Start with a boilerplate Jerry Bruckheimer– style inspirational sports drama plot — a tough coach molds some young black students into a hard-charging team (a la Glory Road and Pride). Set it in a more-racist-than-today time period (’50s or ’60s or earlier). Include a rote third-act competition climax with the students going up against a team of elite white guys and showing ’em what for. And then mix it in with the intellectual pursuit-and-triumph vein of films like Freedom Writers, Dangerous Minds and Stand and Deliver.

(l. to r.) Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Joe Roth, Oprah Winfrey

The result (and I wish there was a less cynical way to respond) is a very predictable-sounding hybrid called The Great Debaters, a fact-based drama that Denzel Washington will direct next month in Louisiana for The Weinstein Company. (Go Harvey!…don’t let Grindhouse get you down.)

Variety‘s Michael Fleming says that Oprah Winfrey (say no more, I get it) and Kate Forte are producing with Todd Black and Joe Roth. (I’m sorry to say this but as far as impressions of the upscale film world are concerned, the name “Joe Roth” listed as one of the producers is tantamount to a kiss of death…a hex…a black spot as imagined by Robert Louis Stevenson.)

“Washington, who has long developed the pic as a directing vehicle, recently decided to play a key supporting role, as he did in his directorial debut Antwone Fisher,” Fleming writes.” “He’ll play a volatile coach who molds a group of students from a small black college in East Texas into an elite debate team in the 1930s that wins the right to go against Harvard’s championship team.”

Whitaker will play the father of one of the students. Wait…I see an abusive character…an alcoholic who puts the kid down and wants him to work on the farm instead of being in school, prompting Denzel to drive out and look Whitaker in the eye and straighten him out and gradually enlist his support. The script is by Robert Eisele.