8:00am PT by Kate Stanhope
Tupac-Notorious B.I.G. Murder Drama 'Unsolved' Ordered to Series at USA
The late Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, aka Christopher Wallace, are officially getting the small-screen treatment.
The NBCUniversal cabler has picked up Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. to series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Ordered to pilot in November, the drama chronicles the dual police investigations into the suspicious murders of two of rap's biggest stars. The series is based on the experiences of former LAPD Detective Greg Kading, who served as a consultant on the pilot script and will serve as co-executive producer. Kading led multiple law-enforcement task forces investigating the Shakur and Smalls murders, which happened in 1996 and 1997, respectively, He also authored the book Murder Rap: The Untold Story of Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations.
The pickup comes after a strong pilot screening, which wowed insiders.
In addition to the series order, USA has also added Jamie McShane (Bloodline) and Brent Sexton (The Killing) in major roles. McShane will play Det. Fred Miller, the partner of lead investigator Russell Poole (Westworld's Jimmi Simpson) in the 1997 open case. McShane, whose credits also include Gone Girl, Argo and Southland, is repped by Paradigm and Trademark Talent.
Sexton will portray Det. Brian Tyndall, a robbery homicide detective who worked with Poole in 1997 and Kading (Josh Duhamel) in the 2006 reopening of the investigation. Also known for roles on TV's Bosch and Deadwood and in the film Flightplan, Sexton is repped by Greene & Associates Talent Agency.
The cast for Unsolved also includes newcomer Wavyy Jonez as Wallace (aka The Notorious B.I.G.), Marcc Rose (Straight Outta Compton) as Tupac, and Fargo season-two breakout Bokeem Woodbine as Officer Daryn Dupree. Also on tap are Luke James as Sean “Puffy” Combs; Aisha Hinds as Voletta Wallace, the mother of Smalls; and Letoya Luckett as Sharitha Golden, the estranged wife of Death Row Records boss Suge Knight.
Unsolved is the first series for Kyle Long, who created the drama and will executive produce with pilot director Anthony Hemingway and his producing partner Mark Taylor. Universal Cable Productions will produce in association with the Hemingway | Taylor production banner.
The series order comes ahead of NBCUniversal's upfront presentation Monday. A series order is also looking likely for Damnation, which hails from Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie.
Unsolved joins a drama slate that also includes Jessica Biel's upcoming psychological thriller The Sinner, Mr. Robot, Suits, Colony, Queen of the South, Shooter and Falling Water. All with the exception of Queen of the South are produced in-house by UCP as networks both on the broadcast and cable sides look to increase ownership.
True crime has been a hot genre across NBC Universal's cable portfolio. On Thursday, Oxygen announced a true crime-centered unscripted slate ahead of its summer rebranding.