EXCLUSIVE: Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced is putting together The Whisky A Go Go, a drama series project about the famous Sunset Strip nightclub targeted for premium cable. Described as a rock ‘n’ roll twist on Casino and Boardwalk Empire, Whisky A Go Go will follow the story of the Maglieri family’s rise to power on the Sunset Strip as well as the stories of the artists and musicians who rocked the stage and the youth culture that called the club their home through the decades.
The Sunset Strip Whisky, which opened in January 1964, was founded by Mario Maglieri, Elmer Valentine, Phil Tanzini, Shelly Davis, and attorney Theodore Flier. The Maglieri family has owned and operated the club for three generations, and will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in January 2014.
Virgin Produced, the film and television development, packaging and production arm of the Virgin Group run by Branson’s partners Jason Felts & Justin Berfield, is the first company that has been able to secure rights to the Whisky A Go Go, with the two companies’ strong music ties playing a role in making the deal. On Whisky A Go Go, Virgin Produced has teamed with Brooklyn Weaver’s Energy Entertainment, Mozy Mosanko, Chris Tschupp and Colton Mitchell. Talks are underway with potential showrunners and directors, and the goal is to pitch the project to pay cable networks within the next month.
Since opening in 1964, the Whisky A Go Go has been one of the world’s most prominent rock venues. Its stage has served as a launching pad for such music icons as Johnny Rivers, The Doors, Jimmy Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Buffalo Springfield, Love, Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses. The Whisky A Go Go also served as a safe-haven for the West Coast Motown revolution in which artists like James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight and The Pips were free to be musically and socially creative.
Since its 2010 launch, Virgin Produced has co-produced features Limitless, Immortals, Movie 43 and the upcoming 21 & Over through its deal with Relativity Media. On the TV side, the company has done several unscripted pilots.