Sudhir Venkatesh’s best-selling book Gang Leader for a Day will be making the transition from page to screen as AMC announced it is developing a drama series adaptation from Ben Watkins (Burn Notice, Hand of God), Edward Burns (Public Morals and tapped to star) and production company Radar.
Watkins will be adapting Venkatesh’s novel for television, based on a story described by publisher Penguin/Random House as:
“When first-year graduate student Sudhir Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago’s most notorious housing projects, he hoped to find a few people willing to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty–and impress his professors with his boldness. He never imagined that as a result of this assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT’s protection. From a privileged position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang’s complex hierarchical structure. Examining the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone, Gang Leader for a Day also tells the story of the complicated friendship that develops between Venkatesh and JT–two young and ambitious men a universe apart.”
Venkatesh is a professor of sociology and African-American studies at Columbia University and the author of 2016’s Floating City. His writings, stories, and documentaries have appeared in The American Prospect and on PBS and National Public Radio’s This American Life. He currently resides in New York City.
Watkins will be executive producing the series through his Blue Monday Prods. alongside Burns and his long-time production partner Aaron Lubin through their Marlboro Road production company, as well as Radar partners Ted Field, Michael Napoliello and Mike Weber. Watkins’ Blue Monday Prods. producing partner Eli Dansky will also serve as a producer, along with Radar’s Maria Frisk.