Showtime is adapting Loving Day, the semiautobiographical novel by Philadelphia-born and -raised writer Mat Johnson, as a comedy about race.
The critically acclaimed Loving Day is about biracial Warren Duffy, who returns to his hometown of Philadelphia from Wales when his life falls apart. He has inherited his late father's dilapidated - and potentially haunted - Germantown mansion and learns he has a teenage daughter who believes she is white.
The title refers to the annual June 12 celebration marking the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which struck down all bans on interracial marriage.
The novel received high praise upon its publication in May. The Los Angeles Times called it exceptional, adding that Johnson's "unrelenting examination of blackness, whiteness, and everything in between is handled with ruthless candor and riotous humor."
Because the potential show is still in the development stage, it is too early to determine whether it will be shot in Philadelphia. That decision will be made if it becomes a pilot for the premium cable network.
Sharon Pinkenson, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, said she was not aware of the deal but was excited about the prospect of the project.
Johnson, who lived in Germantown and Mount Airy and attended the Greene Street Friends School and West Chester University, said he had to deal with his own racial identity. His mother is black and his father is white. "I grew up a black boy who looked like a white one. My parents divorced when I was 4, and I was raised mostly by my black mom, in a black neighborhood of Philadelphia, during the Black Power movement," he wrote in "Proving My Blackness," an essay for the New York Times.
Johnson, a professor in the University of Houston's creative writing program, will serve as executive producer. In addition to Loving Day, he has written three previous novels (including the well-received Pym), a book of nonfiction, and comic books, among other work.
Johnson's novel is not the only Philadelphia-set pilot in development. The CW is developing a reboot of Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women, which takes place on the streets of dystopian Philadelphia. The show comes courtesy of Alexis C. Jolly, a writer and former creative consultant for Ellen who grew up in Chadds Ford. Jolly is joined in the development process by Michael Weatherly, who plays Anthony DiNozzo on the ever-popular NCIS.