Kevin Willmott, the University of Kansas professor of film & media studies, has carved out a niche telling little-known stories of African-American history that resonate with current viewers. Willmott’s latest project takes a fresh look at perhaps the most famous African American athlete of all time – boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
The producers (Willmott shares executive-producing credit) have announced a deal to develop the eight-part series “Excellence: 8 Fights” about Ali’s life for NBC’s Peacock streaming video service.
Willmott said he’s working on a script with actor/producer Morgan Freeman’s Revelations Entertainment, which owns the rights to Jonathan Eig’s acclaimed 2017 biography, “Ali: A Life.” No star or release date has been announced.
“8 Fights” will delve into Ali’s complicated relationship with his greatest ring nemesis, “Smokin’” Joe Frazier.
Willmott has collaborated with Spike Lee, with whom he shares an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. The two again collaborated in writing Da 5 Bloods, released worldwide digitally in 2020.