EXCLUSIVE: HBO has teamed with film and TV director and showrunner Salim Akil for Mr. Director, a single-camera comedy project Akil is set to write, produce and direct. Mr. Director, now in development, is envisioned as being in the vein of Larry David’s documentary-style HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm but with the backdrop of Black Hollywood. Like David, Akil will play a version of himself in Mr. Director, which will explore the life and times of Salim in the business and highlights the outrageous, circuitous path taken to become one of Hollywood’s Top 50 showrunner/directors. Akil is currently finishing Season 7 of BET’s The Game, on which he serves as director as well as co-showrunner alongside the series’ creator, his producing partner/wife, Mara Brock Akil. Under Akils’ rich multi-year deal with BET, Salim Akil also executive produces Brock Akil’s new series Being Mary Jane, and directed the 90-minute pilot, which aired as a movie to big ratings in July, drawing 4 million viewers and a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating. On the feature side, Salim Akil, repped by ICM Partners and Stephen Barnes, directed Jumping The Broom and Sparkle, and his writing credits include series The Game and Soul Food.
BREAKING: Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, who last teamed on the Screen Gems remake Sparkle with Whitney Houston, have made a deal with Paramount Pictures for a new project with the working title Abandonment Issues. Mara Brock Akil will write the script and Salim Akil, her husband, will direct and they will produce together. Salim made his feature directing debut with last year’s TriStar comedy Jumping The Broom, which opened tops at the box office and grossed over $40 million domestically.
EXCLUSIVE: More than two decades after Will Smith launched his acting career with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, another young rapper is transitioning to scripted comedy with the help of a husband-and-wife writing/producing duo. BET has greenlighted the Untitled Diggy Simmons Project, a two-hour backdoor comedy pilot/original movie starring 17-year-old rapper/blogger Daniel Dwayne Simmons, aka Diggy Simmons, and executive produced by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the team behind BET’s hit comedy The Game and upcoming original movie/backdoor pilot Being Mary Jane, which is set to premiere next year as part of the BET Premiere Cinema movie franchise. Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union, is expected to go to series.
The Diggy Simmons project, said to have an Entourage vibe to it, is described as a fresh and edgy look at Diggy Simmons, his life as a blogger, and the close group of loyal friends who hold him down on his rise to the top. Simmons will play the main character Blake. Also cast in the project are Allen Maldonado as Manny, Blake’s best friend. Manny lives with his twin sister Tae (Teyana Taylor), who is Blake’s ex-girlfriend, after their grandmother died. Chris Brew will play Dot, a tech geek, now a student at NYU, and a childhood friend of Blake and Manny. Bria Murphy will play Manny’s girlfriend Nia. Stephanie Charles will play Sheri, Dot’s ex-girlfriend.