OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) has given a series order to “Love Is __,” a new drama from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. The Akils will create and executive produce the series through their company Akil Productions. Mara Brock Akil will serve as show runner. The series, which had previously been in development at ABC as a multi-camera comedy, will be produced in association with Warner Horizon. It is slated to premiere in 2018.
“I’ve dreamed of working with the Akils,” said Oprah Winfrey. “I’ve been a huge fan of their work since first viewing ‘Girlfriends.’ They know just how to hit the cultural nerve to make you think and laugh at the same time.”
“To have a partner that brings the attention to detail and sheer excellence that Oprah has built an empire on is an absolute dream come true for Salim and me,” said Mara Brock Akil. “That, and it’s Oprah! ‘Love Is ___’ is not only a passion project, but is a personal one for us as well. We’re grateful to have her wholehearted support and magic touch behind this story.”
Based on the Akils’ relationship, the series will tell the story of a power couple navigating the landscape of Black Hollywood. Mara Brock Akil is the creator of “Girlfriends” and “Being Mary Jane.” She and husband Salim Akil, director of the film “Jumping the Broom,” co-created “The Game.” The two are executive producers of the CW’s upcoming DC Comics-based superhero series “Black Lightning,” on which Salim Akil serves as showrunner.
Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain have joined the previously cast Cress Williams in The CW’s upcoming DC Comics pilot “Black Lightning.” Cress Williams plays the title role (real name Jefferson Pierce), while Williams and McClain have signed up to play his daughters, Anissa and Jennifer Pierce – one a 20-something, passionate and quick-witted, who balances the demands of medical school with her job teaching part-time at her father’s school; and the other is an independent, outspoken scholar-athlete with a wild streak of her own.
In the DC comics, both daughters follow in their father’s footsteps and become superheroes themselves, known as Thunder and Lightning.
Initially set up at Fox TV, the Warner Bros/DC Comics project “Black Lightning” was moved to The CW, where it received an official pilot order. Fox put the project in turnaround after deciding not to proceed with a pilot. The move to The CW actually makes sense, as other Greg Berlanti superhero series (“The Flash” and “Supergirl”) are all currently at The CW. Recall “Supergirl” spent its first season on CBS, but it never really quite caught on with that network’s viewers, and so was shipped off to The CW.
Berlanti is collaborating with Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil on the live-action series based on the Black Lightning superhero – one of the first major African American superheroes to appear in DC Comics.
DC Comics drama “Black Lightning,” from executive producers Mara Brock Akil and husband/producing partner, Salim Akil (“Girlfriends,” “The Game,” “Being Mary Jane”) has moved from Fox to The CW with a formal pilot order, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Greg Berlanti, who produces several other DC properties for the CW (“Supergirl”, “The Flash”, “Arrow”) is also executive producing the project.
“Black Lightning” was one of DC Comics’ first major African-American superheroes when it debuted in 1977 from creators Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. Should the drama move to series, it would be one of the first broadcast shows to feature an African-American superhero as its lead, joining Netflix drama “Luke Cage,” which hails from Marvel Comics.
The hourlong drama will center on Jefferson Pierce, who hung up his suit and his secret identity years ago. However, with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.
“Black Lightning” marks the first pilot pickup to come from the Akils’ overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. It was originally set up at Fox in September following a multiple-network bidding war.
According to DC Comics Universe lore, Black Lightning (real name Jefferson Pierce) – created by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden, first appearing in “Black Lightning #1” (1977) – is a super-hero with the ability to generate and control lightning. Originally he was a high school principal and Olympic-level athlete who became a vigilante to take down organized crime in Metropolis’ Suicide Slum.
Eventually he would become a member of Batman’s team of Outsiders for many years, although he retired briefly to become secretary of education underneath president Lex Luthor. Returning to crime-fighting, he has also been a member of the Justice League. His two daughters operate as the super-heroes Thunder and Lightning.
And now a live-action series based on the superhero is set to come to your TV screens – The CW specifically – in a collaboration between Mara Brock and Salim Akil and Greg Berlanti, the man behind all of the CW’s DC universe series.
Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil will write and executive produce the series with Berlanti Prods.’ Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, for Warner Bros. TV (recall the Akils inked a 3-year deal with Warner Bros. after exiting BET last year; “Black Lightning” will be their second project under the new deal; the first, announced a week ago, will be a comedy series titled “Documenting Love” which will center on a modern-day power couple navigating life, love and family.
Uptown Ventures Group, the parent company of UPTOWN Magazine, announced today they will honor award-winning television and film actress Nia Long at their annual “UPTOWN HONORS HOLLYWOOD” Pre-Oscar Gala, presented by Lexus and hosted by comedian Chris Spencer. The event will take place on Thursday, February 25 at Lure, in Hollywood, CA.
The evening will pay tribute to Long’s career including her memorable roles in John Singleton’s critically-acclaimed film, Boyz n the Hood, family comedy dramaSoul Food, romantic drama Love Jonesand comedy drama The Best Man. Long has won three NAACP Image Awards, hosted several awards shows including “Black Girls Rock” and the “Trumpet Awards,” and has also been honored by PETA.
“We are excited to celebrate the accomplishments of our friend, the talented Nia Long. Her career continues to flourish and we have supported and been a part of her Hollywood journey from the beginning. This evening will salute her many past, present and future works and contributions to the entertainment industry,” said Len Burnett, Co-CEO and Chief Revenue Officer, UPTOWN Ventures Group.
Past honorees have included Malcolm D. Lee, Will Packer, Salim Akil, Lee Daniels, Ava DuVernay, as well as Reggie Hudlin and Warrington Hudlin.