Ava DuVernay (Queen Sugar) is teaming with Participant Media, Harpo Films and Tribeca Productions to bring the notorious true story of the Central Park Five jogger case to Netflix, for premiere in 2019.
Created, written and directed by DuVernay, the five-episode narrative limited scripted series is based on the true story of the 1989 case of five teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of raping a woman in New York’s Central Park. The series exposes the breakdown of our criminal justice system, with each part focusing on one of the five teenagers from Harlem — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise — wrongly convicted of raping Trisha Meili in Central Park. The series will span from the spring of 1989, when each were first questioned about the incident, to 2014 when they were exonerated and a settlement was reached with the city of New York.
DuVernay also executive produces with Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey/Harpo Films, and Jane Rosenthal and Berry Welsh from Tribeca Productions.
“I had an extraordinary experience working with Netflix on 13TH and am overjoyed to continue this exploration of the criminal justice system as a narrative project with Cindy Holland and the team there,” said DuVernay. “The story of the men known as Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades. In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of color who were met with injustice at every turn – from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the President of the United States.”
“This is one of the most talked-about cases of our time and Ava’s passionate vision and masterful direction will bring the human stories behind the headlines to life in this series,” said Cindy Holland, Vice President, Original Content for Netflix. “After powerfully reframing the public conversation about criminality and injustice in 13TH, Ava now turns a new lens to a case that exposes deep flaws in our criminal justice system.”
Participant Media’s Jonathan King added, “It’s an honor to be partnering again with Ava, a uniquely tenacious and inspiring artist. The events of this shocking story continue to resonate today, and the way Ava has chosen to focus intimately on the five young men foregrounds the human costs of this kind of tragedy. We are looking forward to working with Netflix, Tribeca and Harpo on Participant’s first scripted episodic series.”
The case also was the subject of the 2012 documentary film The Central Park Five, written by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon. The film received a flurry of news coverage when New York City lawyers subpoenaed outtakes for their defense of a civil suit filed by the five men who were wrongly convicted in the case.
DuVernay is repped by CAA and attorney Nina Shaw of Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano, and Tribeca Productions is repped by CAA.