is producing the pic, with Suzan-Lori Parks rewriting a script by Robert Eisele (“Ray”). Washington plans to begin production next fall, with prep to begin after he wraps Antoine Fuqua’s “American Gangster” (aka “Tru Blu”) for Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment. After “Debaters,” Washington will segue to “Brothers in Arms,” which is based on the book “Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes” by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton. David Chisolm adapted the “Brothers in Arms” screenplay, which chronicles the first all-black tank battalion’s 183 days on the frontlines, including fighting during the Battle of the Bulge. Alcon optioned the book prior to its publication earlier this year. The ICM-repped Washington will produce with Rudy Langlais, Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson. Abdul-Jabbar and Stan Blum serve as executive producers.