“Madness” follows the corrupt inner workings of a prestigious college basketball program through the eyes of its new assistant coach, and the repercussions the team faces after their head coach makes a bad deal. The creators describe it as having a “House of Cards” feel.
“In ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ Charlie and David were able to tap into the current national zeitgeist through the artful telling of an unknown story from American history,” said Cody Zwieg, SVP of production and development at Gunpowder & Sky. “They are treasure hunters of sorts, seeking out and spinning the undiscovered stories that resonate with the social climate of today.”
“BlacKkKlansman” received six Oscar nominations including for best picture, director, and adapted screenplay.
Rabinowitz and Wachtel produced a short film based on the “Madness” concept in 2014 (although G&S wasn’t involved with that). With the “Madness” series, the screenwriting duo say they’re telling a sports story told through the lens of a crime drama.
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“In our world of college sports, there are rules to follow, a hierarchy of power, and real consequences for failure,” Wachtel said. Added Rabinowitz, “With ‘Madness’ we hope to shine a light on the dark underbelly of college athletics, from the morally compromised coaches to the conflicted players. It’s a story of opportunity, choices, and greed.”
Rabinowitz and Wachtel are repped by WME and Jennifer Levy of Behr Abramson Levy. They also have a spy series — about the secret war between Fidel Castro’s Cuba, the CIA, the KGB and the mafia — in development with French production companies Païva Films and Mirador Pictures.
Gunpowder & Sky’s deal with Rabinowitz and Wachtel follows other recent partnerships, including with Zelda Williams to adapt her short film, “Shrimp,” into a series, along with acquiring the rights to YA novel “Ms. Bixby’s Last Day” to adapt it into a feature film with Walden Media. Most recently, Gunpowder & Sky partnered with Tigerlily Productions to develop a new comedy series “Assets.”
Based in L.A., Gunpowder & Sky was founded by veteran TV industry execs Van Toffler and Floris Bauer, with investments from the Chernin Group and AT&T.
Pictured above: David Rabinowitz (l.), Charlie Wachtel