Today, at least 208 million Americans are being served by centralized water collection and treatments systems. Unfortunately, when this infrastructure breaks down, that means millions of people can be affected.
Case in point: the Flint Water Crisis. When the Flint River became the source of drinking water for the city in 2014, the city’s aging water treatment plant wasn’t upgraded to treat the corrosive river water, which degraded old pipes and caused a lead poisoning epidemic. As a result, the city’s 100,000 area residents, including 10,000 children, were potentially exposed to massive levels of lead.
But it wasn’t until early 2016 that residents were instructed to use only bottled or filtered water for bathing and drinking. A lot happened in those two years; now, Lifetime is telling the story in movie form — and it’s getting the star treatment.
Inspired by TIME‘s cover story, “The Toxic Tap,” Lifetime’s Flint film will chronicle how three women fought for justice in Flint. After it was revealed that residents had been unknowingly drinking and bathing in lead-laden water, these women opposed Flint’s political powers — who largely denied the problem’s existence — and catalyzed a national movement.
According to Deadline.com, Lifetime recently announced that Queen Latifah and Jill Scott are set to star in Flint, alongside Marin Ireland and Betsy Brandt. Scott will play one of the three core activists in this true story, while Latifah will play a fourth Flint resident. Production began this month in Toronto.
Cher was initially going to executive produce and star in the film, but the iconic singer and actress pulled out of the project in March, citing family reasons.
Latifah will now serve as an executive producer, together with Katie Couric, Craig Zadan, and Neil Meron. Zadan and Meron also worked on Lifetime’s Steel Magnolias remake and The Wiz Live!, both of which also featured Queen Latifah’s talents.
The issues in Flint are now widely acknowledged, but the severity of their effects remains to be seen. In the fall of 2015, the city of Flint switched back to Detroit water services after a heroic area pediatrician discovered that kids were showing elevated blood lead levels. Although Flint’s water quality has now reportedly returned to acceptable levels, Flint residents have been instructed to continue using other water sources until all of the infrastructure’s lead piping has been replaced. This is expected to be completed no earlier than 2020.
Thus far, 13 people have been charged in connection with the Flint water crisis.