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Following a lengthy deal making process, the streaming service has handed out a straight-to-series order for The Get Down, a 13-episode hip-hop drama from the Oscar nominee, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Making his television series debut, the Moulin Rouge! writer-director-producer will helm the first two episodes as well as the series finale and executive produce alongside Emmy nominee Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Terriers). Academy Award winner Catherine Martin (Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!) will serve as costume and production designer. She joins fellow executive producers Paul Watters (Australia), Thomas Kelly (Copper), playwright Stephen Adley Guirgis (Motherf***er With the Hat) and Marney Hochman (Terriers). It is Luhrmann’s first musical endeavor since Moulin Rouge!; it will premiere in all territories in 2016.
The long-in-the works drama — news that Luhrmann and Ryan were taking the project out to multiple cablers and streaming outlets surfaced in December 2013 — hails from Sony Pictures Television, where both are under overall deals.
The Get Down will focus on 1970s New York — broken down and beaten up, violent, cash strapped — dying. (Watch the teaser trailer, above.) Consigned to rubble, a rag-tag crew of South Bronx teenagers are nothings and nobodies with no one to shelter them — except each other, armed only with verbal games, improvised dance steps, some magic markers and spray cans. From Bronx tenements, to the SoHo art scene; from CBGBs to Studio 54 and even the glass towers of the just-built World Trade Center, The Get Down is a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco — told through the lives and music of the South Bronx kids who changed the city, and the world … forever.
“From his very first and magnificently original steps on the world stage with Strictly Ballroom to his most recent with The Great Gatsby, Baz conjures worlds we may not recognize initially, but once there, realize they are infused with the same dreams of every person — to belong, to matter, to live life to its fullest,” said Cindy Holland, vp original content at Netflix. “We are thrilled to support Baz, Catherine and Paul and their team in their quest to illuminate those same dreams through the artists who came of age in the cauldron of the Bronx in the late 1970s.”
Added Luhrmann: “In this golden era of TV, the Netflix culture puts no constraint on creative possibilities. So it is a natural home for The Get Down, a project I have been contemplating and working on now for over 10 years. Throughout, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of how a city in its lowest moment, forgotten and half-destroyed, could give birth to such creativity and originality in music, art and culture. I’m thrilled to be working with my partners at Sony and collaborating with a team of extraordinary writers and musicians, many of whom grew up with and lived the story we’ve set out to tell.”
Noted Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, presidents of programming and production at SPT: “Baz is an artist in the truest sense, whose talent and vision resonate across mediums. There is no better filmmaker and storyteller to draw us into this world of the forgotten and oppressed residents of the Bronx who rose up and fought back to create and define culture and music for decades to come.”
The hip-hop drama marks the latest of its kind. Fox has hit a much-needed ratings paydirt with Lee Daniels and Danny Strong‘s Empire, already renewed for a second season; and Starz has done the same with its 50 Cent-produced entry Power. Not to be outdone, Viacom-owned cabler VH1 is also readying The Breaks, a drama series based on Dan Charnas‘ best-selling book The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, which is wildly considered one of the most comprehensive accounts of the history and business of hip-hop.
For Netflix, Get Down joins a rapidly growing roster of original scripted fare including SPT-produced Kyle Chandler drama Bloodline as well as The Crown, Grace and Frankie, Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards as well Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It’s also the latest original from an outside studio to land at Netflix following a multiple network bidding war.
Luhrmann, whose features include The Great Gatsby, Romeo + Juliet and Australia, is repped by WME and Hirsch Wallerstein; Ryan, whose credits include Amazon pilot Mad Dogs, ABC’s Last Resort and The Unit, is with WME, Shuman Co. and Gendler & Kelly.
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Robert De Niro