‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins to Write, Direct ‘Underground Railroad’ Series at Amazon

Barry Jenkins Underground Railroad series Amazon
Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins will write and direct a one-hour drama series about the Underground Railroad currently in development at AmazonVariety has learned. The series will be based on Colson Whitehead’s best-selling book, “The Underground Railroad.”

“Going back to ‘The Intuitionist,’ Colson’s writing has always defied convention, and ‘The Underground Railroad’ is no different,” Jenkins said. “It’s a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation’s history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way. Preserving the sweep and grandeur of a story like this requires bold, innovative thinking and in Amazon we’ve found a partner whose reverence for storytelling and freeness of form is wholly in line with our vision.”

Published by Doubleday, “The Underground Railroad” has sold over 825,000 copies in the United States across all formats. An Oprah’s Book Club 2016 selection, New York Times bestseller, and the winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, the book chronicles young Cora’s journey as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping her Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad full of engineers and conductors, and a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

This will be Jenkin’s first attempt at directing a TV series in its entirety. He recently directed an episode of the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the film “Dear White People,” and previously directed one episode of the PBS series “Futurestates.”

Jenkins’ Pastel Productions will executive produce along with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. Pitt and Plan B also produced “Moonlight.” The 2016 Best Picture winner was at the center of the most memorable Oscars gaffe of all time, during which Best Picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway incorrectly stated that “La La Land” had won the coveted film award instead. In addition to its Best Picture win, Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, while star Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor.

Plan B is represented by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Jenkins is represented by Silent R Management, CAA, and attorney Jamie Feldman. Whitehead is represented by Nicole Aragi at Aragi Inc. and Geoffrey Sanford and Brooke Ehrlich at The Sanford Ehrlich Company.

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  1. Patrick Greely says:

    I have to agree with Justine Black …and I would cheer a strong film on the M.O.V.E. bombing …or how about a film that tells the story of Minis? My concurrence aside, Whitehead is such a fantastic writer – one who paints a screen and conveys inner thoughts in a way that only Cormack McCarthy can. And adapted by Jenkins, who showed in Moonlight that he can portray a story with sheer visual beauty, like Park Can-wook, and with the quiet contemplative style of Mallick. Let this adaptation come to the screen. I expect it to be stunning!

  2. Justine Black says:

    CAN WE STOP with the darn slave narrative already!!! Can WE get a movie about Black Wall Street.. or the bombing of M.O.V.E…Can somebody get Assata Shaku’s story on film, What about the countless Black Inventors that had their inventions stolen, credit given to “de white man”… Too many various stories surrounding Black Folks…for these writers to keep writing the same ish over and over and over and over again. Enough is enough. How many different ways do you all NEED to see the underground slave narrative? It’s time to take the non colored world out of their comfort zone. They’re too got darn comfortable seeing black folks as slaves…Flip the damn script already…sheesh.

  3. Mark King says:

    No mention of Akil Dupont’s FSU film Undergound??

  4. Optimist says:

    No mention of WGN America channel’s series Underground about the underground railroad, Season Two airs in April. Glaringly oversight that a current series on the exact same topic is already airing Variety, are you awake?

  5. People says:

    Typo bro bro his name is Jenkins

  6. A little typo in the fourth paragraph. It’s Jenkins not “Johnson.” But good news all around.I love Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B. Always putting out solid stuff.

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