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Huge! Ava DuVernay Tapped By Brad Pitt’s Plan B To Take Over Lee Daniels’ ‘Selma’

Huge! Ava DuVernay Tapped By Brad Pitt's Plan B To Take Over Lee Daniels' 'Selma'

Ava DuVernay is taking over directing duties of the Martin Luther King Jr feature project that Lee Daniels was once originally attached to helm, but faced a financing wall, and moved on to other projects.
Deadline reports that David Oyelowo, who was to star in Daniels’ project, will stay onboard to play MLK, reuniting with DuVernay (he co-starred in her 2012 acclaimed sophomore effort, Middle Of Nowhere).
Titled Selma, DuVernay was brought onboard to direct the project by Pathe UKBrad Pitt’s Plan B and producer Christian Colson, who were impressed by her last effort, Middle Of Nowhere.
The feature drama centers on the 1965 landmark voting rights campaign regarded as the peak of the civil rights movement. 
DuVernay has reportedly already began scouting locations, and is working over the script with screenwriter Paul Webb, with production aimed to begin sooner than later, given the competition in the form of several other MLK projects, on the horizon.
Daniels’ Selma was reportedly held up because family and close friends of the King estate didn’t approve of the project, which would have highlighted some of King’s vices. No word on whether there’s been a shift, whether in the script, or the attitudes towards it.
4 years ago, here’s how Daniels described what was then a much-buzzed about script, that was said to focus on the relationship between Martin Luther King Jr and Lyndon B. Johnson:

“It’s a moment in time in Martin Luther King and LBJ’s (life) around the signing of the Civil Rights. It’s a snapshot of the march. It’s really Lyndon Johnson’s story. Martin Luther King is a part of it, but it’s really the arc of a man that starts out as a racist who is forced to look at himself in the mirror and then ultimately side with King. It’s really a journey of a white cat and how he sneers at tradition and against George Wallace, against everybody, says, ‘Uh-uh.'”

Now we wait in anticipation to learn what/whose story DuVernay’s polished script will tell. A lot, I’m sure, has changed in 4 years.
Regardless, this should be a nice budget-bump for Ms DuVernay to play with, after directing 2 low-budget indies in I Will Follow and the aforementioned Middle Of Nowhere
In addition to Oyelowo, the cast of Daniels’ Selma also included Lenny Kravitz (as civil rights activist Andrew Young), Cedric The Entertainer(as Ralph Abernathy), Hugh Jackman (as racist Selma sheriff Jim Clark), and Liam Neeson (as President Lyndon Baines Johnson). 
No word yet on whether they’re still attached.
I should also note, in closing, that it was last summer when Lee Daniels, apparently unable to get Selma off the ground, switched gears, still staying on the MLK course, but this time teaming with Hugh Jackman (who was also attached to Selma), to take on Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in a new film that would reportedly explore an “unconventional view of King’s murder.

To be titled Orders To Kill, the film was to tell an alternative version of the MLK shooting, with Daniels directing of course, and Jackman starring.

The film will tell the story of William Pepper (Jackman), a controversial attorney and activist who for decades has argued that convicted killer James Earl Ray, who recanted his confession and died arguing his innocence, didn’t shoot MLK. The picture will follow Pepper over the years as he wages a one-man campaign, interviewing witnesses and building support for his theory that other interests, including those from the U.S. government, were behind the 1968 Memphis killing. (In a nutshell, Pepper, who is still alive, argues that government interests wanted King dead because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.)

The film will be based on William Pepper’s book of the same name, which has already been adapted to screenplay format, and is apparently ready to be shot, with Millennium Films producing and finance the film.

Last we checked, the project was being shopped around to distributors in Hollywood. No word on whether it’s still alive.

Unlike Daniels’ Selma (which was reportedly held up because family and close friends of the King estate didn’t approve of the project, which would have highlighted some of King’s vices), this project was said to have the support of Martin Luther King Jr.’s son Dexter King, who himself believes Pepper’s story about who was really behind his father’s murder.

There are at least 5 film projects in the works based on either the life of MLK, or some significant period during his 39 years on this planet. With producers of Selma seemingly anxious to get it in front of audiences, this (DuVernay’s) just might be the first one at the finish line.

An obvious next question is whether DP extraordinaire Bradford Young will be brought along for the ride.

Also, keep in mind that Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company is behind Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave as well

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Ed weeks

Tell Brad , That there's only 3 things in life you need to know. 1 every has steps 2 every has heat 3 every comes in 3!!!


YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! This is good news! Wow!!!!! HUGE indeed!


knew the snarks would come. it's no matter. i'm happy for her and can't wait to see this. congratulations, sister.

Miles Ellison

There seems to be a pattern here.

The proposed movie about BB King mutated into the life story of some faceless white musician who owned a club BB King played in once.

The proposed movie about ODB somehow turned into the story of a white VH-1 intern who hung out with ODB for a few weeks before he died.

