EXCLUSIVE: Slavery continues to be in the cultural zeitgeist. FX has joined the trend with The Code, a limited series exploring American slavery from Kelsey Grammer‘s Grammnet NH Prods. It is based on the book Song Yet Sung by The Color Of Water author James McBride, which draws from the life of famous abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Born a slave, she escaped and, with the help of the hard-bitten white watermen of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, fostered an intricate escape network of secret routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad that she used to smuggle more than 300 slaves to the North. The Code centers on Liz, a black woman making a desperate dash to freedom, on the run from a torn white waterman and able slave catcher, who takes on one last job — only to find himself in a war against a notorious female slave stealer. As Liz makes her way through the dark and forbidding swamplands of Maryland’s Eastern Shore using the black codes of the underground, the complexities of slavery play out in full force, pitting slave against slave, white against white, and plantation owner against plantation owner. McBride will adapt his book and co-executive produce with Brian Taylor, with Grammer, Brian Sher and Stella Bulochnikov executive producing.
FX has been interested in tackling the subject of slavery in a limited series and actively pursued a Roots remake, a project that ultimately went to History. The topic of slavery is very much on people’s minds through a string of popular movies including last year’s Django Unchained, this year’s Oscar hopeful 12 Years A Slave, and with Lee Daniels’ The Butler also touching on the subject. ABC is developing a limited series about James Madison’s slave servant. Taylor, Grammnet’s former head of development, acquired rights to the project and brought McBride to FX through his friendship with the author. McBride is repped by CAA, while Grammnet is repped by UTA.