Common is set to play the lead role in a new Starz series based on the “Black Samurai” book series with Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Jerry Bruckheimer executive producing, the network announced Tuesday.
The series, which is currently in development, will follow Robert Sand (Common), a highly-trained American Army Ranger whose life is transformed when he meets a legendary Japanese master who invites him to train as a samurai. After his beloved sensei and samurai brothers are killed by mercenaries, Sand is thrust on a worldwide journey of both revenge and self-discovery. The novels were previously adapted into the 1977 film of the same name, with Jim Kelly playing Sand.
“We cannot wait for the world to meet Robert Sand – part Jason Bourne, part James Bond, and 100% the hero we need today,” said Carmi Zlotnik, president of programming for Starz. “‘Black Samurai’ promises to be an action-packed ride and with the Bruckheimer team, Common, RZA and Andre at the helm, we can feel certain this will be exceptional storytelling.”
Bruckheimer will executive produce through his Jerry Bruckheimer Television banner along with Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed. Common will will also executive produce through his Freedom Road Productions along with Freedom Road’s Derek Dudley and Shelby Stone. RZA and Mitchell Diggs will also executive produce for Wu Films. Diane Crafford will also executive produce, as will Andre Gaines of Cinemation. James Oh of Jerry Bruckheimer Television will produce. Showrunners Cormac and Marianne Wibberley are are also writing the pilot script.
“I’m beyond excited about ‘Black Samurai.’ This is a unique and special project that offers something rarely seen in art and culture today,” said Common. “It’s an honor to play the character of Robert Sand and to have my production company, Freedom Road Productions partnering with Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, RZA and Starz to deliver something fresh and new to people. I can’t wait to dig into this character and the martial arts worlds of gun-fu, kung-fu, jujitsu and more. Look out world, ‘Black Samurai’ is coming!”
Starz vice president of original programming Patrick McDonald is the Starz executive in charge of “Black Samurai.” Starz retains all global distribution and home entertainment rights to the series.
“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Starz, Common, RZA and Andre Gaines on ‘Black Samurai,’” said Bruckheimer. “This incredible creative team will combine all of their talents and experience to bring the classic book series to brand new life with cutting edge artistry, music and imagery.”
Bruckheimer, Common, Littman and Wu Films are repped by CAA. Gaines is repped by Ethan Cohan, Todd Weinstein and Gordon Bobb at Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein and Lezcano. The Wibberleys are repped at UTA. Crafford and the Marc Olden estate are repped by Paradigm on behalf of Liza Fleissig of LRA.