By Yohana Desta. Photos: Getty Images.
Jay Z and Harvey Weinstein are ramping up their collaborative efforts. After releasing a documentary on Kalief Browder, who spent three years awaiting trial on Rikers Island and committed suicide two years after he was finally released, the two are now prepping a series of projects about Trayvon Martin—the 17-year-old black teenager who was stalked and fatally shot by George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012. Weinstein and Jay Z nabbed the rights to two books about Martin, and plan to release a six-part docu-series, as well as a feature film about the late teenager's life, according to Variety.
The first book they acquired the rights to is Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, written by Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. The book covers Martin’s life, as well as the aftermath of the deadly shooting and how it sparked protests across the nation.
The second book is Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It by civil-rights attorney Lisa Bloom. She was a legal analyst for NBC over the course of the subsequent case against Zimmerman. Her book dives into the details of the trial, analyzing how a “winnable case” was lost. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood-watch member, shot Martin as he was returning home from a visit to a local store. After Zimmerman began following Martin, the two got into a physical altercation. Zimmerman later claimed the shooting was self-defense, and was eventually acquitted on a second-degree murder charge.
Martin’s death sparked outrage across the country, while Zimmerman’s eventual acquittal devastated people who believed his attack on Martin was racially motivated. Zimmerman’s reputation has only grown more loathsome in recent years—he auctioned off the gun he used to shoot Martin, and was reportedly heard bragging about killing the young teen in a bar last year.
The Weinstein Company picked up the rights to both books about Martin last week, beating out Universal and 20th Century Fox. Weinstein and TWC’s David Glasser reportedly held a “marathon meeting on Oscar weekend in their Los Angeles office with Jay Z and Martin’s parents” in order to win them over, per Variety.
Given Weinstein's track record, both the film and the multi-part series are certain to get strong awards-season pushes when the time comes. This past February, the multi-part series O.J.: Made in America. produced and directed by Ezra Edelman, won the Oscar for best documentary, blurring the lines between what is considered a film and what is considered a TV series. The two-pronged approach to telling Martin’s story might yield similar results when it’s finally released, although details about the project—including directors, release dates, and more—are still under wraps.
TWC has handled similar projects, releasing Fruitvale Station in 2013. The biopic, starring Michael B. Jordan and directed by Ryan Coogler, was about Oscar Grant, a young unarmed black man who was fatally shot in the back and killed by a transit police officer on New Years Day in 2009 in Oakland, California.
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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