Blumhouse Television is developing a limited series based on James McBride’s 2013 National Book Award-winning novel “The Good Lord Bird,” Variety has learned.
Ethan Hawke is on board to star as abolitionist leader John Brown, and will co-write the script with Mark Richard (“Fear of the Walking Dead”).
The project will reunite producer Jason Blum with Hawke, the star of “The Purge,” the hit 2013 horror film. It comes as Blumhouse is making a broader push into the television world. The company is best-known for backing low-budget scary movies, but it’s doing something different on the small screen. It is making several prestige dramas with healthy budgets. It’s a group that includes such high-brow literary-based series as HBO’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s “Sharp Objects” and Showtime’s forthcoming version of Gabriel Sherman’s “The Loudest Voice in the Room.”
Hawke’s involvement shouldn’t be a complete surprise. Not only is he a close friend of Blum’s, but he also told The Week that “The Good Lord Bird” is one of his six favorite books.
“The Good Lord Bird” follows a young slave who joins up with Brown, disguises himself as a girl to avoid being recognized, and eventually participates in the famous 1859 raid on the army depot at Harpers Ferry. That effort was intended by Brown to initiate a slave revolt. It failed in that aim, but it is widely believed to have helped to ignite the Civil War.
McBride is an acclaimed author and journalist whose work includes the best-selling memoir “The Color of Water” and “Miracle at St. Anna,” which Spike Lee adapted into a 2008 film of the same name.
Hawke will executive produce the limited series. McBride, Brian Taylor, Ryan Hawke, and David Schiff will also executive produce.