Will Packer’s Will Packer Prods is joining with Paulist Productions to develop and produce The Innocence Of Joan Little, a miniseries based on James Reston Jr’s 1977 book about a young black woman who, in the mid-1970s in North Carolina, stabbed her white jailer/rapist and was tried for capital murder.
Paulist Productions, a faith-based film and TV production company, optioned the book under its first-look deal with Author Solutions after it had been re-released in 2000 through e-book publisher iUniverse. The book details Little’s landmark 1974 trial, which drew international attention regarding a woman’s right to kill a rapist in self-defense, civil rights, prisoners’ rights, and capital punishment. She was eventually acquitted.
Paulist president Chris Donahue and VP Development and Production Marybeth Sprows will oversee the project.
“The through line on all of our projects is thought-provoking entertainment that highlights the human condition, and that speaks directly to The Innocence Of Joan Little,” Donahue said. “When we optioned the book, we always felt its best showcase would be a television miniseries, and Korin Huggins and her team at Will Packer Productions share that vision and are ideal partners in bringing this historical and inspirational story to light.”
The latest deal comes after Paulist and MarVista Entertainment entered into a multipicture co-financing and co-production agreement in December. The first project in that tie-up is Every Other Holiday, written by Andrea Nasfell (Moms’ Night Out).
Will Packer Productions was an executive producer on last year’s high-profile Roots miniseries and most recently optioned City Of Saints & Thieves, the bestselling debut novel by Natalie C. Anderson, for Packer and Kerry Washington’s Simpson Street to produce as a feature film. Packer has produced eight No. 1 films at the box office.