Easy Rawlins, a character played memorably by Denzel Washington in the criminally underrated Devil in a Blue Dress, is getting his own TV series. Amblin is developing the show with Walter Mosley, the author who created the character. Mosley has authored fourteen novels, and a collection of short stories, starring Rawlins, a Black private eye operating out of Los Angeles between the 1940s and 1960s.
THR reports that Amblin Television is teaming with Walter Mosley and Sylvain White for an Easy Rawlins TV series. Mosley and White will executive produce the show, which will focus on Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, an unlicensed private eye and World War II veteran living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Mosley wrote several books and short stories featuring the character, the first of which was the 1990 book Devil in a Blue Dress.
In that novel, it’s 1948, and “Easy Rawlins, a Black war veteran, has just been fired from his job at a defense factory plant. Drinking in his friend’s bar, he’s wondering how he’ll manage to make ends meet, when a white man in a linen suit approaches him and offers him good money if Easy will simply locate Miss Daphne Money, a missing blonde beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs. Easy has no idea that by taking this job, his life is about to change forever.”
Devil in a Blue Dress was adapted into a 1995 film directed by Carl Franklin and starring Denzel Washington. Critics were mostly positive on the film, and in the years since its release, Devil in a Blue Dress has built up a following. However, it was a box office bomb when it opened, grossing $17.1 million against a budget of $27 million.
There’s a lot of potential here for a great series, depending on the talent that gets brought in to bring it to life. There’s no casting in place, nor is there a director or writer attached. There’s not even a network or streaming service involved yet. But Amblin has the power to attract big names, so here’s hoping everything works out in the end. THR adds that the series “will be set in 1950s Los Angeles and will honor the detective genre, while also exploring the racial inequalities and social injustice experienced by Black people and other people of color.”
“When I wrote Devil [in a Blue Dress] I had a simple thought in mind,” Mosley said. “I wanted to tell a story about Los Angeles that highlighted Black life and the Black contribution to culture within a mirror-darkly that partially reflected the American experience within a shadowy landscape of national shame. In that book I talked about how poor Black people migrated from the Deep South to Southern California, of how they flourished and ultimately failed; only to rise again, flourish again, fail again but in the end, pressing the envelope of that contest forward each and every time.” Mosley added: “Easy is a heroic veteran of World War II and an undeniable victim of American racism; but he’s not the type to give up or to even back down. Easy is ready to stand his ground. Knowing him will certainly challenge his clients’ beliefs and maybe even cause them to double-check the locks on their door at night. He will definitely solve the case but will not always save lives.”
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