EXCLUSIVE: Stephan James and Laurence Fishburne are set to star and Jasmine Cephas Jones, Skeet Ulrich and Annabeth Gish will co-star in director Seith Mann’s shortform drama series #Freerayshawn, The drama, from Sony Pictures TV and executive producer Antoine Fuqua, will be featured on Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s Quibi, a short-form mobile streaming service which takes long-form content and breaks it into little bits, essentially one long story told in chapters.
#Freerayshawn, which has started production in New Orleans, is believed to be the first Quibi series from a major studio as indie Sony TV continues to embrace new entrants in the original scripted programming space. It originated as a feature penned by Marc Maurino, with revisions by Michael C Martin. Seith Mann (Homeland, The Breaks) will direct and executive produce.
#Freerayshawn tells the story of a young, black Iraq War veteran named Rayshawn (James) who is set up by New Orleans police on a drug deal, runs for his life, and takes refuge inside his apartment building with his girlfriend and child. With New Orleans PD and the SWAT team outside ready to storm his home, a social media frenzy begins as community members and news outlets arrive at the scene. During this growing mayhem, a sympathetic cop named Steven Poincy (Fishburne) plays the role of negotiator, and, over the course of one brutally stressful day, Steven tries to get Rayshawn to calmly surrender in order to avoid an escalation of unnecessary violence.
Jones plays Tyisha, Ulrich is Sgt. Mike Trout and Gish portrays Detective Lincoln.
Antoine Fuqua executive produces with Fuqua Films’ David Boorstein and Kat Samick, Mann, and Justin Bursch. Fuqua Films and Sony Pictures TV co-produce.
#Freerayshawn was briefly referenced by Katzenberg at the official unveiling of Quibi in October when he mentioned that Fuqua was developing a project the former DreamWorks Animation CEO described as a modern-day version of Dog Day Afternoon.
Fishburne’s most recent film credits include Marvel’s Ant Man and The Wasp, The Mule and Where’d You Go Bernadette and he’ll next be seen reprising his role of Bowey King in John Wick 3.
James most recently starred in the Barry Jenkins-directed If Beale Street Could Talk and also stars in Sam Esmail’s Amazon Prime Video series Homecoming, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for his performance opposite Julia Roberts.
Ulrich co-stars as FP Jones on the hit CW series Riverdale. He also recently starred as infamous kidnapper David Mitchell in the Lifetime movie, I Am Elizabeth Smart opposite Alana Boden and Deirdre Lovejoy.
Jones will next be seen in a recurring role on HBO’s Mrs. Fletcher. Her most recent TV credits include a recurring role on the second season of NBC’s Midnight, Texas. Her upcoming films include Unt. Noah Baumbach for Netflix and Universal’s The Photograph opposite Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield.
Gish’s TV credits include The Haunting of Hill House and The X-Files and she will next be seen starring with Joseph Cross in indie film Stay at Condor Beach.
Fuqua is repped by CAA and Ziffren Brittenham. Mann is repped by CAA, Writ Large and Del Shaw Moonves. James is repped by CAA, Noble Caplan Abrams and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer. Fishburne is repped by Helen Sugland, Paradigm, and Del Shaw Moonves. Jones is repped by ATA Management, ICM Partners and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer. Ulrich is repped by Paradigm and Luber Roklin. Gish is repped by Innovative Artists and Thruline.