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Gregory Allen Howard, who wrote Remember the Titans and was a producer and writer behind Harriet, died Friday. He was 70.
Howard died following a brief illness in Miami, his rep Jeff Sanderson told The Hollywood Reporter.
Howard, born on Jan. 28, 1952, in Norfolk, Virginia, moved to Los Angeles in the ’90s to pursue a career as a screenwriter. He started making a name for himself in the early 2000s, writing Boaz Yakin’s award-winning Remember the Titans, which starred Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris and Donald Faison. Based on a true story, the film follows the story of Herman Boone, a new African American football coach as he trains a high school team during their first season as a racially integrated group.
He later earned a story-writing credit for Michael Mann’s Ali, the 2001 biopic of sports legend Muhammad Ali. The film, which was nominated for two Oscars, starred Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and Jon Voight.
In 2019, Howard brought a story he felt so passionate about to life — Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet — for which he wrote the screenplay and produced. He has previously said the story was over 20 years in the making after having studied Harriet Tubman as a history major at Princeton University. He remembered how her life spoke to him and inspired him to want to turn it into an action-adventure movie. At the red carpet premiere of Harriet, Howard told THR, “What I waited for more than anything else is for the whole industry to change. There needed to be the #OscarsSoWhite and [more] diversity in Hollywood. All that had to happen, because anybody who greenlighted this movie was risking their job and/or career.”
The film, which was nominated for two Oscars, starred Cynthia Erivo, Janelle Monáe and Leslie Odom Jr. When talking about what the movie meant to him, Howard said in a 2019 interview for Focus Features, “For me, this film is my valentine to Black women. I wanted them to be able to go to the movies on Saturday and see this young Black woman take on this incredible power structure and triumph over it.”
Howard had a number of projects in development, including The Magician, a biopic on quarterback Marlin “The Magician” Briscoe.
He is survived by his sister, Lynette Henley, brother Michael Henley, nieces, a nephew and grandchildren.
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