Tavis Smiley Inks Warner Bros. TV Deal, Michael Jackson Series in Works

Smiley's first two projects are based on books of his.
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Tavis Smiley

Tavis Smiley's TV footprint is expanding.

The PBS host has inked a multiyear pod deal with Warner Bros. Television. As part of the development and production pact, Smiley will develop scripted projects for both broadcast and cable.

The first batch will be series adaptations of two of Smiley’s books: My Journey with Maya, a recent memoir of the author’s nearly 30-year friendship with the renowned poet Maya Angelou, and the upcoming Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days, an account of the final 16 weeks in the life of legendary pop star Michael Jackson. The former already is being developed as a stage play with Smiley and Tony-winning director Kenny Leon; the latter will be published in June 2016.

The news comes several months after Warner Bros. TV acquired the TV rights to another one of Smiley's books, Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year, which is being developed as an event series with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions.

And there is plenty more where all of that came from. Smiley, who also hosts The Tavis Smiley Show radio program, has written 19 books, including his own best-selling memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America.

Each of his books has been published by Little, Brown and Company and has been written by Smiley with David Ritz. His TV projects will be produced through his The Smiley Group in association with Warner Bros. TV or more cable-friendly Warner Horizon.