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Universal Studio Group’s UCP is tackling another real-life — and larger than life — subject: singer Rick James.
The studio is developing Super Freak, a limited series it describes as “a funkadelic mix of music biopic and true crime,” that would trace James’ career and focus on his plans for a comeback in the early 1990s amid a trial for assault and kidnapping that threatens to destroy his legacy.
Randy McKinnon (Notes From a Young Black Chef, Netflix’s Grand Army) is writing and executive producing. James’ daughter, Ty James, is also an executive producer.
“We are truly ecstatic about this new project with UCP and extremely excited to work with the writer Randy McKinnon,” said Ty James. “We are confident he can give the fans exactly what they have been waiting on, plus some. This will be a magic carpet ride, with ups and downs, joys and pain — a story of perseverance and tenacity, with the music being the greatest navigation system. Get ready for the ride of your lives — the story of James A. Johnson, aka Rick James.”
Nick Antosca (Hulu’s The Act, Syfy’s Chucky), who has an overall deal at UCP, will executive produce via his Eat the Cat company along with McKinnon, Ty James and Alex Hedlund. Journalist and author Mike Sager, who wrote a 1995 Rolling Stone profile of James and remained a friend until the singer’s 2004 death, is also an EP.
McKinnon is repped by Grandview and Jackoway Tyerman. Ty James is repped by attorney Robert S. Besser.
UCP has a sizable roster of projects based on real-life subjects, including The Act, Dirty John and Peacock’s Dr. Death. It’s also developing Candy from Sopranos veteran Robin Veith, based on the life of killer Candy Montgomery; The Girl From Plainville at Hulu; and The Life and Death of John Allen Chau.
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