Samuel L. Jackson is set to join Kevin Hart in the Peacock limited series Fight Night: The Million Dollar Heist
Hart will also serve as executive producer for the project, which tells the tale of an infamous armed robbery in Atlanta, during the night of Muhammad Ali’s historic 1970 comeback fight.
Atlanta was not a conventional choice to act as the site of Ali’s comeback. From 1967 through 1970, the boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay had been fighting the federal government after declaring himself a conscientious objector and refusing to enlist for military service in the Vietnam War. He was sentenced to five years in prison for draft evasion.
After being freed on bail, Ali appealed his sentence but the stigma endured. The boxer was stripped of his heavyweight championship and effectively blacklisted from the sport, with states refusing to grant the then-28-year-old a license to compete. Racial tension was still running high in the America of the 70s, so the fight was surprisingly taken South to Atlanta.
New York-based attorney Robert Kassel had helped promote a Joe Frazier bout and knew Ali’s comeback would be a lucrative event. So he asked his father-in-law, Atlanta businessman Harry Pett, to phone Georgia state senator Leroy Johnson. Pett and Johnson were friends; Johnson, one of the state’s few Black elected officials, considered the treatment of Ali unfair and agreed to see what he could do.
Johnson discovered Georgia had no laws governing the sport of boxing, which left permission to hold events up to local municipalities. Johnson reached out to Atlanta mayor Sam Massell, who allowed the fight to proceed provided Kassel donated $50,000 of the revenue to an area drug rehabilitation program.
As wealthy fight fans gathered in the city, the stage was set for an audacious armed robbery. This would change one man’s life and an entire city’s destiny.
The movie will tell the story of both the hustler behind the robbery and one of the first Black police detectives in the city who was tasked with solving it.
Jackson will star as notorious gangster Frank Moten, who was given the name the Black Godfather by New York tabloids.
Shaye Ogbonna (The Chi) created and will serve as showrunner on the TV series along with Jason Horwitch (Echo) with the project based on an iHeart podcast written by Jeff Keating and Jim Roberts.
Universal Television, Will Packer Media, and Doghouse Pictures are behind the project and Craig Brewer (Black Snake Moan, Dolemite Is My Name) is set to direct the first two episodes.
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