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Richard Wright’s The Man Who Lives Underground is getting the film treatment.
Paramount acquired the book rights for Kenya Barris, who is now rooted at the studio with a first-look film deal. “Richard’s the Ernest Hemingway of Black writers,” noted Barris, whose Khalabo Ink Society will produce the film with Hyde Park Entertainment’s Ashok and Priya Amritraj and New Slate Ventures’ Jordan Fudge and Jeremy Allen.
The adaptation, about a man tortured into a false confession by the police, marks the first project in a larger strategic, financial and creative partnership between Khalabo and the media fund run by partners Fudge, Allen and Zach White. As the two parties envision it, the relationship will enable Barris’ company to develop more original content, while New Slate gets to continue supporting stories from diverse and innovative voices across film and TV.
“Richard Wright’s The Man Who Lived Underground haunting story from over half a century ago is topical as ever in today’s America. We share not only a creative vision for adapting the book with Kenya, but also a common goal in what we hope viewers take away from the film,” said Fudge, who added: “Kenya is a singular talent in our industry and we are extremely excited about working with him to produce meaningful films and helping to grow his company into a formidable force in the entertainment industry.”
At New Slate, The Man Who Lives Underground joins a growing roster, which includes a still untitled Magic Johnson doc and an untitled Michael Milken limited series from Terence Winter. Over the past year, New Slate also backed The 40-Year-old Version and Lee Daniels’ The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
For Barris, the film joins a dizzying slate of forthcoming projects, including a Juneteeth musical with Pharrell and a Meet the Parents-meets-Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner comedy with Jonah Hill.
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