10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Shameless' Boss John Wells Sets 'Maid' Dramedy at Netflix
Netflix is expanding its relationship with John Wells.
The streamer has handed out a straight-to-series order for Wells-produced dramedy Maid, based on Stephanie Land's best-selling memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive. Written by and showrun by Shameless and Orange Is the New Black grad Molly Smith Metzler, Wells will executive produce the series via his recently renewed overall deal with Warner Bros. Television.
The pickup arrives as Netflix helped to solidify Wells' Showtime dramedy Shameless as a hit, with the library of the William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum series one of the streamer's most-watched acquired titles. An episode count and premiere date have not been determined.
Maid will follow a single mother who turns to housekeeping to — barely — make ends meet as she battles against poverty, homelessness and bureaucracy. The series will be told primarily through her point of view and explore what Netflix says is a "beautiful, alive, gritty and inspiring exploration of poverty in America."
Metzler will exec produce alongside Wells and his JWP topper Erin Jontow. Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley and Brett Hedblom of Lucky Chap Entertainment will also exec produce alongside Land.
"Maid is a poignant portrait that chronicles Stephanie Land’s strife and victories, and has the power to connect with our members around the world as they identify with her struggles and root for her success," Netflix vp originals Channing Dungey said Wednesday in a statement. "We’re excited to share the stories inspired by Stephanie’s book and bring them to life along with WBTV, John Wells Productions and LuckyChap Entertainment.”
Maid is one of the 13 projects that Wells put into development in June as he inked a new nine-figure overall deal to remain at WBTV, his home since 1986 and for whom he has delivered hits including ER, The West Wing and Shameless. Under the pact, Wells is looking to expand his company into a mini-studio as he endeavors to mentor up-and-coming writers. The Netflix series also continues his penchant for exploring the lower- and middle-classes, which he has done now for 10 seasons on Shameless. Wells, it's also worth noting, opted to renew his WBTV deal amid fierce and potentially more lucrative offers from other companies — including Netflix. He now has three series on the air, with Maid joining Shameless and TNT's Animal Kingdom, and has a pilot in the works, Red Bird Lane, at WarnerMedia-backed HBO Max. (Listen to Wells open up about his plans for his company in The Hollywood Reporter's TV's Top 5 podcast here.)
“Stephanie tells the searing and remarkably human story of a young woman battling to find a secure future for herself and her infant daughter, Mia, in the face of overwhelming odds and governmental assistance programs of impossible complexity," said Wells. "We're delighted to be able to partner with LuckyChap, Warner Bros, and the extraordinarily talented Molly Metzler to tell this moving story.”
For Robbie's LuckyChap, Maid also stems from the actress-producer's overall deal with WBTV. It is her latest TV series, joining Hulu's Kat Dennings comedy Dollface (which is produced by ABC Studios).
“Stephanie Land’s book is a powerful and necessary read, with incredible insight into the struggles people face whilst just trying to get by," LuckyChap said in a statement. "We are thrilled to partner with John Wells and his amazing team, as well as WBTV and Netflix, to help this story reach as wide an audience as possible.”