According to Deadline, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America) may be coming aboard to help pen the screenplay for an upcoming film adaptation of August Wilson’s classic 1987 play Fences. Two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington is hoping to direct the feature and may headline the movie as well. The project is set up at Paramount with Scott Rudin (The Social Network) producing.
Wilson himself did a rough draft of Fences and Kushner and Washington are hoping to sharpen the screenplay while maintaining the playwright’s integrity; a source close to Deadline said, They want to use everything Wilson has done. They want to use all of his words.” The work, which was first presented in 1987 and won Tony Awards for leading actors James Earl Jones and Mary Alice, is set around a man who always dreamed of being a great baseball player but ended up a garbageman. Fences is one of Wilson’s best known plays and is a part of the playwright’s “Pittsburgh Cycle”- ten plays set in a different decade offering a snapshot of the African-American experience. Washington starred in a recent Broadway revival of the play and won a Tony Award for his efforts as did co-star Viola Davis (Rudin produced the acclaimed stage revival as well). The Help star and two-time Oscar nominee is in contention to revive her role for the upcoming screen adaptation as well.
Separately, Washington has a deal to bring a handful of Wilson’s plays to the small screen with a partnership with HBO. Fences, however, is not a part of that package is looking to go the theatrical route. The hopes is that once the screenplay can get together, the movie can start shooting shortly thereafter with a possible shot of the film being able to qualify for an awards run later this year. No start or release dates have been announced at this time however. As a director, Washington has helmed the fact-based dramas Antwone Fisher (2002) and The Great Debaters (2007); this would mark his third turn behind the camera.
Kushner, widely admired for penning the classic Angels in America (he also wrote the acclaimed HBO mini-series and won an Emmy Award for his efforts), has previously written two powerful screenplays for the big screen and both for director Steven Spielberg: Munich (2005) and Lincoln (2012). Both earned Oscar nominations for Kushner.
We will stay tuned to the further developments on Fences.