Emmy-Winning Producer Acquires Rights to Len Lamensdorf's Novel, The Ballad of Billy Lee
PR Log - Nov 28, 2012 - MARK STOUFFER HAS OPTIONED THE FILM AND MOVIE RIGHTS TO “THE BALLAD OF BILLY LEE: THE STORY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON’S FAVORITE SLAVE,” CALLED "ONE OF THE MOST POIGNANT UNTOLD STORIES IN AMERICAN HISTORY” BY PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR AND HISTORIAN JOSEPH ELLIS.
Thousand Oaks, CA November 28, 2012 -- Mark Stouffer, winner of 2 Emmy Awards (including Outstanding Achievement in Directing), 9 Emmy Award Nominations, a Directors Guild of America - Best Director Nomination has optioned the movie and film rights to Len Lamensdorf’s historical novel, “The Ballad of Billy Lee: The Story of George Washington’s Favorite Slave.”
“I feel excitement in wanting to collaborate with Len Lamensdorf in adapting his fine book into a timeless, heartfelt special-event movie … or possible 3-part television mini-series,” Stouffer said. “There is a mountain of a story in Lamensforf’s 264-page novel – dozens and dozens of great scenes exploding with cinematic potential. This is a drama best told not in documentary style, but in theatrical, narrative reenactments featuring quality talent and high production values."
The “poignant untold story” Ellis refers to and the novel Stouffer calls a “mountain of a story,” is about Billy Lee, an African-American slave who was at George Washington’s side for over thirty years. Though never a relationship between equals, it was an intimate and enduring connection.
A superb horseman, bold soldier and a literate aide, Billy Lee stood next to Washington when he crossed the Delaware, galloped at Washington’s side in battle—a slave armed with a pistol, carbine and spyglass—served with him in Valley Forge and through the difficult years to the final victory at Yorktown. He was responsible for Washington’s public and private papers at conventions and congresses, but Billy was a slave, always hoping to be freed, and his slavery cost him the love of his life. Yet his loyalty to Washington was unwavering.
This is a unique and remarkable “buddy” story which delves into the quest for freedom, from the tyranny of England to the chains of slavery. THE BALLAD OF BILLY LEE carefully weaves the history of the American revolution with the personal story of Washington’s rise to power and Billy Lee’s exciting but difficult life as a slave and as Washington’s right-hand-man. Writing to Lamensdorf, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Chernow noted: “You have done a beautiful job of coaxing [Billy Lee] out into the sunlight and giving him the attention that he most assuredly deserves. . . . I share your strongly held view that it would be wonderful if more Americans were acquainted with the remarkable Billy Lee.”
Although this is a novel, Lamensdorf sought to insure that the historical tapestry on which it is weaved is extremely accurate, to the point of sending the manuscript to several historical sources for review, hence the section addressing comments from Mount Vernon’s historian.
THE BALLAD OF BILLY LEE is also unique because it includes an extensive timeline, original images, a bibliography, an afterword with insight into where the author deviated from history and why, and list of internet links to videos and other media sources.
About the author:
Len Lamensdorf’s writing credits include 8 novels, a feature film and 3 produced plays, including the acclaimed stage version of The Ballad of Billy Lee. His novels have been published by Simon Schuster, Delacorte and SeaScape Press, and have won a gold and a silver Benjamin Franklin Award, three Ippy’s (Independent Publishers Award) and A ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year--plus for his Young Adult trilogy, a Children’s Choice Award from the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council. Len was an honors graduate of the University of Chicago College and Law School (Law Review Editor) and completed his post-graduate work at Harvard. He studied playwriting at UCLA with Kenneth Macgowan, original producer of Eugene O’Neill and Chairman of the UCLA School of Theater Arts. Len’s film projects include Cornbread, Earl & Me, nominee for 5 NCAAP Image awards, where he was the screenwriter and producer, casting Oscar and Emmy nominated Laurence Fishburne III in his first film role.
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