John Ridley’s ‘American Crime’

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“12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley joins us on his new TV show “American Crime,” and a big new look at race relations.

John Ridley attends the LA Premiere of "American Crime" on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 in Los Angeles. (AP)
John Ridley attends the LA Premiere of "American Crime" on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 in Los Angeles. (AP)

John Ridley may be the hottest screenwriter in America right now.  He wrote for "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" back in the day.  Way back.  Last year he won an Oscar for “12 Years a Slave,” taking Americans to the dark old heart of our race story.  Now he’s out on ABC with “American Crime,” putting television at the heart of our race story right now.  On the terrain of Trayvon Martin and Ferguson and our new racial tensions and ambiguities.  He’s an artist with his finger right on the pulse.  This hour On Point:  a conversation with hot screenwriter and director John Ridley.
-- Tom Ashbrook


John Ridley, screenwriter, director and novelist. Creator and executive producer of the new ABC drama series "American Crime." Winner of the 2013 Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for "12 Years a Slave."

From Tom’s Reading List

Slate: 'American Crime' Is the Most Nuanced, Intelligent Take on Race Relations We've Seen In Years -- "Of all the series this season to take on race and diversity— Black-ish, Fresh Off the BoatEmpire, How to Get Away With MurderAmerican Crime is the most serious-minded. It has no sense of humor to speak of. It’s relentlessly focused on its themes. It can be harrowing and bleak. But what it lacks in fun, it makes up for in intelligence, complexity, and boldness. It’s a network show about heavy, difficult, uncomfortable topics, and it expects, quite simply, an audience. It deserves one, too."

Huffington Post: The Beautiful Discomfort of John Ridley's American Crime — "As viewers watch American Crime, seeing this 'beauty' may not be immediately evident due to the uncomfortable subject matter that this drama so intentionally confronts. Salient issues including race, class, immigration, drug use, and faith are weaved throughout each episode, forcing the viewer to feel uneasy and without escape. Ridley wants this certain level of discomfort as he explains, 'Discomfort is usually a sign of growth and change. I would like a level of discomfort. This is not business as usual or story telling as usual. This show will help us move out of our ruts.'"

Esquire: The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger — "In the forty years since the Deal was brokered, since the Voting Rights Act was signed, there have been successes for blacks. But there are still too many blacks in prison, too many kids aggrandizing the thug life, and way too many African-Americans doing far too little with the opportunities others earned for them. If we as a race could win the centuries-long war against institutionalized racism, why is it that so many of us cannot secure the advantage after decades of freedom?"

Watch The Trailer For "American Crime"

This program aired on March 12, 2015.



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