BET Plus has ordered the original series “Birth of Cool” in its first-ever partnership with “Gentefied” producers Macro Television Studios and Emmy-Award winning screenwriter and actor Lena Waithe’s production house Hillman Grad Productions.
The 10-episode half-hour dramedy marks Waithe’s third original production with the brand— her other two series with BET are “Twenties” and “Boomerang.”
“Birth of Cool” follows the adventures and misadventures of both students and teachers at Crispus Attucks High, a predominantly black high school in Compton, as they try to make it through the weird, hilarious, stressful, often sobering, and sometimes surreal academic year while hopefully growing a bit in the process on and off-campus.
The show was created by writer-director Juel Taylor and writer Tony Rettenmaier, who both previously worked on the upcoming sci-fi comedy “They Cloned Tyrone” starring John Boyega, Jamie Foxx and Teyonah Parris. Taylor and Rettenmaier are also attached to executive produce, with Taylor directing the pilot. Taylor and Rettenmaier are repped by WME and The Gotham Group.
“BET Plus continues to be the home for best-in-class creatives to tell their original stories about the Black experience,” said Devin Griffin, Executive Vice President and General Manager, BET Plus, in a statement. “We appreciate Lena’s creative vision and continued trust and are thrilled to partner with a skilled group of creators from MACRO Television Studios and Hillman Grad to bring this series to life.”
Along with Waithe, Marta Fernandez, president of Macro Television Studios, CEO and founder of Macro Television Studios Charles D. King, Hillman Grad Production co-founder Rishi Rajani, Aaliyah Williams and David Morris will serve as executive producers. Fernandez and Mark R. Wright will oversee for Macro Television Studios, and the company’s partners on the series are Endeavor Content (“Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men,” “Killing Eve”) and Hillman Grad Productions (“Queen of Slim,” “The Chi”). Macro co-financed the critically acclaimed “Mudbound,” “Fences,” “Sorry to Bother You” and “Just Mercy.” It also produced Netflix’s “Tigertail” and co-financed and produced the Golden Globe-nominated Daniel Kaluuya-led film “Judas and the Black Messiah” for Warner Bros. Pictures. “Raising Dion” and “Gentefied,” both executive produced by Macro, have been greenlit for second seasons on Netflix.
Hillman Grad Productions is currently developing a Sammy Davis Jr. biopic adapted from the Renaissance man’s daughter Tracey Davis’ book “Sammy Davis Jr.: MY Father,” with Waithe and Rajani producing alongside Sight Unseen Pictures. Waithe also penned the script for Universal Pictures’ forthcoming movie “Talent Show,” based on an idea by Duane Adler from the “Step Up” franchise. Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet,” “Widows”) is set to star in “Talent Show” and Waithe will executive produce alongside State Street Pictures and Rajani will oversee for Hillman Grad Productions. Other Hillman Grad Productions projects currently in production or development include “Them” for Amazon; “Untitled Kid Fury Project’ for HBO; and “Reawakening”