Jay Z and Will Smith will executive produce an upcoming HBO miniseries about Emmett Till, a teenager whose death in 1955 helped spark the civil rights movement. A writer is currently being sought for the project that is in “active development,” Deadline reports, with the as-yet-untitled miniseries expected to run six hours.
Till was 14 years old when he was brutally murdered in Mississippi after allegedly flirting with a married white woman. The two men charged in Till’s killing were later acquitted; they would eventually admit to slaying the teenager but avoided further prosecution. The murder of Till, whose mother gave his mutilated body an open casket funeral to spotlight the atrocity, was a major catalyst in the emerging civil rights movement; three months after Till’s death, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white rider in Alabama.
Jay Z and Smith previously teamed up to produce the Fela Kuti-inspired Broadway musical Fela! as well as the 2014 film remake of Annie. In recent years, the rapper and his company Roc Nation have helped produce numerous projects, from Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 The Great Gatsby musical – Jay Z also executive produced the film’s soundtrack – to 2012’s Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, a documentary about civil rights activist Angela Davis.
No premiere date for the Emmett Till miniseries has been revealed. The announcement of the Till series comes just two days before what would have been his 74th birthday.