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John Legend Sells 3rd Scripted Series (‘Down Lo’) Set In South Beach’s Party Scene, To HBO

John Legend Sells 3rd Scripted Series ('Down Lo') Set In South Beach's Party Scene, To HBO

Since inking an exclusive deal last summer, with Universal Cable Productions, to develop TV series for both cable and broadcast networks, John Legend and his Get Lifted Film Company have been busy.

It sold its first project to Fox in October – a comedy project, which will center on a guy in his early 20s who becomes the guardian to his own siblings, while having to manage his fledgling career as well as a social life.

The pilot for the untitled series is being penned by Tommy Dewey & Greg Bratman, and is said to be loosely based on John Legend’s years growing up.

Earlier this year, Legend sold a second project, a crime drama, to the USA network.

Titled The Edge, it was described as a crime drama about “an idealistic Harvard Business School graduate named Jeff Cross who joins a progressive financial firm called Edgeton Global (aka The Edge), where he discovers the company’s dark secrets while becoming entangled in a high-stakes FBI investigation.

The script will be penned by Justin Herber and Adam Hoff.

And last night, it was announced that Legend (and producer/director Tony Krantzsold a drama to HBO titled Down Lo, which will be set in South Beach, Miami, and is described as an edgy ensemble drama with intersecting stories, one of which will follow a gay rapper living on the “down low” as homosexuality is still not readily accepted in the hip-hop community (The L.A. Complex tackled that subject on the canceled CW series, most recently).

The series will traverse South Beach’s heavy party scene, including the music, the sports/athletes, the fashion, the models, the money, the cars, the sex, fame, secrets etc, with stories told from multiple points of view. 

Playwright Seth Zvi Rosenfeld has been hired to pen the series; he will also executive producing with Krantz and Legend’s Get Lifted. 

Legend is expanding his brand, as part of a concerted effort to grow his empire beyond music, calling it the “next step forward in building Get Lifted.” Assuming all 3 of these sales go to series, Legend will become quite a player in the TV production space, where there isn’t a lot of black participation behind the cameras.

No word on casting on any of these announced projects yet, or when we can be expected to see them.

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All of these projects were written by white men. Why wont Legend won't work with his own people?


Interesting point brought up by ALM. While there are plenty of projects in Hollywood (both film and television) that get sold per year, still very few of those get made and even when they do get made, even fewer survive long enough to build a real fan base. But the odds of getting in and getting them sold is one thing. I believe the odds of stories like these where projects are bought and sold and sound interesting and what not will increase seeing as how there are now so many channels trying to vy for all viewers, not to mention the fact that now there are more websites pushing to become like online cable channels: Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, all developing original series themselves (heck, even youtube is a player). I would venture that in five years we will hear of many more black or minority producers, directors, and writers creating and selling shows and films. But what should be focused on now more than ever is quality. As for how he did it, I think he was heavily influenced by this class that he took a while ago that ABCNews did a special report on a few years back. It was what made him change from his ordinary life into John Legend the singer. Google: John Legened, ABCNews and Masters program and you might find it… hopefully.


The most popular segment of L.A. Complex was the gay storyline between the 2 (or 3) black gay leads.

Despite the popularity, it appeared not much time was devoted to telling the story as with other segments involving white and hetero storylines. Will keep my fingers crossed that the producing team takes note and not relegate the black gay storyline to the edges.

There is interest, very strong interest, with storylines involving two gay males of African descent romantically involved with one another in whatever situation or context!!!


Good for him, but this post definitely begs for a bigger follow up post, "What Can Writers of Color Learn from John Legend's Model of Bringing Projects to the Screen?".

I know that a lot of people are going to say that his musical fame and industry connections are the secret, but there are a lot of famous people in the business who have tried and failed to do what Mr. Legend is doing. Many of them are in the tv and film world, and Mr. Legend is not an original member of either world.

It would be good to explore his methods. I am wondering if he is doing something different to go "around the gatekeepers", i.e. how Ms. Duvernay made a deal directly with AMC and Landmark theaters to screen her films as opposed to going through the old standard Hollywood process of bringing a film to theaters.

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