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The Gossip Girl and The O.C. creators are adapting City on Fire as a straight-to-series drama for the iPhone maker and streamer.
Inspired by author Gareth Rick Hallberg’s novel of the same name, Schwartz and Savage will together pen all the scripts for the eight-episode drama and serve as showrunners on the series.
City on Fire follows the events that happen after an NYU student is shot in Central Park on the 4th of July in 2003. Samantha Cicciaro is alone; there are no witnesses and very little physical evidence. Her friends’ band is playing her favorite downtown club but she leaves to meet someone, promising to return. She never does. As the crime against Samantha is investigated, she’s revealed to be the crucial connection between a series of mysterious city-wide fires, the downtown music scene, and a wealthy uptown real estate family fraying under the strain of the many secrets they keep.
City on Fire is the first project to stem from the first-look deal Schwartz and Savage’s Fake Empire inked with Apple in 2019. Fake Empire is among the few production companies to have not one but two separate TV deals. Schwartz and Savage also have a broadcast-only pact with CBS Studios, for whom they exec produce The CW’s Dynasty and Nancy Drew updates. Fake Empire is also exec producing HBO Max’s Gossip Girl update, which hails from Warner Bros. Television.
In a 2019 interview with THR, Schwartz and Savage broke news of their historic dual deal and the appeal that comes with such a setup. “It just means you’re taking less up-front money. You’re betting on yourself, but you have more flexibility,” Schwartz said, noting it also left the door open to take projects to other competing platforms. “Other people come to us with stuff that we can do. Not having to worry ‘Does this check all the corporate synergy boxes?’ has been freeing.”
Longtime friends and collaborators Schwartz and Savage also count TV’s Looking for Alaska, The O.C. and the original Gossip Girl among their credits. Fake Empire’s Lis Rowinski will also co-exec produce City on Fire.
The series marks the latest Apple original to be produced in-house at its recently launched studio as the company, like other streamers, looks to own more of its pricey original series. Apple Studios also is behind series The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, starring Samuel L. Jackson; In With the Devil, starring Taron Egerton; Band of Brothers sequel Masters of the Air; and High Desert, a comedy starring Patricia Arquette from director Ben Stiller.
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