Television Business International

Netflix orders Central Park Five drama

Scripted-logo-460_2netflixSubscription VOD service Netflix has ordered a five-part drama based on the true story of the Central Park Five.

The historic legal cases centres on five US Hispanic and black New York City men, who as teenagers were convicted of the rape of a white woman and served years in prison before their convictions were overturned.

Filmmaker Ava DuVerney will helm the project, following from her Netflix documentary movie 13th, which explores racial injustices within the prison system.

“This is one of the most talked-about cases of our time and Ava’s passionate vision and masterful direction will bring the human stories behind the headlines to life in this series,” said Cindy Holland, VP of original content for Netflix.

“After powerfully reframing the public conversation about criminality and injustice in 13th, Ava now turns a new lens to a case that exposes deep flaws in our criminal justice system.”

The drama is likely to flare up tensions in the US, as President Donald Trump in 1989 paid for full-page adverts in several New York newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty to the city, a move largely seen as motivated by the wrongful convictions of the Central Park Five.

“I had an extraordinary experience working with Netflix on 13th and am overjoyed to continue this exploration of the criminal justice system as a narrative project with Cindy Holland and the team there,” said DuVernay.

“The story of the men known as Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades. In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of color who were met with injustice at every turn – from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the president of the United States.”

DuVerney is writing and directing, with Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey/Harpo Films, and Jane Rosenthal and Berry Walsh from Tribeca Productions executive producing. DuVerney is also an EP.

The series marks a first scripted show from Participant, which last year shuttered its cable channel, Pivot, in favour of producing programmes and films with a social core.