EXCLUSIVE: Writer-director John Swetnam (Step Up: All In, Into the Storm) and exec producer John Legend have cast the twinkle-toed lineup for their internet-generation dance pic, Breaking Through. Dancer, choreographer, and actress Sophia Aguiar was discovered via YouTube after performing with Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo, Usher, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears. She’ll make her first feature splash in the pic alongside Jordan Rodrigues, who starred on Aussie teen dance drama Dance Academy and currently recurs on ABC Family’s The Fosters.
Related: John Legend, ‘Step Up 5′s John Swetnam Prepping Found Footage Dance Pic ‘Breaking Through’
Swetnam’s casting search also led him to Robert Roldan who appeared on Season 7 of So You Think You Can Dance, contortionist and dancer Marissa Heart who’s danced with Miley Cyrus, J. Lo, and Kanye West, and Taeko McCarroll who appeared on America’s Best Dance Crew. Pic will be choreographed by YouTube star Ian Eastwood (American’s Best Dance Crew, Season 7) with performances by dance groups Les Twins, Poreotics, dance personality Dominic D-Trix Sandoval (So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Best Dance Crew) and hip hop violinist-dancer Lindsey Stirling (America’s Got Talent). Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: On fire since the success of HBO‘s True Detective this year, director Cary Fukunaga has lined up his next project I’ve learned. Teaming with John Legend and his Get Lifted Film Co. partner Mike Jackson, Fukunaga will adapt and helm a big-screen version of The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, And The Real Count of Monte Cristo for Sony. Get Lifted have optioned the Pulitzer-winning 2012 biography written by Tom Reiss that chronicles the life and adventures of French Revolution-era General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas. Jackson and Ty Stiklorius will produce the pic with Fukunaga’s Parliament of Owls. Legend, his manager Troy Carter and Sony’s Josh Bratman will serve as executive producers. “Cary’s exceptional talent as a writer/director will bring to life all of the action and drama that have made The Black Count such a compelling read,” Michael De Luca, who is overseeing the pic for Sony told me today. “He’s got a great take on the material and we’re thrilled to be working with him, John, Thais, Troy and Mike,” added the Columbia Pictures President of Production.
Related: Cary Fukunaga To Direct Scott Silver-Scripted ‘Noble Assassin’
Born to a French nobleman and a slave woman of African descent, Dumas became the highest-ranking person of color to ever serve in any European army. A favorite of Napoleon for a time, Dumas was also the first non-white to become a brigadier general in the French military. Dumas’ exploits were used as the basis for the novels of his son Alexandre Dumas. Better known today than his father, the younger Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers and The Count Of Monte Cristo. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: R&B singer John Legend and Step Up: All In scribe John Swetnam are teaming on coming-of-age dance drama Breaking Through, which has locked independent financing and is gearing up for a summer shoot. It’ll be the first feature of its kind to combine two subgenres — dance movies and found footage — in a plot described as a “documentary-style dance drama for the YouTube generation.” Casting starts soon on the pic, which is looking to discover new dance talent a la the Step Up films. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: He’s got projects with HBO and with Showtime and now the Grammy winner is adding the Executive Producer role for Southern Rites to the list. John Legend, his Get Lifted Film Co. partner Mike Jackson and his manager Atom Factory’s Troy Carter will serve as EPs on the documentary about the legacy of segregated proms and a racially charged murder trial in Georgia’s Montgomery County. Get Lifted brought financing to see the docu, which is now in post-production, completed. They intend to take it out to festivals once Southern Rites is finished. The directorial debut by photographer Gillian Laub is based on her study of the prom dances at the local High School. Though the south-central Georgia school was integrated in 1971, the proms remained separated along racial lines for years afterwards. Now in post-production, the film tracks the divide that develops in the community as an older white man in put on trial for killing a younger African-American male. This is all going on against the backdrop of the recently integrated proms and a campaign to election the area’s first black Sheriff. Laub herself becomes part of the story for her role in focusing attention on the town through her photographs. As well as Legend, Jackson and Carter as EPs, Laub is a producer on the docu along with writer Josh … Read More »
Showtime has put in development a single-camera, half-hour comedy project executive produced by singer John Legend and his manager, Atom Factory’s Troy Carter. Written by Austin Winsberg (Gossip Girl) and produced by Universal Cable Prods., the project takes place in the world of high-profile music managers. It will draw on the music business experience of both Legend and Carter, the founder/chairman/CEO of Atom Factory, an entertainment management company where he also manages Lady Gaga. Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius executive produce through their Get Lifted Film Co., which has a pod deal with UCP, along with Carter and Winsberg. Legend has a long-standing relationship with Showtime. Last year, he did a music special which was in series consideration at the pay cable network and performed at Showtime’s pre-Emmy party. Winsberg, who wrote upcoming musical First Date, is repped by CAA, Trevor Engelson at Underground, and Warren Dern; Get Lifted is with CAA and Nina Shaw and Abel Lezcano.
