Precious director Lee Daniels is teaming up with Hugh Jackman to develop a feature film adaptation of William F. Pepper's nonfiction novel centered on Martin Luther King Jr. called Orders to Kill. According to the L.A. Times, the story tells an alternative version of the King shooting.
The film will tell the story of William Pepper (Jackman), a controversial attorney and activist who for decades has argued that convicted killer James Earl Ray, who recanted his confession and died arguing his innocence, didn't shoot MLK.
The picture will follow Pepper over the years as he wages a one-man campaign, interviewing witnesses and building support for his theory that other interests, including those from the U.S. government, were behind the 1968 Memphis killing. (In a nutshell, Pepper, who is still alive, argues that government interests wanted King dead because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.) It will be based on Pepper's own book, which has been adapted for the screen by Hollywood screenwriter Hanna Weg.
Sounds like it will have a JFK kind of feel to it. The book's author was a personal friend of King, and he has spent years arguing that the confession of James Earl Ray was all part of an elaborate conspiracy.
According to the report, "Ray has long been viewed as the killer by authorities and much of the public, though Pepper has the support of Martin Luther King Jr.'s son Dexter King, who came to believe the bullet was fired by a Memphis police officer. A 1999 wrongful-death lawsuit against a man and unknown co-conspirators filed by the Kings and argued by Pepper found in favor of the plaintiff. The trial will be the climactic section of the film, according to the person familiar with the project."
Daniels and Jackman were previously set to work together on a Civil Rights movie called Selma, in which Jackman was going to play a racist sheriff who was targeting King. The movie ended up falling through due to financial issues. It will be good to see these two talents get to work with each other, and it sounds like an interesting story that should make for a solid film.
Here's a little description from Pepper's novel:
Here is the myth-shattering expose which reveals the truth behind the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr... Shocking and controversial revelations from James Earl Ray's attorney On April 4th, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stepped out onto the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, and into his killer's line of fire. One shot ended Dr. King's life and forever changed the course of American history -- setting into motion a massive cover-up that has withstood a quarter-century of scrutiny. Now, after 18 years of intensive investigation, William F. Pepper tears away the veil of subterfuge that has hidden the truth of King's death -- proving the innocence of convicted assassin James Earl Ray and revealing the evil conspiracy behind the murder of our nation's greatest civil rights leader.
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