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Work has started on a TV series about the founding of Bozeman and the men behind it.

The show — simply called “Bozeman” — was created by Georgia native Dr. Jerry Williams, who stumbled upon the story of the city’s namesake and his friend, William McKenzie. John Bozeman’s Georgia roots piqued Williams’ interest, as did his gravestone, a small obelisk in Sunset Hills Cemetery.

“As a native Georgian that intrigued me,” Williams said. “That so far away from Georgia, that now these Georgians clearly had an important role in Montana history.”

The show also has a well-known actor attached as a producer — Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss, who starred in “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

Williams, a neurologist who also studies Theodore Roosevelt, focusing on the former president’s health, spent several months researching Bozeman and McKenzie, and his interest only grew from there.

Williams spent several months researching Bozeman and McKenzie, and his interest only grew from there. He thought about writing a novel, but ended up writing a four-hour miniseries screenplay.

There was so much to the story Williams decided to pursue an expanded television series instead.

“Understanding the backstory of it was critically important and probably something that people should know,” Williams said.

Dreyfuss signed on to narrate the show and play McKenzie at the end of his life, Williams said. The show’s producers include Dreyfuss and some others who have worked with the TV show “Yellowstone.”

The group is looking to get the project sold to a production company, Williams said, and don’t yet have a timeline on when the show may be shot or released.

Wiliams said they plan to film in Montana when the time comes.

Getting the story right will be important, as will be accurately depicting the impact the incursion of Bozeman and others on Native people, Williams said.

Williams has spent time researching Bozeman in the area and worked with local historians, including Michael Fox at the Museum of the Rockies.

“I’m surprised no one’s done a story on Bozeman earlier,” Fox said. “It’s a very classic kind of western style of intersection of peoples. And those stories of course have great stories of triumph and success and terrible stories of ... degradations against Native people.”

Daryl Begay, who has worked on the show “Yellowstone” as the head of the Native American affairs department, is involved with the project.

Begay, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, said getting the input of local Native people will be important, as will getting details like what language was spoken, what dwellings they lived in and how they dressed.

Not only consulting with local Native people, but bringing in Native writers, directors, cast, crew and vendors should also a goal, Begay said.

“Indian Country deserves to be respected, and if the story’s going to be partly about them they should be involved,” Begay said.

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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