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Following more than a yearlong process, Netflix is moving forward with superhero family drama Raising Dion.
Based on the short film and comic book of the same name from commercial/music video director Dennis Liu, the 10-episode project is about an African-American single mother who discovers her young son has multiple and constantly changing abilities.
Raising Dion follows single mother Nicole Reese, who rears her son Dion after the death of her husband Mark (Michael B. Jordan). The normal dramas of bringing up a son as a single mom are amplified when Dion starts to manifest several magical, superhero-like abilities. Nicole must now keep her son’s gifts secret with the help of Mark’s best friend Pat and protect Dion from antagonists out to exploit him while figuring out the origin of his abilities.
Michael B. Jordan is attached to executive produce and appear in the series. Carol Barbee (Unreal, Judging Amy), who penned the pilot, will serve as showrunner and exec produce. Liu will exec produce and direct the pilot. Jordan exec produces via his Outlier Society Productions banner. Macro’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks will exec produce alongside Kenny Goodman and Michael Green (Logan, American Gods). Raising Dion is being produced in-house at Netflix and comes as the streamer continues to make a push for ownership. The streaming giant will distribute the series in more than 190 countries around the world. A premiere date has not been determined.
“I started this project many years ago because I wanted to see more diverse representation on film and television and I’m excited to partner with Netflix, who I know shares that commitment,” Liu said. “More than ever, we need more stories told from different points of view, and my hope with Raising Dion is to create a cinematic experience for all families that will lift your spirits and make you laugh and cry.”
Added Cindy Holland, vp originals at Netflix: “We haven’t seen this type of superhero story before — an origin myth full of imagination, wonder and adventure, all grounded in the experiences of a modern single mother. Michael B. Jordan is an exciting and dynamic talent, and I’m excited to see him, Macro, Carol and the team translate Dennis’ unique vision to television.”
Rumblings about Raising Dion first surfaced in April 2016, with Liu and a different producing team attached and a series pickup pending pilot script approval. As of last October, Judy McCreary (Law & Order: SVU) was initially attached as showrunner. However, when 1980s-set sci-fi drama Stranger Things — featuring Millie Bobby Brown’s kid-with-powers character Eleven — bowed, a decision was made to retool Raising Dion to avoid any potential overlap with Netflix’s breakout hit. McCreary then exited and Barbee — who briefly ran Lifetime’s Unreal — was brought in to rework it. Following a short writers room hiatus, the drama was back on track as of November 2016, and Jordan joined at the start of 2017. Casting started in February, though Jordan remains the only on-screen actor set to appear in the series.
Raising Dion comes as Netflix has found success with its Marvel partnership. The comic book powerhouse has delivered a slate of superhero projects including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and miniseries The Defenders as well as the upcoming Punisher.
For Jordan, meanwhile, the Creed actor has continued to push into producing for the small screen. He has an overall deal at Skydance Television (though Raising Dion is outside of that pact) and has developed multiple projects. This is first series pickup as an exec producer. His TV acting roles include Parenthood, Friday Night Lights and The Wire. He next appears in the HBO telepic Fahrenheit 451, which he also exec produces. On the big screen, his roles include Marvel-inspired feature Fantastic Four.
Jordan is repped by WME and Bloom Hergott. Barbee is with WME and Hansen Jacobson.
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