The project had been on fast-track development at the premium cable channel since the summer. At the time, Starz ordered additional scripts and assembled a small writers room with an eye toward the potential series order.
Sweetbitter 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. It is a 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, who wrote the pilot script, and Stu Zicherman (The Americans, The Affair) executive producer along with Plan B Entertainment and Richard Shepard, who has come on board to direct. Donna Bloom will serve as producer on the six-episode freshman season. Laura Rosenthal is leading the ongoing casting search.
“Stephanie’s smart, sensory and genuine storytelling is set in the world of high-end dining, fueled by too much debauchery, drugs and French wine,” said Chris Albrecht, Starz President and CEO. “Stephanie, Stu and Plan B have found an exciting way to translate the celebration of senses depicted in the book to the screen and, along the way, will post a love letter to New York City. We look forward to announcing our Tess, Jake, Simone and Howard soon.”
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 No. 10.
“This has already been a thrilling ride, and I can’t wait for everyone to see how we expanded the world and characters beyond the book,” Danler said. “I’ve been working with the most brilliant and generous people, and am extremely grateful. It’s an honor to show up to work every day.”
Starz retains all global distribution and home entertainment rights to the series.
This is another high-profile half-hour drama series project to come together this year, joining the two-season order Amazon gave to Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts. Shepard is repped by UTA.