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Film Based on Early Johnnie Cochran Case (Ron Settles Jail Cell Death) in Development

Film Based on Early Johnnie Cochran Case (Ron Settles Jail Cell Death) in Development

Just as FX Networks is enjoying strong ratings for its first season of “American Crime Story” which fictionalizes the O.J. Simpson trial of 1994, starring Cuba Gooding Jr and “The Juice,” a feature film based on another case handled by the man who was instrumental in Simpson’s defense – the late Johnnie Cochran – is in development.

Film, TV and talent management company The Firm has announced that they have acquired an untitled script written by David McMillan, which centers on a case that Cochran took earlier in his career, involving Ron Settles, a black Cal. State University, Long Beach football player who was arrested in 1981, after he was pulled over for speeding, and got into a scuffle with the arresting white officers. The morning after his arrest, Settles was found severely beaten and hanging in his jail cell, leading to public outcry afterward over the nature of his death, which the police claimed was a suicide.

Sound familiar at all? #SandraBland 

No one was prosecuted for Settles’ death, but the city of Signal Hill where it all transpired, did pay a large settlement to Settles’ family.

The case was an early high-profile case handled by Cochran, who represented the family. 

Charles Burnett’s 1995 film “The Glass Shield” was inspired by the Settles case.

The Firm’s Robbie Brenner (“Dallas Buyers Club”) is producing along with Kevin McKeon, while Jeff Kwatinetz is executive producing.

“Kevin and I are so excited to work on David McMillan’s incredibly well-written, timely script,” Brenner said. “The subject matter resonates now just as powerfully as it did in 1981, and we look forward to making an honest, provocative and challenging film.”

Certainly a topical, timely project, no word yet on a director for the film, or casting. But I should note that the writer of the script, David McMillan, is African American – noteworthy at a time when discussions about diversity in front of, and behind the camera, as well as who gets to tell *our* stories, continue to be central.

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