STARZ ANNOUNCES ROMANTIC DRAMA FROM AVA DUVERNAY, LAUREN RIDLOFF AND JOSHUA JACKSON
Santa Monica, Calif. -
May 19, 2022 - STARZ President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch announced today at the company's inaugural #TakeTheLead Summit that it is developing an untitled romantic drama executive produced by award-winning director, producer and filmmaker Ava DuVernay ("Queen Sugar," "When They See Us," "Colin in Black & White"), Lauren Ridloff (Eternals, "The Walking Dead") and Joshua Jackson ("When They See Us," "Dr. Death"). The project has received a script-to-series commitment for three seasons (18 episodes) upon official greenlight. Kat Candler ("Queen Sugar," "13 Reasons Why") will write the first episode and serve as executive producer and showrunner. Paul Garnes ("Queen Sugar," "Colin in Black & White") will also executive produce.
The prospective series follows two polar opposites who become intertwined in a love affair that turns their worlds - and those of everyone around them - upside down. Ridloff and Jackson, who will star in the project, previously starred opposite each other in Broadway's "Children of a Lesser God." They were featured in a Spotlight Conversation at the #TakeTheLead Summit where they were introduced by DuVernay and discussed the project, along with the importance of continuing to improve representation on and off the screen.
Kathryn Busby, President, Original Programming, STARZ, who moderated the Summit conversation with Ridloff and Jackson, said, "There is nothing like this series on TV and we are thrilled to be in development with Ava, a trailblazer and unparalleled champion of diversity. Lauren is a true inspiration and together with Joshua, a brilliant veteran actor, they will bring their incredible talents to this project - both in front of and behind the camera. This series exemplifies our #TakeTheLead mission, and we couldn't be prouder."
The half-hour drama will chronicle what it takes to fall and stay in a radical, rebellious love. One person is ambitious, while the other is restless. One is ready to commit, while the other debates the merits of relationships. One is Black and one is white. One is deaf and one is not. Though wildly different, the two are emotionally and physically drawn to each other despite personal expectations and public assumptions. Their attraction passionately disrupts notions of race, gender, class, physical ability, and normative culture, elevating to true love that surpasses difference.
"On behalf of my producing partner Paul Garnes and everyone at ARRAY Filmworks, I'm thrilled to develop this passion project with Lauren, Josh and Kat," said DuVernay. "STARZ and Warner Bros. Television have made a bold production commitment to immediately explore three seasons, and we're revved up and ready to begin what I hope will be a beautiful journey for all involved."
DuVernay will oversee the writing for the series through her Peabody Award-winning narrative change collective ARRAY Filmworks and its overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. ARRAY Filmworks and Warner Bros. Television will produce the project for STARZ. Exemplifying the company's #TakeTheLead commitment to amplifying narratives for, by and about women and underrepresented audiences, the series will be overseen by Senior Vice President of Original Programming, Kathryn Tyus-Adair, on behalf of STARZ.
About Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay is a writer, director, producer and film distributor. An Academy Award nominee and winner of the Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody Awards, DuVernay's directorial work includes the historical drama "Selma", the criminal justice documentary "13th" and Disney's "A Wrinkle in Time", which made her the highest grossing Black woman director in American box office history. Based on the infamous case of The Central Park Five, her four-part series "When They See Us" was honored with 16 Emmy nominations. Currently, she is overseeing production on her critically-acclaimed TV series "Queen Sugar," as well as recent and upcoming television productions including "Colin in Black and White," "DMZ," "Cherish the Day," "Naomi," "Home Sweet Home" and "One Perfect Shot." Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival's Best Director Prize for her micro-budget film "Middle of Nowhere," DuVernay amplifies the independent work of people of color and women of all kinds through her non-profit narrative change collective ARRAY. ARRAY is the 2021 winner of the Peabody Institutional Award. DuVernay sits on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, representing the directors branch. She is also a Vice-President of the Directors Guild of America and an advisory board member of the American Film Institute. She is based in Los Angeles, California.
About Lauren Ridloff
Lauren Ridloff began her meteoric rise as an actor just five years ago. Prior to that, she won the title of Miss Deaf America and was a kindergarten teacher in Manhattan for a decade. After leaving that job to take care of her two young children, she was hired in 2016 to tutor director Kenny Leon in American Sign Language as he readied the Broadway revival of "Children of a Lesser God." After working together for months, Kenny and the producers concluded that Lauren was the ideal and only choice for the lead. She pulled it off with resounding success, including multiple rave reviews from The New York Times and a Tony nomination. She soon became a series regular on the long running AMC series, "The Walking Dead." She then became the first Deaf superhero opposite Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani in Marvel's worldwide hit, Eternals. Lauren received a 2020 BAFTA Breakthrough award recognizing the most promising stars of film and television. Ridloff is repped by Schachter Entertainment, Gersh and Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin and Dunham
About Joshua Jackson
Joshua Jackson is currently starring in Peacock's "Dr. Death," based on the popular Wondery podcast of the same name. His powerful performance exploring the twisted mind of Dr. Duntsch and the failures of a system designed to protect the defenseless earned Jackson a 2022 Critics Choice Award nomination for Best Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television. Jackson will soon begin production on a series adaptation of "Fatal Attraction" for Paramount+ starring opposite Lizzie Caplan. Most recently, Jackson starred opposite Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington in the Hulu limited series "Little Fires Everywhere," the award-winning Netflix mini-series "When They See Us" for Ava DuVernay, Showtime's "The Affair," the National Geographic Channel's Emmy Award-winning documentary series "Years of Living Dangerously" and FOX/Warner Bros. Television's "Fringe," co-created by J.J. Abrams. In 2018, Jackson made his Broadway debut in "Children of a Lesser God" alongside Lauren Ridloff, telling the story of an unconventional teacher at a school for the deaf and the remarkable woman he meets there. His television and film credits include "Dawson's Creek," Sky, Curse, Apt Pupil, Cruel Intentions, Lay the Favorite and Inescapable, among several others.
STARZ (www.starz.com), a Lionsgate company, is a leading global media streaming platform committed to delivering premium content that amplifies narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences. STARZ is home to the highly-rated and first-of-its-kind STARZ app that offers the ability to stream or download STARZ premium content, as well as the flagship domestic STARZ(R) service, including STARZ ENCORE, 17 premium pay TV channels, and the associated on-demand and online services. In 2018, STARZ launched its STARZPLAY international premium streaming platform to provide subscribers access to the "best of global SVOD." STARZPLAY, coupled with its STARZPLAY ARABIA joint venture, has expanded its global footprint into more than 60 countries throughout Europe and Latin America along with Canada, Japan, India and Indonesia. STARZ and STARZPLAY are available across digital OTT platforms and multichannel video distributors, including cable operators, satellite television providers, and telecommunications companies around the world. In February 2021, STARZ launched #TakeTheLead, a multi-faceted and innovative inclusion initiative expanding its existing efforts to improve representation on screen, behind the camera and throughout the company.
About Warner Bros. Television
One of the entertainment industry's most-respected providers of original programming since its founding in 1955, Warner Bros. Television produces scripted dramas, comedies, limited series, and original movies for multiple platforms. As of May 2022, Warner Bros. Television is producing more than 60 scripted series for Warner Bros. Discovery's HBO Max, external on-demand/streaming services, premium/pay and basic cable channels, and the five U.S. broadcast networks.
Founded in 2011 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is a Peabody Award-winning multi-platform arts and social impact collective dedicated to narrative change. The organization catalyzes its work through a quartet of mission-driven entities: the film distribution arm ARRAY Releasing, the content company ARRAY Filmworks, the programming and production hub ARRAY Creative Campus and the non-profit group ARRAY Alliance.