VH1 Orders Hip-Hop Drama 'The Breaks' to Series (Exclusive)

Following its successful launch as a TV movie in January.
Courtesy of VH1

VH1 is moving full steam ahead with The Breaks.

The Viacom-owned cable network has picked up the hip-hop drama to series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The drama, which started out as a TV movie/back-door pilot, is based on Dan Charnas' best-selling book The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop. The book is considered one of the most comprehensive accounts of the history and business of hip-hop. Charnas documented the rise of the genre as a writer for The Source, the first rap magazine, and is a former record executive. His book spans 40 years of stories and was culled from more than 300 interviews with execs, entrepreneurs, hustlers and handlers.

The Breaks aired in January and currently ranks as the No. 2 cable original movie of the year among adults 18-49, 18-34 and women in both demos. The January premiere and immediate encore collected a combined 2.6 million total viewers, propelling VH1 to a 42 percent gain among adults under 50 in January.

Wood Harris (The Wire), Mack (Tristan) Wilds (90210), Afton Williamson (Banshee), David Call (Gossip Girl), Antoine Harris (Ballers) and Method Man starred in the TV movie. Most are expected to return for the series. An episode count has not yet been determined. The Breaks was written, directed and executive produced by Seith Mann (The Wire), with Mann and Charnas contributing the story; DJ Premier composed the score and served as executive music producer. Bill Flanagan exec produced and Maggie Malina oversees for VH1.

The Breaks chronicles the journey of Nikki, David and DeeVee, three friends united by their love of hip-hop, as they work to make their big mark in the music industry. The film started in summer 1990 in New York, where the music industry’s artists and hustlers intersect in the dance clubs and the street corners of the still crime-ridden city. But they will all soon discover lives can be broken as fast as legends can be born.

The Breaks’ is VH1 at its best, intersecting '90s nostalgia with hip-hop for the masses,” VH1 GM Chris McCarthy said. “Both the viewers and critics have spoken, and we couldn’t be happier to continue telling the story that has already connected with millions of pop culture fans.”

For VH1, The Breaks marks its latest foray into scripted originals. The cable network has scripted drama Hit the Floor in its third season and reality TV parody Barely Famous set for its second run later this year. The cabler last year reversed course on a second season of critical darling Hindsight, scrapping the series completely in a fiscal play.

The Breaks series order comes as hip-hop continues to be a hot genre in the scripted and unscripted arena on the small screen. Fox has mega-hit Empire; Starz has the similarly themed Power, from EP 50 Cent; and Netflix will unspool Baz Luhrmann's 1970s hip-hop drama The Get Down this year. Last week, Apple entered the space with Vital Signs, a scripted series starring Dr. Dre; WE tv has docuseries Growing Up Hip Hopfeaturing the aspiring offspring of music legends including Russell Simmons; and Empire music producer Timbaland is prepping a hip-hop docuseries. On the film side, Straight Outta Compton was a hit last year, and the Empire writers are penning a movie about Sugar Hill Records' Sylvia Robinson, aka the "mother of hip-hop."