Filmmaker, LAW Watford Acquires Film & TV Rights to MLK Biography “The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age”
Filmmaker Lawrence “LAW” Watford‘s Divine Write Pictures has optioned the film, television and digital rights to the book The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age by Patrick Parr.
The biography, which was published by Chicago Review Press in 2018, explores the life of young Martin Luther King Jr. during his formative years as a student at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. The book made waves when it was released, particularly because of its examination of King’s romance with Betty Moitz, a white woman who was the daughter of the school dietitian and sometimes worked in the kitchen.
“I’m always attracted to stories that have incongruence as a central theme, so when I first read about Dr. King’s relationship with Betty Moitz in the press, I was intrigued—as I imagine most people probably were,” said Watford.
But the emerging writer/director wants to make it clear that his intentions for the project go far beyond the sensationalism of this one romance. “We’re always aware of the ways in which our heroes have impacted us during our formative years, but it’s rare that we get an authentic glimpse into the events and people that shaped them into these legendary people we celebrate today. We also never get an opportunity to envision them, truly and fully as human beings. So the goal is to introduce us to the variety of people that influenced MLK’s life during that time.”
Watord is planning to adapt the book for television via his Tyler Street Films partnership with Jack Manning III and Tiffany Elle Burgess; all fellow graduates of Hampton University, an Historically Black College in Virginia.
The deal was negotiated by entertainment attorney Laverne Berry Esq. on behalf of Divine Write Pictures and Susan Schulman on behalf of Patrick Parr and Chicago Review Press.
LAW, who hails from Brooklyn, New York, has gained attention for telling stories that center on complex social narratives. He was recently named one of Essence Magazine’s 7 Black Independent Filmmakers to Watch for his short film Catharsis, which was recently acquired by Revolt TV. The drama tells the story of a Black mother who confronts the District Attorney who refused to prosecute the NYPD officer responsible for her son’s death.
***links to articles about the book***
- The Washington Post: Three years that turned Martin Luther King Jr. from student to preacher
- The Wall St. Journal: ‘The Seminarian’ Review: The Man Who Would Be King
- The Atlantic: The Young Man Who Became a Civil-Rights Icon
- Politico Magazine: ‘We Were Madly, Madly in Love’: The Untold Story of MLK’s White Girlfriend
- Time.com: 6 Books to Read in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death
- Vibe.com: New Book Details Martin Luther King Jr’s Teenage Years And His White Girlfriend
- The Root: MLK’s White Girlfriend Speaks Out After All These Years
- The Baltimore Sun: Martin Luther King’s classmate, a Baltimore pastor, recalls him as playful, intense — and brilliant
- Elite Daily: This Tiny Moment In ‘Lovecraft Country’ Is Actually A Reference To MLK’s Real Life
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Comcast Announces Exclusive Premiere of Twenty Pearls
Comcast Announces Exclusive Premiere of Twenty Pearls – A Documentary Examining the Storied History of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® – On Its Newly Launched Black Experience on Xfinity Channel
PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Comcast NBCUniversal is excited to announce the exclusive premiere of the documentary film Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, arriving Friday, March 26 on its newly-launched Black Experience on Xfinity Channel, available on X1, Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app.
“We’re thrilled to work with award-winning filmmaker, Deborah Riley Draper, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to bring this exclusive premiere to the Black Experience on Xfinity channel, furthering our company-wide mission of investing in and showcasing authentic Black stories and culture”Tweet this
From award-winning filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper, produced by Coffee Bluff Pictures, and narrated by Phylicia Rashād, Twenty Pearls closely examines the founding and legacy of the first Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, which is now regarded as one of the most significant and influential Black organizations in history. The documentary tells a powerful story of sisterhood. In 1908, nine Black women enrolled at Howard University made one decision that would change the course of history. These college students created Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®. For over 113 years, the sorority has influenced many of the most famous watershed moments in history.
