By Justin Kroll, Brent Lang
The indie label and the rap icon won a heated bidding war for the rights to two books — Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It and Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin. The 2012 shooting of the 17-year-old Martin sparked a national debate about racial profiling and inequities of the criminal justice system that brought about the Black Lives Matter movement. The African-American high school student was killed by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed race Hispanic man, who was a member of the neighborhood watch in his Florida community. He claimed he shot Martin, who was unarmed, in self defense after the two became involved in a physical altercation. Zimmerman’s acquittal on a second-degree murder charge inspired protests around the country.
Suspicion Nation is by Lisa Bloom and recounts her experience covering the trial for NBC. She looks at the mistakes made by prosecutors that caused them to lose what she describes as a “winnable case.” Rest in Power is by Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. It tells a more personal story, looking at Martin’s childhood and the aftermath of his death.
The plan is to make a six-part docu-series with Jay Z producing as part of a first-look deal he signed with the studio last September. The indie studio will also develop a narrative feature film. The Weinstein Company earned critical raves for Fruitvale Station, another true story, about the death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man who was killed in 2009 by a BART police officer.
The Weinstein Company confirmed the deal, but declined to offer comment.
There were several other studios interested in the project, including Fox Searchlight, Universal on behalf of Will Packer, and Ted Field. The Weinstein Company closed the deal last week. TWC honchos Harvey Weinstein and David Glasser had a marathon meeting on Oscar weekend in their Los Angeles office with Jay Z and Martin’s parents. They made it clear that they were most concerned with seeing their son’s life and legacy honored.
The authors were represented by Jan Miller and Lacy Lynch of Dupree Miller & Associates. Glasser, Weinstein, and Jay Z brokered the deal for the company.