James McBride Adapting 'Deacon King Kong' for TV

Deacon King Kong- book cover- Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Sister

James McBride is bringing his latest best-seller to TV.

The author has teamed with global content company Sister to develop his latest novel, Deacon King Kong, as a TV series. The news comes a day after the novel, published in March, was made an official selection to Oprah's Book Club.

McBride will pen the script for the potential TV series and exec produce alongside Brian Taylor and Sister's Carolyn Strauss and Kate Fenske, with Jonah Disend of Complementary Colors set to produce. A network is not yet attached.

"I'm delighted that Deacon King Kong has found a home with the Sisters. They are big lifters of story, and big believers in the common humanity which makes stories human and worth doing. I'm so excited about the creative possibilities that lie ahead," McBride said. 

Deacon King Kong is set in 1969 and explores what happens when a deacon known as Sportcoat kills a housing project drug dealer in Brooklyn at point-blank range. The novel explores the consequences and causes of the violence and takes the reader through housing projects that were inspired by the Red Hook housing project where McBride grew up and which remain an integral part of his life.

Deacon King Kong is McBride's first novel since winning the National Book Award for The Good Lord Bird, which is being adapted as a Showtime drama series due in August. His 1995 memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, is a New York Times best-seller, has sold millions of copies worldwide and is considered a classic of the genre. His novel Miracle at St. Anna was adapted into a film by Spike Lee.

"James McBride is one of America’s greats. His characters are vibrant and alive and, his themes — that community, faith and love are contagious — are powerful and relevant, particularly today. We all feel privileged to bring Deacon King Kong to the screen,” Sister CEO Stacey Snider said.

McBride was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama for "humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America." In selecting Deacon King Kong to her book club, Winfrey declared: "In a moment when our country roils with righteous anger and grief, Deacon King Kong reminds us that when we come together as a community in compassion and empathy, our love triumphs."

Sister was co-founded by Snider, Elisabeth Murdoch and Jane Featherstone to develop, produce and invest in visionary storytellers. The company's credits include HBO's Chernobyl and Giri/Jaji for Netflix. The company is adapting Naomi Alderman's The Power for Amazon, among other projects. Former HBO programming president Carolyn Strauss joined Sister earlier this week following a three-decade run with the premium cable network, where she most recently was a producer on titles including Game of Thrones.

McBride is repped by Sterling Lord Literistic. The deal was negotiated on behalf of McBride and Taylor by attorney Kirk Schenck.