Showbiz411 is reporting exclusively that Tonya Lewis Lee, wife of director Spike Lee, will be putting her producer hat on to develop a film adaptation of a historical fiction novel called The Watsons Go to Birmingham, and she’s tapped Kenny Leon (primarily a stage director, although he directed Lifetime’s Steel Magnolias remake) to direct.
To be co-produced by Nikki Silver, The Watsos Go To Birmingham will adapt Christopher Paul Curtis’ 1995 novel which centers on an African American family living in the town of Flint, Michigan, who visit their grandmother’s home in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, a turbulent time during the civil rights movement.
When Kenny Watson’s brother, Byron, gets to be too much trouble, the Watson family heads south to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they happen to be in Birmingham when Grandma’s church is bombed.
The bombing of course was that of the 16th Street Baptist Church in September, 1963, which proved to be one of the pivotal events of that year in the fight for civil rights.
The book was Curtis’ first novel, and it received a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Golden Kite Award.
Anyone read it? By all accounts, it’s supposed to good.
Shooting is set to begin this month, although no word on who’s been cast yet.
A casting call went out about a month ago for the key characters in the film, so I really don’t see how shooting can begin this month with casting seemingly only recently beginning.
No word on the name of the writer who’s adapting the novel either.
This certainly won’t be the first time that Mrs Lee has dabbled in film (or TV) production. With Kenny Leon directing, it might be a made-for-tv movie.