Tracey Edmonds To Produce Films Based On E. Lynn Harris' Literary Oeuvre (Ted Witcher Adapting 1st)

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 9, 2011 6:05 AM
11 Comments
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For you fans of the late E. Lynn Harris, who died in 2009, this should excite you, courtesy of The Root:

Tracey Edmonds of Edmonds Entertainment and Proteus Spann of Proteus E2 productions have structured a multi-picture deal to develop the extensive library of novels by New York Times best selling author E. Lynn Harris into feature films.

The first production in this over all creative development deal will be E. Lynn Harris’s blockbuster first novel, 'Invisible Life,' which will be jointly produced by Edmonds Entertainment and Proteus E2 productions with Shelia Ducksworth, Glendon Palmer and Javon Johnson as co-producers. Screenwriter Ted Witcher (“Love Jones”) has been brought on to adapt the novel for the motion picture screen.

Furthermore, the deal is said to have already been in motion shortly before Harris died of a heart attack almost exactly 2 years ago.

Since it's the first title to be adapted, so what's Invisible Life about?

From Amazon.com: it tells "the story of Raymond Tyler, who, after years of questioning his sexual identity, finds himself torn between a married male lover and Nicole, the talented actress with whom he imagines himself able to spend the rest of his life. With a rich cast of supporting characters and emotionally wrenching plot twists, this debut proved popular enough in a self-published edition to catch the attention of Doubleday, which bought the rights to Invisible Life and has published each of Harris's four subsequent novels, including two sequels, Just As I Am and Abide with Me."

And this quote from Tracey Edmonds: “E. Lynn Harris entrusted Proteus and myself with his dream of seeing his books translated into film. After his tragic passing, we are even more determined to see his dream become a reality. With his first blockbuster novel, 'Invisible Life,' we begin the journey that millions of his fans have traveled.

Oh, and by the way, good to see Theodore Witcher's name attached to a project again. It's been a while Ted! Remember Love Jones everyone?

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11 Comments

  • Orville | July 2, 2011 2:11 AMReply

    I would love to see a gay black movie on the silver screen that is NOT stereotypical. There is already a built in audience since a lot of black gay men and straight black women LOVE E Lynn Harris books! Invisible Life is an amazing book and it is my favourite E Lynn Harris novel! I think this movie can do well BUT I have a question, how will Tracey Edmonds cast this film? Which black male actors that want to take on a gay role? We all know in the black community has a lot of issues about homophobia.

  • CareyCarey | June 10, 2011 12:39 PMReply

    Yoshi, I believe we are agreeing. However I do have a slight problem with your following paragraph...

    "but I think it is much easier to find books by authors like Toni Morrison, Edward P. Jones, Colson Whitehead, ZZ Packer, and many others who are considered more artistic and literary and I think that prevents the problem of the more problematic images presented in the more popular fiction being the sole and defining images of Black people"

    I don't know... easier than what? I believe you were saying it's easier to find different representation (more diverse representation) of black life in literature than in the current state of black films. Okay, I can agree with that, but again, that diversity is shrinking. Consequently, and unfortunately that downward trend will continue because history tells me that's true. Popular opinion and money dictates the ways of the world. And look, lets be real, Walter and Octavia are in the latter stages of their careers, and we would have to look far and wide to name a new generation of black authors, who could be compared to the class of authors we've mentioned.

    "maybe we should ask more questions about why the demand for such books and films is (or seems to be) so high as well as if these writers really see the world around them in such a flat way or if they really are just wasting their talent to sale more"

    Uuuummm, talent, money and demand. You make the call.

    But lets bring this back home. This post opened with an announcement of Tracey Edmonds of Edmonds Entertainment and Proteus Spann of Proteus E2 productions have structured a multi-picture deal to develop the extensive library of novels by New York Times best selling author E. Lynn Harris into feature films. Now I am saying, miss me with that. E. Lynn Harris was a popular author in many circles, but I am questioning the rewards and payoff of promoting films adapted from his works. I think you will agree that movies are much more than forms of entertainment. There's always subtle and in many cases, blatant messages being delivered by the actions on the screen. What messages might Harris's works deliver? Yeah, might they be that homosexuality is a normal way of life, an acceptable way of life that's cool and sexy? Oh yeah, many of his characters are negro rich, and have popular occupations, so hey, what's wrong with being a homosexual? Tracy Edmond and Screenwriter Ted Witcher (“Love Jones”) are involved so it must be alright - right?

    I mean, one of the first comments that hit the board said: "hopefully this should be an interesting look at black, male homosexuality without any snideness'

    Excuse me, interesting? What's interesting about two guys jackin' each other? What interesting, enlightening and empowering messages can be received from two guy bumpiing each others nuts? As I am writing, I am now wondering who's going to run out and see this? Who, the openly gay, down low brothas, lonely sistahs, Lesbians, who? It's certainly wouldn't be a date flick. Is it a chick flick? Do chicks like seeing two naked dudes laying in bed? Most men had a hard time taking their ladies to see Scanks in The City, I now they wouldn't be caught dead watching Big Buck & Big Buck In The City.

