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Update On The E. Lynn Harris Adaptation That Tracey Edmonds & Ted Witcher Were Attached To

Update On The E. Lynn Harris Adaptation That Tracey Edmonds & Ted Witcher Were Attached To

It was 2 years ago when Tracey Edmonds of Edmonds Entertainment and Proteus Spann of Proteus E2 Productions announced that they had structured a multi-picture deal to develop the extensive library of novels by New York Times best-selling author E. Lynn Harris into feature films.

The first production in this overall creative development deal was to be E. Lynn Harris’s blockbuster first novel, Invisible Life, which was to be jointly produced by Edmonds Entertainment and Proteus E2 Productions with Shelia Ducksworth, Glendon Palmer and Javon Johnson as co-producers. 

Screenwriter Ted Witcher (Love Jones) had been brought on to adapt the novel for the motion picture screen.

At the time, the deal was said to have already been in motion shortly before Harris died of a heart attack in 2009.

Skip ahead 2 years later, to an exclusive story at The Hollywood Reporter, with an update on the progress of the above announcement.

Here’s a summary of where things stand: 

E. Lynn Harris’s mother, Etta Harris, sued Proteus Spann claiming that he didn’t have legal rights to her son’s books, adding that Spann forged E. Lynn Harris’ signature. The suit halted progress on the project, despite the large amount of money Spann says he’d already spent on developing it. 

In addition, he had to spend even more money on legal fees in defending himself.

To make matters worse, his backers pulled out of the project, thanks to the legal battle with Etta Harris.

Also, Tracey Edmonds and her production company team apparently pulled out as well, and are no longer involved in the project.

All of this happened over the last 2 years, since the initial announcement, which we published here in mid-2011. 

And after all that turmoil, it looks like Spann was in the right all along, because, a Los Angeles judge ruled in his favor late last month, stating that Spann does indeed legally own exclusive theatrical, film and television rights to Harris’ complete library of novels.

And despite losing plenty, Spann is ready to get Invisible Life, the movie, back on track. 

He also plans a Broadway musical version of the novel, as was initially announced. 

And he is already developing a film adaptation of Harris’ second best-selling novel, Not A Day Goes By

I’m looking for the best opportunity that comes my way to bring these books to life,” Spann tells THR, who add that, Spann, who first met Harris when he was a casting director in New York City, says that despite all that’s happened and all he’s lost, he feels he owes it to his late friend, Harris, to keep pushing forward with what they originally planned.

So now the journey begins all over again, with his previous backers pulling out. 

Good luck to you sir!

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Thanks Miles. It drive me crazy how some people liberally and incorrectly (I must add) the words "hater" and "homophobe". That said, you’re correct Miles, I was simply asking a legitmate question… and I qualified my question with facts (i.e. the audience that didn’t turnout to see Dee Rees’ award winning film Pariah and " I have a daughter-in-law who is a lesbian, who is legally married to a woman, who I stand behind 100 percent"). Consequently, the fact is, I’m not a hater nor a homophobe. Furthermore, you Miles, and Debbie, brought more interesting facts to the table. Debbie said people will do things in private (and in the closet) that they will NOT do in public. You said one only has to look at Walter Moseley’s journey to understand the difficult road of adapting a black novel into a big screen movie. But I still have a question that has me scratching my head. Well, why do those who support E Lynn Harris and gays in general, get so upset and defensive on issues/topics such as this?

Miles Ellison

Carey Carey isn’t being a homophobe. He’s asking a legitimate question about whether there’s an audience for this movie. Walter Moseley writes bestselling novels with a progressive bent, great characters, and interesting stories. Devil in a Blue Dress was made into a movie starring 2 great black actors. How did that turn out? How come Moseley is having so much trouble getting anything made? There is a huge gap between how wonderful and progressive people think this is and what they’re actually watching.


This is great news! I hope that Mr. Harris mother gets paid once the films are produced.


