HBO is in early development on two historical miniseries, including a take from Oprah Winfrey on a femme pioneer in investigative journalism.
“Ida Tarbell,” from Winfrey’s Harpo Films shingle, will center on the muckraking journo who exposed the unfair practices of John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil monopoly. Tarbell’s work was a contributing factor in the government’s eventual breakup of the company in 1911.
Winfrey and Harpo’s Kate Forte are set to exec produce, while Mimosa Jones (“Wild Card”) is writing.
The other project in the works at the pay cabler, “The Black Panthers,” looks at the history of the 1960s movement’s inner circle.
Carl Franklin (“Devil in a Blue Dress”) is writing “The Black Panthers” and is attached to direct. Exec producers include Franklin, Jesse B. Franklin, Cecil Cox and Craig Rice.
Among the source material is the Huey Newton bio “Huey: Spirit of the Panther,” by onetime Panther chief of staff David Hilliard, along with Keith Zimmerman and Kent Zimmerman (and with a forward by Newton’s widow, Fredrika). The Elaine Brown autobiography “A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story,” about her involvement with the Black Panthers, is also being used.
Franklin is a director on HBO’s upcoming epic WWII miniseries “The Pacific.”