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Laurence Fishburne Will Revive Walter Mosley's Socrates Fortlow For An HBO Drama Series

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act November 20, 2013 at 3:48PM

Laurence Fishburne Will Revive Walter Mosley's Socrates Fortlow For An HBO Drama Series
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Laurence Fishburne

Finally, one of a handful of new Walter Mosley novel adaptations we've been following in recent years is finally heading to the screen - the small screen.

Although an "in development" announcement doesn't guarantee that a project will make it through production.


Laurence Fishburne will revive Socrates Fortlow for HBO, as a TV series centered around the Mosley character, featured in the 1998 feature film adaption of his novel, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, which also aired on HBO.

To be titled The Right Mistake, the drama series will star Fishburne, who will also produce, and will continue to follow the travels of Fortlow (who Fishburne also played in the 1998 film), an aging ex-con (he served twenty-seven years for a double-homicide) just trying to cope with life. He lives in a tiny two-room Watts apartment, taking whatever honest work he can, scrounging and wrestling with his demons, as he struggles to live an honorable life as a black man on the margins of a violent, poverty-stricken world - something that requires every ounce of self-control he can muster.

Published as a volume of short stories in 1997, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, earned Mosley the Anisfield-Wolf Award, an honor given to works that increase the appreciation and understanding of race in America. 

The 1998 HBO film co-starred, along with Fishburne, Natalie Cole, Cicely TysonBill CobbsIsaiah Washington, Bill Nunn, and others. 

It was directed by Michael Apted from a screenplay penned by Mosley himself.

Mosley will co-write the new HBO drama series adaptation of the novel, with Patrick Charles. Mosley will also executive produce along with Helen Sugland, Diane Houslin and Tom Russo

Other Mosley screen adaptations announced in recent years that haven't materialized (and may never) include: a TV series based on private investigator Ezekiel EasyRawlins, which was in the works for the NBC network, and which NBC killed last year after seeing a script; his Leonid McGill series - the New York City private investigator - starting with the first book in the series titled, The Long Fall, was to be adapted by HBO, but nothing's happened there. Mosley said in early last year that he'd pretty much outlined the entire first season for HBO, which would be based on The Long Fall, and that he was to meet with HBO execs a couple of months after that, during which I assumed he'd be handing over what he'd done, and they'd further discuss the project; there's also Samuel L Jackson's optioning of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey to adapt for the big screen; There was the TNT network's ordering of a pilot for Mosley's Fearless Jones series of novels, with plans for an eventual TV series; also, most recently, plans were announced to develop of a feature film based on Mosley’s psychological thriller Man In My Basement, with Anthony Mackie in talks to star, and Mosley co-writing the screenplay with Cheo Hodari Coker (Southland).

Nothing new to report on any of those projects, unfortunately!

Wanting to take matters into his own hands, last year, Mosley teamed up with TV series and documentary producer Diane Houslin to launch a new production company, B.O.B. Filmhouse (Best of Brooklyn Filmhouse), with the goal being to play an "active role" in the adaptation of his novels into films and TV series). 

He said the following:

"I'm looking to make television and shows and movies — my kind. I'm very happy with the movies that have been done [of his work]. I'm not happy with the regularity; I'd like to do more."

And I'm sure fans would love the same! 

So much activity it seems, getting fans excited about what might be to come, but, as we've seen here, nothing's guaranteed. All of these projects may go the way that the NBC Easy Rawlins project did. But, at least, we hope to see even just ONE of these deals go all the way, from script to screen, and hopefully soon.

This one from Fishburne, via HBO, just might be it, although no ETA on delivery yet.

Here's a scene from the 1998 flick:

This article is related to: Laurence Fishburne, TV News


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