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HBO & Russell Simmons Ink New Production Deal – 5 Projects, Including One from Shaka King, in Development

HBO & Russell Simmons Ink New Production Deal - 5 Projects, Including One from Shaka King, in Development

HBO has inked an overall first-look deal with Russell Simmons’ new media company All Def Digital (ADD), which will see Simmons and his team create and develop a wide range of television projects for HBO.

Simmons currently has five active projects set up at HBO, three of which are being developed through his All Def Digital (ADD). Of most interest to me is a new comedy series titled “These Are My Friends,” created by Shaka King (“Newlyweeds” and the hilarious short film that went viral earlier this year after its Sundance premiere, “Mulignans”). The series, which promises an original and authentic look at hip-hop culture, will follow four real-life rap and hip-hop artists as they struggle to keep their dream alive. 

The other project of interest is a comedy series through ADD with the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, which will take an innovative and comedic look at race when, hundreds of years in the future, a space ship exploring the galaxy discovers the last white man in the universe.

Rounding out the list are:

– A new series that curates the best acts from All Def Digital’s weekly live comedy night. Every week, ADD produces a live event in Hollywood featuring the best new comedians in the country.

– Simmons, alongside Stan Lathan, is producing a Def Comedy Jam 25th Anniversary Special that will feature an all-star lineup of comedians celebrating the longest-running and most influential comedy showcase on cable television.

And of course there’s the Steve McQueen six-episode limited series, “Codes of Conduct,” that Simmons is also executive producing.

“We always speak of having distinct voices at HBO, and few in the industry are as unique and intelligent as Russell,” says Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming. “He’s been a part of our family for a long time, and we are so pleased to be continuing our relationship.”

“HBO has been like a home to me for a generation,” says Simmons. “I am enormously proud of the broad range of programming they have nurtured. Together, we have discovered new voices and helped launch emerging artists that deserved a mainstream platform. I am even more excited by the next generation of talent and shows that we are developing through All Def Digital TV.”

Simmons’ relationship with HBO dates back to 1992, when he co-created “Def Comedy Jam,” the landmark series that helped make household names of Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart and many others. In 2002 Simmons launched the Peabody Award-winning “Def Poetry Jam.” A Broadway version of the series earned Simmons a Tony Award.

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