HBO Developing 1960s Gay-Rights Drama From Adam Shankman

Feature writer David Kajganich will pen the script for "Open City," which comes as HBO has found critical success with its adaptation of "The Normal Heart."
Courtesy of UTA
Adam Shankman and David Kajganich

HBO is turning its lens on the 1960s cultural revolution.

The premium cable network has picked up a script for Open City, from feature writer David Kajganich and executive producer/director Adam Shankman (Hairspray), The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Open City is set in the vibrant, turbulent John Lindsay-era New York of the late 1960s and explores characters from disparate corners of Manhattan as they navigate the cultural revolution and political turmoil of the era. The drama will also examine the unlikely alliance between the Mafia and the city's gay community in the opening of a West Village nightclub. 

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Kajganich (True Story) will write and executive produce the project. Shankman is on board to direct and executive produce. Jennifer Gibgot will also exec produce via Offspring Entertainment. Ronnie Lorenzo, one of the original owners of the Stonewall Inn, will serve as a consulting producer. The Stonewall Inn is a famous New York City bar and the setting of 1969's Stonewall riots, considered the birth of the gay rights movement and the fight for LGBT equality in the U.S.

Lindsay was a two-term Republican mayor of New York (1966-73) and U.S. presidential candidate. He started his career as a Republican and switched to the Democratic Party in 1971. He's credited with helping to spare the city from rioting following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Open City is Kajganich's first TV project. Most recently, he penned the script for the James Franco and Jonah Hill stolen-identity drama True Story, due this year, as well as A Bigger Splash for director Luca Guadagnino.

For Shankman and Gibgot's Offspring Entertainment, the deal comes after the company inked a two-year first-look deal with Warner Horizon Television to develop projects for cable. The company has projects in the works at Bravo, MTV and E!. Shankman and Gibgot are in preproduction on New Line's Mean Moms. They previously teamed for all four of the Step Up films, The Last Song and 17 Again. Shankman's directing credits include Hairspray, The Wedding Planner and A Walk to Remember, among others. On the TV side, he has directed multiple episodes of Glee and Modern Family. He's a two-time Emmy nominee for his work on the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.

The drama arrives as HBO has found critical success with its adaptation of Larry Kramer's award-winning play The Normal Heart. The Ryan Murphy-produced TV movie drew an all-star cast and is generating awards season buzz with talks of a sequel underway.

Shankman and Gibgot are repped by UTA and Bloom Hergott; Kajganich is with UTA and Madhouse Entertainment.

For HBO, Open City comes as the network is prepping a 1970s rock 'n' roll drama from Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger and preparing to say farewell to dramas Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom and True Blood.

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