Searchlight Acquires ‘The Defender,’ Starring Sterling K. Brown as Pioneering Attorney Scipio Africanus Jones

Searchlight Pictures has acquired script rights to “The Defender,” starring Sterling K.

Brown as the pioneering lawyer Scipio Africanus Jones, who risked his life and career to defend the Elaine Twelve — a group of 12 Black sharecroppers sentenced to death for allegedly being involved in the murder of a white man during the Elaine Massacre of 1919 in Arkansas.George Tillman Jr.

(“The Hate U Give”) is attached to direct, with 21 Laps’ Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen on board to produce.

The three-time Emmy-winning actor will also produce the project under his Indian Meadows banner, founded in 2018 with the mission to “champion diversity through the development and production of entertaining, educational and inclusive projects.”Penned by E.

Nicholas Mariani, “The Defender” tells the true, yet little-known, story of the courageous attorney’s fight to defend eighty-seven men wrongfully accused in relation to the Elaine Massacre.

Mariani’s script was a 2018 Black List selection,

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