Tiffany Haddish, Akiva Goldsman Shopping Shakespeare's Dark Lady Series (Exclusive)

Tiffany Haddish Akiva Goldsman Amma Asante
Keith Major; CAA; Joseph Sinclair

Renaissance poet Amelia Bassano is poised to get the small screen treatment.

Tiffany Haddish, Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman and Mrs. America's Amma Asante are developing  The Bardess for television. Envisioned as a limited series, the project will center on the true story of the Black, Venetian, Jewish poet, who some believe was behind Shakespeare's literary work. Set in 16th Century England, The Bardess is expected to explore that premise, which has been backed by a collection of scholars. (Still others balk.)

News of the project comes as the interest in Bassano's story has increasingly become a source of scholarship and theatrical interest of late. Among the latter was an eponymous play, which was hailed as a "feminist triumph" when it premiered at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre a few years ago. For this iteration, Haddish's She Ready Productions has optioned Shakespeare's Secret Messiah: The Dark Lady by Joseph Atwill as source material.

Haddish is expected to star as well as produce, assuming her dizzying schedule permits. Asante will write and direct. The group will be targeting cable outlets and streamers with the pitch.

Melanie Clark will oversee the project for She Ready, with Greg Lessans doing so for Goldsman's Weed Road Pictures Company. The Bardess joins considerable portfolios at both companies.
She Ready is behind the Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready series at Netflix, Tuca & Bertie at Adult Swim and Kids Say the Darndest Things at CBS. For its part, Weed Road is producing Michael B. Jordan's upcoming film Without Remorse and the Asante-helmed Billion Dollar Spy, and in TV Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, both for CBS All Access.

Haddish repped by UTA, Brillstein Partners and Ziffren Brittenham; Goldsman is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson; and Asante is repped by CAA and Mosaic.