Deadline reports the deal will involve Smiley developing scripted TV series for broadcast and cable. The first items to come from the deal will be TV series adaptations of Smiley’s books: the upcoming “Before You Judge Me: The Triumph And Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days” and “My Journey With Maya,” a memoir featuring Smiley’s personal memories of his 28-year friendship with famed poet Maya Angelou. Both books, published by Little, Brown and Company, were written by Smiley with David Ritz.
Scheduled for publication in June 2016, “Before You Judge Me” examines the final months in Jackson’s life while chronicling his constant hunt for privacy amid a very public life and the pressures he endured as someone whose fame made him socially fragile and almost unable to live.
Working with Smiley in developing the “My Journey With Maya” TV adaptation is Tony-winning director Kenny Leon (“A Raisin In The Sun”), who is also developing a stage play with the late-night TV talk host.
Smiley’s new deal with WBTVG comes amid the studio acquiring TV rights to Smiley’s book “Death Of A King: The Real Story Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year,” which is being developed as an event series with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, according to Deadline.
Overall, Smiley has written 19 books including his memoir “What I Know For Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America.” The author and radio host’s The Smiley Group, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television or Warner Horizon Television will produce his TV projects.