*Shonda Rhimes is taking her talents to cable.
She and Betsy Beers of the Shondaland shingle – home of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” – are teaming with “Bessie” director Dee Rees to adapt Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns as a limited series for FX, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The historical study, published in 2010, chronicles the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, the exodus of almost 6 million people changed the face of America.
Wilkerson — who in 1994 became the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for her coverage of the 1993 Midwestern floods — tells the story through the lives of Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left Mississippi for Chicago; George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem; and Dr. Robert Pershing Foster, who left Louisiana for Los Angeles in 1953.
Wilkerson gave up her post as Chicago Bureau Chief at The New York Times to pen the 622-page historical study, which took her 15 years. The book, which takes its title from a Richard Wright poem, received the National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a NYT best-seller — it was one of the paper’s best books of 2010 and earned several other accolades.
Rees — whose 2011 feature “Pariah” earned praise on the festival circuit, including an Indie Spirit Award — will write the script and adapt Wilkerson’s book. Rees wrote and directed HBO’s Bessie Smith biopic “Bessie,” set to premiere on May 16.
Rhimes and Beers will executive produce through their ABC Studios-based Shondaland banner. The drama, which is in development, is a co-production between FX Productions and ABC Studios’ cable-focused arm ABC Signature.
The Warmth of Other Suns marks Shondaland’s first foray into cable programming. The banner will also likely score a fourth show for the 2015-16 broadcast season with its Rhimes- and Beers-produced “The Catch,” from writer Jennifer Schur and starring “The Killing’s” Mireille Enos.