“Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins will write and direct a one-hour drama series about the Underground Railroad currently in development at Amazon, Variety has learned. The series will be based on Colson Whitehead’s best-selling book, “The Underground Railroad.”
“Going back to ‘The Intuitionist,’ Colson’s writing has always defied convention, and ‘The Underground Railroad’ is no different,” Jenkins said. “It’s a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation’s history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way. Preserving the sweep and grandeur of a story like this requires bold, innovative thinking and in Amazon we’ve found a partner whose reverence for storytelling and freeness of form is wholly in line with our vision.”
Published by Doubleday, “The Underground Railroad” has sold over 825,000 copies in the United States across all formats. An Oprah’s Book Club 2016 selection, New York Times bestseller, and the winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, the book chronicles young Cora’s journey as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping her Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad full of engineers and conductors, and a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.
This will be Johnson’s first attempt at directing a TV series in its entirety. He recently directed an episode of the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the film “Dear White People,” and previously directed one episode of the PBS series “Futurestates.”
Jenkins’ Pastel Productions will executive produce along with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. Pitt and Plan B also produced “Moonlight.” The 2016 Best Picture winner was at the center of the most memorable Oscars gaffe of all time, during which Best Picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway incorrectly stated that “La La Land” had won the coveted film award instead. In addition to its Best Picture win, Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, while star Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor.
Plan B is represented by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Jenkins is represented by Silent R Management and CAA. Whitehead is represented by Nicole Aragi at Aragi Inc. and Geoffrey Sanford and Brooke Ehrlich at The Sanford Ehrlich Company.