FX has given a pilot order to Kindred, an adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s influential novel, from writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen), Courtney Lee-Mitchell (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Darren Aronofsky and his Protozoa Pictures (Black Swan, The Wrestler), Joe Weisberg (The Americans) and Joel Fields (Fosse/Verdon). FX Productions, where Weisberg and Fields are under an overall deal, is the studio.
The rights first were acquired by Lee-Mitchell in 2008 from the author’s agent, Writers House LLC, on behalf of Butler’s estate.
The novel, which sold over a million copies, has been hailed as a visionary work of science fiction since it was first published more than four decades ago in 1979.
FX’s adaptation is centered on Dana, a young Black woman and aspiring writer who has uprooted her life of familial obligation and relocated to Los Angeles, ready to claim a future that, for once, feels all her own. But, before she can get settled into her new home, she finds herself being violently pulled back and forth in time to a nineteenth-century plantation with which she and her family are most surprisingly and intimately linked. An interracial romance threads through her past and present, and the clock is ticking as she struggles to confront the secrets she never knew ran through her blood, in this genre-breaking exploration of the ties that bind.
Jacobs-Jenkins wrote the pilot and will executive produce with Lee-Mitchell, Aronofsky, Weisberg and Fields.
“Since my first encounter with the novel nearly two decades ago, there have been few, if any, books and even fewer authors who have meant as much to me as Kindred and Octavia Butler,” said Jacobs-Jenkins. “It has been the highlight and honor of my career thus far to try and finally bring this timeless story to life – and especially at FX, whose catalogue of bold, thought-provoking, and cutting-edge television has been an endless source of inspiration and delight.”
Added the Butler Estate: “The Octavia E. Butler Estate was thrilled and grateful to have placed Kindred with Courtney Lee Mitchell at the outset, who brought it to Branden Jacobs Jenkins (a young writer who shares with Octavia the rare honor of being a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award recipient) and then to the terrific people at Protozoa. FX could not be a better or more enthusiastic partner, as evidenced by the brilliant creative team they are building, and the legendary slate of shows they have produced. We can’t wait to see this beloved work take its place among the stars in the FX universe.”
Butler’s legacy reached another milestone on Friday when NASA named the landing site of the agency’s Perseverance rover on Mars the “Octavia E. Butler Landing”.
Butler was a renowned writer who received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. She was the author of several award-winning novels including Parable of the Sower, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and bestseller. She was acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future. Sales of her books have increased enormously since her death as the issues she addressed in her Afrofuturistic, feminist novels and short fiction have only become more relevant. Butler died in February 2006 at 58.
WME-repped Jacobs-Jenkins was most recently a consulting producer on HBO’s Watchmen.
Lee-Mitchell is repped by Nicole Compas of Ramo Law, and Aronofsky, Weisberg, Fields are repped by CAA. The Butler Estate is represented by Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House LLC. and Hillary Bibicoff of Holmes Weinberg.
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