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Kenya Barris will look to own your ears next.
The prolific producer of TV and film has inked a worldwide, multi-year development deal with audio giant Audible. Barris’ offerings, via his Khalabo Ink Society, are likely to include everything from scripted fiction and unscripted nonfiction to documentaries and talk series.
“Kenya is a world-class creator who has the deft ability to address complex issues with fearlessness, depth and levity,” said Zola Mashariki, head of Audible Studios. “His brilliant approach to storytelling will resonate widely and we simply can’t wait to share it with our global audience.”
Per Barris, Khalabo is expected to release a minimum of four audio series a year for three years. To support the sweeping deal, he is also launching an audio content division at Khalabo, led by Head of Audio Production Gila “WeezyWTF” Shlomi.
“Audio is a space that I’ve been eager to explore,” noted Barris. “As a creator, the purpose of art has always been about starting conversations and I cannot wait to share new stories and ideas through audio, where conversation is the art.”
For Barris, the deal comes at a moment of professional transition. He was recently let out of his multi-year pact with Netflix to build BET Studios, a partnership with BET and parent ViacomCBS that is far less restrictive when it comes to pursuing other business relationships. In fact, in recent months, Barris and team have also quietly negotiated pacts for a music label with Interscope, a book deal with Random House and a first-look film deal with Paramount, and he intends to have them all working in synergy.
“So if we sign an artist on the record label and she’s amazing, it’s, ‘Can we put her story into a podcast, keep the IP, and then go take that to Netflix and sell it as a doc?’” he explained as part of this week’s Hollywood Reporter cover story. “Or if we get a book from Random House that we love, ‘Can we turn it into a TV show or a movie, and then do a podcast to supplement it?’”
And yes, Barris is already flirting with the idea of hosting or co-hosting one. “I want us to do one called The Most Hated,” he said of one of his more recent brainstorms, which Barris would co-host with a friend, who, like him, is no stranger to backlash. “Each week, I want us to bring on [people like] Drake or LeBron James — people who are the most hated this week, and just hear their side, where they’re at, how it’s affecting them.”
Over at Audible, Barris is joining a growing roster of name talent, including Conan O’Brien and his Team Coco, Steph Curry and his Unanimous Media, Kevin Hart and his HartBeat Productions and Charlamagne tha God and his CThaGod World.
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