42 became a movie not about Jackie Robinson, but about white people nobly confronting their racism, a racism MLB talking heads barely even acknowledge (except in abstract terms) when Jackie Robinson is celebrated every year.

The Blindside was less a story about a black teenager from difficult circumstances who found salvation and success in athletics than it was about the evolved attitudes of the rich white family that adopted him.

Going back further, just about any movie about apartheid in South Africa was less about that institution's effect on black people and more about white people fighting with their collective conscience.

Unless there is extensive change to this project, this is more of the same thing with a less polarizing figure directing it.


I am happy for Ava DuVernay, but I hope the character arc of the script is changed, but that is unlikely if there is a rush to put it out before the other MLK films. Unfortunately, based on Lee Daniels' account, it sounds like the typical Hollywood formula to make the film more about the white character, rather than the black character. Look at Django Unchained. The film was really made for the Dr. Schultz character as the lead, with Django as the "supporting" character. The film became more about Django when Dr. Schultz was killed. Django was then freed from his dependency on his mentor, and embraced his own destiny. "Selma" as a title makes it less about MLK, similar to "42" and the story of Jackie Robinson, which is another glossed over story.


Hmmmm… "How about actually making a movie about Martin Luther King? Is that too much to ask for?"

Hmmmm…. "I'm not sure if she has shown that she is ready to tackle a film that takes on such a much larger scope than her previous work"

Okay, I'm feeling both Miles and Accidental, which begs the question (in my mind) why was she given this project? Well, since the bullseye is now on her, could this be a case of… Lady in The Scope -OR- Ring Around the Lady?

I am suggesting that since Ava's a director with critical acclaim who black conservitive film critics love, she's the perfect buffer for a film with racial overtones. Unlike Lee Daniels and Tyler Perry (although both are accomplished money-makers) Ava doesn't carry the baggage of "A splintered black audience" (everybody loves Ava). Consequently, as Miles brought to the floor, a film focused on the White Savior (Lyndon Johnson) with MLK as a backdrop could get a pass when directed by our beloved black women of the month.

Come on now, shouldn't we tell the truth and shame the devil? Surely we wouldn't be subjected to the misdirected negative comments on the director of The Butler if said director was Ava Duvernay — would we? Would we see the following personal attacks?

UHURUHOUSTON: "Lee Daniels and his movies comes off as a person that has been severly damaged by events in his life and the subject matter is dark and tiresome!!!"

VAL: "You can add Oprah and Tyler Perry to that list"

Really? That's what I'm talking about. Those types of comments will not be seen. That's right, big hitters will run interference for Ms. Duvernay. And, the watchful eye of the consevative black critic might turn a blind eye. Hell, who wants to contend with a group of angry black women singing Helen Reddy's popular song I Am Woman? I mean, only a glutton for punishment would get in the way of black women singing…

"I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

Hey, personally, I'd rather swallow a bottle of poison glass than tangle with that mob. So I guess I'll come back for the next episode of… A Big Blast -OR- A Many Splintered Thangs?

Btw, ever actor should hire David Oyelowo's agent. Really, he convinced someone that Davy boy could represent a black American Union soldier during the Civil War, but Martin Luther King?

Miles Ellison

How about actually making a movie about Martin Luther King? Is that too much to ask for?


I'm not sure if she has shown that she is ready to tackle a film that takes on such a much larger scope than her previous work. That being said I still think she is an upgrade when compared to Daniels. In fact I would be more excited about "The Butler" too if she was the director.


This great NewS! Go Ava~ Can't wait to see it. Cheers!


Yeahhhhhh. Something to look forward too besides THE BUTLER.


Yay! Well earned opportunity….You never know who is watching. Ms. Duvernay's hard work in "Middle of Nowhere" has paid off.


Ava has made and still is making her mark. "Black Women Rock".


Second that, HUGE!

Dankwa Brooks

BRAD PITT much like his buddy GEORGE CLOONEY seems to know how to pick a good project. They both make films for grown ups and not some Hollywood schlock. After reading about the absolute mess of a production 'World War Z' was for more than a year I was surprised that the final result was good—even if I wanted more gore.

I said all that to say ONCE AGAIN I am so happy for my sister Ms. DuVernay. She couldn't have been picked by a better producer. Much Success with this project!


OMG This is so AWESOME! Congrats to Ava!

Black Sun Tzu

These are WONDERFUL news!!! Congratulations to Ava. I look forward to seeing the end result.

A Fan

Fantastic news. Go with grace!


i could not agree more with this move. Not all films need Thor's Hammer to make a point or we don't need to show a Black man or woman on a toilet seat to smash home a scene. Some times we do need the clear subtle gestures as a director. And those images and dialogue last a life time as well. We can achieve the beauty of the thought and passion with out dehumanizing an entire culture and or a culture that is at arms distance. Ava showed superior restraint in her films. I applaud this move. The changing of the guard has begun!


Ooooh! Now that's news! I'm so glad Ava DuVernay got the gig! GO AVA!!!


"It's really Lyndon Johnson's story. Martin Luther King is a part of it…": no like!

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