Manley made history by rising in the ranks of the Negro National League in the 1930s and ’40s as a co-owner and business manager of the Newark Eagles, the team that went on to win the 1946 Negro World Series. Effa, which is gearing up to shoot in Savannah, Georgia early next year, will be financed and produced by Studioplex City LLC as the first in a two-picture deal the FONU2 subsidiary has signed with Marshall.
This used to be Marshall’s playground: She directed her way around a diamond in 1992’s A League Of Their Own, about the struggle to establish America’s first female baseball teams during WWII. The Effa project harkens to a brief moment in League when a stray ball lands in front of an unnamed African-American woman who hurls it back, a reminder that the era was even more marginalizing at the time for black women in baseball.
Effa will mark Marshall’s first feature as a director since 2001’s Riding In Cars With Boys. “The story is a fascinating tale of a woman who broke through so many barriers and accomplished so much for the players and the game, during a time when the face of baseball changed forever,” she said.
Byron Motley wrote the script. Wendi Laski is aboard as producer. Marshall will also executive produce alongside Motley. Jeffery Miller will associate produce. Studioplex City President Jake Shapiro announced the project and two-pic deal with Marshall.
“Penny Marshall has directed some of the greatest stories ever told for the big screen,” said Shapiro. “Films such as Big and A League Of Their Own transcend time, generations and global boundaries. The film is about a strong woman who was ahead of her time, the history of baseball and the Negro Leagues. We are proud to be working on such a meaningful project with such a powerful and talented director.”
Marshall is repped by Michael Mann Management.