MGM+ returns ‘Billy The Kid’, ‘Rogue Heroes’ & unveils development slate

Billy The Kid

US linear and streaming service MGM+ (fka Epix) has picked up wartime drama Rogue Heroes and western adventure Billy The Kid for second seasons and unveiled a development slate with projects ranging from sci-fi thrillers to docuseries.

Rogue Heroes, from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, will go into production on its second season later this year, for a 2024 premiere. Starring Connor Swindells and Alfie Allen, the series is a dramatised account of how the British Army’s Special Air Service unit was formed during the Second World War.

Billy The Kid, meanwhile, hails from creator, writer, and executive producer Michael Hirst (Vikings) and is produced by MGM+ Studios and Amazon Studios: Pan-English Scripted TV, in association with Amblin Television and De Line Pictures. Starring Tom Blyth, the epic romantic adventure is inspired by the life of America’s most infamous outlaw.

On the development slate are scripted shows including The Emperor of Ocean Park, an adaptation of Stephen L. Carter’s novel, from John Wells Productions and Warner Bros. Television. The series centers on Talcott Garland, whose quiet life as an Ivy League law professor is shattered when his father, a prominent judge, dies – and foul play is suspected. Sherman Payne is writing the series, with Damian Marcano attached to direct.

Hoodlum is a drama series based on the 1997 MGM film written by Chris Brancato, set in the 1930s and following the true story of Harlem numbers queen Stephanie St. Clair’s rise to prominence and mentorship of Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson. MGM+ Studios is developing, and Brancato and Monica Macer are co-creating and executive producing.

Earth Abides is a sci-fi series based on the novel by George R. Stewart. 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. MGM+ Studios is developing with Michael Phillips, Juliana Maio, and Kearie Peak attached as executive producers.

MGM+ is also developing American Classic, a half-hour comedy starring Kevin Kline as a man desperately trying to save himself, his family, and his hometown in the only way he knows how – by putting on a show. Michael Hoffman, Bob Martin, Leslie Urdang, Kline, Anthony Bregman, and Miriam Mintz are attached as executive producers. The series is being developed as a co-production between MGM+ Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios.

Also hailing from MGM+ Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios is Ark, an adaptation of the novels by Stephen Baxter, set set in the year 2030, when 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. The series is in development as a co-production between MGM+ Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios.

Michael Wright

Unscripted development

On the unscripted side, MGM+ is developing Hollywood Black, a four part docuseries based on the book by historian Donald Bogle, about the Black 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 and Kyle Laursen, Significant Productions’ Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi, and RadicalMedia’s Dave Sirulnick, Stacey Reiss, and Jon Kamen will all serve as executive producers. Simien and Jeffrey Schwartz are set to direct.

XTR will be producing the four-part docuseries Hot Stuff, with David Friendly and Lesley Chilcott attached as executive producers. The doc dives into the disco scene, from its birth in underground gay clubs, where DJs broke new music on their twin turntables.

The Devil Within, meanwhile, is a four-part, true-crime docuseries based on the Cavalry Audio podcast of the same name, which follows the mysterious murder of Betty Ann Sullivan during the height of the Satanic Panic. The series is executive produced by Eli Roth with executive producers Dirk Hoogstra and Nicole Sorrenti for Half Yard Productions, a North Road Company.

Wonderland Murders & the Secret History of Hollywood is a docuseries about crime novelist Michael Connelly, who discovered that Scott Thorson, best known as Liberace’s lover and author of the tell-all Behind the Candelabra, held the keys to the truth behind the infamous Wonderland Murders. He only had one problem: Thorson’s stories sounded too unbelievable to be true. Connelly 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; and Rick Jackson. Alison Ellwood will direct as well as executive produce.

The newly rebranded MGM+ will relaunch on 15 January, with Michael Wright, who heads up the service, describing it as a “new beginning.”

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