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12 Years A Slave writer to explore more suffering with Ben-Hur remake and a racial drama for ABC

12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley is suddenly very much in demand. Now that the novelist, playwright, and former Wanda Sykes Show head writer has spun brutality and misery into success by writing about the grim realities of slavery in antebellum Louisiana for director Steve McQueen, he’s been chosen to tackle the grim realities of slavery in Roman-occupied Judea for director Timbur Bekmambetov’s remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur. Though, perhaps “remake” is not quite the word, since—as we’ve reported before—this adaptation will be a more “faithful” adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel on which both films are based, along with telling an even bigger parallel story about Jesus. So, there’ll probably be less chariot racing and more unimaginable human suffering.

On top of that, Ridley has also sold another anguish-themed project to ABC. American Crime, which the longtime TV veteran will write and executive produce, will focus on a racially motivated murder in California’s Central Valley and the lives affected by it, almost certainly for the worse.


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