EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, HBO has bought for development Down Lo, a drama project from singer-songwriter John Legend and producer-director Tony Krantz. Set in Miami’s South Beach, the edgy ensemble drama explores the intersection of three worlds — the party town’s popular music scene and sports and fashion circles. It deals with fame and secrets, with the stories told from multiple points of view. One of them will be that of a gay rapper living on the down low as homosexuality is still not readily accepted in the hip-hop community. (In an interview just this week, Snoop Dogg said he doubts that homosexuality will ever be accepted in the “masculine” rap world.) Down Lo also features top models as well as athletes with their penchant for big money, fast cars and beautiful women. Down Lo, which is expected to draw on Legend’s first-hand knowledge and great access to the music world, hails from Krantz’s Flame Ventures and Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co. It is being written by playwright/scribe Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, who is executive producing with Krantz and Get Lifted’s Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius. Flame’s Reece Pearson serves as co-executive producer.
Get Lifted has been focusing on TV producing and has a first-look deal with Universal Cable Prods. (Down Lo falls outside of that deal.) This season, the company developed a comedy at Fox loosely based on Legend’s upbringing. Meanwhile, Krantz just partnered with Entertainment One for Saboteurs, an international drama series about the underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II, which marks Krantz’s writing debut.