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'Moonlight' writer Tarell Alvin McCraney to develop TV series for OWN

What solar eclipse? It’s still all about “Moonlight”: Miami-born Tarell Alvin McCraney, screenwriter of the Oscar-winning drama filmed in Liberty City, will co-write and -produce a South Florida-set television series for the Oprah Winfrey Network.

The project, still untitled and without a premiere date, will be set during the final months of the Obama era. The show follows a 14-year-old who’s haunted by his best friend’s death, and must choose between embracing street life or escaping the projects with a school education, according to Variety. Actor Michael B. Jordan (“Creed,” “Black Panther”) will serve as an executive producer.

If the series’ plot sounds similar to that of “Moonlight,” which was adapted from McCraney’s play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue," it’s because both projects pull from McCraney’s past. “I wanted to explore the pivotal steps towards adulthood and identity, the ones we take when we think or feel we have no other choice,” McCraney told Variety.

“Moonlight,” which McCraney wrote with director Barry Jenkins, has been good to Miami, its eight Oscars adding prestige to everything from Miami’s film industry to Jimmy’s Eastside Diner, where the movie’s third act was shot. Local praise came early: When “Moonlight” debuted in limited theatrical release last October, O Cinema co-founder Kareem Tabsch raved about its portrait of growing up gay, black and bullied in Liberty City. “Moonlight” was "the greatest film made in or about South Florida," Tabsch said.

And Miami has been good to “Moonlight.” After the Oscars telecast in February, the city of Miami Gardens gave two of the films’ young actors, Alex Hibbert and Jaden Piner, keys to the city. In April, Jenkins and McCraney returned to Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood to celebrate the renaming of a local street to Moonlight Way.

Jenkins is also diving into television. The Liberty City native is busy writing and directing a limited drama series for Amazon based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Underground Railroad.” He’s also planning to adapt James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk” into a feature film.

pvalys@southflorida.com or 954-356-4364

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