“I feel like the absurdity of the world… is more interesting. I mean, like, Donald Trump is running for President right now. When I was 8, I saw him in a Pizza Hut commercial. Like, that’s f—ing weird,” Donald Glover told the attendees on Saturday during FX’s portion of the Television Critics Association (TCA) tour, talking about his upcoming FX network series, “Atlanta.”
“The tone is everything. Television shows are like novels now. You’ve just got to invest in them. So… I feel like the tone of this is… going to take time for people to understand what’s going on, which I think is a good thing,” he continued, adding, “I just wanted to make ‘Twin Peaks’ with rappers.”
So I suppose we should expect a series that’s offbeat and maybe even steeped in surrealism, with an unsettling tone and potentially supernatural features, with quirky characters… that will just happen to be created by and starring black people? I’m in!
He concluded, “The writers – we don’t have an office. They come to my house. I make food and… we hang out, and we talk, and we see what’s on the Internet. I want to feel like we’re family, because I think the Internet has kind of like ruined the bacteria that’s culture. Not ruined it, but it’s just kind of turned it into something that can’t really grow.”
Glover’s “Atlanta” will unfold over a 10 episode first season, each a half-hour long, and will premiere sometime later this year.
Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Lee Stanfield and Zazie Beetz all join Glover in the series which revolves around two cousins on their way up through the Atlanta rap scene whose opposing views on art versus commerce, success and race, will make their quest anything but easy.
Here’s a breakdown of each character the above actors will play:
– Donald Glover will play Earnest “Earn” Marks, a loner who left Atlanta only to return; now working an unglamorous job and barely getting by. When his cousin Alfred becomes Atlanta’s hot rapper, Earn sees an opportunity to manage Alfred’s career.
– Brian Tyree Henry will play Alfred Miles, Atlanta’s hot of the moment rapper who plans to capitalize on the sudden fame as quickly as possible. Henry is currently recurring on HBO’s “Vice Principals.” He will next be seen in the feature film “Puerto Ricans in Paris.” He’s also done some theatre, including Broadway’s “Book of Mormon.”
– Lakeith Lee Stanfield will play Darius, Alfred’s oddly talented right-hand man and musical collaborator. Stanfield can currently be seen in “Dope,” and will next be seen in the features “Snowden,” “Straight Outta Compton” and “Miles Ahead,” among several others.
– Zazie Beetz will play Van, a pragmatist caught up in a complicated relationship with Earn (Donald Glover) due to their daughter. Beetz is currently shooting “Wolves” for writer/director Bart Freundlich. She has appeared will next be seen in the feature “Finding Her.”
“’Atlanta’ draws on Donald’s considerable talents as a musician, actor and writer to give us something unique,” said Nick Grad, FX president of original programming. “The story is made all the more powerful by the great cast and the contributions of Donald’s fellow executive producer, Paul Simms, and director Hiro Murai.”
This is the second cable TV project starring and created by black creatives, set in Atlanta, with “Atlanta” in the title, ordered for the next TV season. The other is a half-hour comedy from Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin, titled “Brothers in Atlanta,” which stars both gentlemen as 2 young struggling entertainers, trying to make it big in Atlanta. HBO picked up that series.