ABC, NBC, and Fox all have new music competitions in the works. Now Netflix wants in on the action.
Variety has learned that the streaming service is developing “Rhythm & Flow,” a new show from producer John Legend and his Get Lifted Film Co. and former NBC executive Jeff Gaspin and Primary Wave Entertainment. The unscripted series is a classic shiny-floor music competition that focuses on a particular genre: hip-hop music.
No talent is attached at this stage to the project, which has yet to receive a series order from Netflix. There is no indication as to whether Legend would be involved in the show in an on-camera capacity. Representatives for Netflix and Primary Wave declined to comment.
Netflix has found recent success in original unscripted programming with documentary-style series such as Emmy winner “Making a Murderer” and Emmy nominee “The Keepers,” as well as in the variety-talk genre with Chelsea Handler’s “Chelsea.” The streaming service made its first big entry into the reality-competition space long dominated by the broadcast networks last year with the athletic contest “Ultimate Beastmaster.”
“Rhythm & Flow” would be Netflix’s first talent competition, which has in recent months gone from being a dormant genre to one of the most competitive in the unscripted world. ABC beat out Fox in a bidding war in May for a revival of “American Idol.” Fox in turn ramped up development of a new singing competition, “The Four,” which received a series order in August. NBC last fall ordered a new series “The Stream,” which could potentially replace one of the two yearly cycles of the network’s existing singing competition “The Voice.”
With so many shows in place across multiple networks, A-list talent is at a premium. ABC and producer FremantleMedia will pay pop star Katy Perry $25 million to appear as a judge on the new season of “American Idol.” NBC, meanwhile, is paying “Idol” alums Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson low-six-figure sums to to appear on the “The Voice.” Talent manager Scooter Braun is being courted by ABC for “Idol,” Fox for “The Four,” and CBS for a potential singing competition there.
“Rhythm & Flow,” with its focus on soul and R&B, would be a more targeted play than the broadcast shows. Netflix is approaching a finished deal for the show just weeks after Legend and Get Lifted signed a new first-look deal at Sony Pictures Television. The two companies had previously partnered to on the WGN America scripted series “Underground.”
The series would be the first major sale for Primary Wave since Gaspin took over as president of the company in October, when Primary Wave acquired his company Gaspin Media, producer of ABC’s “To Tell The Truth,” USA Network’s “First Impressions With Dana Carvey,” and A&E’s “Fit to Fat to Fit.”
Gaspin has a long history of success in unscripted programming, having developed “Behind the Music” at VH1; “The Apprentice” and “The Biggest Loser” at NBC; and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Project Runway” at Bravo. He also brought the format for “The Voice” to NBC prior to his departure in 2010, when Comcast purchased NBCUniversal.