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Chris Rock to direct Martin Luther King Jr. biopic

Chris Rock and Steven Spielberg are collaborating on a movie about the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

While Rock is in final talks to direct and produce the project, Spielberg is also on board as executive producer. Universal Pictures backs biographical drama after opting for Jonathan Eig biopic “The King: A Life.”

Eig’s book has been called the definitive biography of the late civil rights icon. It uses new FBI information and hundreds of interviews to portray King as “a courageous but emotionally troubled individual who demanded peaceful protest while grappling with his own weaknesses and the government that hunted him.” Since it is in an early stage of development, casting has not been announced.

Ryan Jones, Universal’s senior vice president of production development, will oversee the project on behalf of the studio. The untitled film will be produced by Amblin Partners, produced by Kristie Macosko Krieger, and executive produced by Spielberg.

Rock, a four-time Emmy and three-time Grammy winner, previously directed 2014’s “Five Best,” 2003’s “Head of State” and 2007’s “I Think I Love My Wife.” He will be seen in director George C. Wolfe’s “Rustin,” starring Colman Domingo as a civil rights activist. Earlier this year, Netflix debuted his live stand-up special “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage”; This was a hit because it was one of the first times he publicly acknowledged that he had been slapped by Will Smith onstage at the Oscars.

The book option was provided by Lucy Stille of Lucy Stille Literary on behalf of the David Black Agency.

Rock is represented by CAA, Untitled Entertainment, Yorn, Levine, Barnes, Krintzman, Rubenstein, Kohner, Endlich & Gellman, Vision PR. Deadline first reported the news.

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