'Sweetbitter' Drama From Brad Pitt Picked Up to Series at Starz

Casting is now underway for the half-hour adaptation based on the book of the same name by Stephanie Danler.
Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf

Two months after landing Sweetbitter following a multiple-network bidding war, Starz is moving forward with the half-hour adaptation of the Stephanie Danler best-seller.

The premium cable network has handed out a six-episode straight-to-series order for the drama that counts Brad Pitt among its executive producers.

Sweetbitter follows 22-year-old Tess who, shortly after arriving in New York, lands a job at a celebrated downtown restaurant. Swiftly introduced to the world of drugs, alcohol, love, lust, dive bars and fine dining, she learns to navigate the chaotically alluring yet punishing life she has stumbled upon.

The book was featured in The Hollywood Reporter's "Rights Available" in May and is described as Kitchen Confidential meets Bridget Jones. It earned rave reviews and adoring profiles for waiter-turned-author Danler. Sweetbitter is inspired by her life and tells the story of a young woman’s coming-of-age. It is set against the rich and grimy backdrop of exclusive restaurants, conjuring a nonstop and high-adrenaline world evoking the possibility, beauty and fragility of being young and adrift.

Casting for the lead is now underway. Starz will retain global distribution and home entertainment rights.

Danler penned the script for the first episode. Stu Zicherman (The Americans, The Affair) will also contribute writing on the series alongside Danler; both will exec produce along with Pitt's Plan B Entertainment. Donna Bloom will produce; Laura Rosenthal is currently leading the ongoing casting search. Senior vp originals Ken Segna, vp originals Patrick McDonald and senior coordinator of originals Samantha Offsay will oversee for Starz.

"Stephanie’s smart, sensory and genuine storytelling is set in the world of high-end dining, fueled by too much debauchery, drugs and French wine,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said in a statement. “Stephanie, Stu and Plan B have found an exciting way to translate the celebration of senses depicted in the book to the screen, and along the way, will post a love letter to New York City. We look forward to announcing our Tess, Jake, Simone and Howard soon.”

Said Danler: "This has already been a thrilling ride, and I can't wait for everyone to see how we expanded the world and characters beyond the book. I've been working with the most brilliant and generous people, and am extremely grateful. It's an honor to show up to work every day.”

Sweetbitter becomes the latest series pickup at Starz, joining the Latino drama Vida, Ash v. Evil Dead, The Missing, American Gods, Counterpart and the recently announced The Rook. The premium outlet is also readying Ascendanta TV sequel to the Divergent franchise.

A premiere date for Sweetbitter has not been determined.