As part of the Television Critics Association’s 2023 Winter Press Tour, MGM+ (still known as Epix until Jan. 15) chief Michael Wright unveiled a programming lineup and development slate that includes premiere dates for several shows including “A Spy Among Friends,” Season 2 of “From,” and “Murf the Surf.”
“It’s a new beginning for our service, as we introduce MGM+ and its distinctive brand promise to viewers on January 15. MGM+ will deliver on its iconic and beloved studio legacy, with cinematic, sophisticated, and transportive storytelling that audiences love,” said Wright in a statement. “We are growing our rich library of content, comprised of original television series and blockbuster films that celebrate the MGM brand.”
The newly rebranded premium linear channel and streaming service will launch on Jan. 15 with the Season 3 premiere of “Godfather of Harlem.” Created by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein, the drama series stars and is executive produced by Forest Whitaker.
“A Spy Among Friends” is slated for a March 12 premiere, Wright announced. The six-episode limited series is based on the New York Times best-selling book written by Ben Macintyre and stars Damian Lewis (“Homeland,” “Billions”), Guy Pearce (“Mare of Easttown”), and Anna Maxwell Martin (“Motherland,” “Line of Duty”).
The drama will be followed by the second installment of “From,” which is scheduled to premiere on April 23. The sci-fi horror series is created and executive produced by John Griffin (“Crater”), directed and executive produced by Jack Bender (“Lost,” “Game of Thrones”), and executive produced by showrunner Jeff Pinkner (“Alias,” “Lost”). Harold Perrineau leads the cast.
“Murf the Surf” will debut on Feb. 5. Based on the life of infamous jewel thief Jack Roland Murphy, the true-crime docuseries is written and directed by R.J. Cutler (“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry,” “Belushi”) and executive produced by Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
These shows join previously greenlit series “Hotel Cocaine” and “San Francisco Sounds” (working title) in MGM+’s new lineup. The former show is a crime thriller executive produced by Chris Brancato. Production is expected to begin in May in the Dominican Republic and is scheduled to premiere next winter.
“San Francisco Sounds” is a two-part documentary series that tracks the history of the San Francisco music scene from 1965 to 1975. The production hails from the team behind the “Laurel Canyon” documentary and is scheduled to premiere in the fall.
Also announced were the renewal orders for “Rogue Heroes” Season 2 and “Billy the Kid” Season 2. Hailing from from “Peaky Blinders” creator Steven Knight, the first season of “Rogue Heroes” told the story of how the British Army’s Special Air Service (SAS) unit was formed during World War II. Connor Swindells stars as David Stirling with Alfie Allen as Jock Lewes, and Jack O’Connell as Paddy Mayne. Dominic West, Sofia Boutella, Tom Glynn-Carney, and Theo Barklem-Biggs also star. Production on this six-part series will begin in 2023 and is expected to premiere in 2024.
The new chapter of “Billy the Kid” will pick up with the famed outlaw as he and his allies face off against his old friend Jesse Evans (Daniel Webber) and the corrupt powers of the Santa Fe Ring. Somehow the fighting is transformed into the bloody Lincoln County War. Creator, writer, and executive producer Michael Hirst (“Elizabeth,” “The Tudors”) will return for the second season alongside executive producers Donald De Line of De Line Pictures, Darryl Frank, and Justin Falvey of Amblin Television. The series is produced by MGM+ Studios and Amazon Studios: Pan-English Scripted TV, in association with Amblin Television and De Line Pictures. “Billy the Kid” is internationally distributed by MGM.
Several developments are in the works, Wright shared including “The Emperor of Ocean Park,” “Hoodlum,” “Earth Abides,” and “American Classic” among others.
From John Wells Productions and Warner Bros. Television, “The Emperor of Ocean Park” is based on Stephen L. Carter’s best-selling novel. The series focuses on Talcott Garland’s quiet life as an Ivy League law professor whose world is shattered when his father, Judge Oliver Garland, dies of an apparent heart attack. After his death, Garland’s family begins to question the nature of his passing. His sister, Mariah, a former journalist and constant conspiracy theorist, seems to believe that the judge, a former failed Black nominee to the Supreme Court, was met with foul play. Sherman Payne will pen the script with Damian Marcano attached to direct.
