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It’s the end of the line for The Get Down.
Netflix has canceled ambitious music drama from writer-director Baz Luhrmann after one season, it was announced Wednesday.
The news comes nearly two months after the second half of the series’ first season premiered on the streaming giant. The Get Down was described as “a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco” and was set in the Bronx in the late 1970s.
Originally announced in February 2015, the project marked Luhrmann’s first foray into television and stemmed from a concept he had been working on for more than a decade.
However, the Sony-produced series soon hit delays and also saw the departure of original showrunner Shawn Ryan. The first six episodes of season one debuted last August, marking the first time a Netflix original season was split into two parts rather than released all at once as has been the tradition at the streamer for scripted series.
The five remaining episodes were subsequently released last month, bringing the season one total to 11 — two short of the original 13-episode order The Get Down received in 2015.
“The truth is that at a certain point, there was no precedent for how you make such a music-driven show,” Luhrmann told The Hollywood Reporter when discussing Ryan’s exit. “Ultimately, right now, I ultimately was asked to take the position of being responsible for everything and yes, I am responsible for everything, including saying we have to stop and get it right. … We would start doing it [shooting] and I was being asked to get more involved because it was either not working or it had to be re-engineered.”
Because of the production delays, SAG-AFTRA pushed for arbitration against Sony Pictures Television in March under the allegation that the show’s actors were held under option contracts for too long.
In addition to multiple production delays, the series faced financial issues, with an overall budget that was reported to be approximately $120 million — making it the most expensive series on television, a fact which Luhrmann refuted.
“I heard The Crown was the most expensive show ever made, that’s what someone told me,” he said last July. “Yes, it took longer and it’s been more difficult than I imagined. As for the number, it wasn’t cheap. But I don’t think it’s the most expensive show. I think it’s on the high end of storytelling.”
Although Luhrmann had taken a larger role on the series in the wake of Ryan’s exit, he had recently revealed plans to take a step back from the series should it have been renewed for season two.
The Get Down becomes the first Netflix show to be canceled after just one season. While the streaming giant has renewed the bulk of its slate in recent years as part of its aggressive push into scripted originals, there are a handful of series that have gotten the ax. Expensive period drama Marco Polo was canceled after two seasons, while Lilyhammer, Hemlock Grove and Bloodline were canceled after three seasons. The latter, also from Sony Pictures Television, will premiere its third and final season on Friday. Additionally, the upcoming sixth season of Western Longmire will be its last.
In addition to Luhrmann, Stephen Adly Guirgis was also credited as a co-creator on The Get Down. The series’ other executive producers included Catherine Martin, Nasir Jones, Marney Hochman, Thomas Kelly and Paul Watters.
The cast included Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Herizen F. Guardiola, Skylan Brooks, Tremaine Brown Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jimmy Smits.
Luhrmann on Wednesday night posted a lengthy note about the show’s demise on his Facebook page, in which he cited his commitment to an upcoming film as one of the reasons behind the show’s premature end.
Read the note in full below.
Dear fans of The Get Down,
I wanted to speak to you with an open heart and just acknowledge how humbled and moved that not only I, but all who have given so much to this production, have been by your passion and commitment to see the next chapter of The Get Down go back into production in the immediate future. I want to explain to you why that is unlikely to happen…
When I was asked to come to the center of The Get Down to help realize it, I had to defer a film directing commitment for at least two years. This exclusivity has understandably become a sticking point for Netflix and Sony, who have been tremendous partners and supporters of the show. It kills me that I can’t split myself into two and make myself available to both productions. I feel so deeply connected to all those who I have worked and collaborated with on this remarkable experience.
All sorts of things have been thrown around for the future… even a stage show (can you imagine that? I can, concert version anyone? Next summer? Just saying.) But the simple truth is, I make movies. And the thing with movies is, that when you direct them, there can be nothing else in your life. Since The Get Down stopped, I have actually been spending the last few months preparing my new cinematic work…
The cast of this show is unique and exceptional. Apart from our stellar veteran actors, I can’t tell you how privileged we all felt to have found such young, new talents, many of whom are now starring in motion pictures, creating music, and taking tremendous strides in their careers. Our cast, writers, musical collaborators, choreographers, camera team, directing and post-production teams all felt the profound privilege to have been embraced by the borough of The Bronx and the Hip-Hop community at large. But most especially by the forefathers of Hip-Hop: Grandmaster Flash, Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Caz, Kurtis Blow, Raheim and all the b-boys, b-girls, graffiti-writers, MC’s and DJ’s that made this story possible. As well as the keepers of the flame and guiding lights, such as Nas. We experienced things together that I will never forget. All of us in The Get Down family have been touched by this precious mission of telling the pre-history of a form of culture that would go on to change not only the city, but the world.
As for the real future of the show, the spirit of The Get Down, and the story it has begun to tell… it has its own life. One that lives on today and will continue to be told somewhere, somehow, because of you, the fans and the supporters.
Humbled and honored, and to quote Mylene’s beautiful ballad, “I’ll see you on the other-side…”
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