Pilot Scoop: 12 Years a Slave Screenwriter to Pen American Crime Drama for ABC

American Crime ABC PilotABC has put into development American Crime, a racially tinged drama pilot penned by John Ridley, the screenwriter of the critically acclaimed film 12 Years A Slave.

Set in California’s Central Valley, American Crime looks at how a racially charged murder and the subsequent trial are examined through the personal lives of the victims, the accused and their families. As the case takes on greater meaning in the community, it brings to the forefront America’s hardened views on race, class and gender politics.

RELATED | Castle Creator Developing Philip Marlowe Detective Series for ABC

Ridley will also serve as an executive producer, alongside former ABC Studios drama head Michael McDonald, whose Stearns Castle shingle is producing the pilot. In his time at ABC Studios, McDonald shepherded to screen such series as Nashville, Revenge and Scandal.

Just this morning, Ridley’s 12 Years a Slave netted three Gotham Independent Film Award nominations, for best film, best actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and breakthrough actor (Lupita Nyong’o). His previous TV credits include Barbershop, Third Watch and Martin.

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  1. All I have to say is for all the pilot scoop coming out ALREADY, not a lot of new shows are getting second seasons next year.

    • Apples says:

      Bar of Agents of SHIELD, ABC’s freshman dramas have tanked hard this season. Lucky 7, Betrayal, OUATiWonderland will not get renewed. Nashville may get canceled too. So they have to develop a fresh slate of shows.

  2. Jo says:

    This sounds better than the Alzheimer’s comedy abc bought yesterday (no joke).

  3. AJ says:

    I like that it’s going to focus on one case throughout the entire season (that’s what I assume they mean), and not do the mind numbingly police procedural.

    • Apples says:

      Yes this sounds like a miniseries or something. That said I think ABC could do with another procedural or two, frankly (I think they only have Castle). Like it or not, people watch procedurals, and they do well in syndication. All their soapy serialized dramas start to blur into each other after a while.

  4. Aimee says:

    This sounds a little bit like The Killing. The idea of staying with one case for the whole show and not focusing on the crime so much as how that crime affects the people involved. It could be good.

  5. Linderella says:

    I’d rather see this on a cable network where the Disney influence won’t be as strong. The Killing on AMC and The Bridge on FX had no problem finding their adult audience.