'Romeo & Juliet,' Robin Hood Musicals Prepping for TV (Exclusive)
This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
ROMEO & JULIET: the pop musical? That's the plan for the Boardwalk Entertainment Group, which is partnering with RCA Records to produce classic stories simultaneously as event TV series and staged musicals.
In addition to Romeo & Juliet, which is being developed for Fox, Boardwalk is preparing contemporary musical versions based on Robin Hood, King Arthur and Jack the Ripper. Given the success of such small-screen musicals as Fox's long-running Glee and NBC's one-off The Sound of Music Live!, the CAA-repped company, founded in 2011 by writer Timothy Bogart, songwriter Evan "Kidd" Bogart and producer Gary A. Randall, also is hoping to develop limited series as well as live events, specials and multiple-season series as formats.
"When something works [in Hollywood], there's always been that rush to figure out how to chase it," says Timothy Bogart, who has written the first two Romeo episodes and is prepping a series bible with FX Productions as the studio. "Our model is about embracing all facets of the entertainment experience from the creative inception point." If and when Romeo is ordered to series, the same group will begin readying a stage version to launch on the heels of the TV series.
In a bid for additional (and immediate) ancillary revenue as well as differentiation in a crowded market, Boardwalk's projects, including Romeo, will include at least 50 original songs, which will be available for download following the episode's airing. To ensure the music will have a life outside of the show, Evan Bogart, who wrote Rihanna's "SOS" and Beyonce's "Halo," has assembled a collection of songwriters who have written for artists including Britney Spears, One Direction and Jason Derulo.
"We're trying to do songs that, if it weren't for this show, you'd hear on the radio anyway -- songs that could be found on an Imagine Dragons album or that Lorde would be singing," says Evan Bogart, adding that one of Boardwalk's missions is to discover and break new acts through this process. On Romeo, he has set up a room of songwriters to run alongside a traditional writers room, and the two teams have been passing scripts and accompanying song lyrics back and forth.
Boardwalk also is developing a Sony Pictures TV-produced project, which is being billed as a decadelong look at the 1970s told through the music that defined it, for NBC. The project, written by Timothy Bogart, will explore the era through the eyes of its music executives and artists. Unlike the reimagining of the classics, this entry will tap major music acts to rerecord new versions of their seminal songs.
On the film side, the Bogarts are developing Spinning Gold, a Spike Lee-directed biopic of their late father, Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart, with Justin Timberlake set to star.