    I'm out.

  • Yoshi | June 10, 2011 9:58 AMReply

    @CareyCarey - I do believe that we should definitely demand quality and not just quantity in literature and film. But I don't think that "Black literature" is in the same predicament as "Black film." It's obvious in film that we mostly only have a choice between Madea, Big Mama, or your once in a while Black comedy that doesn't have a man in drag. Otherwise you have to know how to find indie films to get a quality movie focusing on Black characters. But the current state of Black film basically characterizes Black people as flat and jovial needing the guidance of a mammy figure to get through life.

    However I do not see that same situation in literature. I do have a problem with the segregation of books written by Black authors in stores like Borders and Barnes & Nobles but I think it is much easier to find books by authors like Toni Morrison, Edward P. Jones, Colson Whitehead, ZZ Packer, and many others who are considered more artistic and literary and I think that prevents the problem of the more problematic images presented in the more popular fiction being the sole and defining images of Black people.

    Now I do believe that we should definitely demand quality from popular literature as well. I think Walter Mosley and Octavia Butler are good examples of quality fiction that sales well with a crowd that doesn't necessarily read Morrison, Faulkner, and the like. I think my concern is that we've been criticizing the writers for the lack of substance for a while now and that maybe we should ask more questions about why the demand for such books and films is (or seems to be) so high as well as if these writers really see the world around them in such a flat way or if they really are just wasting their talent to sale more.

  • CareyCarey | June 10, 2011 7:38 AMReply

    "@ CareyCarey How is the current state of Black popular literature any different from the current state of popular literature as a whole? Isn’t the point to have a wide range of stories?"

    Hi Yoshi, I be glad to answer that question.

    Although there are similarities between Black Popular Literature and Literature on a whole, i.e.,. harder to get books published if one is not a none author, books sales on a whole have been sagging over the years, and certain types/genres of books are just not in popular demand any more, but Black Popular Literature has it own set of unique problems.

    First, I’ve been fortunate to have had many conversations with aspiring writers, self published writers and some old school well known published writers... including Zane and Bernice McFadden. In many of those conversations I hear the same arguments that book sales are way down and it’s becoming harder and harder to make a living solely from their books.. So the burning question is why?

    Well, aside from the facts already mentioned, there has always been an issue with American book stores on which/whose books they place in their stores and how they are placed/advertised in their stores. Generally there’s a small section in the back corner “African American Books” that’s poorly stocked and crowded with the most “popular” selling books. Shelf space is a huge issue in any retail market/business. And, ask any serious reader of black literature, where’s the closet black book store, and they might pause, scratch their head, and say “there used to be one down over at... ah... well it’s not there anymore, so you’ll have to go to Borders”

    I am suggesting, as with the current black movie scene, money talks, and Tyler and Martin Lawrence get rich, and it behooves all of us to take a look at what you suggested... “Isn’t the point to have a wide range of stories” .

    I personally do not know whose point that is, and although it may be a good point, unfortunately, it falls under “good intentions”. I mean, a range of stories should not be the defining factor. I believe the stories within a range, should be the most important and significant issue.

    I made a comparison between so called “black movies” and black literature to illustrate a trend of some black folks crying for more black faces in both industries, while turning a blind eye, and even championing the messages and stories, whose end results leave nothing of substance to be desired. MORE MORE MORE BLACK FACES, with the payoff being, less less less quality, and if you build it (less qualities films with dreadful messages) they will come. The barking dog will be left chasing his own tail.

    In short, lets look at the word “popular”. Don’t flinch, but what does that mean?

    “I can see an argument that more directors should be looking at adapting stories of someone like Toni Morrison to the screen successfully like some of Cormac McCarthy’s books have been but I don’t see the point to continue talking down about the current popular writers”

    So you’re agreeing??? However, the root, the bulk of you disagreement with my comment is that you believe I was talking down about the current popular writers? And I shouldn’t do that? Well that wasn’t the core of my discontent/issue, but Lord have mercy, turn out the lights Tambay, all bets are off. We shouldn’t say one bad thing about any project, production, book and/or movie, that does not have a smiley face on it. I mean, you know, if said products widen the range of similar products, and there are black faces in it, on it or around it, we have to let that lay. don’t put our hands nor mouths on it.

    Is that’s the point - Yoshi?

  • Neziah | June 10, 2011 6:33 AMReply

    Ted Witcher is back, that's exciting.

  • Yoshi | June 10, 2011 4:29 AMReply

    @ CareyCarey How is the current state of Black popular literature any different from the current state of popular literature as a whole? Isn't the point to have a wide range of stories? That is certainly the case in literature. I can see an argument that more directors should be looking at adapting stories of someone like Toni Morrison to the screen successfully like some of Cormac McCarthy's books have been but I don't see the point to continue talking down about the current popular writers.

