The first projects to be developed under the new deal will be television series adaptations of two of Smiley’s books: “My Journey with Maya,” a memoir of the author’s nearly 30-year friendship with Maya Angelou, and the upcoming “Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days,” an account of the final 16 weeks in the life of superstar Michael Jackson, to be published in June 2016.
The deal between WBTVG and Smiley continues an association that was established earlier this year when Warner Bros. Television acquired the television rights to Smiley’s book “Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year,” which is being developed as an event series with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions.
Published in April 2015, “My Journey with Maya” is a story of friendship, love and courage, in which Smiley shares personal memories of his 28-year friendship with poet, historian, filmmaker and civil rights activist Angelou. In addition to the TV project, Smiley and director Kenny Leon are developing “My Journey with Maya” as a stage play.
Smiley’s next book, “Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days,” will be published in June 2016 and is described as a taut rendering of the final months in the life of Jackson. The book will examine the soaring highs and deep lows faced by the late pop star.
“My Journey with Maya,” “Before You Judge Me” and “Death of a King” are all published by Little, Brown and Company, and written by Tavis Smiley with David Ritz.
Smiley’s TV projects will be produced through his The Smiley Group, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television or Warner Horizon Television, with Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution handling global sales.