Global Media Leader & Entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate Join Forces With Pulitzer Prize®-Winning Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times to Adapt the Acclaimed 1619 Project Into a Portfolio of Films, Television Programming & Other Content Across All Studio Platforms
Studio to Enlist World-Class Talent to Bring A Multi-Media History of Slavery's Impact on America to a Global Audience
NEW YORK and SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Pulitzer Prize®-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) have chosen global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) to be the home for a wide-ranging partnership to develop Ms. Hannah-Jones' landmark issue of The New York Times Magazine, The 1619 Project, and hit New York Times podcast, 1619, into an expansive portfolio of feature films, television series and other content for a global audience.
As part of the ground-breaking venture, Lionsgate has partnered with media titan Oprah Winfrey as a producer who will provide stewardship and guidance to the development and production of the 1619 Project.
Lionsgate, The Times and Ms. Winfrey will join forces with Ms. Hannah-Jones, a 2020 Pulitzer Prize® winner, staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, and one of the nation's foremost investigative journalists, who will serve as the creative leader and producer in developing feature films, television series, documentaries, unscripted programming and other forms of entertainment enlisting world-class Black creative voices to help adapt her celebrated series chronicling the ways that the original sin of slavery in America still permeates all aspects of our society today. Her colleague at The Times Magazine, Caitlin Roper, an editor of The 1619 Project and head of scripted entertainment at The Times, will also produce.
One of the most impactful and thought-provoking works of journalism of the past decade, The Times Magazine's 1619 Project was a landmark undertaking that connected the centrality of slavery in history with an unflinching account of the brutal racism that endures in so many aspects of American life today. It was launched in August 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies that would become the United States, and it examines the legacy of slavery in America and how it shaped all aspects of society, from music and law to education and the arts, including the principles of our democracy itself.
Ms. Hannah-Jones created and was the architect of the initiative at The Times Magazine with contributions from Black authors, essayists, poets, playwrights, and scholars comprising a special issue of the magazine and a special section in the print edition of The New York Times produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History & Culture, as well as a five-part podcast that topped the Apple Podcast charts.
One of The Times' most widely read pieces of journalism last year, The 1619 Project has been discussed in the Senate, is being adapted into a series of books with One World, a division of Penguin Random House, and is already changing the way that American history is being taught in schools.
"We took very seriously our duty to find TV and film partners that would respect and honor the work and mission of The 1619 Project, that understood our vision and deep moral obligation to doing justice to these stories. Through every step of the process, Lionsgate and its leadership have shown themselves to be that partner and it is a dream to be able to produce this work with Ms. Oprah Winfrey, a trailblazer and beacon to so many Black journalists," said Ms. Hannah-Jones. "I am excited for this opportunity to extend the breadth and reach of The 1619 Project and to introduce these stories of Black resistance and resilience to even more American households."
"From the first moment I read The 1619 Project and immersed myself in Nikole Hannah-Jones's transformative work, I was moved, deepened and strengthened by her empowering historical analysis," said Oprah Winfrey. "I am honored to be a part of Nikole's vision to bring this project to a global audience."
"For many Americans, The 1619 Project was a great awakening and a true history that you probably never learned in school," said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer. "For others, the project was a fresh analysis of the historical record by one of the world's leading media authorities. We're proud to partner with The New York Times, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Oprah Winfrey, a creative talent with unparalleled stature, to amplify Nikole's voice and reach across our worldwide platform to marshal all of our top creative relationships to translate her vision into a canon of storytelling for a global audience."
"Since the publication of The 1619 Project last year, we have been searching for the right partners to expand the reach of its message into film and television while preserving the authenticity of its voice," said New York Times Assistant Managing Editor, Sam Dolnick. "We believe that Lionsgate and Oprah Winfrey are the perfect combination of partners who understand the editorial integrity of The Times and the gravity of The 1619 Project's message, and have the reach, resources, compassion, and talent relationships to join with us and with Nikole in producing films, television, and other programming for a global audience that do justice to the project."
