“The Children,” David Halberstam’s sprawling look at the history of the Civil Rights movement, has been optioned by character actor, writer and director Bill Kalmenson.
Kalmenson is hoping to transform the look at the struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Rep. John Lewis, Marion Barry and countless others to achieve equal rights through sit-ins and non-violent protests, into either a movie or mini-series.
Halberstam’s book debuted in 1998, prompting the New York Times to note, “One comes away from Halberstam’s book with a sense of how bleak the South appeared in the 1950’s and 60’s, and how far the nation has come.” It was an exhaustively researched chronicle from the author of “The Best and the Brightest” and “The Powers That Be.”
Halberstam died in a car accident in 2007.
Although “The Children” has a long way to go before making it to any screen, the timing is propitious. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which explores similar terrain has been a box office hit, racking up more than $125 million worldwide.
“I see the story unfolding on television much like Steven Ambrose’s ‘Band of Brothers’ on HBO.” Kalmenson said in a statement. “These ‘children’ were no less heroic or transformative than those WWII soldiers. They shattered apartheid in the American South and created the blueprint for the anti-war, women’s, environmental and LGBT movements that have animated American life to this day.”
Kalmenson has had small parts in such movies as “Lethal Weapon” and “Argo” and directed the indie film “The Souler Opposite” (1998).
Shelley Surpin and Jamie Coghill of Surpin & Mayersohn, LLP negotiated the deal on behalf of Kalmenson. The Halberstam literary estate was represented by Robert N. Solomon Esq.