Russell Simmons Signs Overall Deal With HBO, Developing Broken Lizard Series

Russell Simmons - H 2015
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Russell Simmons - H 2015

Russell Simmons is staying put at HBO.

The prolific TV and music producer's new media company, All Def Digital, has signed an overall first-look deal with the pay cabler, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The Def Jam Records co-founder has five projects in the works at HBO, including three he's working on through ADD. Among those is a new comedy in development with the Broken Lizard comedy troupe (Super Troopers, Beer Fest). The Broken Lizard Show will offer a comedic take on race when, hundreds of years in the future, a space ship exploring the galaxy discovers the last white man in the universe.

ADD is also developing a hip-hop comedy series from indie filmmaker Shaka King (Newlyweeds). These Are My Friends will follow four real-life rap and hip-hop artists as they struggle to keep their dreams alive.

Additionally, Simmons and HBO are working together on a new series that curates the best acts from All Def Digital's weekly live comedy event in Hollywood and spotlights the best new comedians in the U.S.

Simmons' slate also includes the Def Comedy Jam 25th Anniversary Special, which promises to boast an all-star lineup of comedians. As previously announced, Simmons is also exec producing Oscar winner Steve McQueen's upcoming limited series, Codes of Conduct.

“We always speak of having distinct voices at HBO, and few in the industry are as unique and intelligent as Russell,” said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo. “He’s been a part of our family for a long time, and we are so pleased to be continuing our relationship.”

This is Simmons' second overall deal with HBO. His relationship with the network goes back to 1992, when Simmons co-created Def Comedy Jam, which is credited with helping launch the careers of Jamie Foxx, Martin Lawrence, Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart, among others. He launched Def Poetry Jam on the network a decade later.

“HBO has been like a home to me for a generation,” said Simmons. “I am enormously proud of the broad range of programming they have nurtured. Together, we have discovered new voices and helped launch emerging artists that deserved a mainstream platform. I am even more excited by the next generation of talent and shows that we are developing through All Def Digital TV.”

Simmons' other credits include his many years spent at the influential Def Jam Recordings, the label behind Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Jay Z and Kanye West, the MTV hit Run's House, and films including Waist Deep and The House I Live In. He also has three New York Times best-sellers and two clothing lines to his name.

Simmons is repped by WME and Ziffren Brittenham.