George Lucas has hired John Ridley to write "Red Tails," a WWII action adventure about the Tuskegee Airmen based on a story by Lucas, who is financing development through his Lucasfilm production company and exec producing.
Pic charts a group of young pilots as they overcame racism to form the Tuskegee Airmen, a distinguished group of fliers who broke the aviation color barrier to become the first African-American fighter pilots in U.S. military history.
Lucas, who has been busy with the fourth installment of "Indiana Jones," has long had a passion for the Tuskegee Airmen, whose planes were distinguished by the red-painted tails that give the film its title.
He hired Ridley after reading "L.A. Riots," the Universal/Imagine drama Ridley just turned in to director Spike Lee. Ridley's just getting off the ground on "Red Tails" after meeting with the surviving pilots at a convention in Texas.
Rick McCallum and Charles Floyd Johnson are producing.
"These were guys who had to figure everything out for themselves, because military units were completely segregated at the time and there was no seasoned war pilot to teach them," Ridley said. "President Roosevelt formed the unit as a publicity stunt because he wanted the black vote for his re-election campaign, but these guys were such skilled pilots that they ended up becoming true heroes by escorting bombers in North Africa and Italy."
Ridley added: "ILM will make the fight sequences come alive, and make you feel what it must have been like to be 19 and flying in a fighter plane."