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Following a multiple-outlet bidding war, Erik Feig’s Picturestart has acquired TV rights to Kim Johnson’s breakout novel This Is My America.
Picturestart has set up the drama at HBO Max and tapped Jessica Watson (Insatiable, Pen15) to adapt Johnson’s award-winning novel that explores racial injustice through the eyes of a Black Gen-Z budding social activist who fights to save her father from death row, while also working to clear her brother’s name after he becomes a suspect in the murder of a popular white girl at their Texas school.
Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and their Fake Empire banner will exec produce the drama, which is currently in the development stages. Fake Empire’s Lis Rowinski will also exec produce alongside author Johnson, Watson and Picturestart’s Chloe Dan, Lucy Kitada and Royce Reeves-Darby.
Feig launched Picturestart in May 2019 with a goal of focusing on discovering new voices in storytelling. This Is My America marks the company’s latest venture for HBO Max, joining feature Unpregnant and the WarnerMedia streamer’s upcoming Grease prequel Summer Lovin’.
Johnson, for her part, has held leadership positions in social justice organizations since she was a teen. She is now a college administrator who remains involved in civic organizations in her community while also mentoring Black student activists and leaders. This Is My America, published last year, was Johnson’s first novel. The novel explores racial injustice against innocent Black men who are criminally sentenced and their families who are left behind to pick up the pieces. She’s repped by UTA and the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Schwartz and Savage’s Fake Empire are exec producing HBO Max’s Gossip Girl update and count The CW’s Nancy Drew and Dynasty among their roster of credits. They’re with WME and attorney Joel McKuin. Schwartz is additionally with Mikkel Bondesen. This Is My America falls outside of both of Fake Empire’s overall deals with CBS Studios and Apple.
Watson’s writing credits include Amazon’s upcoming Amy Poehler/Tracey Oliver series Harlem, Freeform’s Single Drunk Female and Hulu’s Pen15. She’s with Rise Management and Ziffren Brittenham.
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