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Filmmaker John Ridley immerses new Showtime musical drama series in present-day Milwaukee

Academy Award winning filmmaker John Ridley has joined an untitled musical drama in development at Showtime that will take place in Milwaukee.

The plot focuses on the emotional journey of a present-day family, with a backstory that spans generations and is woven into the fabric of the Milwaukee community. The series will be written and directed by Ridley, a Milwaukee native who won his first Oscar for writing “12 Years a Slave.” He has maintained ties to his hometown, and in November celebrated the first year anniversary of his arts and community space Nō Studios, which was established in downtown.

Originally announced in July 2019, Ridley joins Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Alicia Keys, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul. Pasek and Paul, who earned an Oscar for their work on “La La Land,” will contribute music to the series. Ridley will also serve as the show’s executive producer. He replace the original writer, Kyle Jarrow, and was responsible for reformatting the as-yet untitled series to take place in modern-day Milwaukee and not 1959 Detroit.

“I couldn’t be more excited to work not only again with Gary and Showtime, but to also collaborate with the phenomenal talents of Alicia Keys, the team of Pasek and Paul, Marc Platt, and R.J. and Adam as well,” said Ridley. “I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to set the series in Milwaukee, and examine the challenges and triumphs of my hometown; a city to which I remain deeply connected.”

Ridley is under an overall deal at ABC Studios, which is part of Disney TV Studios. The Emmy-nominated creator of ABC’s “American Crime” has a history with Showtime, previously creating the limited series “Guerrilla” and the 2005 TV adaptation of “Barbershop.”

“Having worked with John Ridley many times over the years, I know firsthand how talented and fearless he is both as a writer and director,” said Gary Levine, President of Entertainment for Showtime Networks. “Combining his dramatic depth with the musical brilliance of Pasek and Paul and Alicia Keys promises a wildly original and entertaining series for Showtime.”

Lee Matz

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