In one of the best fits between a pilot and director this season, Selma director Ava DuVernay has been tapped to direct and executive produce the pilot For Justice, CBS’ civil rights crime drama from CBS Television Studios, James Patterson Entertainment and Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions. DuVernay previously collaborated with Rosenthal on the ESPN Nine for IX documentary Venus Vs.
For Justice is based on James Patterson’s debut crime novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, which centers on a messianic hit man hired to assassinate the first black mayor of Nashville, triggering a desperate manhunt. Written by Rene Balcer, For Justice will focus on the repercussions from the events in the novel in present day. It centers on an FBI agent who works in the Criminal Section of the Department of Civil Rights Division and finds herself caught between the radical family she was born into and the professional family she has chosen.
The Department of Justice formed the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division in 1957. Starting in the 60’s, the lawyers from the department teamed up with FBI agents. They were referred to as the “Mississippi Burning” teams, and were sent to the Deep South to investigate crimes involving violent interference with the liberties and rights as defined by the Constitution. These teams still exist today in the department but with a nationwide focus — in 2012 alone, 6700 different hate crimes were clocked by the FBI.
Emmy winner Balcer, who also serves as showrunner, executive produces with Tribeca’s De Niro and Rosenthal and James Patterson Entertainment’s James Patterson, Leopoldo Gout and Bill Robinson, while Tribeca’s Berry Welsh serves as co-executive producer.
DuVernay has been active in TV since her success with civil rights feature Selma. She recently signed on to co-create with Oprah Winfrey a new drama series for OWN.