John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co & Sony Pictures TV Developing ‘Paper Gods’ For ABC; Nia Long To Star & EP In Political Drama

EXCLUSIVE: John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co and Nia Long are teaming with Sony Pictures TV to bring the saga of power, race and political intrigue of Goldie Taylor’s 2018 bestseller Paper Gods to ABC.

Fatal Affair and Dear White People’s Long will star and executive produce the project, now in development with Get Lifted co-founder Mike Jackson and showrunner Tash Gray.

Paper Gods spotlights the struggles and battles professionally and personally for Atlanta Mayor Victoria Dobb, who will be portrayed by Long in the series. The third novel by ex-political strategist and now Daily Beast editor-at-large Taylor, Paper Gods peels back the layers on the assassination in a church of Dobb’s mentor, a much-venerated congressman, to reveal a greater deception. Taylor is a producer on the small-screen adaptation.

“This project has been a passion of ours for a long time and Nia’s commitment has never wavered,” Sony Pictures TV EVP Drama Development Lauren Stein said. “When Tash signed on, it completed this great team. We are so happy to be moving forward with it at ABC.”

“Victoria Dobbs is a beautifully flawed and complicated character,” Long said today of the timely series in a year of election and division. “I look forward to exploring her journey as a wife, mother and politician. Paper Gods highlights the profound impact Black women have on American politics and the world. Mike, John and Tash are my dream team!”

Said dream team seemed pretty pumped by the collaboration with the Empire alum and Gray, who has worked on Starz’s recently renewed P-Valley and upcoming Power spinoff Raising Kanan as well as Season 3 of FX’s Snowfall, among others.

“We’re so thrilled to be able to bring this incredible world Goldie created to life,” said Get Lifted executives Jackson, Legend and Ty Stiklorius in a statement. “It’s going to be an incredible journey working with Nia and Tash as we endeavor to learn more about this strong Black female who’s incredibly human and nuanced.”

“Nia and I came together in remembrance of our friend, and my mentor, John Singleton,” noted Gray of the new collaboration. “From that friendship blossomed an opportunity to tell a profound story that’s near to my heart,” the Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. writer added. “Both of us, girls from the hood, stand proud as strong Black women dedicated to telling the truth about our existence in a world that rarely champions or protects us. Yet, we continuously endeavor to save the world. I’m so happy and excited to work with amazing people to tell a layered story guaranteed to captivate audiences with Ms. Nia Long as our lead.”

Production on Paper Gods is expected to begin later this year.

Having inked an overall deal with ABC Studios last year, the busy Get Lifted is represented by WME and Nina Shaw of Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finklestein and Lezcano. Long is repped by Untitled Entertainment and Meyer & Downs, and Gray is repped by MetaMorphic Entertainment, Kaplan Stahler Agency and Dean Bahat at Ziffren Brittenham. Goldie Taylor is also repped by WME, as well as  publishing agent, Laura Dail Agency, who handled her book deal.