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Disney Laces Up for Jesse Owens Biopic (EXCLUSIVE)

Antoine Fuqua on board to direct feature about Olympic gold medalist who defied Adolf Hitler

Disney is developing a biopic about American track and field hero Jesse Owens, setting up the project with BermanBraun and Netter Films and attaching Antoine Fuqua to direct.

Producers are BermanBraun’s Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun and Netter Films’ Gil Netter (who has a first-look deal at Disney). Exec producers are BermanBraun’s Andrew Mittman and Netter Films’ Arthur Spector.

The untitled film is based on the book “Triumph,” written ESPN host Jeremy Schaap. David Seidler, who won a screenwriting Oscar for “The King’s Speech,” is on board to write the screenplay.

Set against the backdrop of  the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, “Triumph” tells the story of how the son of an Alabama sharecropper shattered Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy by winning a record four gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the 400-meter relay.

Hitler had insisted Jews and Blacks not be allowed to participate in the games, but relented when threatened with a boycott. He shook hands only with the German victors on the first day of competition and then skipped all further medal presentations.

BermanBraun is developing an animated “Addams Family” at MGM, where is has a first-look film deal as part of an overall pact to develop content across broadcast and cable. BermanBraun’s roster of shows include NBC’s series “Camp,” HGTV’s “Garage Sale Wars” and Showtime’s “Polyamory.”

Netter’s producing credits include “Life of Pi” and “The Blind Side.” Fuqua directed “Olympus Has Fallen” and Sony’s upcoming actioner “The Equalizer.”

Schaap is represented by Scott Waxman of Waxman Leavell Literary and Paradigm. Seidler is represented by  WME, Independent Talent Group in the U.K. and Jeff Aghassi Management. Fuqua is represented by CAA.

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