Spike Lee, Robert De Niro develop drama series

John Ridley to pen 'Alphaville' for Showtime

Quintessential New York filmmakers Spike Lee and Robert De Niro have teamed  with Showtime to develop a drama series about Manhattan's Alphabet City.

The project, titled "Alphaville," will be written by John Ridley, with Lee on board to direct the potential pilot.

It is executive produced by Ridley, Lee, De Niro and his producing partner Jane Rosenthal, whose Tribeca Prods. is on board to produce.

"Alphaville" is an ensemble drama chronicling Alphabet City's gritty and tumultuous past before it became the gentrified East Village.

Set during the 1980s, it will re-create the neighborhood's eclectic mix of struggling artists and musicians living alongside Puerto Rican and black families.

Along with its growing bohemian and celebrity population that also included graffiti artists, break-dancers, rappers and DJs, the neighborhood was plagued by illegal drug activity and violent crime.

Local tensions culminated in the Tompkins Square Park riot of 1988, in which police clashed with anarchists and homeless activists.

The 1980s Alphabet City was the setting for the musical "Rent." The neighborhood also served as the backdrop for two De Niro pictures: 1976's "Taxi Driver" and 1999's "Flawless."

Following the successful launches of its two new series, "United States of Tara" and "Nurse Jackie," Showtime is shifting its attention to development.

The pay cable network recently greenlighted "The C Word," a dark comedy pilot starring Laura Linney.

Lee and De Niro are repped by WME. Ridley, who is working with Lee on a feature about the L.A. riots, is with CAA.
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