Sister To Adapt James McBride’s ‘Deacon King Kong’ Novel For Television

By Nellie Andreeva, Denise Petski

Deacon King Kong

Sister, the global content company co-founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone, has won the rights to James McBride’s Deacon King Kong to develop as a television series. The praised novel was just named by Oprah Winfrey yesterday as her latest Book Club Selection.

McBride will pen the adaptation and executive produce with Brian Taylor alongside Sister’s Carolyn Strauss and Kate Fenske, with Jonah Disend for Complementary Colors set as a producer.

Deacon King Kong takes place in September 1969 and follows the life of a community in a Brooklyn housing project. “In a moment when our country roils with righteous anger and grief, Deacon King Kong reminds us that when we come together as a community in compassion and empathy, our love triumphs,” Winfrey said in announcing the selection.

Per the book’s synopsis, “a fumbling, comical old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range. To uncover the causes and consequences of this burst of violence – some of them serious, some of them funny – Deacon King Kong takes the reader through life in the Cause Houses housing projects, inspired by the Red Hook housing projects that produced McBride and remain an integral part of his life.”

“James McBride is one of America’s greats. His characters are vibrant and alive and, his themes – that community, faith and love are contagious – are powerful and relevant, particularly today. We all feel privileged to bring Deacon King Kong to the screen,” said Sister CEO, Stacey Snider.

McBride was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama for “humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America. Deacon King Kong is his first novel since winning the National Book Award for The Good Lord Bird, which has been adapted by Showtime as a limited series starring Ethan Hawke, Joshua Caleb Johnson, and Daveed Diggs, set for premiere in August. His beloved 1995 memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, topped the New York Times best-seller list for two years, sold millions of copies worldwide, and is considered a literary classic, read in classrooms, book clubs, and universities across America. His best-selling novel, Miracle at St. Anna, was adapted into a film directed and produced by Spike Lee.

“I’m delighted that Deacon King Kong has found a home with the Sisters,” said McBride. “They are big lifters of story, and big believers in the common humanity which makes stories human and worth doing. I’m so excited about the creative possibilities that lie ahead.”

McBride is repped by Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. The deal was negotiated on behalf of McBride and Taylor by attorney Kirk Schenck.

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