"Nikole Hannah-Jones and her deeply reported journalism has done nothing short of challenging the entire history we thought we knew, revealing the true role of slavery and the impact of racial prejudice in shaping the America of today," said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Chairman Joe Drake and Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs. "The truths she uncovers are painful and disturbing, but we are better for it because her crowning accomplishment in shining a spotlight on the previously untold contributions of Black Americans delivers a powerful message of empowerment and inclusion. That is the message that we want to advance through feature films and television series whose storytelling, breadth of scope, and world-class talent do justice to their subject matter."
Please see a link to The 1619 Project essays here and podcasts here.
About Nikole Hannah-Jones
Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize®-winning investigative reporter who covers civil rights and racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine. Her work has also earned three National Magazine Awards, two George Polk Awards, a Peabody, the John Chancellor Award for Distinguished Journalism from Columbia University and a MacArthur Fellowship, known as the "Genius Grant."
Ms. Hannah-Jones's heroes are the race beat reporters such as Ida B. Wells, Ethel Payne, Simeon Becker and Claude Sitton, whose fearless reporting helped move the nation closer to its promise. Prior to joining The New York Times five years ago, she worked as an investigative reporter at ProPublica in New York City, where she spent three years chronicling the way official policy created and maintains segregation in housing and schools.
Before that, she reported for the largest daily newspaper in the Pacific Northwest, the Oregonian in Portland, Oregon. She started her journalism career covering the majority-Black Durham Public Schools for the News & Observer in Raleigh, NC.
She has said, "I see my work as forcing us to confront our hypocrisy, forcing us to confront the truth that we would rather ignore."
Ms. Hannah-Jones was represented by Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano.
About The New York Times Company
The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) is a global media organization dedicated to enhancing society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information. The Company includes The New York Times, NYTimes.com and related properties. It is known globally for excellence in its journalism, and innovation in its print and digital storytelling and its business model. Follow news about the Company at @NYTimesPR.
The Times was represented by Anonymous Content and Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman.
About Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is a global media leader, philanthropist, producer and critically acclaimed actress. She has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world, making her one of the most respected and admired figures today.
Winfrey currently hosts a variety of series that tackle issues and concerns facing Black lives, featuring candid and in-depth conversations that create real dialogue to inspire systematic change. Recent specials include "Oprah Talks: COVID-19 -- The Deadly Impact On Black America" on AppleTV+ and the two-part "OWN Spotlight: Where Do We Go From Here" that aired worldwide across the Discovery family of networks which featured Nikole Hannah-Jones.
Through her company's film division, Harpo Films, Winfrey has produced projects based on classic and contemporary literature including: the award-winning "Tuesdays With Morrie;" "Their Eyes Were Watching God;" and the Emmy-nominated "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." In 1998, Harpo Films produced the critically acclaimed "Beloved," based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison, which co-starred Winfrey and Danny Glover. In 2007, Harpo Films co-produced "The Great Debaters." In 2009, Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry supported Lionsgate's distribution of "Precious," based on the novel by Sapphire. In 2014, Oprah Winfrey teamed with Steven Spielberg and Juliet Blake to produce the feature film "The Hundred Foot Journey," and in 2015 Winfrey produced and acted in the Academy Award-nominated "Selma."
Winfrey is also a dedicated philanthropist. She has contributed more than $200 million towards the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, serving underserved and academically gifted girls in South Africa. In 2019, Winfrey's donation to Morehouse College brought her total donation to men's education to $20 million. In 2020, Winfrey committed $12 million to COVID-19 relief efforts focusing on underserved communities in her "home cities" of Chicago, Nashville, Milwaukee, Baltimore and Kosciusko, Mississippi. Additionally, Winfrey is a founding donor of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. In 2013, Winfrey was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. In 2018, she was honored with the Cecil B deMille award by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
The first major new studio in decades, Lionsgate is a global content leader whose films, television series, digital products and linear and over-the-top platforms reach next generation audiences around the world. Lionsgate film and television properties also support a global network of location-based entertainment and other branded attractions as well as a robust video game business. Lionsgate's content initiatives are backed by a nearly 17,000-title film and television library and delivered through a global sales and distribution infrastructure. The Lionsgate brand is synonymous with original, daring and ground-breaking content created with special emphasis on the evolving patterns and diverse composition of the Company's worldwide consumer base.