Nat Geo Orders Cop Drama From 'Selma' Star David Oyelowo

'The Black 22s' also hails from 'The Librarians' writers Paul Guyot and John Rogers.
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National Geographic Channel is teaming with Selma star David Oyelowo for its latest scripted endeavor. 

The cabler has landed The Black 22s, a cop drama pilot executive produced by the actor, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The project is based on the true story of an African-American detective and one of America's first all-black police squads in St. Louis. The squad battled gangland killers during Prohibition and fought for justice during one of the most radically charged times in history in a city that continues to be a hot spot for racism and police brutality. 

The Librarians creator John Rogers and writer Paul Guyot will also serve as exec producers, along with Kung Fu Monkey's Jennifer Court and Bharat Nalluri (Life on Mars), who is set to direct. Guyot would also serve as showrunner if the pilot is picked up to series.

“I’ve been researching and developing this story for years,” Guyot said Tuesday in a statement. “The cast of true-life characters is astounding, and I’m honored to bring their story of sacrifice and dedication to public attention. I could not be more excited to have Carolyn Bernstein and National Geographic Channel as a partner in developing such a provocative and important story that resonates so strongly with today’s society.”

Added Oyelowo: "Our goal is to serve up a kinetic and vibrant show that displays the excitement and energy of America in the 1920s, with a cinematic punch. The Black 22s is the black Untouchables."

The pickup is part of global chief Courteney Monroe's "new vision" that she hopes will help Nat Geo break through during the era of "Peak TV." "This new vision is about quality over quantity," she told THR in December. "Fewer hours overall, but hours that are signifi­cantly higher budget and are high-quality swings from A-level talent."

A big part of that vision has been a new emphasis on scripted programming led by Bernstein, who joined the channel as exec vp of global scripted programming and production in December. 

"This pitch gave me goosebumps from beginning to end. It is a moving, muscular and resonant story that perfectly exemplifies the adage that truth is stranger and more compelling than fiction,” said Bernstein. “It also represents the kind of timely and provocative storytelling that I hope will become a hallmark of Nat Geo’s new scripted initiative."

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