9:40am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Showtime Orders Black Coming-of-Age Drama Produced by Common
Showtime is poised to explore the lives of young African-Americans.
The premium cable network on Tuesday handed out a pilot order to an untitled drama from Dear White People alum Lena Waithe and Common, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The untitled drama is described as a relevant, timely and distinctive coming-of-age story of a young African-American male in which just growing up can be a matter of life and death. Waithe will pen the script and executive produce the Fox 21 drama alongside Common, for whom the project marks his scripted producing debut. Kapital Entertainment's Aaron Kaplan is also on board as an executive producer and will be joined by Clark Johnson (Homeland, The Wire), the latter of whom directs.
"The two creative forces behind the show, both hailing from Chicago’s South Side, give this pilot an unparalleled authenticity," Showtime president David Nevins said. "Lena Waithe is an extremely fresh, talented young writer with a unique voice and a deeply thoughtful perspective into the world where she grew up. I immediately gravitated to her script, which is emotional, funny, tragic and relevant, all at once. And, we are so fortunate to have artist and visionary Common for his first producing project in scripted television."
Waithe produced the Sundance darling Dear White People and counts drama Bones and viral video Shit Black Girls Say among her credits as well as the web series Hello Cupid. She's repped by Paradigm.
Common, meanwhile, was born and raised on Chicago's South Side and is a multiple Grammy winner whose acting credits include AMC's Hell on Wheels, Smokin' Aces, American Gangster and more. He recently won an Oscar for his song "Glory" from Selma, in which he co-starred. He's repped by CAA.
Actor-director Johnson counts helming Showtime's Homeland and Sleeper Cell. As an actor, he's best known for his seven-season role on Homicide: Life on the Street. He's with UTA.
For his part, busy independent producer Kaplan's credits include NBC's Mysteries of Laura, CBS' upcoming Life in Pieces, ABC's Secrets and Lies, HBO's Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle Divorce as well as ABC Family's Kevin From Work and Chasing Life; and Nickelodeon's Instant Mom.
For Showtime, the untitled drama becomes the cabler's second pilot and first hourlong. It joins Cameron Crowe comedy Roadies as Showtime looks to replenish its scripted roster following the conclusion of Nurse Jackie and cancelation of Happyish. Should the project move to series, it would join a roster that also includes upcoming drama Billions and half-hour series Dice as well as veterans The Affair, Episodes, Homeland, House of Lies, Masters of Sex, Penny Dreadful, Ray Donovan and Shameless.