Since inking an exclusive deal 2 summers ago with Universal Cable Productions, to develop TV series for cable and broadcast networks, John Legend and his Get Lifted Film Company have certainly been busy. Although none of his announced projects has made it to air yet.
His first project was sold to Fox in October 2012 – a comedy which was to center on a guy in his early 20s who becomes the guardian to his own siblings, while having to manage his fledgling career as well as a social life. It was said to be loosely based on John Legend’s years growing up.
And then, early last year, Legend sold a second project, a crime drama, to the USA network. Titled The Edge, it was described as a crime drama about “an idealistic Harvard Business School graduate named Jeff Cross who joins a progressive financial firm called Edgeton Global (aka The Edge), where he discovers the company’s dark secrets while becoming entangled in a high-stakes FBI investigation.”
And then in April 2013, it was announced that Legend (and producer/director Tony Krantz) sold a drama to HBO titled Down Lo, which was to be set in South Beach, Miami, and was described as an edgy ensemble drama with intersecting stories, one of which would follow a gay rapper living on the “down low” as homosexuality is still not readily accepted in the hip-hop community.
And then it was announced last summer that Legend and his company had teamed up with the Showtime network for a half-hour comedy about music managers – something that Legend himself knows a little something about likely. The untitled project was to take place in the world of high-profile music managers, and was to be penned by Austin Winsberg (Gossip Girl, Jake in Progress) who would also executive produce alongside Legend and his Get Lifted Film company.
Today brings word that Legend and John Swetnam (writer of the dance movie Step Up) are teaming up to produce a coming-of-age dance drama titled Breaking Through – a feature film, by the way, not a TV series.
Legend and Swetnam are looking to combine the overdone and quite trite found-footage sub-genre (where horror movies and thrillers typically go to die these days) with another tired sub-genre, the dance movie, to create a found-footage dance movie. I think this might be a first!
No exact details on plot yet, except a description that calls it a “documentary-style dance drama for the YouTube generation.”
Writer Swetnam will make his feature directorial debut with the film, and will co-produce with Legend.
Financing is already in place, and a summer shoot is set. No word on casting yet, with the stated plan being to discover new talent.
Legend continues to expand his brand, as part of a concerted effort to grow his empire beyond music, calling it the “next step forward in building Get Lifted.” Assuming any of the above TV sales go to series, Legend could become a player of note in the TV production space, where there isn’t a lot of black participation behind the cameras, although Shonda Rhimes, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Kevin Hart, Kenya Barris, 50 Cent, and others are hoping to change that next season, with all new series from each – assuming they are all picked up by their respective networks.