EXCLUSIVE: As we mark the 52nd anniversary of the first Ali-Frazier fight today, Deadline can reveal that Peacock is developing Excellence: 8 Fights, a scripted eight-part event series about boxing great Muhammad Ali, based on the definitive biography Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig.
The project hails from Oscar-winning BlackKklansman co-writer Kevin Willmott, Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment, Bridgerton alum Regé-Jean Page and Emily Brown. Page is executive producing, but there currently is no deal in place for him to star as Ali. CBS Studios and UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, serve as the studios. Eig is producing.
Written by Willmott, the series chronicles eight distinct and defining moments in Ali’s iconic life. Each episode will be framed by one of his fights, but the essence of the episode, what it’s really about, is the internal fight – the drama outside the ring. It will explore the struggle going on in the heart and mind of one of the most consequential and controversial figures of the 20th century.
Willmott executive produces with Freeman and McCreary for Revelations Entertainment, Page and Brown. Eig serves as producer.
This has been a longtime passion project for Revelations and a priority for CBS Studios, where the company is based. They teamed to acquire Eig’s book shortly after it was published in October 2017 and set out to develop it as an event series. A different version of the project with writer Dan Kay landed at CBS All Access in a competitive situation in the spring of 2018.
The pitch since has been revamped, with Willmott joining as a writer/executive producer and Bridgerton and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves star Page as executive producer.
Willmott is an Academy Award-winning film director and screenwriter and professor of film at the University of Kansas. He is known for work focusing on the Black experience in such projects as BlackKklansman, Da 5 Bloods, The 24th, Chi-Raq and Jayhawkers. He’s repped by Gersh.
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