Los Angeles, CA June 17, 2020 – SISTER, the global content company, has won the rights to develop a television series based on best-selling author James McBride’s literary sensation Deacon King Kong. The announcement was made just a day after the critically acclaimed novel was named as the latest Oprah’s Book Club selection. Author McBride and Brian Taylor will serve as executive producers alongside SISTER’s Carolyn Strauss and Kate Fenske, with Jonah Disend for Complementary Colors set as a producer. McBride will pen the adaptation.
"I'm delighted that Deacon King Kong has found a home with the Sisters. They are big lifters of story, and big believers in the common humanity which makes stories human and worth doing. I'm so excited about the creative possibilities that lie ahead," said McBride.
"James McBride is one of America’s greats. His characters are vibrant and alive and, his themes – that community, faith and love are contagious – are powerful and relevant, particularly today. We all feel privileged to bring Deacon King Kong to the screen," said SISTER CEO, Stacey Snider.
McBride was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama for "humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America. Through writings about his own uniquely American story and his works of fiction informed by our shared history, his moving stories of love display the character of the American family." As President Obama said: "In short, James McBride is one of America’s great storytellers who can find hope, humor, and humanity in just about any person or situation, making him an essential voice in the nation’s literary landscape." Deacon King Kong will surely add to America’s literary cannon.
In announcing the selection to Oprah’s Book Club, Oprah Winfrey said: "In a moment when our country roils with righteous anger and grief, Deacon King Kong reminds us that when we come together as a community in compassion and empathy, our love triumphs."
Deacon King Kong takes place in September 1969 when a fumbling, comical old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range. To uncover the causes and consequences of this burst of violence – some of them serious, some of them funny – Deacon King Kong takes the reader through life in the Cause Houses housing projects, inspired by the Red Hook housing projects that produced McBride and remain an integral part of his life.
Deacon King Kong is McBride’s first novel since winning the National Book Award for The Good Lord Bird. His beloved 1995 memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, topped the New York Times best-seller list for two years, sold millions of copies worldwide, and is considered a literary classic, read in classrooms, book clubs, and universities across America. His best-selling novel, Miracle at St. Anna, was adapted into a film by Spike Lee, while Showtime is set to premiere a limited series based on The Good Lord Bird on 9 Auguststarring Ethan Hawke, Joshua Caleb Johnson, and Daveed Diggs.
McBride is represented by Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. The deal was negotiated on behalf of McBride and Taylor by attorney Kirk Schenck.
SISTER was co-founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone to develop, produce and invest in visionary storytellers. SISTER builds upon Featherstone’s Emmy Award-winning scripted indie, Sister Pictures, as a new global entity with offices in London and LA. It unites the expertise of the founders alongside a team of renowned creatives to make breakout stories for multiple platforms. Adding to the success of a slate of hit shows including Chernobyl (Sky/HBO) and Giri/Haji (BBC/ Netflix), SISTER is currently producing adaptations of Naomi Alderman’s literary phenomenon The Power for Amazon Studios and Adam Kay’s international best seller, This is Going to Hurt for the BBC. Additionally, SISTER is making Landscapers for Sky and HBO in association with South of the River Pictures. This is the first project from the independent scripted production company set up by Olivia Colman, Landscapers screenwriter Ed Sinclair and co-founder, Tom Carver in which SISTER has taken a minority stake. SISTER has also made investments in new creator-led businesses including Campside Media, a podcast studio built around three award-winning journalists, and AWA Studios, a first-of-its-kind comic book and digital media publisher.