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The brand, which will see its content live on Hulu, has landed rights to Mahershala Ali drama The Plot, based on the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Sources say Duncan fought hard to land the drama as producers including Endeavor Content shopped the package and sought a straight-to-series order. (Sources note HBO also bid for the series but dropped out rather than offering the formal pickup.)
The Plot, which will stream on Hulu, is described as a cat-and-mouse story that revolves around Jake, a struggling author, who commits an act of literary theft that changes his life irrevocably. The series follows the how far Jake will go to protect himself and the new life he’s built now that someone knows his secret and is threatening him. Ali stars as Jake and exec produces the series.
Abby Ajayi (Shondaland’s Inventing Anna, How to Get Away With Murder) will adapt the novel and serve as showrunner. Endeavor Content is the studio for the eight-series. Layne Eskridge’s POV and Kristen Campo — who also packaged the series — exec produce. The Plot marks the first project to be shopped via Eskridge’s (Manhunt) producing deal with Endeavor Content. Campo (Truth Be Told) also has a pact with the studio. Ali, Mimi Valdés and Amatus Karim Ali also exec produce via their Know Wonder banner. Author Hanff Korelitz also exec produces.
“Hollywood is still not greenlighting enough projects with multidimensional Black characters, stories that simply focus on our humanity. The rarity of a straight-to-series order, especially for BIPOC projects, is not lost on us,” said Valdés. “We are beyond humbled to work with such an amazing team of collaborators to bring this incredible book to life.”
Onyx Collective was launched last May. The content brand focuses on creators of color and stories dedicated to underrepresented communities. The Plot joins legal drama Reasonable Doubt — from exec producers Kerry Washington and Larry Wilmore — at Onyx, which has already recruited Insecure’s Prentice Penny, Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler and Shang Chi’s Destin Daniel Cretton, among others, to the banner with overall deals. Disney rising star Duncan, who was hired last year to lead its younger-skewing cable network Freeform, was hand-picked to oversee the brand, which was behind Summer of Soul.
“I was captivated with Hanff Korelitz’s book, The Plot and Abby’s distinct point of view reinvents the story in a way that spoke to me and our mission at Onyx Collective,” said Duncan, who serves as president of both Onyx and Freeform. “There are so many interesting angles and nuances, that having the creative genius that is Mahershala Ali at the center of this mystery, is just a dream. Kristen and Layne have done a phenomenal job bringing this team together and I could not be more proud to work alongside them and Endeavor Content to bring this incredible series to our global audience.”
The Plot marks the latest Hanff Korelitz book to be adapted for television, joining You Should Have Known, which serves as the inspiration for HBO’s The Undoing. The Plot also marks the latest collaboration between Endeavor Content and Hulu after Nine Perfect Strangers and Amy Schumer’s upcoming comedy Life & Beth.
“When Kristen Campo sent me The Plot, I devoured it! I’ve been dying to work with Abby Ajayi, and we loved the idea of exploring Jean’s book from the perspective of a Black man, so that we could really debate the themes of authorship, inspiration and who has the right to tell what stories. Mahershala was our dream for the role, and when he and the Know Wonder team signed on, it confirmed that we were building something next level,” said Eskridge.
Ali is repped by WME, Relevant and Sloane Offer. Eskridge is with WME and Gang Tyre. Ajayi is with CAA and Ziffren Brittenham. Campo is with WME and The Nord Group. Hanff Korelitz is with WME.
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