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Mini-Series On Slavery Abolitionist John Brown Coming To FX

Mini-Series On Slavery Abolitionist John Brown Coming To FX

I recall an older S&A post, about 2 years prior to Django Unchained, when Quentin Tarantino said, during a Charlie Rose interview when Inglorious Basterds was opening, that he was interested in making a film about noted slavery abolitionist John Brown, but not in the traditional, as he said, “dreary, solemn, historical” manner biopics usually take form. 

His *fake* John Brown tale, he added, would instead tell the story of Brown’s successful seizure of an armory, which would subsequently lead directly to the end of slavery, preventing the Civil War.

In real life, as it happened, abolitionist John Brown was unsuccessful in his attempt to start a slave revolt at Harper’s Ferry in 1859; and that occurrence helped fuel the movement that started the Civil War.

Today, Deadline is reporting that actor Paul Giamatti and FX are developing a mini-series on John Brown, which will trace “the true story of the abolitionist’s transformation from a lowly 50-year old farmer to a notorious anti-slavery freedom fighter in Kansas and his famed 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry.”

The project, part of a two-year first-look deal Giamatti and partner Daniel Carey’s Touchy Feely Films is under with FX Productions, is based on 2011 book Midnight Rising by Tony Horwitz, which is expected to be 6 to 8 hours in total.

Gabriel Range is adapting Horwitz’s book into a screenplay.

No word on when we can expect to see the finished product.

So… might a Nat Turner mini-series or film be next? Don’t hold your breath…

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Fantatsic. I just finished the book two days ago and it was pretty good. I was thinking that the only way they could do Brown' story justice, after reading the book and having seen the PBS doc about him years ago, was through a mini-series. Good to hear that's the route they are going. But is Giamatti playing Brown? Have a hard time envisioning that.

The Nat Turner story will have to wait for another day of course. His raid did get mentioned plenty of times in the book, however, because it shook up the entire South and folks were still recovering. Plus Frederick Douglass had a lage presence in "Midnight Rising" as well, not to mention there were a few other black people who played a role in the raid who were covered in the book.


PBS' "American Experience" has already done a documentary on John Brown–"Holy War." I loved it. I look forward to the FX story on John Brown too.

Someone should get the nerve to do Nat Turner. Then again, you probably will not be able to get White people to let us Black people kill them–even if it is only a movie.

Derrick Everett

This sounds intriguing, and I'm a fan of Paul Giamatti's and the FX network but I'm much more interested in a mini-series about Nat Turner. Now THAT'S something I'd really like to see.


I'd rather see the real story since John Brown's activities have already been so distorted by history. For instance, rarely has he been described as a freedom fighter. Most texts have labeled him a religious fanatic and/or terrorist. Looks like Giamatti's participation in John Brown's story and 12 Years a Slave.

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