EXCLUSIVE: A soldier’s game, who heads to Sunday’s Tony Awards with seven nominations, gets a limited-series TV adaptation by Sony Pictures Television. David Alan Grier, a Tony nominee for his role in the play, is expected to star and executive produce the limited series, which will be titled The story of a soldier.
The adaptation of the series, spanning several wars and decades, will center on Sgt. Vernon Waters and the emotional impact he suffered as a soldier in the 1940s. Grier, who plays Sgt. Waters in the play, will play the character’s father in the limited series.
The winning Pulitzer A soldier’s game, writes Charles Fuller, is set at a black army base in segregated Louisiana in 1944. Sergeant Waters – played on Broadway by Grier in a production directed by Kenny Leon – has been assassinated, and the army captain Davenport – played by Blair Underwood – arrives at the base to investigate the crime, which may or may not involve the local KKK or even the many black soldiers who openly despite their hated sergeant.
Activist Artists Management’s Bernie Cahill and Jon Kanak, along with Grier, approached Sony to shoot A soldier’s game in limited series. The trio are executive producers alongside Fuller. The search is underway for a writer on the project which will be withdrawn soon.
The play was first produced on Off Broadway in 1981 by the Negro Ensemble Company in a staging that included young Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson.
A soldier’s game was adapted to the big screen with the 1984 film, also titled A soldier’s story, which was produced by Sony Pictures TV’s brother, Columbia Pictures. It was directed by Norman Jewison from a screenplay by Fuller and starred Gier in a different role, one of the young soldiers in the assassinated sergeant’s company, as well as Adolph Caesar as Sergeant Waters and Denzel Washington, both reprising their directing roles. The film was nominated for three Oscars, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay for Fuller and Best Supporting Actor for Caesar.
The play ultimately made its Broadway debut in the recent Roundabout Theater Company production, starting premieres on December 27, 2019, with a grand opening on January 21, 2020. A soldier’s game gave its last performance on March 11, 2020, closing along with the rest of Broadway due to the Covid shutdown. His seven Tony Award nominations include Best Cover of a Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play (Underwood), and Best Performance by a Starring Actor in a Play (Grier ).
In his review of the play, Deadline’s Greg Evans wrote that “Grier, in the star-studded role of Adolph Caesar of the Negro Ensemble Company (who reprized the role for the film, earning an Oscar nomination) adds the occasional and unexpected allusion of humor to villainous Waters, but it’s humor tinged with resentment and rage.
This is Grier’s fourth Tony nomination. He was previously nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor for The first, race and Porgy and Bess. Grier, a television veteran recently seen on Fox’s The resident and Cool kids and Netflix Daddy, stop embarrassing me!, is replaced by Innovative Artists, Activist Artists Management and Ziffren Brittenham. Fuller is represented by A3 Artists Agency.