×

Tyler Perry to Play Pioneering Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux in HBO Biopic (EXCLUSIVE)

HBO is developing a biopic of pioneering African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux that has Tyler Perry on board to star.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are shepherding the project for Sony Pictures TV through their Storyline Entertainment banner. Perry is set to executive produce with Zadan and Meron but does not plan to direct.

Charles Murray, an alum of “Sons of Anarchy” and History’s redo of “Roots,” is penning the script. It’s based on the 2007 biography “Oscar Micheaux: The Great and Only: The Life of America’s First Black Filmmaker” by film historian Patrick McGilligan.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Tyler Perry to bring Oscar Micheaux’s inspiring and trailblazing life story to HBO,” said Zadan. Added Meron: “There are so many parallels between the groundbreaking work that Micheaux pioneered and Perry’s achievements as an artist that it feels like a natural fit.”

A novelist turned director, Micheaux raised the money to produce the film adaptation of his 1917 book “The Homesteader” after rejecting an option offer from another company when they refused to let him direct.

Micheaux is believed to have helmed more than 40 features between 1919 and 1948, working outside the confines of Hollywood in the face of discrimination against an African-American entrepreneur.

Early on, Micheaux tackled the problem of distribution by personally driving prints of his films to black communities around the country, where they played to segregated audiences. His films largely featured all-black casts and were an effort to counter racial stereotypes with humanistic portrayals of black life. His notable works included 1920’s “Within Our Gates,” a response to D.W. Griffith’s epic “Birth of a Nation”; 1931’s “The Exile,” his first sound picture; 1938’s “Swing!” and 1940’s “The Notorious Elinor Lee.” Many of Micheaux’s films have been lost to history given the lack of preservation and the decomposition of film stock of the era.

Micheaux died in 1951 at the age of 67. The Directors Guild of America recognized his contributions to film with a posthumous award for directorial achievement in 1986.

Perry’s experience as an industry outsider who made it on his own terms in film and TV echoes Micheaux’s experience more than a half-century before. Perry has had a string of box office hits since he took on the big screen in 2002 with the independently produced “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” He’s produced a number of hit TV comedies (“Meet the Browns,” “House of Payne”) out of his home base in Atlanta. At present he’s a partner with Oprah Winfrey in the OWN cabler, where his primetime soap “The Haves and Have Nots” ranks as the channel’s most-watched program.

Zadan and Meron had long been looking to work with Perry on a project. When McGilligan’s Micheaux book came on their radar, the producers realized it was a perfect fit for Perry, and the trio brought it to HBO. The movie will cover most of Micheaux’s life.

Zadan and Meron are no stranger to biopics. The prolific producers delivered highly rated telepics on the Beach Boys and Judy Garland to ABC in 2000 and 2001, respectively. They stirred controversy in 2003 with the unflinching miniseries “The Reagans,” which moved from CBS to Showtime after an outcry from conservatives. The pair also tackled the Three Stooges for ABC in 2000, the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis story for CBS in 2002 and Lucille Ball’s off-camera life for CBS in 2003.

Zadan, Meron and Perry are exec producers on the untitled Micheaux project. Mark Nicholson is co-exec producer.

Perry is repped by WME and Ziffren Brittenham. Zadan and Meron just moved to ICM Partners.

(Pictured: Oscar Micheaux and Tyler Perry)

More TV

  • FIRMA-ACUERDO-AMERICA-TV-THE-MEDIAPRO-STUDIO-PHOTO

    The Mediapro Studio, America TV Strike Three Series Co-production Alliance

    Spanish TV giant The Mediapro Studio has inked a three-year collaboration deal with Argentine broadcaster America TV, aimed at developing, producing and distributing original content. The agreement will see the production of three series to be distributed in the global market, the companies said Thursday in a statement. No details of the projects were revealed. [...]

  • Trentino Leads By Example With Eco-Friendly

    Trentino Film Commission Leads By Example With Eco-Friendly Program T-Green

    In 2015, Luca Ferrario set out to lead by example. Though many European commissions already offered sustainability programs, none, he felt, did so in ways that could flourish in his own back yard. “Most of my colleagues offered guidelines to follow, only those were not enough, at least not in Italy,” says Ferrario, who is [...]

  • American Son review

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases 'American Son' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix released the trailer for “American Son” starring Kerry Washington and first looks at Dolly Parton’s new anthology series, “Heartstrings.” FIRST LOOKS Netflix has released the trailer for “American Son,” which premieres Nov. 1 on the streaming service. Directed by Tony award-winner Kenny Leon, the film is based on the [...]

  • BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to

    BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to Be Produced by Management Firm's New Shingle, ModestTV

    The BBC has confirmed its Little Mix talent show, which the pop band’s management firm, Modest!, will produce through a new banner, ModestTV. “Little Mix The Search” will be exec produced by Andrea Hamilton, who has partnered with the management outfit to launch the new operation. Her entertainment show credits include “The Voice” and “Strictly [...]

  • Monica Beletsky Apple TV Plus

    Apple Sets Overall Deal With Monica Beletsky

    Monica Beletsky is the latest of a small group of content creators to set an overall deal with Apple and their streaming platform, Apple TV Plus. Under the multi-year deal, Beletsky will develop and produce television series exclusively for the streamer. This is the first overall of Beletsky’s career. Her previous credits include “Fargo,” “Friday [...]

  • Saladin Patterson

    Saladin Patterson Inks Overall Deal at 20th Century Fox Television

    Saladin Patterson has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. Under the multi-year deal, Patterson will develop, write and produce comedy series for network, cable and streaming platforms. He was previously under a development deal at the studio earlier in his career. Patterson is currently an executive producer on the upcoming FX series [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content