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October 21, 2014

Oprah, Alan Ball Team for HBO Movie

by Chris Jordan, posted May 12th 2010 3:20PM
The medical miracle of Henrietta Lacks' cells will live on HBO thanks to Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball, according to a report in Variety.

Winfrey's Harpo Films and Ball, the executive producer of HBO's 'True Blood,' will produce a movie for HBO based on the story of Lacks.

Lacks was a poor African American tobacco farmer who died of cervical cancer at the age of 30 in 1951 yet her cells lived on in the laboratory and helped fight diseases like polio. Researchers had been trying to grow lives cells for research with no success. Yet a doctor from Johns Hopkins took a part of her tumor without her knowledge and her cells continued to grow in culture, baffling doctors. Her cells were also used in space missions, cloning research, AIDS research, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization, according to Smithsonian.com.

Researchers contacted the Lacks family 25 years after her death to tell them that her cells where being used.

The movie will be based on the book 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by journalist Rebecca Skloot. Both Ball and Winfrey's Harpo Films were pursuing the story. When both sides found out each had an interest, they decided to work together.

"Once Alan came aboard, it gave Rebecca the comfort of knowing that she'd found the perfect combination of producers and the perfect home for her story," said Harpo Films head Kate Forte in the Variety report.

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