Russell Simmons Re-Ups Deal With HBO; Sets Shaka King, Broken Lizard Projects

HBO has signed a new overall first-look deal with producer Russell Simmons and his new media company All Def Digital (ADD), for the Def Jam Records co-founder and his team to create and develop new television projects for HBO. Under the previous two-year deal with HBO, Simmons has worked on Steve McQueen’s upcoming limited series Codes Of Conduct, on which he serves as an executive producer.

Simmons currently has three HBO projects in development through his ADD, including comedies with Shaka King and a Broken Lizard duo and a show drawing on ADD’s weekly live comedy nights. Here are details:

— These Are My Friends, a comedy series created by independent filmmaker Shaka King that takes an original and authentic look at hip-hop culture. The series follows four real-life rap and hip-hop artists as they struggle to keep their dream alive. Real friends, real rappers, real comedy, real life.

— A comedy series through ADD with Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe behind cult movie like Super Troopers and Beerfest. The Broken Lizard Show will take an innovative and comedic look at race when, hundreds of years in the future, a space ship exploring the galaxy discovers the last white man in the universe.

– A series that curates the best acts from All Def Digital’s weekly live comedy night. Every week, ADD produces a live event in Hollywood featuring the best new comedians in the country.

Additionally,  Simmons, alongside Stan Lathan, is producing a Def Comedy Jam 25th Anniversary Special that will feature an all-star lineup of comedians celebrating the longest-running and most influential comedy showcase on cable television.

“We always speak of having distinct voices at HBO, and few in the industry are as unique and intelligent as Russell,” says Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming. “He’s been a part of our family for a long time, and we are so pleased to be continuing our relationship.”

Simmons’ relationship with HBO dates back to 1992, when he co-created Def Comedy Jam, the landmark series that helped discover Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart and others. In 2002 Simmons launched the Peabody Award-winning Def Poetry Jam. A Broadway version of the series earned Simmons a Tony Award.

“HBO has been like a home to me for a generation,” says Simmons. “Together, we have discovered new voices and helped launch emerging artists that deserved a mainstream platform. I am even more excited by the next generation of talent and shows that we are developing through All Def Digital TV.”

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