EXCLUSIVE: Director Bartlett Sher (Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird), writer JT Rogers (HBO Max’s upcoming Tokyo Vice), and producer Cambra Overend – the team behind HBO’s Emmy-nominated film adaptation of Rogers’ play Oslo – have launched SRO Productions to develop and present new works for the stage, television and film, with projects already in development that will reunite the trio with some of their best-known collaborators.
Works already in various stages of early development or planning for the new company: a TV series adaptation of Rogers’ 2010 play Blood and Gifts, a series adaptation of Robert Caro’s classic 1974 biography The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, a “large musical theater project” with producer Marc Platt, and a stage musical with Sher’s To Kill a Mockingbird writer Aaron Sorkin.
SRO declined to provide more specifics about the stage productions at this early point in their development. In addition to developing and presenting new works, SRO will present revivals of classic plays and musicals.
With bases in both New York and London, SRO formalizes the well-established collaborative efforts of Sher, Rogers and Overend: The three worked together on HBO’s film Oslo, while Sher, as resident director at Lincoln Center Theater, directed the original Off Broadway production in 2016 and the Tony-winning Broadway production in 2017.
(Rogers’ latest play, One Giant Leap, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, debuted on Broadway in 2019. Overend produced that project, a collaboration with The New York Times that featured Jeff Daniels and Samuel L. Jackson.)
Sher, who has been nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning for South Pacific, also directed Rogers’ earlier play Blood and Gifts, a drama about the struggle among Americans, Soviets, the British, Pakistan, and secular Afghans for the control of Afghanistan during the 1980s. SRO will develop a TV series based on the play.
Producer Overend was an executive producer on the Oslo film starring Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott, and currently is a producer on Tokyo Vice, the upcoming HBO Max series created by Rogers starring Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe.
In a joint statement, Sher, Rogers and Overend said, “After working together as individual artists for many years, we began to wonder whether we could combine our strengths across television, film and theater. With our work on Blood and Gifts, Oslo, and now Tokyo Vice, we have happily and successfully worked in all three fields. So the idea of forming a company where we could both create and produce became less of a dream, and more of an inevitability.”
The trio said they “are excited to develop pieces that are resonant, challenging, and hopeful, aimed at pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in storytelling — and to do it internationally, with a group of diverse artists, making muscular and deeply entertaining work.”
In an interview with Deadline, Sher and Rogers explained that the new company would not be limited to original works written by the trio or additional adaptations of their own works. Rogers said that, for example, Caro’s monumental nonfiction work The Power Broker has long been his “passion project,” and that the new company will provide an ideal way to bring the book to the TV screen (with a ready-made plum acting role in the form of New York’s iconic power mogul Moses).
The production company also will provide its founders the opportunities to re-team with previous collaborators, as will be the case in the stage musical projects involving Platt (who exec produced the Oslo film) and Sorkin, who wrote the Sher-directed Mockingbird adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel.
“JT has spent the last year and a half in Tokyo filming his television series,” Sher said, “so we’re hoping that the reach of [SRO] is international, and that it’s diverse. If we’re lucky we’ll be able to commission and develop works by other writers and other directors and help them bring their stories to the screen or to the theater…as many diverse and different kinds of stories as possible.”
The inclusion of stage projects in SRO’s line-up suggests a confidence in Broadway’s ability to rebound after an unprecedented year of Covid, a reckoning with the industry’s longtime racial biases and a workplace abuse scandal that saw the resignation of Scott Rudin, one of theater’s most prolific and acclaimed producers. Among Rudin’s former productions: To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Scott is completely out of Mockingbird, entirely, on every level,” Sher told Deadline. “And we’re really lucky to have Orin Wolf as our [new] producer. He did The Band’s Visit, and I’ve worked on tours with him and the planning to produce the tour of Mockingbird. He’s an excellent producer.”
Mockingbird returns to Broadway on Oct. 5 at the Shubert Theatre, with original stars Jeff Daniels (as Atticus Finch) and Celia Keenan-Bolger (as Scout Finch) reprising their roles. (A national tour launches next year, with Richard Thomas as Atticus, and on the West End with Rafe Spall in the role.)
“Mockingbird will be starting rehearsals in September,” Sher said, “and I think anyone who’s on this [Broadway] journey is hopeful and cautious. Because of what we’ve gone through with the pandemic, we’re changing all the ways we work. So there’s not only the changes when it comes to protocols for Covid and in terms of mandates for vaccines and masks, but also if I’m returning to a project like Mockingbird, I have to look at it again. I think we have to address the way we work differently. Issues of diversity and inclusion and equity have to be addressed in a new way as we’re approaching our work. I’m in the middle of re-investigating all the ways I work.”
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