11:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Alicia Keys, 'La La Land' Trio Team for Showtime Musical Drama
Showtime is looking for its La La Land.
The premium cable network has handed out a sizable series commitment to an untitled musical drama from executive producers Alicia Keys and the Oscar-, Tony- and Grammy-winning La La Land team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
Pasek and Paul will contribute music to the series. Kyle Jarrow (The SpongeBob Musical) will write and exec produce the project. Marc Platt will reteam with Pasek and Paul and exec produce alongside R.J. Cutler (Nashville) and Emmy winner Adam Siegel (Grease: Live). The effort hails from Fox 21 TV Studios and marks an extension of its business with Showtime following the pair's years-long collaboration on Homeland.
The drama traverses generations to tell an emotionally complex family story that interweaves modern-day and 1959 Detroit and centers on a mystery uncovered by a young musician who moves back to her childhood home. It's unclear if Keys will have an onscreen role.
"We have always been intrigued by the prospect of doing a Showtime musical series, but only if the songs could add to the depth and complexity of a great character drama. Nobody does that better than Pasek and Paul and Marc Platt … so when they came to us along with a global superstar like Alicia, a talented writer like Kyle, and excellent producers like Adam and R.J., we were all in,” Showtime Entertainment president Gary Levine said Wednesday in a statement.
The potential series arrives after Showtime, under former entertainment boss Bob Greenblatt, originally developed the Broadway-set drama series Smash. Greenblatt, who remains heavily involved in the Broadway community, brought the project with him when he departed Showtime to run NBC (where he also pioneered TV's live musical).
The untitled Showtime musical marks the latest project for longtime collaborators Pasek and Paul. The duo earned an Oscar for their work on the musical feature La La Land and a Tony for Dear Evan Hansen. Their credits include The Greatest Showman, A Christmas Story and Smash. Pasek and Paul are repped by CAA, Kraft-Engel and attorneys David Berlin and David Schacter.
Jarrow scored a Tony nom for best book of a musical for last year's SpongeBob. His TV credits include creating Valor. Jarrow is with CAA, Literate and Matt Walerstein.
Platt has earned two Emmys for the live musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Grease; a Tony for The Band's Visit; and a pair of Oscar nominations for La La Land and Bridge of Spies. His credits include Wicked, Into the Woods, Empire Falls and Legally Blonde. Platt is with CAA and Michael Auerbach.
Cutler's credits include the Emmy-winning American High, the Showtime documentary The War Room and the ABC-turned-CMT country music drama series Nashville. He is currently directing and executive producing an untitled John Belushi doc for Showtime, where he also produced and directed The World According to Dick Cheney.
Siegel earned an Emmy for producing Fox's Grease Live and counts Rent, Drive and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World among his credits. He is with CAA, Lighthouse and Jeanne Newman.
Keys is a 15-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, musician, producer and actress. Her credits include The Secret Life of Bees, The Nanny Diaries and Empire. She is with WME.
Should the musical drama move forward, it would join a roster of scripted originals at Showtime including Billions, The Chi, Ray Donovan, Shameless, Kidding, Halo, City on a Hill, Black Monday, Penny Dreadful, The L Word, Work in Progress and Becoming a God in Central Florida.