Civil Rights Limited Series 'The Ali Summit' in the Works at Showtime

Jeff and Michael Zimbalist will write and direct the project.
Tom Wargacki/Getty

Showtime is taking a page from the history books for its latest project.

The pay cabler is developing a limited series about the civil rights movement called The Ali Summit, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The project looks at a seminal moment in the civil-rights movement – the gathering of 12 of the nation's top black intellectuals and athletes to first vet and then ultimately support Muhammad Ali's conscientious objection to the Vietnam War draft, 50 years ago in 1967.

The drama explores the intersection of civil rights and sports, and tracks the FBI's crusade against Ali, Jim Brown and other black leaders in the lead-up to Ali's arrest for draft evasion at the peak of his boxing career in 1967. He was later convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for three years. His conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971.

Others in attendance at the summit included NFL player Willie Davis, NBA coach Bill Russell and NBA great (and THR contributing editor) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Jeff and Michael Zimbalist (The Two Escobars) will write and direct The Ali Summit. The duo will also exec produce with Brown, his wife Monique Brown, Jeff Kirschenbaum (xXx: Return of Xander Cage) and Joe Roth (Legion).

The Ali Summit would join several historical projects at Showtime, including the upcoming '70s-set drama I'm Dying Up Here. The network is also pushing further into limited series with the upcoming John Ridley mini Guerrilla set against the backdrop of political activism in the U.K. in the '70s.

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