EXCLUSIVE: The remarkable story of Effa Manley, the first and to-date only woman to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, is headed to the screen.
Alcon Television Group has acquired the rights to baseball historian James Overmyer’s praised non-fiction novel Queen of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles. The company also has picked up the rights to Byron Motley (The Negro Baseball Leagues) and Jeffrey Miiller’s adaption of the material to use both as source material for a limited TV series titled The Eagles of Newark. Anya Adams (Black-ish, GLOW, Ginny & Georgia) is attached to direct the pilot. Search is underway for a showrunner. The producers also may attach on-screen talent before taking the project out.
The limited series will chronicle the dramatic efforts by tenacious civil rights activist Effa Manley and her husband Abe as they embark upon a risky business venture – starting their own ball club, the Newark Eagles, in the raucous world of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Effa Manley served as the team’s business manager.
“Effa Manley was a trailblazing woman and the passion she brought to everything she became involved in is deeply admirable to us,” said Alcon Television Group Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove. “We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring her historic story to life.”
Adams, Motley, Miiller and Josh Green will executive produce The Eagles Of Newark alongside TwentyFive8’s Caleeb Pinkett and Dougie Cash. Ben Roberts of Alcon Television Group secured the rights to the project and will also executive produce alongside Alcon’s Kosove and Johnson. Ben Cook will produce.
Adams won this year’s NAACP Image Award for outstanding director in a comedy series for Black-ish and last year’s award in the category for GLOW. She is set to direct the upcoming Searchlight film Step and recently directed two episodes of Alcon Television Group’s popular series The Expanse.
Motley, son of Negro League Umpire Bob Motley, grew up hearing wild stories from his father about the Negro Leagues and Effa Manley. Co-author of his father’s memoir The Negro Baseball Leagues, Motley is also a renowned baseball historian.
“We are committed to recognizing these forgotten men and women and their historical achievements,” said Motley and Miiller. “It’s about more than baseball. The story of Effa and the Newark Eagles offers the most dynamic and relatable way for audiences to experience the scale and impact of how the Negro Leagues changed America. We’re thrilled that our project about Effa and the Eagles has found a home with Alcon.”
Overmyer is a baseball history author specializing in the Negro Leagues. He was a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2006 special committee that voted to induct seventeen persons from the Negro leagues and the Black baseball period before the leagues were formed as members of the Hall. He also is an editor of Black Ball, a scholarly journal of black baseball history.
This is the second Negro League baseball series in the works, joining a drama at Apple from Magic Johnson, Peter Guber and Kapital Entertainment, which was announced two weeks ago. The Eagles Of Newark had been in the works for a while, with the two projects moving on parallel tracks.
Adams, Green, Motley, and Miiller are repped by Gersh. Adams is also repped by 3 Arts and Ginsburg Daniels.