Through narration, interviews and rarely seen archival materials, the audience will see the sorority’s impact on World War II, NASA, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) culminating in the historic election of America’s first Black and South Asian woman Vice President. Twenty Pearls features interviews with members of the sorority including Vice President Kamala Harris, Miss Universe Ireland 2019 Fionnghuala O’Reilly, Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch III, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Fierst, great-granddaughter of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, International President and CEO of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® Dr. Glenda Glover and many more.
Watch the Twenty Pearls trailer here: Trailer
“This is an extraordinary time to look back at our past to serve our future,” said filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper. “A future where Black women are centered. Helming this documentary love letter to the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the generations of women that followed in their footsteps and to all Black women everywhere is an honor. This is an important history for all of us to know and understand.”
“We’re thrilled to work with award-winning filmmaker, Deborah Riley Draper, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to bring this exclusive premiere to the Black Experience on Xfinity channel, furthering our company-wide mission of investing in and showcasing authentic Black stories and culture,” added Keesha Boyd, Executive Director, Multicultural Video & Entertainment, Xfinity Consumer Services. “We launched this channel to help facilitate the discovery of stories like Twenty Pearls, while providing a platform for emerging Black content creators.”
“Telling our own story is essential to preserving our history and uplifting the culture,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha International President and CEO Dr. Glenda Glover. “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s remarkable 113-year journey which began on the campus of Howard University is punctuated by stories of history makers, ceiling breakers, public servants and ordinary women who have changed the course of American history. Through this beautifully written and narrated odyssey, this film highlights in undeniable ways the vision, courage, tenacity, determination and power of Black women while putting to bed the age-old questions about the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Divine Nine sororities and fraternities.”
Black Experience on Xfinity is a first-of-its-kind destination of Black entertainment, movies, TV shows, news and more. It features high-quality content from many of Xfinity’s existing network partners, at no additional cost, while investing millions of dollars in fostering and showcasing emerging Black content creators. The channel is the only one of its kind endorsed by the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the world’s largest group of Black film critics that gives annual awards for excellence in film and television. Available at home on Xfinity X1 and Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app, the Black Experience on Xfinity will entertain, educate and uplift, featuring Black actors, writers, producers and directors. At home, Xfinity subscribers can visit channel 1622 or simply say “Black Experience” into the Voice Remote to instantly enjoy the ultimate in Black storytelling.
Visit https://www.xfinity.com/learn/digital-cable-tv/black-experience to learn more about the Black Experience on Xfinity and other Black programming available on X1, Flex, and the Xfinity Stream app. Visit www.aka1908.com to learn more about Twenty Pearls, which premieres on March 26 on Xfinity and is free for subscribers, and will be available nationwide, on demand, starting on March 30, 2021.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on broadband, aggregation, and streaming with over 56 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, multiple cable networks, Peacock, NBCUniversal News Group, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.
About Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Incorporated®
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® began as the vision of nine African-American college students on the campus of Howard University in 1908. Since then, the sorority has flourished into a globally-impactful organization of more than 300,000 college-educated members bound by the bonds of sisterhood and empowered by a commitment to service that is both domestic and international in scope. As Alpha Kappa Alpha has grown, it has maintained its focus in two key areas: lifelong personal and professional development of its members and galvanizing its membership into an organization of respected power and influence which is consistently at the forefront of advocacy and social change that results in equality and equity for all citizens of the world.
About Coffee Bluff Pictures
Coffee Bluff Pictures is an award-winning production company committed to creating film, television and books with beautifully complex, diverse characters that enhance cultural and socially conscious dialogue. The company’s work includes 2017 NAACP Image Award nominee Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, fashion cult classic Versailles ‘73: American Runway Revolution and Twenty Pearls. Coffee Bluff Picture’s recent short film Illegal Rose has garnered awards on the film festival circuit and has film and television projects in development and production. Recognized by critics globally for its incredible storytelling and ability to find unseen and unheard voices, Coffee Bluff Pictures is changing the independent film landscape. For more information visit www.coffeebluffpictures.com.
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