EXCLUSIVE: Elle Johnson (Bosch) has been tapped to write, executive produce and serve as showrunner on A Soldier’s Story, a limited series adaptation of the award-winning A Soldier’s Play, which has been in development at Sony Pictures Television with the play’s Tony winner David Alan Grier attached to star and executive produce.
Grier, who won the 2021 Tony Award for his role as Sgt. Vernon Waters in the Broadway play, will play the character’s father in the series adaptation, which spans multiple wars and several decades and centers on Sgt. Vernon Waters and the emotional impact he is subjected to as a soldier in the 1940s.
The Pulitzer-winning A Soldier’s Play, written by Charles Fuller, is set at a Black army base in the segregated Louisiana of 1944. Sergeant Waters has been murdered, and Army captain Davenport – played by Blair Underwood in the Broadway play — arrives at the base to investigate the crime, which might or might not involve the local KKK or even the many Black soldiers who openly despite their hated sergeant.
Bernie Cahill and Jon Kanak of Activist Artists Management, who approached Sony about developing the series alongside Grier, executive produce alongside Grier and Johnson. Charles Fuller, who wrote the original play, will also serve as an executive producer.
The play was first produced Off Broadway in 1981 by the Negro Ensemble Company in a staging that included young Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson.
A Soldier’s Play was adapted to the big screen with the 1984 film, also titled A Soldier’s Story, which was produced by Sony Pictures TV sibling Columbia Pictures. It was directed by Norman Jewison from a script by Fuller and starred Grier in a different role, one of the young soldiers in the murdered sergeant’s company, as well as Adolph Caesar as Sergeant Waters and Denzel Washington, both reprising their roles from the staging. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay for Fuller and Best Supporting Actor for Caesar.
The play finally made its Broadway debut in the recent Roundabout Theater Company production, which received seven Tony Award nominations last year, winning two, for Best Revival and Featured Actor for Grier.
Johnson was writer/executive producer on Prime Video’s Bosch, based on the Michael Connelly detective novels. In 2021, Johnson won an NAACP Image Award as co-showrunner and executive producer on Netflix’s limited series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker which starred Octavia Spencer. Johnson is also the author of a debut memoir, The Officer’s Daughter, published by Harper Collins.
Johnson is repped by CAA, Alex Hertzberg and Adam Burger at Atlas Literary, and attorneys Bruce D. Gellman and David Hiller at Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman. Grier is repped by Innovative Artists, Activist Artists Management, and Ziffren Brittenham. Fuller is repped by A3 Artists Agency.
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