Home Entertainment ‘American Fiction’ Director Cord Jefferson Boards Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Just Cause’ Amazon Series,...

‘American Fiction’ Director Cord Jefferson Boards Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Just Cause’ Amazon Series, John Wells to Co-Write (EXCLUSIVE)


Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Cord Jefferson will write and executive produce the upcoming Scarlett Johansson limited series, which serves as her first major television role.

The “American Fiction” filmmaker has boarded the Amazon Prime Video adaptation of John Katzenbach’s novel “Just Cause.” Additionally, acclaimed writer John Wells has joined the project, co-writing the series with Jefferson, and will also serve as an executive producer.

“Just Cause,” first published in 1992, tells the story of Matt Cowart, a Miami reporter. In this adaptation, Johansson will portray a female iteration of Cowart, named Madison “Madi” Cowart. The narrative follows Cowart after receiving a letter from a death row inmate claiming innocence. The ensuing investigation not only casts doubt on the inmate’s guilt but also uncovers other hidden horrors.

This project marks the second adaptation of “Just Cause,” the first being a 1995 film featuring Sean Connery, Blair Underwood, Laurence Fishburne, Ed Harris, Ruby Dee and Kate Capshaw. Johansson appeared in the film as the daughter of Connery’s character when she was 10 years old.

Jefferson’s directorial debut film, “American Fiction,” adapted from the book “Erasure” by Percival Everett, received five Oscar nominations, including best picture, actor for Jeffrey Wright, supporting actor for Sterling K. Brown, adapted screenplay for Jefferson and original score for Laura Karpman. Jefferson is the only person of color nominated in two separate categories this year, and is one of only two Black writer-directors to be nominated for their debut movies. The first was Jordan Peele for “Get Out.”

Jefferson has an overall deal with Warner Bros. Television Group that began in 2020. Jefferson won an Emmy for outstanding writing for a limited series for penning the episode “This Extraordinary Being” from HBO’s “Watchmen” alongside Damon Lindelof. In addition to his work on “Watchmen,” Jefferson’s other TV credits include shows such as “Succession,” “The Good Place” and “Master of None.”

Wells, who also has an overall deal with WBTV, is best known for his roles as showrunner and executive producer of “ER” and “The West Wing.” He has been nominated for 25 Primetime Emmy Awards, securing six wins for drama series for “ER” and “The West Wing,” and outstanding special class program for “The West Wing Documentary Special.”

Johansson’s production company, “These Pictures,” is leading the adaptation. Renowned for her portrayal of Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since “Iron Man 2” in 2010, Johansson has also received two Oscar nominations for her roles in “Marriage Story” and “Jojo Rabbit” (2019), making her one of 12 actors to earn double noms in the same year. Additionally, she won a Tony Award in 2010 for best featured actress in a play for “A View from the Bridge.” She’ll executive produce the series alongside Jonathan Lia and Keenan Flynn from These Pictures, and Erin Jontow from John Wells Productions.

Representatives for Jefferson include 3 Arts Entertainment and CAA, with Wells also represented by CAA. Johansson is also repped by CAA and Yorn Levine.