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, HBO has bought for development Down Lo, a drama project from singer-songwriter John Legend and producer-director Tony Krantz. Set in Miami’s South Beach, the edgy ensemble drama explores the intersection of three worlds — the party town’s popular music scene and sports and fashion circles. It deals with fame and secrets, with the stories told from multiple points of view. One of them will be that of a gay rapper living on the down low as homosexuality is still not readily accepted in the hip-hop community. (In an interview just this week, Snoop Dogg said he doubts that homosexuality will ever be accepted in the “masculine” rap world.) Down Lo also features top models as well as athletes with their penchant for big money, fast cars and beautiful women. Down Lo, which is expected to draw on Legend’s first-hand knowledge and great access to the music world, hails from Krantz’s Flame Ventures and Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co. It is being written by playwright/scribe Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, who is executive producing with Krantz and Get Lifted’s Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius. Flame’s Reece Pearson serves as co-executive producer. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Cable Productions has signed singer-songwriter John Legend and his Get Lifted Film Company to an exclusive pod deal to develop series for cable and broadcast networks. Under the pact, the nine-time Grammy winner and his partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius will work closely with UCP’s development team – SVPs Richard Rothstein, Chris Sanagustin and Maira Suro – who oversee the studio’s development for USA Network, Syfy and external networks, respectively.
The deal marks Legend’s first formal foray into the television series business. He called it “next step forward in building Get Lifted.” UCP has been very selective with its pod deals. Get Lifted joins a handful of other companies that have deals with the studio, including Hypnotic, which produces UCP’s USA dramas Covert Affairs and Suits and recently produced the studio’s critically acclaimed MTV comedy I Just Want My Pants Back for MTV; Tagline, which produces the long-running USA/UCP dramedy Psych, and recent roster addition, Gale Anne Hurd’s company Valhalla Entertainment (The Walking Dead). Read More »
John Legend has joined the quartet of star mentors on ABC’s upcoming music reality series Duets. He replaces Lionel Richie, who was originally tapped for the gig but has pulled out citing scheduling conflicts. Duets will feature Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke as they set out across the country looking for two undiscovered singers to be their duets partners. The duets will compete for the top prize: a recording contract with Hollywood Records for the aspiring singer. The show, hosted by Quddus, is slated to premiere May 24. Legend has been active in television lately. The nine-time Grammy winner also hosted and executive produced a music special, which is in consideration for a series pickup at Showtime.
Related: ABC Greenlights Music Competition Series ‘Duets’ Starring Kelly Clarkson For Summer
EXCLUSIVE: John Legend is behind a music special, which is in series consideration at Showtime. The nine-time Grammy Award winner hosts and executive produces the project, which had a private taping recently at the historic EastWest Studios in Los Angeles. The untitled show features top artists from different genres who discuss their careers and perform an original musical collaboration before live studio audience. The first taping, directed by Jesse Dylan (Kicking & Screaming), son of music icon Bob Dylan, included a live performance from country star Faith Hill singing her new single “You’re The One Whose Waiting”, which was co-written by Legend, and a solo performance by rapper B.o.B of the single “Ghost in the Machine.” The show wrapped with a live rendition of “Son of a Preacher Man” with Legend on piano, Hill on lead vocals, and an original rap written and performed by B.o.B. Producers are already working on a second installment of the program, eyed to shoot before next week’s Grammy Awards. Executive producing with Legend are his Get Lifted Film Co. partner Mike Jackson; Mike Tolin of Tolin Prods.; RD Robb and Tom Carter of Station3; and Priscilla Cohen of Wondros.
Photo by Jordin Althaus.