Broadcaster, author and producer Tavis Smiley has signed an exclusive multi-year development and production pod deal with Warner Bros. Television Group that will allow him to develop new scripted television series for broadcast networks and cable, it was announced Thursday by WBTVG president and CCO Peter Roth.
Under the deal, WBTVG has optioned two of Smiley’s books for development as TV series. The first one, which was published in April and is titled “My Journey With Maya,” follows Smiley’s 28-year-long relationship with poet, author and civil rights hero Maya Angelou. The second, which is due in June 2016, is titled “Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days” and promises to offer a “vibrant account” of the King of Pop’s final days.
This deal continues a relationship between the studio and the PBS host that was kindled earlier this year when Warner Bros. Television acquired the TV rights to Smiley’s 2014 New York Times bestseller, “Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year.” That book is currently being developed as an event series with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions.
All three books are published by Little, Brown and Company, and written by Smiley with David Ritz. Smiley, who has a total of 19 book credits to his name, will have his TV projects produced through his The Smiley Group, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television or Warner Horizon Television. Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution will handle global sales.