2:30pm PT by Natalie Jarvey
Catherine Zeta-Jones to Star in Facebook Comedy as First Series From Paul Lee's New Venture
Facebook has given a straight-to-series order to the dark comedy Queen America starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Created and written by Meaghan Oppenheimer (Fear the Walking Dead), the 10-episode project follows Vicki Ellis, the most renowned and ruthless pageant coach in the state of Oklahoma. She is desperately sought after by young women competing to be Miss America because she can turn any girl into a winner. But when Vicki gets paired with the beautiful but unpolished Samantha Stone, her entire reputation might be at stake.
Queen America is the first straight-to-series order for wiip, the studio launched by former ABC chief Paul Lee. Bruna Papandrea's Made Up Stories is serving as wiip's co-studio partner on the project.
Oppenheimer is executive producing Queen America. Made Up Stories' Papandrea and Casey Haver and Entertainment 360's Guymon Casady and Suzan Bymel also will exec produce alongside Janice Williams.
"I'm so excited to be making this show, set in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma — and beyond grateful to be partnered again with Bruna Papandrea, who has championed this project from its earliest stages and proven to be one of the biggest supporters of women in the industry," Oppenheimer said Thursday in a statement. "We have been very lucky to have found such great collaborators in wiip, Entertainment 360 and Facebook. To have one of my favorite actresses, Catherine Zeta-Jones, bringing this character to life is a dream come true."
Queen America will debut on Facebook's nine-month-old video platform Watch as part of the tech giant's effort to bring premium programming to its wide audience. (For now, Watch is a U.S.-only platform.) After dipping its toes into the programming space with lower-budget shortform projects, Facebook is starting to attract Hollywood talent including Elisabeth Olsen, who will star in the episodic series Sorry for Your Loss. Blumhouse Television is also working on a series, Sacred Lies, for the platform.
"Wiip is focused on creating extraordinary content that remains true to the authentic vision of artists who want to take creative risks to tell original stories," said Lee. "We are thrilled to collaborate with Meaghan, Bruna, Entertainment 360 and their remarkable creative team, along with our partners at Facebook Watch, to bring this uniquely dark, female-driven comedy, starring celebrated actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, to audiences around the world."
Added Papandrea: "Meaghan Oppenheimer is an incredible talent and we knew we had to bring this show to the world the second she first pitched us the idea. We are so excited to be collaborating with her, Facebook, and the incredible Catherine Zeta-Jones on this project."
Queen America will join a roster of Facebook Watch programming that includes the drama SKAM Austin, the comedy Loosely Exactly Nicole (revived after cancelation at MTV) and the Tom Brady docuseries Tom vs Time.