    I haven't read "Invisible Life" yet but I know some characters are on the DL. I hope their given a more thoughtful treatment and not just for entertainment by feeding into the overblown myths surrounding the "DL Man."

  • Anonymous | June 9, 2011 11:25 AMReply

    Not a fan of his (E.Lynn Harris's) work.

    However, with Witcher directing...

    Where has he been all this time? What's he been up to? I loved the look of Love Jones.

  • CareyCarey | June 9, 2011 8:42 AMReply

    Dang, I see MsWoo beat me here, but my fruit basket is not full of cherries and fruits that make us smile.

    I am sure there may be many who are leaping for joy at the news of more black faces on the big screen, and particularly, black, male homosexuality, faces.

    But let me step back and take a look at the broader dynamics at play.

    There was a time when most of our most dynamics stories of struggles, triumph, victory and family life, were told by our greatest novelist like Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Anna Bontemps, Richard Wright, Ann Petry, Claude McKay, etc. Those stories continued to find breath through the works of more familiar (to some) authors i.e., Be Be Moore Campbell, Walter Moseley , Jewel Parker Rhodes, Bernice McFadden, Alice Copper, ZZ Packer, Barbara Neely, Penny Mickelbury, Maya Angelou and many many more. But then one day a new group came on the block. A gang of rowdies and thieves and purveyor of a new way of life, marked their territory and fought for shelf space.

    They were not the crypts and the blood, nor the gang called folks, they went by the delicious and tempting sounding names of Erotica, Street Lit and You Go Girl. The old messages began to fade away as the new kids on the block; pockets getting fatter as they sold more “dope“, muscled their way into the limited space of American book stores, reserved for “African American Literature”.

    Oh happy day, new stories and new black faces emerged on the scene as the old faces, older stories and their older messages took a back seat to guns and violence, Sex and drugs, mischief and a host of mayhem. The new cannon was not focused on the enemy nor the development of a sound black family structure, it’s messages frequently said, “it’s yo thang, do what you want to do, can’t nobody tell you, how to act a damn fool.

    Oh yeah, smack it, rub it and spin it around, many of them are preaching “we all fall down”. So up from the ground came a bubbling crude, big “B” that is. Black faces, black faces, lets all say hello, it’s Zane, E Lynn Harris and a gaggle of fools... one going by the name of Relentless.

    Hip Hip Hooray, shake it down, shake it down, more black faces in our town. “Mr. Rag, Man, Mr. Rag Man, can I sell you my wares?.... Please stop, I got something I have to say, I swear”

    Certainly my smiling black faces, this country needs to hear your cries. Well, at least that’s what some folks are saying. Who cares what’s in your box of deceitful tricks and purveyor’s ways? This is an equal opportunity kind of world, so jump on board. I don’t care if you’re gay or swing or a stump down ho,’ jump on my back and I’ll take you to the promise land... if you bring your children along? Fuk granny, fuk them bedside chats. Who gives a fat fuk about Harriet Tubman? We’ll get are rewards the other old fashioned way.

    So let's all stand and cheer for Tracey Edmonds, (whose husband, Baby Face, said he would drink her bath water) of Edmonds Entertainment and Proteus Spann of Proteus E2 productions, and Screenwriter Ted Witcher. Stand up and tip your hats.

    They have E Lynn Harris in tow. They may bring an interesting look at black, male homosexuality without any snideness. And everybody needs a little liquor in their punch to get the party really poppin', and numb the minds of millions of our future generation of black youth, while the real messages of change linger on the sidelines.

    Damn, and some are crying about the black man being the first one killed in a goddamn X-men movie. Oh yeah, Idris should get the part of that negro unchained. Woe is we, we need mo black faces to tell our stories and some blacks are jumping for joy as they slobber over black faces jumping over da damn broom, and Tracey Edmonds is back in town.

  • Cherish | June 9, 2011 8:03 AMReply

    Well, everyone's story deserves to be told.

    I read the book years ago, didn't find it to be as memorable as its made out to be, but decent. The movie can be a good. I hope it doesn't focus on a "black people hate gays" or black women blame black gay men for their singledom" theme.

  • Lynn | June 9, 2011 7:01 AMReply

    I never read any E. Lynn Harris novels I know my mom has a few of his novels. But this might work out for Tracey Edmonds and her team.

    Homosexuality is very popular these days on the small screen and the BIG screen. Almost every TV show on television has a gay/lesbian character (Ex. Glee)

  • MsWOO | June 9, 2011 6:50 AMReply

    E Lynn Harris...? Wow, with Theodore "Love Jones" Witcher helming, hopefully this should be an interesting look at black, male homosexuality without any snideness.

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