Musical TV drama spins around sounds of Motown
LONDON — “Life on Mars” creator Tony Jordan (pictured) and “Notting Hill” producer Duncan Kenworthy are teaming up to produce “Stop! In the Name of Love,” a 10-part musical TV drama that spins around the sounds of Motown.
The skein will use the music of Berry Gordy Junior’s record label as an integral part of the contemporary drama’s storyline about a group of smart thirtysomething women, and their search for love and friendship, with the series’ characters singing the songs within the spoken narrative as an intrinsic part of the plot, character and tone of the show.
The show will aim to bring a fresh way of storytelling to the world of TV, comparable to “Mamma Mia!,” “Bridesmaids” or “Sex & the City.”
Jordan said: “’Stop!’ is an exciting new project, offering something very different from any other show on television. We’ve set out to make a series that truly reflects the multi-cultural world we’ve become, showing that human emotions and experiences are universal.
“The music of Motown is iconic, perfectly encapsulating the ecstasy and heartbreak of love and providing a powerful punch that dialogue alone sometimes just can’t reach. The musical arrangements and cutting-edge choreography will give us a uniquely modern take on a genre of music that is truly timeless.”
Jordan, whose credits include “Hustle,” is to write the series and will executive produce alongside Kenworthy (“Love Actually,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral”), with Jordan’s production company, Red Planet Pictures, on board to bring the series to the small screen.
Jordan and Kenworthy are partnering with former NBC Universal Intl. prexy Peter Smith, and music consultant John Kennedy, who ran Polygram Music and Films in the U.K., was chairman of Universal Music U.K. and president/COO of Universal Music Intl.
Red Planet and a team led by Smith are opening discussions with potential broadcast partners for the project, both internationally and in the U.K.
The show was able to go ahead following the inking of a deal with EMI Music Publishing, the owners of the publishing rights to Motown’s library of hits. The project also has the support of Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
Kenworthy added: “Music has played a critical part in everything I’ve produced, and I’m very excited about this opportunity to integrate some of the coolest songs ever written into the emotional lives of four women looking for love.
“Motown came from Detroit but captured the world. ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’ will use Motown’s unforgettable tunes and powerful lyrics to help express the complicated love lives — the heart and the heartbreak — of the new world we’re living in.”