×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Writer-Producer Rolin Jones Mixes Stage and TV in New Neighborhood

A deal under the 20th Century Fox TV banner is oiling the wheels for a souped-up new theater company, in an unusual pact that could become a new model for producing live theatrical entertainment in a variety of venues.

Playwright and TV writer-producer Rolin Jones (“Weeds,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Boardwalk Empire”) inked a two-year pact in January with 20th TV to develop projects for network and cable under the shingle New Neighborhood.

But in a departure for Hollywood deals, Jones’ group will also create theater projects with a virtual company of artists from across the country, coming together in real life at various sites as projects demand. The troupe will co-produce with interested regional theaters, offering fresh product, talent, energy and some enhancement dollars.

“It’s all about storytelling,” says Jones, pictured above left with fellow New Neighborhood company member Jackson Gay. “We envision it a lot less like theater company and more like a rock indie label.”

Its most high-profile project is Jones’ “These Paper Bullets!,” a puckish pop-music mash-up of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” set in swinging ’60s London. Billie Joe Armstrong, frontman for Green Day, supplied eight original pop tunes in the Beatles mode for the show, which premiered last year at Yale Repertory Theater in New Haven. (Connections help: Jones is also penning the screenplay for the film version of Broadway’s “American Idiot,” now in its second draft.)

The Yale Rep production was enthusiastically received, winning top honors from the Connecticut Critics Circle, and under the New Neighborhood banner is now headed to L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse and Off Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company this fall.

Also on tap is the July world premiere of Suzanne Heathcote’s  play “I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn’t Even Smile” at the Berkshire Theater Group in Stockbridge, Mass., in a production directed by Gay. The director also staged “Bullets!” and is a key figure in the theater company.

Music and design are major parts of the New Neighborhood’s edgy aesthetic. The cartoonist and graphic novelist Seth created the group’s burning-down-the-house logo; Ryan Kattner of the cult group Man Man and the “doom-wop” band Mister Heavenly is writing the live music for the Berkshire work, a bizarre romantic comedy starring Keira Naughton, another central figure in the group. (With New Neighborhood, Naughton is also developing “The Petersons,” about a fictional family surrounding a dysfunctional rock-pop band that will perform a kind of pop-up theater in bars during the runs of some Neighborhood shows.)

Jones also said his offbeat, eclectic and geographically widespread company will do other site-specific work, including a cross country theater piece on Amtrak. Reflecting the just-for-fun spirit of the company, Jones says he wants it to own a race horse and buy a bar in New Haven.

As the theater arm of New Neighborhood launches this weekend with a party at Louisville’s Humana Festival of New American Plays, Jones, 42, will now step back and focus on the first show he is developing for Fox, “Dependable Dittmers, We Sell Cars,” inspired by an episode on NPR’s “This American Life.” Prior to New Neighborhood, Jones was attached to AMC, where he co-wrote and executive produced the pilot “Knifeman” and was co-executive producer on “Low Winter Sun.”

Of the 33 New Neighborhood members, more than half are associated with Yale and the “These Paper Bullets!” production. Jones had a playwriting degree from the Yale School of Drama, and his “The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow” was produced at Yale Rep in 2002. It went on to be a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

According to company member Jennifer Kiger, who is also the Rep’s associate artistic director and director of new play programs at Yale’s Binger Center for New Theater, the group is under the fiscal sponsorship of an umbrella not-for-profit organization so it can fundraise tax-free dollars.

More TV

  • Arrow -- "Fadeout" -- Image Number:

    TV Ratings: 'Arrow' Signs Off to Low Numbers

    The CW was likely hoping that “Arrow” would sign off with a TV ratings bullseye, but the series finale failed to draw a large audience missed the mark a little. Stephen Amell officially brought out his bow one last time, and 723,000 total viewers tuned in to watch, which represents almost a 20% drop from [...]

  • 'The Quest': Disney Plus Revives ABC

    'The Quest' Revived as Disney Plus Brings Back ABC Fantasy Reality Show (EXCLUSIVE)

    Disney Plus is reviving “The Quest,” a critically acclaimed but short-lived fantasy reality series that aired on ABC in summer 2014. Casting is under way for a new version of the series, which will now focus on teenage contestants. “The Amazing Race” executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri are back as executive producers [...]

  • John Stankey

    AT&T's John Stankey: TNT, TBS to Boost Unscripted Volume as WarnerMedia Invests in HBO Max

    The march to the launch of HBO Max in May is driving changes across WarnerMedia. John Stankey, AT&T chief operating officer and WarnerMedia chairman, told investors on Wednesday that cable powerhouses TNT and TBS will lean into more unscripted programming as WarnerMedia steers its investment in high-end scripted programming to the nascent subscription streaming platform. [...]

  • BBC to Cut 450 Jobs in

    BBC to Cut 450 Jobs in News Division

    The BBC is to cut 450 jobs in its news operation as part of a cost-cutting exercise. The BBC, which remains the U.K.’s most widely consumed source of news, said it planned to reorganize its newsroom along a “story-led” model, focusing on news stories more than on programs or platforms. This is designed to reduce [...]

  • Bud Light Super Bowl Ad

    Bud Light Asks Super Bowl Viewers to Pick the Ad They Want to See

    Most Super Bowl advertisers put a glitzy commercial in the game and hope for the best. Anheuser-Busch wants viewers to have a stake in the pitch that gets presented on Game Day. Bud Light made two different ads starring Post Malone, and is asking fans to help pick which of the pair ought to run [...]

  • good-morning-america-strahan

    At 'Good Morning America,' Robin Roberts Maintains Her 'X-Factor'

    Robin Roberts used to play basketball in college. She says she’s still building muscles while working at “Good Morning America.” The ABC morning program is many things all at once. It’s a news program. It’s a pillar of the economics of ABC’s parent Walt Disney. And increasingly these days, it is a broader media entity [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris SAG AFRA PRESIDENT

    SAG-AFTRA Unveils Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA has unveiled the guidelines for intimacy coordinators who are on sets when union members’ work involves nudity and simulated sex. The union released “Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Coordinators” on Wednesday, six months after announcing that it would standardize the guidelines for such scenes. “SAG-AFTRA believes that implementation of these standards [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content