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Billy Porter’s next TV foray will be as a writer and producer.
Porter and Dan McCabe will co-write the script for the family drama that follows three generations of an African American showbiz dynasty navigating their way through life, love, politics and career. McCabe is the playwright behind The Purists, the 2019 play that was directed by Porter.
Warner Bros. TV-based Berlanti Productions will exec produce the series, with partners Berlanti and Sarah Schechter and head of TV David Madden all earning EP credits. Newly promoted exec vp TV Jonathan Gabay will produce the potential series.
Fruits of Thy Labor marks a reunion for Porter with Berlanti. Porter was among the all-star cast in 2000’s The Broken Hearts Club, which Berlanti wrote and directed as his feature film debut. The duo has remained friendly since.
“It crosses all genres,” Porter told The Hollywood Reporter this week of the Peacock project. “While the matriarch and patriarch are sort of based on like Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and then they have children, and then they have grandchildren. That kind of family and then there’s a character that’s based on me, of course, though I’m not playing the character.”
News of the Peacock project comes as Pose will wrap its three-season run Sunday with an extended series finale on FX. The series helped catapult Porter to international stardom, with the veteran stage and screen actor becoming the first openly gay man to win an Emmy for lead actor in a drama series. He is now an Oscar shy of achieving the rare EGOT status.
Fruits also marks Porter’s TV debut as a writer. The Tony- and Grammy-winner previously earned a certificate in screenwriting from UCLA’s graduate-level professional program.
As for Berlanti, Fruits also marks a reunion with former Warner Bros. TV exec Susan Rovner, who now oversees NBCUniversal platforms including Peacock, NBC and a suite of six cable networks. Rovner and Berlanti are longtime friends given the prolific producer’s slate at Warners. (Rovner’s husband, it’s worth noting, is Robert Rovner, the co-showrunner on Berlanti’s Supergirl at The CW.)
Berlanti currently exec produces 16 series across The CW, HBO Max and Netflix, all via his rich overall deal with Warner Bros. TV. Should Fruits go to series, it would be his first show for Peacock.
Porter is repped by CAA, Industry Entertainment and Felker Toczek. Berlanti is with WME and Felker Toczek. McCabe is with CAA, Underground and Schreck Rose.
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