Carey, your lack of a progressive attitude is just the reason the black community is so divided. These stories Harris wrote about were and are the lives of many Americans and are stories that need to be told. For you to suggest that there isnt a market or audience for these types of films leads me to believe you truly out of touch with pop culture and furthermore your fingers away from ypur keyboard…


Sex and the City not in the city CARREY. But you made a good point about peeps doing things in private. Great DVD sales. VOD sales. Movies on the WEB. In private on your phone while you hide in the closet lol. Yancey and Ava are great characters. And I loved reading about Basil. Wow who should play these wonderful characters? His books aren't for everyone but you don't become a ten time NYT best seller being supported by one type of people. Give the man a chance. We doubt Tyler Perry also. It's a whole new world.


You are homophobe Carey, Carey, you also don't speak for ALL BLACK PEOPLE. Okay great, you don't want to see a black gay movie. However, E Lynn Harris was very successful his books ALWAYS were on the NY Times bestseller list. Harris has an audience which includes heterosexual black women.


Well well well, if not me than who, right? I mean, I am not afraid to take a stand against popular opinions. so here I go, this project (imo) is still standing on shaky ground.

I am reminded of an executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln, The Emancipation Proclamation. In part, it proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten states that were still in rebellion. How does this relate to E Lynn Harris, Edmonds Entertainment and Proteus Spann?

Well, the first obvious answer is we're talking about black folks. But let me bring a few more interesting facts on the table before I go too deep. The Proclamation was not a law passed by Congress. nor did not itself outlaw slavery, and did not make the ex-slaves citizens. And, really, can a law change how a person feels about another human being?

Well, in this day and age the gay rights movement is a mighty powerful machine. Some pretty powerful people are standing up, "coming out" and demanding their rights to love who they please. Politicians, sports figures, and TV personalities alike, they've all joined hands to share a message of hope and voicing the words "we're alright now". But not so fast.

As with those slow wheels of progress since the signing of that "proclamation", which saw a bloody civil war tear a nation apart, so goes the mindset of millions who do not speak kindly of gays. Granted, just like many laws that are designed to protect the rights of others, they do not change the inner feelings of those who object to said rights.

Now we have a gentleman on the cusp of adapting the novels of E Lynn Harris for the motion picture screen.

It's a new day, folks are more open and willing to discuss gay issues without expecting an immediate wrath of scorn and ridicule, however, point being, who is going to support E Lynn Harris's books at the theater? I am suggesting that's a very slippery slope. Who's the audience, gays, women, straights or who? If the audience for Dee Rees' award winning film Pariah is any indication of who might support Lynn's work with their dollars, not just their mouth, the Edmonds Entertainment Group's decision to pull away from this project might have been based on more than what this article has implied.

That said, as a reader of African American literature, I was encouraged to read E Lynn Harris's novels. However, although I have a daughter-in-law who is a lesbian, who is legally married to a woman, who I stand behind 100 percent, E Lynn Harris was not for me.

Now, I could be wrong but I believe my voice is the voice of millions of black folks who abide by the law, treat others as they'd like to be treated, support their family and friends who may be gay, but are not going to take their dates or wife to see a movie with "gay" themes.


This actually might be a really good time for this to restart. Studios are apparently much more open to black content these days. Especially if based on popular novels that already have builtin audiences. Good luck Proteus.


Thank you, Tambay. Shadow & Act congregation :)

Masha Dowell

I read E. Lynn Harris books all through high school. I would love to see all his stories come to life on the big screen. It seems like filmmaker Rodney Evans would be great to get involved with this project. Not sure why I'm mentioning his name — just came to my mind. Thanks for sharing this!!!!

Monique A Williams

This update is RIGHT ON TIME!! I was just thinking about it this morning. E. Lynn Harris's books really got me thinking as a teen and I appreciated how much heart and depth he gave his characters. He is sorely missed. Hopefully, Spann's film captures that.

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