“Hoodlum” is based on the 1997 MGM film written by Chris Brancato. The scripted drama series set in the 1930s follows the true story of Harlem’s numbers queen, Stephanie St. Clair, and her rise to prominence as well as her mentorship of the infamous Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson. MGM+ Studios is developing, and Brancato and Monica Macer are co-creating and executive producing.
“When a plague of unprecedented virulence sweeps the globe, the human race is all but wiped out. In the aftermath, as the great machine of civilization slowly and inexorably breaks down, only a few shattered survivors remain to struggle against the slide into barbarism … or extinction,” reads the “Earth Abides” description, per MGM+. Based on the novel by George R. Stewart, MGM+ Studios is developing with Michael Phillips, Juliana Maio, and Kearie Peak attached as executive producers.
“American Classic” is a half-hour comedy about a man who desperately attempts to save himself and his life as he knows it by putting on his best show. According to MGM, the show follows Broadway star and notorious narcissist Richard Bean (Kevin Kline), who “suffers a spectacular public meltdown, and decides to return home to the family-run theater where he first became aware of his own brilliance. When he arrives, he’s shocked to find that his brother (Jon Tenney), and his brother’s wife (who also happens to be his former lover), have turned his temple of art into a dinner theater—with the emphasis on dinner. To make matters worse, his hometown of Millersberg is teetering on the edge of economic disaster. Inspired, Richard vows to put on a show so great that it will save the theatre, the town, and, most importantly, his career.” Michael Hoffman, Bob Martin, Leslie Urdang, Kline, Anthony Bregman, and Miriam Mintz are attached as executive producers. MGM+ Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios are behind the production.
The two studios are working together on another project as well. Also revealed to be in development is “Ark,” a futuristic scripted series set in 2030. “The oceans have risen rapidly, and soon, the entire planet will be submerged. But the discovery of another life-sustaining planet light-years away gives hope to those who remain alive. Only a few will be able to make the generations-long journey, and those who don’t make the cut face a watery death,” reads the synopsis of the dystopian series. “Ark” is based on the books by Stephen Baxter.
On the documentary side, there are several docuseries joining the development slate at MGM+ including “Hollywood Black,” “Hot Stuff,” “The Devil Within”and “Wonderland Murders & the Secret History of Hollywood.”
Based on the book by historian Donald Bogle, “Hollywood Black” is a four-part docuseries that tells the story of the Black experience in Hollywood from the perspective of the actors, writers, directors, and producers who fought for their place on the page, behind the camera, on the screen, and in the credits. Culture Machine’s Justin Simien (“Dear White People,” “Bad Hair”) and Kyle Laursen, Significant Productions’ Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi (“Godfather of Harlem”), and RadicalMedia’s Dave Sirulnick, Stacey Reiss, and Jon Kamen (“Summer of Soul”) will all serve as executive producers. Simien and Jeffrey Schwartz (“Tab Hunter Confidential,” “I Am Divine”) are set to direct.
“Hot Stuff” is a four-part docuseries that dives into the music and culture of New York’s disco scene. Oscar-nominated documentary studio XTR will be producing the series. David Friendly and Lesley Chilcott are attached as executive producers.
“The Devil Within” is a four-part, true-crime docuseries based on the hit Cavalry Audio podcast “The Devil Within,” which follows the mysterious murder of Betty Ann Sullivan during the height of the Satanic Panic. The series is executive produced by Eli Roth, Dirk Hoogstra and Nicole Sorrenti for Half Yard Productions, a North Road Company.
“Wonderland Murders & the Secret History of Hollywood” is a docuseries that follows best-selling crime novelist Michael Connelly’s discovery of Scott Thorson’s – who was best known as Liberace’s lover and author of the tell-all “Behind the Candelabra” – involvement in the infamous Wonderland Murders and his journey to prove what truly happened. Connelly (“Lincoln Lawyer,” “Bosch”) executive produces the four-episode documentary series alongside Jen Casey and Nick Gilhool for Miziker Content; Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman for The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC), a part of Sony Pictures Television; and Rick Jackson. Alison Ellwood (“The Go-Go’s,” “How to Change Your Mind”) will direct as well as executive produce.