Emmy winner Max Lewkowicz (Morgenthau) and his New York-based Dog Green Productions have acquired the rights to legendary songwriter Irving Berlin’s life and music to develop a scripted TV series. The rights agreement was reached with the Berlin family and the Irving Berlin Music Company.
Lewkowicz, Dog Green’s Valerie Thomas, and Elena Berger Melman will produce the series, which is not attached to a network. Lewkowicz also will executive produce with Theodore Chapin, president and executive director of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company. The hourlong series, tentatively titled Irving, is being developed with an eye toward pilot production in 2018.
“My sisters and I are delighted that Max and Dog green Productions plan to produce this television series based on our father’s life and songs and have given the production company the rights to do so,” said Elizabeth Irving Peters, the daughter of Irving Berlin. “We are particularly happy that a new generation will come to know his story and hear his songs that are so much a part of this country’s heritage.”
Born in Russia in 1888, Berlin sailed to America and settled on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He worked his way up from a singing waiter in Chinatown to creating songs for hit shows on the stages of Broadway and Hollywood. He was one of the founders of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and built The Music Box Theater on Broadway, still standing today. The library of Berlin’s music includes more than 1,200 songs, including the iconic “White Christmas”, “Blue Skies”, “Cheek to Cheek” and “God Bless America”. Berlin died in 1989.
“The time seems especially right to tell the Irving Berlin story,” Chapin said. “With television dramas being so well done today, and with a story that has been in front of us all along, this series has the potential to strike many a chord in audiences. It will depict a slice of American ambition, talent, humanity, struggle, and yes, luck. Irving Berlin lived at an extraordinary time in our history, and his story reflects the best of the American dream.”
“This is a remarkable story that stretches across sinews of American and world history throughout the 20th century. Yet, it particularly resonates today with stories of immigrants and upheaval, war and peace, wealth and poverty and, through it all, man’s unbroken desire to produce great art for all of us,” added Lewkowicz.
The Irving Berlin Music Company is repped by Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagen Company.