Spike Lee returns to directing a series on ROTC


Spike Lee returns to direct in a new series on the ROTC program for Amazon Studios.

By Jonathan Klotz | Posted

The legendary Spike Lee returns to the director’s chair for an Amazon Studios project on the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC). As reported by Deadline, the currently untitled project will be a coming-of-age drama set at a major college. Students from different backgrounds will join ROTC and push themselves in ways they never thought possible.

Two veterans turned Hollywood writers, Jalysa Conway of 9-1-1: Lone Star and Scandaland Rebecca Murger of bluster, are behind the project. Both writers joined ROTC to help pay for their college education before embarking on successful military careers. The writers caught Spike Lee’s eye after seeing their teaser video for the project and were impressed enough to sign on as both executive producer and director.

Conway and Murger graduated from the Rideback TV Incubator program, a residency program specifically for writers from diverse backgrounds to have the opportunity to develop and create their own programs. Spike Lee is used to reaching out and helping other young filmmakers of color. Most recently, the acclaimed director mentored Native American filmmaker Kyle Bell.

Attaching Spike Lee to any project will increase its visibility and its chances of making it through the lengthy production process. With a career spanning nearly 40 years and more than 35 films, he is one of the most honored directors in the history of American cinema. At this year’s Director’s Guild awards, the organization honored Lee with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction.

Four of Spike Lee’s films have been inscribed in the Library of Congress for their cultural and historical significance: She must have it, 4 little girls, do the right thingand Malcolm X. Lee’s work frequently deals with the subject of race relations, urban crime, and issues within the black community. As a result, he has won multiple Emmy Awards, Academy Awards, Peabodys, and the NAACP President’s Award.

It will be interesting to see what Spike Lee brings to a streaming drama series on the ROTC program. The goal of ROTC is to train students for future service as officers in the United States Armed Forces. Different branches of ROTC exist for the major branches of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, with the upcoming series currently unclear as to which branch will be the focus.

Traditionally, ROTC has been overlooked in media that has instead focused on basic Army and Navy training, perhaps most notably in the movie Demi Moore. G.I. Jane. Other films have shown how detrimental military training can be to participants, including Full Metal Jacket and Jarhead, starring Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal. Given the gritty, gritty depictions of city life found in Spike Lee’s filmography, the upcoming ROTC series may be darker than previous shows from Conway and Murger.

Directing a streaming series is in line with Spike Lee’s latest career moves, including the hit Vietnamese film, starring the late Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods for Netflix. The director currently has a multi-picture deal with the streaming giant to make more original movies for the service. Lee’s next film is a musical about the origins of Pfizer’s little blue pill, Viagra.


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