By Dave Rosenthal
2:30 PM EST, December 12, 2012
I'd love to see "The Other Wes Moore," developed into a movie, as Oprah Winfrey is planning. The book, by a former Johns Hopkins student named Wes Moore, focuses on the factors that can affect whether a child grows into a meaningful life or is dragged down into depair. It's a cautious tale for American cities such as Baltimore, where dangers of crime and addiction derail many lives each year.
Moore contrasts his own upbringing with that of another Wes Moore, one who was involved in a notorious crime in Baltimore County. Both were raised by a single parent in a tough urban environment, but while the author latched on to good role models, embraced learning and became a Rhodes scholar, the "other" Wes Moore spiraled downward until he was caught up in a robbery-murder.
Now Oprah is taking on the book as a movie project, with a script penned by John Ridley (writer of "Three Kings" and "Red Tails"), Moore told the Baltimore Sun. (The book has been a contender for the One Maryland One Book statewide reading program and may yet be chosen some day.)
Moore, meanwhile, has moved back to Baltimore with his wife and child -- and his production company, according to an an article in b. Omari Productions is focusing on the role of the 21st century city, and calls Baltimore "an amazing template for that. It's a very legitimate and important American big city, but it still has the charm of a small town."
In an op-ed column for The Sun, he explained his decision to move from New York to Baltimore in broader terms: "We still have moments to seize and ambitions to fulfill. We must embrace the belief that the educational system in our city is going to be as strong as our ability to attract and retain the most talented educators around, and we must continue to strengthen the neighborhoods that our students call home. We understand that reducing truancy and increasing success ratios will be the key to both our ability to boost school performance and simultaneously foster safer neighborhoods. We have to look to new and creative ways to increase our tax base while lowering our tax rate. We must support job placement and training programs while being the friendliest environment in the region for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
"By doing all this, we will support the ambitions of present-day Baltimoreans while enticing those who do not live here (yet) to make Charm City part of their future. We have a real story to tell, and it is imperative we start telling it."
Noble goals -- and ones that could eliminate the chasm between the two Wes Moores.
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