Variety reported the streaming giant’s acquisition of the production today (March 7). The special will use Lee’s footage of Smith’s August, 12 2016, performance at New York City’s East River Park Amphitheater.
“Rodney King” was written and directed by Smith, who navigates the titular protagonist’s life story via frequently improvised scenes. According to a 2014 The Washington Post review of one of Smith’s performances, the play addresses King’s infamous videotaped beating by four LAPD officers, their subsequent acquittal, the community outrage that manifest in the 1992 riots and King’s reluctance to become a national figure.
Smith told Variety that he wrote the show after King’s 2012 death from drowning, following years of substance abuse and employment trouble. ”When he died, I was struck with how much I was moved, how much this tragic figure mattered to me,” he says.
“Rodney King” premieres April 28, a day before the 25th anniversary of the LAPD officers’ acquittal.
Smith and Lee previously worked together on many of the latter’s films, including “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X” and “He Got Game.” Lee adapted another of Smith’s one-man shows, “A Huey P. Newton Story,” into a Peabody Award-winning 2001 TV film.
Watch Smith perform an excerpt from “Rodney King” below.
(H/t Los Angeles Times)