The CW has put in development Lean On Me, a female-led hourlong drama inspired by the 1989 film that starred Morgan Freeman, from writer Wendy Calhoun (Station 19), LeBron James & Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment, John Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius’ Get Lifted, and Warner Bros. TV.
Written by Calhoun, in the potential series Lean On Me, when a spirited young black teacher Amarie Baldwin scores the principal job at an Akron, Ohio, public high school, she must dig deep to transform a failing campus into an urban oasis. In a time when education and school safety have life-or-death stakes, Amarie will take on a broken system that tests her mettle, love life and family. But can she keep her moxie in check in order to embody the aspirational educator that motivates and uplifts an entire community?
Calhoun executive produces with James and Carter via SpringHill and Legend, Jackson and Stiklorius via Get Lifted. SpringHill and Get Lifted produce in association with Warner Bros. TV, where Calhoun and SpringHill are based.
The film Lean on Me is a biographical drama written by Michael Schiffer, directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Freeman. It’s loosely based on the story of Joe Louis Clark, a real life inner city high school principal in Paterson, New Jersey, whose school is at risk of being taken over by the New Jersey state government unless students improve their test scores on the New Jersey Minimum Basic Skills Test. The film’s title refers to the 1972 Bill Withers song of the same name. In the series version, the main character would be a woman.
Calhoun most recently served as consulting producer on the first season of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Station 19. Her resume includes serving as writer/co-executive producer on the highly-rated first season of Fox’s Empire and stints on ABC’s Nashville and Revenge, FX’s Justified and NBC’s Life. She shared WGA Best New Series Award nominations for her work on Justified and Nashville.
Calhoun has developed projects for Netflix, FBC, 20th TV Studios, FX and ABC Signature. Additionally, she wrote and directed the virtual reality short, Left Behind, sponsored by Google, and served as the Narrative Consultant for Electronic Arts’ Battlefield Hardline video game. She’s repped by Brillstein, UTA and Morris Klein & Yorn.
SpringHill Entertainment’s TV series portfolio includes game show The Wall on NBC, The Shop on HBO, Do or Dare on Facebook Watch and the upcoming docuseries Warriors of Liberty City on Starz, competition reality series Million Dollar Mile on CBS and limited scripted series Madam C.J. Walker starring Octavia Spencer for Netflix. SpringHill just received a script commitment plus penalty from NBC for basketball-themed drama Hoops, with writer Jennifer Cecil (Notorious), Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman’s Brownstone Productions, and WBTV. James and SpringHill are repped by WME and Ziffren and Brittenham.
Get Lifted is coming off its Emmy win Sunday for Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, achieving EGOT status for Legend, who also is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his role in the NBC live musical special. The winner will be announced Monday at the Primetime Emmy Awards
Get Lifted’s executive producer credits also include Oscar-nominated La La Land and the Barack and Michelle Obama date pic Southside with You. Among other projects, Get Lifted EP’d the HBO documentary Southern Rites and the acclaimed Neal Brennan: 3 Mics from the Chappelle’s Show co-creator. Working with Cary Fukunaga, the company also has a feature in development based on Tom Reiss’ the Pulitzer-winning 2012 biography The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo.