October 12, 2011 10:41am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Lifetime, Johnny Depp Developing Drama About THR Founder
Lifetime is getting into the trade business.
The female-skewing cable network is developing a potential period drama series revolving around William Wilkerson, the founder of The Hollywood Reporter.
Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and GK-TV – the television arm of Graham King’s GK Films – producing the project, which is in the early stages of development.
Wilkerson launched the first Hollywood-based daily trade newspaper covering the entertainment industry on Sept. 3, 1930, looking to cover “today’s film news today.”
Best known as Billy, Wilkerson penned THR’s daily front-page editorial columns and served as its publisher and editor-in-chief for more than 30 years. IN the 1940s and ’50s, Wilkerson promoted his anti-Communist views, noting that “Commies” were a threat to the health of the entertainment industry and that “reds” had to be drummed out of the showbiz workforce.
Beyond THR, Wilkerson was a successful restauranteur and nightclub owner whose early businesses included Café Trocadero and Ciro’s, two key businesses that seeded what would become Hollywood’s Sunset Strip.
Wilkerson also was an avid gambler, with his wins and losses chronicled in the 2000 biography The Man Who Invented Las Vegas, written by his son, W.R. Wilkerson III.
An avid businessman Wilkerson in the 1930s had the vision of what later became the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas after California clamed down on floating casinos in the 1930s.
His life has been recounted in several books, including Vegas and The Hollywood Reporter: The Golden Years, published in 1984 by his widow, Tichi Wilkerson Kassel, and Marcia Borie.
Depp would produce through Infinitum Nihil, with Craig Cegielski of GK-TV. Stargate’s Rob Cooper will pen the script.
The news was first reported by Television Business International.