Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment and multimedia production outfit Alpine Labs have signed an agreement to co-produce Coffin Point, a new one-hour TV series based on the true crime book Coffin Point: The Strange Cases Of Ed McTeer, Witch Doctor Sheriff, by Baynard Woods.
Overbrook’s Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and James Lassiter will share executive producer credits with Alpine Labs’ Kevin Abrams and Jamie Denenberg. The deal was struck by Lassiter and Denenberg. “When Jamie Denenberg first approached me with the story, I was immediately intrigued as this was a world I knew, but had never really seen explored.” said Lassiter in a statement. “I think viewers will be rewarded with a glimpse into a little known, and incredibly rich culture that’s truly at the root of so many modern day traditions.”
The 2010 book details the bizarre, real-life career of eccentric lawman Ed McTeer, who served as sheriff of island-bound Beaufort County, SC from 1925-1963. McTeer became regionally famous during his tenure for openly practicing the folk magic tradition called Hoodoo. A blend of African, European and Native American spiritual traditions, it was most common at the time among the region’s Gullah community, descendants of West African slaves who settled along the Carolina and Georgia coasts. McTeer himself became something of a combination public servant and spiritual leader, referring to himself as a “poor man’s psychiatrist”, receiving visitors from across the region who came seeking spiritual guidance and advice.
The series is intended to explore how McTeer’s beliefs tied him to both sides of the heavily segregated region, as well as examine the racial tensions of the era, particularly in dealing with the relatively obscure Gullah community. “There have been very few films or TV shows that have dealt with the Gullah and what they’ve given to the United States culturally,” Abrams told Deadline. “Gospel music came out of their musical history, Blues came out of their musical history, a lot of incredible cuisine came out of their cultural history. For us, it’s going to be a really great honor to explore this culture and showing it as being a real thing.”
Abrams is writing the pilot script. Though the partnership is strictly creative, the series is being shopped around to networks and online services.