More details revealed about LeBron James' 'Dreamland' documentary about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
More details about The SpringHill Company's - the production company founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter - previously announced documentary about Tulsa's Black Wall Street, which was destroyed in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, have been revealed today, including the project's title.
The SpringHill Company and CNN Films have partnered to produce "Dreamland: The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street," which is currently in production, according to a news release.
As previously reported, the new documentary is directed and produced by Salima Koroma, who directed the 2016 documentary "Bad Rap," about Asian American rappers, including Awkwafina. It is executive produced by James, Carter, Jamal Henderson, and Philip Byron of The SpringHill Company and Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton of CNN Films.
Jamila Jordan-Theus and Patrick Altema of The SpringHill Company are co-executive producers for the film. CNN Films will be the linear television distributor for the feature throughout North America. HBO Max has acquired streaming rights to the film, according to the news release.
“At SpringHill, we embody empowerment and focus on shining a light on stories that are the fabric of American history,” said Henderson, The SpringHill Company’s chief content officer, in a statement. “We cannot move forward until we acknowledge our past and this is about honoring a prosperous, booming Black community, one of many, that was brought to an end because of hate. With the lack of historic journalism around ‘Black Wall Street’ and the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, we are honored to be partnered with CNN, which has a long-standing record of credible and groundbreaking journalism. We are bringing this documentary together with a diverse crew, including local Tulsans, and making it our mission to uplift voices and people while creating impactful content.”
Once a thriving community of bankers, lawyers and business owners, the Greenwood district of Tulsa, was also a community of the descendants of American slaves. In late May 1921, a 17-year-old white woman accused a 19-year-old African American man of inappropriate behavior in an elevator inside the Drexel Building. When a white mob attempted to lynch the accused, they were rebuked by African American World War I veterans. The backlash riots in the ensuing days resulted in the destruction of 35 city blocks, and hundreds of dead African Americans.
"Dreamland: The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street" will reveal this history, tell the stories of the descendants of survivors and explore the findings of the archeological search for the mass graves, according to the news release. According to USA Today, experts searching for victims of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre last week found at least 10 bodies in an unmarked mass grave.
“CNN Films could not be more proud to partner with The SpringHill Company for this long-overdue recognition of the tragedy of what happened in Greenwood, and to contribute to the reconciliation that comes with the acknowledgement of history,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, in a statement. “Salima Koroma’s vision will yield a truly thoughtful film.”
The production will include a mix of archival media, contemporary interviews and narrated elements such as letters and diary entries. It will also include footage of the near-century search for physical evidence of the mass murder that some had tried to erase from the historic record.
The partners expect the film to be completed in early 2021, according to the news release.
The deal announced today was negotiated with The SpringHill Company by Josh Tarnow, vice president for business and legal affairs at The SpringHill Company, and Stacey Wolf, senior vice president of business affairs, and Kelly MacLanahan, assistant general counsel, both of CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN Films.
As previously reported, the Tulsa Race Massacre was one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. Between May 31 and June 1, 1921, mobs of white residents attacked, set aflame and ultimately destroyed the Greenwood District, which was at that time the wealthiest black community in the United States.
The unjust tragedy was covered up for decades and omitted from history books even in Oklahoma. As the event's 2021 centennial approaches, however, several film and television projects are telling the story, which is still timely in the midst of this year's national protests about racial injustice.
As previously reported, HBO's Emmy-winning limited series "Watchmen," an alternative-history series set in present-day Tulsa, introduced many people to the horrific historical event for the first time as the opening scenes of the pilot flashed back the long-hidden tragedy. Also as previously reported, "Lovecraft Country" earlier this month became the second acclaimed HBO series to recreate the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
As previously reported, Cineflix Productions announced in June that it award-winning filmmaker and writer dream hampton ("Surviving R. Kelly") will the executive producer and director of a new limited documentary series based on the Tulsa Race Massacre. The working title for the project is "Black Wall Street," according to a news release.
Plus, James isn't the only NBA star who is working on a Tulsa Race Massacre project: As previously reported, Oklahoma Hall of Famer and former Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook is executive producing a television series on the deadly tragedy. Westbrook, who now plays for the Houston Rockets, has partnered with Blackfin, the unscripted TV producer behind Investigation Discovery's "I Am Homicide" and History Channel's "Brothers in Arms," on a documentary series titled "Terror in Tulsa: The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street," which will be directed and produced by three-time Primetime Emmy Award winner Stanley Nelson ("Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool").
About The Spring Hill Company
The SpringHill Company is a global consumer and entertainment brand created to empower greatness in every individual. The SpringHill Company unites three companies built by LeBron James and MaverickCarter: Uninterrupted, the athlete empowerment media and consumer product company; SpringHill Entertainment, the premium scripted and unscripted film and television production company; and The Robot Company, the brand and culture consultancy.
CNN Films produces and acquires documentary feature and short films for theatrical and festival exhibition and distribution across CNN’s multiple platforms. Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development, oversees the strategy for CNN Films; Courtney Sexton, senior vice president for CNN Films, works day-to-day with filmmakers to oversee projects. Recent acclaimed CNN Films include the Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning "RBG," directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen; Emmy Award-nominated "Love, Gilda," directed by Lisa D’Apolito; the Emmy Award-nominated "Three Identical Strangers," directed by Tim Wardle; and the Emmy Award-winning "Apollo 11," directed by Todd Douglas Miller.