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Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil are joining forces with Oprah Winfrey.
The husband-and-wife team are partnering with Winfrey’s OWN network for a new drama series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Titled Love Is ___, the hourlong light drama will draw inspiration from their real-life relationship to tell the love story of a modern-day power couple. The Akils will create and executive produce the series through their Akil Productions banner with Mara Brock Akil also serving as showrunner.
Produced in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television — where the Akils have an overall deal — the series will premiere on OWN in 2018.
“I’ve dreamed of working with the Akils,” said Winfrey. “I’ve been a huge fan of their work since first viewing Girlfriends. They know just how to hit the cultural nerve to make you think and laugh at the same time.”
Love Is ___ was originally developed as a half-hour multicam comedy called Documenting Love at ABC. However, the project did not make it to the pilot stage.
“To have a partner that brings the attention to detail and sheer excellence that Oprah has built an empire on is an absolute dream come true for Salim and me,” said Brock Akil. “That, and it’s Oprah! Love Is ___ is not only a passion project, but is a personal one for us as well. We’re grateful to have her wholehearted support and magic touch behind this story.”
Love Is ___ will join a growing slate of original scripted dramas at OWN that also includes prestige entries Queen Sugar (also from Warner Horizon) and Greenleaf, as well as Tyler Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots and If Loving You Is Wrong.
Landing the Akils — who also count Being Mary Jane among their credits — is a major win for the cabler in the wake of Perry’s new TV and film deal with Viacom. As part of the deal, Perry will produce 90 episodes of comedy and drama series for OWN rival BET Networks beginning in 2019, when his OWN deal expires. (Coincidentally, the Akils helped launch BET into the scripted space with Being Mary Jane as well as The Game before leaving for WBTV in 2016.)
In a statement about Perry’s collaboration with BET, OWN made sure to emphasize its non-Perry offerings such as Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar and promised to “continue to aggressively expand its roster of premium original scripted series.”
For the Akils, Love Is ___ joins their other upcoming series, the superhero drama Black Lightning, which is set to debut midseason on The CW with Salim Akil as showrunner. Brock Akil is repped by CAA while Akil is repped by ICM. Both are repped by Morris Yorn.