Showtime Picks Up Chicago-Set Drama Pilot Exec Produced by Common

Common is exec producing a coming-of-age drama pilot for Showtime, which revolves around a young African American man in Chicago’s South Side.

Lena Waithe created and wrote the hourlong untitled pilot and will serve as exec producer with Common, plus Aaron Kaplan (“Secrets and Lies,” “The Mysteries of Laura”) and Clark Johnson (“Homeland,” “The Wire”), who will also direct.

Showtime president David Nevins made the announcement Tuesday at the Television Critics’ Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills, noting that the cabler has high hopes for the project, as he was blown away by Waithe’s script from the get-go.

“The two creative forces behind the show, both hailing from Chicago’s South Side, give this pilot an unparelled authenticity,” said Nevins. “Lena Waithe is an extremely fresh, talented young writer with a unique voice and a deeply thoughtful perspective into the world where she grew up. I immediately gravitated to her script, which is emotional, funny, tragic and relevant, all at once. And, we are so fortunate to have artist and visionary Common for his first producing project in scripted television.”

The pilot, hailing from Fox 21, is described as relevant, timely and distinctive, revolving around an African American male for whom just growing up can be a matter of life and death.

Waithe, one of Variety‘s ten comics to watch, produced “Dear White People” and wrote the viral video “Shit Black Girls Say.” Her TV writing credits include “Bones.”

Shooting on the Showtime pilot will begin in Chicago later this year.

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