Starz has put half-hour drama Sweetbitter, based on Stephanie Danler’s best-selling 2016 book of the same name, on fast-track development.
The project, which hails from Danler, Stu Zicherman (The Americans) and Plan B Entertainment, is based on a pilot script developed by Danler and Zicherman and written by Danler. I hear Starz is ordering additional scripts and assembling a small writers room with an eye toward a potential straight-to-series order. This is a model the network has been using for its scripted series development, bypassing filming a pilot and instead setting up mini writers rooms on projects Starz brass are high on and evaluating multiple finished scripts before making a series greenlight decision.
Sweetbitter, executive produced by Danler, Zicherman and Plan B, follows 22-year-old Tess who, shortly after arriving in New York City, lands a job at a celebrated downtown restaurant. Swiftly introduced to the world of drugs, alcohol, love, lust, dive bars, and fine dining, she learns to navigate the chaotically alluring, yet punishing life she has stumbled upon. This is the story of a young woman’s coming-of-age, set against the rich and grimy backdrop of exclusive restaurants, evoking the possibility, beauty, and fragility of being young and adrift.
Danler’s debut novel “Sweetbitter” was selected as an NPR Best Book of 2016 and ranked on the New York Times’ Hardcover Fiction Best-Seller List, reaching #10.
“It’s a book that several of the women at Starz had read and were excited about,” the network’s president and CEO Chris Albrecht told Deadline. “When we heard it may be a project, I literally had some of my colleagues come and say this is one we’ve got to get; it plays into young female demographic but as we know women of all ages will certainly be attracted to great stories.”
Albrecht quickly gave his blessing. “I read the material and thought ‘OK, this one feels like something worth chasing’. Luckily (head of programming) Carmi Zlotnik and the team had a great creative meeting and convinced them that Starz was the home because there certainly were other places that would’ve been happy to finance and make this show.”
Starz retains all global distribution and home entertainment rights to the series.
This is the second high-profile half-hour drama series project to come together this year, following the two-season order Amazon recently gave to Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts.