Black Panther Party Series From Laurence Fishburne in the Works at Freeform

Laurence Fishburne-Getty-H 2019
Earl Gibson III/FilmMagic

Freeform is looking to explore the life of Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown and her daughter, Ericka Suzanne.

Disney's younger-skewing cable network is developing Party Girls, a single-camera dramedy inspired by the true story of Ericka Suzanne, the daughter of the first female leader of the Black Panther Party, Elaine Brown. The 1970s-set dramedy has received a sizable script-to-series commitment. That means that if network executives are happy with the script, the project would bypass the traditional pilot process and be ordered straight to series.

Dayna Lynne North (Insecure) will pen the script and serve as executive producer and showrunner, should Party Girls move forward. She will exec produce alongside Laurence Fishburne and his Cinema Gypsy banner.

The potential series is set in Oakland, California, in the 1970s and follows Suzanne's attempt to survive her adolescence as her mother rises in the Black Panther Party. The story will explore Brown and Suzanne's unconventional mother-daughter relationship while balancing the stakes of the movement with coming-of-age humor. It asks the question of how you rebel when your mother is leading a rebellion. 

Party Girls hails from Katie O’Connell Marsh-led Platform One Media, the indie studio formed by TPG Growth's Evolution Media and Liberty Global. The company's Elisa Ellis (Narcos), Cinema Gypsy's Fishburne and Helen Sugland (ABC's Black-ish and its Freeform spinoff, Grown-ish), Picture It Productions' Lance Krall and Peter Siaggas also exec produce.

The news comes as Freeform is currently searching for a new head of originals after Karey Burke was promoted to ABC Entertainment president. Burke was tapped to replace Channing Dungey, who exited the Disney-owned broadcast network after Fox execs were brought over as part of the $72 billion asset sale to the Mouse House. Tom Ascheim currently serves as Freeform president.

Party Girls arrives as part of Freeform's push to focus on a demo it dubbed "becomers," those experiencing a series of firsts, like love and first jobs. Should Party Girls be picked up to series, it would join a scripted roster at the cable network that includes Cloak and Dagger, The Bold Type, Siren, Grown-ish, Good Trouble, Besties, Everything's Gonna Be Okay and the Pretty Little Liars spinoff, The Perfectionists. Freeform is also expected to hand out a series order for its new immigration-themed take on Party of Five.

Suzanne is repped by the law office of Adia Z. May. Fishburne and Sugland are with Paradigm and Del Shaw. Picture It is with Paradigm and Del Shaw. North is with CAA and Patti Felker and Dave Ryan.