9:00am PT by Borys Kit, Lesley Goldberg
Will Smith's Overbook Tackling Max Brooks' 'Harlem Hellfighters' for History Channel (Exclusive)
Harlem Hellfighters, the fact-based graphic novel by World War Z author Max Brooks, is getting the limited-series treatment from History Channel.
Jeremy Passmore and Andre Fabrizio, who wrote the Dwayne Johnson earthquake adventure movie San Andreas, are on board to pen what is being developed as a six-hour series that will hail from A+E Studios in association with Overbrook Entertainment and Immersive Pictures.
Hellfighers, illustrated by Caanan White, was based on the real-life U.S. Army's 369th infantry division, an African American unit fighting in Europe during World War I. Breaking down racial barriers, the unit spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and went on to win countless decorations. They faced tremendous discrimination during the war and even when they returned from the front as heroes.
What changed for the men of Harlem was being assigned to a French command whereupon the Hellfighters first experienced something unknown to them in America at that time — racial equality. The unit would eventually be awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government for their distinction in battle in liberating France from the Germans.
Will Smith, James Lassiter and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Overbrook production banner is executive producing with Brooks and Immersive’s Josh Bratman. Fabrizio and Passmore will also executive produce.
Before going to the TV route, Hellfighters was set up as a movie at Sony Pictures, which picked up the rights in 2014. Brooks was attached to pen the script at the time.
Hellfighters marks a decisive move into television by Passmore and Fabrizio, who are known for their movie work. On top of San Andreas, the duo worked on Astro Boy, set up at Warner Bros., and worked on 2012’s Red Dawn remake that starred Chris Hemsworth. Passmore and Fabrizio are repped by CAA, Aperture Entertainment and Eclipse Law.