Television

HBO and Russell Simmons ink production and development deal

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MUMBAI: HBO has made an overall first-look deal for premium television with multi-platform producer Russell Simmons’ new media company All Def Digital (ADD).

Under the terms of the agreement, the Def Jam Records co-founder and his team will create and develop a wide range of television projects for HBO.

Simmons has five active projects with HBO, three of which are being developed through his media company ADD.

The two will be collaborating on:

* A new series that curates the best acts from ADD’s weekly live comedy night. Every week, ADD produces a live event in Hollywood featuring the best new comedians in the country.

* HBO and ADD are also developing These Are My Friends, a new comedy series created by independent filmmaker Shaka King that takes an original and authentic look at hip-hop culture. The series follows four real-life rap and hip-hop artists as they struggle to keep their dream alive. Real friends, real rappers, real comedy, real life.

* A comedy series through ADD with the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, which brought audiences cult classics like Super Troopers and BeerfestThe Broken Lizard Show will take an innovative and comedic look at race when, hundreds of years in the future, a space ship exploring the galaxy discovers the last white man in the universe.

* Simmons is also executive producing the HBO limited series Codes of Conduct, directed and developed by Academy Award-winner Steve McQueen. The six-episode limited series is written by McQueen and screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan, and executive produced by McQueen, Simmons, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Alan Poul. Codes of Conduct stars newcomer Devon Terrell as a young man with a mysterious past who enters New York’s high society. Paul Dano, Helena Bonham Carter and Rebecca Hall are also featured.

* Simmons, alongside Stan Lathan, is producing a Def Comedy Jam 25th Anniversary Special that will feature an all-star lineup of comedians celebrating the longest-running and most influential comedy showcase on cable television.

“We always speak of having distinct voices at HBO, and few in the industry are as unique and intelligent as Russell. He’s been a part of our family for a long time, and we are so pleased to be continuing our relationship,” said HBO Programming president Michael Lombardo.

Simmons added, “HBO has been like a home to me for a generation. I am enormously proud of the broad range of programming they have nurtured. Together, we have discovered new voices and helped launch emerging artists that deserved a mainstream platform. I am even more excited by the next generation of talent and shows that we are developing through All Def Digital TV.”

Simmons’ relationship with HBO dates back to 1992, when he co-created Def Comedy Jam, the landmark series that helped make household names of Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart and many others.

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