USA is teaming with prolific scribe Walter Mosley to resurrect Easy Rawlins, hero of several Mosley books and Denzel Washington’s character in the 1995 film “Devil in a Blue Dress,” for a one-hour drama series.
Cabler has ordered a script for the show, to be exec produced by Mosley and Anne-Marie Mackay. Mosley will also pen the series.
McKay and Mosley worked together on HBO’s Lawrence Fishburne-led original movie based on Mosley’s book “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned.”
Effort does not rep the first time a network has tried to center a series on Rawlins, a black detective in 1948 Los Angeles who, in “Devil,” becomes entangled in a web of politics and racism as he tracks down a wealthy woman who has mysteriously disappeared.
ABC, along with helmer Thomas Carter (“Miami Vice”) and scribe David Mills (“ER”), attempted to revive Rawlins for an hourlong in 1999 but never made it beyond development. Mosley did not write for that project but was attached as a producer.
USA skein takes off from Mosley’s latest novel, “Six Easy Pieces,” set around the Watts riots. Easy is fathering two adopted children and working as a school maintenance supervisor, yet is still doing favors for people on the side.
“You wouldn’t call him an amateur, but that’s what he is,” Mosley said. “He’s a guy in the neighborhood who helps out. Easy is kind of like the chorus in a way. He’s telling a story about black life in L.A. over a large period of time. There are plenty of stories to be told.”
“I’ve been after Walter for 10 years to develop Easy Rawlins — he’s the person I take with me on vacation,” said USA programming exec VP Jeff Wachtel, referring to the series of Mosley books that revolve around the character. “At a basic cable network, we need to go where other people ain’t. The idea of an African-American detective who possesses this timeless essence in the 1960s seems to be just that.”
Mosley agreed USA seemed to be taking creative risks with its original series. “They’re taking interesting chances and doing old things in new ways, like ‘Monk,’ for example. This is an intelligent black drama, and I think they’ll keep it that way,” he said.
Mosley last exec produced CBS pilot “The Henry Lee Project,” starring Danny Glover, and developed “Walking the Dog,” a sequel to HBO’s “Always Outnumbered.”
Mosley is repped by CAA, lit agent Gloria Loomis in New York and attorney Tom Selz.