Village Roadshow Television has secured the life rights of civil rights, religious and political leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson to adapt his story into a limited series. The company is working closely with Rev. Jackson, as well as his wife, Jaqueline Jackson, and their family to develop the project.
Casting is under way to find a lead to play Rev. Jackson, as development begins on the project. The series, currently untitled, will be developed and executive produced by Rev. Jackson’s son Yusef D. Jackson, as well as William F. Keys. News of the scripted series comes soon after Rev. Jackson and his family also announced plans for a simultaneous documentary about the leader’s life, directed by Shola Lynch (“Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed,” “Free Angela & All Political Prisoners”).
“Reverend Jackson has lived an extraordinary life, not only through his actions and deeds for America as a nation but also based on what he has personally witnessed and participated in around the world, from the best our country and the world has to offer to some of the lowest points in our history,” said Village Roadshow Entertainment Group CEO Steve Mosko, who announced the project on Thursday.
The project was brought into Village Roadshow Television and the deal negotiated by Michael Linowes, exec VP, business affairs. The Village Roadshow team and Rev. Jackson’s family recently met in Chicago to formalize their relationship and discuss ways they hope the series will define and provide context to Rev. Jackson’s role over six decades of pursuing civil rights, gender equality, empowerment and economic and social justice.
“I have been blessed with a voice, calling and passion to work towards contributing to the greater good of humanity,” Rev. Jackson said in a statement. “Throughout my journey there have been great triumphs and disappointments, but we never lost sight of our goals or the tens of thousands of people who directly worked with us to try to make a positive impact on the world.”
Here’s a bit of a logline from Village Roadshow: “From abject poverty in Greenville, South Carolina, the site of the one of the south’s last recorded racial lynchings when Reverend Jackson was six years old, to working with Martin Luther King Jr., to two presidential runs, freeing hostages around the world, and engaging nearly every major world leader or religious figure of our time, Rev. Jackson has been a singular figure in the zeitgeist of the 20th century and beyond.”
Among his accomplishments: In 1984, he negotiated the release of a captured U.S. fighter pilot in Syria, and also that year, negotiated with Fidel Castro to free 22 Americans and 26 political prisoners from Cuba. In 1990, Jackson secured the release of more than 200 American, British and French hostages from Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf War. He also got three U.S. soldiers released during the Kosovo conflict.
Rev. Jackson’s honors include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, as well as France’s highest order of merit, Legion d’Honneur. He has received more than 40 honorary doctorate degrees, and is even a Grammy award winner.