King: The Martin Luther King Story originated as a three-part miniseries, first telecast February 12, 13 and 14, 1978. Paul Winfield is starred as Martin Luther King, with Cicely Tyson as Coretta Scott King. The film covers the years 1954 through 1968, taking Rev. King from his first peaceful protests against segregation in Montgomery to his murder in Memphis. Scenarist/director Daniel Mann came under fire in 1978 for his adaptation of King's life, and for once the critics were right. Despite Winfield's masterful and accurate portrayal of King, the rest of the 6-hour drama compromises the truth with the hokiest of fabrications. Just a few examples: Sheriff "Bull" Connor's men walk out on him en masse when he threatens to hose down black schoolchildren; Mayor Daley warns King against protesting in Chicago, saying "We have a reputation to protect; this is the home of Al Capone"; King has a friendly meeting with Malcolm X in 1966, a full year after Malcolm X was killed....and so it goes. Martin Luther King certainly deserved a superior mini-series. Perhaps some day he'll get one.
by Hal Erickson synopsis