Morgan Freeman’s production company to create TV series about legendary Oklahoma lawman Bass Reeves

From the Oklahoman

Morgan Freeman is pictured in the 1992 Western "Unforgiven." He plans to return to the Western genre as a producer of a TV series about legendary Oklahoma lawman Bass Reeves. [Warner Bros. photo]
Morgan Freeman is pictured in the 1992 Western “Unforgiven.” He plans to return to the Western genre as a producer of a TV series about legendary Oklahoma lawman Bass Reeves. [Warner Bros. photo]

Revelations Entertainment, the independent movie production company founded and run by Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary, has optioned Arthur T. Burton’s book “Black, Red & Deadly” for a TV series to be developed about legendary Oklahoma lawman Bass Reeves.

Revelations will work on the project with Malcolm Spellman, Ben Watkins, Josef Sawyer and “Grey’s Anatomy” actor James Pickens Jr., according to Deadline.

“When Morgan and I were editing the film he was directing ‘Bopha!’ back in the early ’90s, Bass Reeves’ story was brought to our attention. Morgan is so well read on U.S. and world history, yet both of us had never heard of him. We decided we had to figure out how to tell Bass’ story,” McCreary tells Deadline.  

According to The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves was born as a slave in Arkansas Territory and grew up in Texas, where he belonged to Col. George R. Reeves. Bass Reeves was a young man when he escaped north into the Indian Territory, and he became acquainted with the Cherokee, Creek and Seminole tribes. 

It is believed he served as a soldier in the Union Indian Home Guard Regiments during the Civil War, and he then became in Van Buren, Arkansas, occasionally acting as a guide, scout and tracker in Indian Territory for deputy U.S. marshals working out of the federal court at Fort Smith.

In 1875, when Judge Isaac C. Parker took over the Fort Smith federal court, Parker commissioned Reeves as a deputy U.S. marshal. He is believed to be one of the earliest African Americans to receive a commission as a deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River, according to the encyclopedia.

Reeves worked for 32 years as a deputy marshal in the Indian Territory. He was the only deputy to begin with Parker’s court and work until statehood in 1907. Standing at 6 feet, 2 inches tall, Reeves became a celebrity as a lawman in Indian Territory.

Although he has been largely overlooked in modern popular culture, Reeves was one of the most accomplished lawmen in the history of the American West: He arrested more than three thousand men and women for violating federal laws in the territory, even apprehending his own son for murder after receiving the warrant, according to the Oklahoma encyclopedia.

The Reeves feature project was originally set up at Castle Rock with Freeman attached to play Reeves, Deadline reports.

“Back then we couldn’t quite crack the story, which was why we were thrilled when Malcom and Ben came in and opened up this world. Bass Reeves’ story speaks to what we are going through now in this country,” McCreary tells Deadline.  

Revelations recently re-optioned Burton’s book “Black, Red & Deadly,” along with the author’s “Black Gun, Silver Star.” After seeing Freeman speak about Reeves in a TV interview, Pickens partnered with the Oscar-winning actor to develop the TV series.

It hasn’t been determined whether Freeman will star and direct an episode, according to Deadline.

Bass Reeves – Portrait of a Western Lawman
Morgan Freeman is pictured in the 1992 Western “Unforgiven.” He plans to return to the Western genre as a producer of a TV series about legendary Oklahoma lawman Bass Reeves. [Warner Bros. photo]


Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1…Read more ›




Home on the Range …

Where to go next … ?? There is no end of possibilities.  So many great Westerns … so little time.

I’ve received two suggestions: Eastwood’s Academy Award winning Unforgiven – Academy Awards Best Picture in 1992. (Wow, was it really that long ago?)

And Open Range (2003) a worthy duster (also shot in Alberta) with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall.

Unforgiven 1992
Open Range wallpaper
Open Range (2003)

I worked as a set painter on Unforgiven which was shot near Longview, Alberta – the small Western town set was built on some (well guarded and secluded) private property. I wish I could tell you that it was a glorious experience where I smoozed with Movie Stars, Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Richard Harris. But it wasn’t.The set was tight and strict – high security. I never saw any of the Stars at all, but there was strict rules not to approach or talk to them unless invited.
My work has hot, dirty and tough. And even dangerous. I recall being up 3 storeys on a rickety scaffold – painting the back a building – by myself – that never even appeared in the film.
I made 8 dollars an hour – working alongside carpenters who were making 100 dollars an hour – or more.
Aw yes … the romance of film. Eastwood had a couple of henchmen whose only job seemed to be to go around kicking ass and hustling chicks on the set … who all mysteriously got better jobs. It’s not what you know …
We worked hard long days – bused in at 5 in the morning and often leaving sometimes late in the evening.
As I said, I never saw any of the Stars. There were several Locations in the area and I always seemed to working somewhere else.
Later, I got a temporary job with an outfit called F&D (Fast & Dirty) Scene Changes building the train station that was used in the movie – in a large hanger in Calgary. The station was then dismantled and shipped down to Senora California (that’s where the train was) and reassembled for some scenes that really take very little time in the movie. Clint has a blank cheque in Hollywood – his movies make money.
I hope I don’t sound too jaded – it was a worthy experience.
I’m sure I can come up with a few dozen  more anecdotes surrounding my experience with Unforgiven … and I will.

Westward Ho !!!