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‘Shots Fired’: How George Zimmerman’s Acquittal Led to Fox’s Powerful New Series — IndieWire’s Turn It On Podcast

Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood turned a very personal experience into Fox's new 10-part series about police shootings.

SHOTS FIRED: Pictured L-R: Sanaa Lathan and Stephan James in SHOTS FIRED premiering Wednesday, March 22 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Lavine/FOX

Sanaa Lathan and Stephan James, “Shots Fired”


LAST WEEK’S PODCAST: ‘Planet Earth II’ Producers on Showcasing Our Fragile Planet in Troubled Times – IndieWire’s Turn It On Podcast

Fox’s “Shots Fired” dives into the explosive subject of race-related police shootings by throwing everything you know about recent real-life incidents up in the air.

The new 10-part series kicks off with a police shooting — but in this case it’s an African-American cop who shoots a young white man. Department of Justice investigators are brought in, and they encounter resistance from everyone, including cops and witnesses.

SHOTS FIRED: Pictured L-R: Mack Wilds, Sanaa Lathan and Stephan James in the "Hour Two: Betrayal of Trust" episode of SHOTS FIRED airing Wednesday, March 29 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Fred Norris/FOX

Mack Wilds, Sanaa Lathan and Stephan James in “Shots Fired”


What really happened? We’ll find out by the end of the series, promise creators and executive producers Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood.

Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Stephen Moyer, Mack Wilds, Aisha Hinds, Richard Dreyfuss, Helen Hunt, Jill Hennessy, and Dennis Haysbert are among the stars.

The show originated from something that happened within the Bythewood family, after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin. Their son couldn’t grasp how justice could be denied — and from there, the journey led them to “Shots Fired,” as they explain.

Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood with Michael Schneider on “Turn It On


The Bythewoods talked to countless experts to research “Shots Fired” – including law enforcement veterans, and family members who lost someone to a police shooting. That included the mother of Oscar Grant, the Bay Area teen whose story was adapted into the film “Fruitvale Station.”

“That ripped us emotionally, her telling us her story of what happened to her son and the whole process of seeking justice,” Gina Prince-Bythewood said. “She had a perspective on how you turn pain into power. We learned so much.”

READ MORE: ‘Shots Fired’: New Fox Drama Brings Feature Film Directors to the Black Lives Matter Movement

Real life also threatened to invade the set of “Shots Fired” as headlines like the killing of Philando Castillo took place during filming. “At night watching this horrifying footage and realizing this happened again and literally going to work the next day and shooting something similar,” Prince-Bythewood recalled, “it was tough for us and tough for the case. What it did for us, was remind us how important it was for us to get it right.”

Also in this episode: IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers, back from SXSW in Austin, shares how the annual event has become even more TV-centric.

Listen below!

IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now in TV – no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. Each episode features interviews with producers, reviews, essays on the latest buzz and trends, plus a roundup of what’s premiering and what’s returning over the coming week. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.

LISTEN: How to Promote a TV Show the Right Way, From Online Treasure Hunts to Melting Blocks of Ice (Very Good TV Podcast)

Be sure to subscribe to “TURN IT ON” on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every Wednesday.

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