Scout Productions, the company behind Netflix’s Queer Eye and HBO Max’s Legendary, is looking to take the “secret sauce” of those two unscripted shows in to new worlds that have yet to have had their moment on television.
Co-founder David Collins and President Eric Korsh told Deadline that during the pandemic they doubled down investment in developing new projects that could tell authentic, diverse stories in the non-scripted space.
Korsh said it is looking to work with “unheard” voices or “people you don’t expect to see on television” and that representation across its shows is the “core through line to everything we do”.
The company’s core reality franchise Queer Eye, which is based on the original Bravo series that they produced back in 2003, launched on Netflix in 2018 and is currently in production on its sixth season.
Collins said, “We’re excited to dive back into the Queer Eye world to tell those stories, we don’t take that for granted. We hope to make that forever and forever.” It has informed much of its development slate as well. “The Queer Eye format, the idea of people helping others, we have a lot of stuff in development that is borne from the heart of Queer Eye.” He added that the idea of transformation told with comedy and heart as well as the evolution of the human spirit runs across its slate.
Korsh added that the reboot tapped into the zeitgeist and opened the door for Scout to be able to tell these stories, but “those stories were on the verge of getting told regardless”. “We didn’t mean to pivot into the moment that the world was moving towards, we were already doing it. That’s why I think we had success, we were already there and finally things caught up.”
The pandemic meant that with filming largely shut down, they were able to get back to the whiteboard. “We took that time to double down on our investment budget in the creation of ideas, IP, partnerships, we really spent that time in the white board room virtually,” he said.
“That’s been the most exciting thing over the past year – hunkering down and taking the Covid downtime of production and focusing on our pipeline and the creative projects that we’re passionate about doing,” added Collins.
Scout bookended the last twelve months with Legendary, its HBO ballroom and voguing competition series that launched last year. The finale of the show, which features judges Leiomy Maldonado, Law Roach, Megan Thee Stallion and Jameela Jamil and MC Dashaun Wesley, was filmed on March 12 2020 without an audience – unlike the other episodes, which featured a raucous group of around 350. Season two, which returns May 6, was finished last month and similarly had to be produced without a crowd.
“Legendary celebrates the ballroom community, which has been around for so long and it’s an unbelievable a world so we want to give them not only a platform but a stage to highlight and celebrate,” said Collins. “But it was definitely a lot harder to make season two.”
The company also recently finished production on The Quest for Disney+. The show, which was filmed in Calistoga and is based on its own show that ran on ABC in 2014, is a fantasy competition series. It is set in the fantasy world of Everealm and the contestants will encounter mystical beings and magical encounters and will be embedded in an immersive, 360-degree world complete with seamless technology, creature design, practical effects and scripted characters who interact dynamically with them as they take on a number of fantasy-themed challenges.
The pair said that the format was a little ahead of its time when it first launched but they now have a lot more room to grow the world for Disney+.
It also recently sold streetwear competition The Hype to HBO Max. The series will see 10 streetwear professionals compete in a series of challenges that cover the intricacies of designing, the business of fashion and the savvy to identify the latest trends.
Offset, a member of hip hop group Migos, will produce and be one of the co-signers – aka judges – alongside Beth Birkett, creative director and founder of Bephies Beauty Supply, and Marni Senofonte, a costume designer who has worked with the likes of Beyoncé and Lauryn Hill. Speedy Morman of Complex Media will host the eight-part series. Rikki Hughes, who became the first Black female to receive an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special for Netflix’s Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation comedy specials, is showrunner.
The pair said it was important to find authentic stories from those who know these communities. “The bar has been raised high, as a result of Legendary, so we need be even more focused on how we tell the streetwear story even more authentically,” added Collins.
Elsewhere, the company also recently launched a documentary division, producing Equal, which chronicles the fight for LGBT right, for HBO Max, and is developing an expose doc series on Hillsong Church in partnership with Vanity Fair Studios.
They are optimistic about the next twelve months. “The great thing about this business is that the process and projects take a long time so our line of sight reaches right through to mid-2022,” added Korsh.
“There is a reality boom that is coming,” added Collins. “We’re really excited to ride the wave of cool, creative worlds to share that we haven’t seen.
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