Starz has nabbed for development action-drama series Black Samurai (working title), starring and executive produced by Common. Black Samurai hails from Jerry Bruckheimer Television as well as RZA’s Wu Films and Common’s Freedom Road Productions which originated the project a year ago.
Based on the Black Samurai novels written by Marc Olden, the series is written by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley (National Treasure, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Bad Boys II) who are penning the pilot script and will serve as showrunners.
Black Samurai will follow the character of Robert Sand (Common), a highly-trained American Army Ranger whose life is transformed when he meets a legendary Japanese master who invites him to train as a samurai. After his beloved sensei and samurai brothers are killed by mercenaries, Sand is thrust on a worldwide journey of both revenge and self-discovery.
The series will be updated from the original novels and 1977 film, which starred Jim Kelly as Sand. Per the producers, “it will be a mash-up of the spy and martial arts genres and infused with the heart, soul and music of Common and the Wu-Tang Clan, creating a modern-day international action star.”
Black Samurai is currently in the works at Starz, a Lionsgate company, where development is geared to straight-to-series orders.
“We cannot wait for the world to meet Robert Sand – part Jason Bourne, part James Bond, and 100% the hero we need today,”s aid Carmi Zlotnik, president of programming for Starz. “Black Samurai promises to be an action-packed ride and with the Bruckheimer team, Common, RZA and Andre at the helm, we can feel certain this will be exceptional storytelling,”
Executive producing the potential series are Jerry Bruckheimer Television’s Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed; Freedom Road’s Common, Derek Dudley and Shelby Stone; Diane Crafford; and Andre Gaines of Cinemation. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Mitchell Diggs will executive produce for Wu Films. James Oh of Jerry Bruckheimer Television will produce.
“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Starz, Common, RZA and Andre Gaines on Black Samurai,” said Bruckheimer. “This incredible creative team will combine all of their talents and experience to bring the classic book series to brand new life with cutting edge artistry, music and imagery.”
For Jerry Bruckheimer TV, Black Samurai falls outside of the overall deal the company recently signed with CBS TV Studios.
Common called Black Samurai “a unique and special project that offers something rarely seen in art and culture today.” “It’s an honor to play the character of Robert Sand and to have my production company, Freedom Road Productions partnering with Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, RZA and Starz to deliver something fresh and new to people,” he said. “I can’t wait to dig into this character and the martial arts worlds of gun-fu, kung-fu, jujitsu and more. Look out world, Black Samurai is coming!”
RZA said that he had been a fan of the Robert Sand character since he was a kid. “A chance to combine with Jerry Bruckheimer, Common and Andre Gaines to reintroduce this character to a new generation makes myself and my partner Mitchell Diggs at Wu Films super stoked.,” he said.
Bruckheimer, Common, Littman and Wu Films are repped by CAA. Gaines is repped by Ethan Cohan, Todd Weinstein and Gordon Bobb at Del, Shaw, Moonves. The Wibberleys are repped at UTA. Crafford and the Marc Olden estate are repped by Paradigm on behalf of Liza Fleissig of LRA.