Miami-born ‘Moonlight’ creator to develop new TV series for Oprah Winfrey Network

Tarell Alvin McCraney, who co-wrote ‘Moonlight’ with director Barry Jenkins, will develop a new TV series for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Tarell Alvin McCraney, who co-wrote ‘Moonlight’ with director Barry Jenkins, will develop a new TV series for the Oprah Winfrey Network.

The “Moonlight” effect continues, Miami. Tarell Alvin McCraney, who co-wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for the made-in-Miami film, just got the green light for a new TV series set in South Florida.

The show, set in the waning days of the Obama administration and optioned by the Oprah Winfrey Network, is clearly inspired by McCraney’s past. According to Variety, it follows the story of a 14-year-old from the projects who loses his best friend and finds the possibility of escape from the streets through education. McCraney, who was born and grew up in Liberty City, will create, write and executive produce the show, working with actor Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station,” “Creed”), who will also act as an executive producer.

“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.

Sandy Lighterman of the Miami-Dade Office of Film & Entertainment said that while there were no plans as of yet to film scenes from the show in Miami, her office was working on it.

“We’re actively trying to offer up what we can to keep them here,” she said.

Michael B. Jordan, star of ‘Creed’ and ‘Fruitvale Station,’ will be an executive producer on the show.

McCraney, who won a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2013, has found inspiration in his past before. “Moonlight,” which he co-wrote with director Barry Jenkins, is an autobiographical adaptation of his work “In the Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.”

In the fall of 2016, long before anyone imagined “Moonlight” could win Best Picture — or before anyone could imagine the chaos that erupted when that victory was announced — McCraney told the Miami Herald that his hometown was an inspiration.

“Part of the impetus for writing this story was that as a kid, I walked everywhere,” he said. “When I turned 16, everybody else had a car, but I was still walking. One day I was on 62nd Street, and I smelled the ocean. Even though Liberty City is a couple of miles away, we would sometimes get just enough of that ocean breeze to smell it. So I started to walk east until I got to Biscayne, because Legion Park and the bay were right there. And as I was walking this Babalawo [a priest in the Santería order] pulled on me and said ‘She’s calling you. That’s why you’re walking towards her.’ ”

Jenkins, meanwhile, has moved on to his own intriguing projects. He’ll adapt a limited series for Amazon of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Underground Railroad” and a feature film based on James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk.”