UPDATED with AMC’s announcement: AMC has given series greenlight to courtroom drama thriller 61st Street, from BAFTA-winner Peter Moffat (Criminal Justice, The Night Of) and executive producer Michael B. Jordan (David Makes Man); and to Kevin Can F**k Himself, from creator Valerie Armstrong (Lodge 49) and executive producers Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (Claws), I have learned. Both series are produced by AMC Studios.
61st Street is envisioned as a two-season close-ended event, and AMC has given the project a two-season order from the outset, a first for the network.
61st Street and Kevin Can F**k Himself were developed under AMC’s “scripts-to-series” model, which employs the opening of a writers’ rooms to develop and produce multiple scripts for a potential series which, in success, leads to a straight-to-series order. 61st Street and Kevin Can F**k Himself were two of three projects AMC commissioned writers rooms for in November 2018 – February 2019. The third, Rainy Day People, is not going forward.
The series pickups of 61st Street and Kevin Can F**k Himself had been in the works for awhile. AMC Networks Entertainment Group & AMC Studios President Sarah Barnett and David Madden, former President of Programming for the Entertainment Networks Group and AMC Studios, had reportedly both been high on both shows, which Madden had developed. Barnett saw the greenlighting process through following Madden’s August exit.
“At AMC we believe in shows that have startling vision and fresh voice, with something to say,” Barnett said. “These two projects couldn’t be more in our sweet spot, as both have something big to say, and a genius way of saying it.” They also also fit into AMC’s strategy of “taking swings with shows that would make noise,” Barnett added.
A former long-time executive of the BBC, which does not do pilots, Barnett is a supporter of AMC’s “scripts-to-series” model and indicated that the network would continue to employ it.
61st Street follows Moses Johnson, a promising, black high school athlete, who is swept up into the infamously corrupt Chicago criminal justice system. Taken by the police as a supposed gang member, he finds himself in the eye of the storm as police and prosecutors seek revenge for the death of an officer during a drug bust gone wrong. Timely and provocative, 61st Street is set against the systemic abuse happening in some of our country’s most vulnerable communities.
“Timely and audacious, 61st Street combines the irresistible form of a courtroom drama with a bracingly provocative take on race in America today,” said Barnett who has known Moffat since her time at the BBC. “The scripts are truly un-put-downable, and the ambition of this series is breathtaking. With a dream team on board of Peter Moffat and the Outlier Society team of Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo, we think ‘61st Street’ will electrify viewers.
Moffat serves as showrunner and executive producer. Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo executive produce for Outlier Society, and Hilary Salmon for BBC Studios.
“Having spent ten years at the criminal bar and the last two years researching deep inside the criminal justice system in Chicago, this is a story I’ve been waiting to write all my professional life,” Moffat said. “61st Street is a thriller – supple plotting and dynamic storytelling are central to everything – but race, politics, history, jurisprudence, and police culture are all fundamental to what this project is about and broaden its scope into what I hope will be a story for our times. Working alongside Alana Mayo and Michael B. Jordan makes me happy and humble and I’m very grateful to AMC for their amazing support.”
Kevin Can F**k Himself, probes the secret life of a type of woman we all grew up believing we knew: the sitcom wife. It looks to break television convention and ask what the world looks like through her eyes. Alternating between single-camera realism and multi-camera comedy, the formats will inform one another as we imagine what happens when the sitcom wife escapes her confines, and is full of rage.
The single-camera series incorporates a show-wining-the show, a multi-camera sitcom, which will be shot in traditional way with 3 cameras.
“How has nobody already told the story of the rage of the sitcom wife? Like all of the best ideas, it’s simple and brilliant in concept, and Valerie Armstrong’s vision is ingenious in execution,” Barnett said. “This show has smarts, humor, attitude and ferocious creativity. We’re so happy to be working again with her, along with Rashida Jones and Will McCormack and Craig DiGregorio, as we finally get to hear from the woman who has been the foil to sitcom ‘Kevins’ for decades.”
While AMC is not planning a new foray into comedy (The network previously briefly attempted an expansion into comedy in 2014), the network will continue to blend humor into dramas as it does with shows like Better Like Saul and BBC America’s Killing Eve, which also airs on AMC, Barnett said.
Craig DiGregorio (Shrill, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World) serves as showrunner and executive producer. Rashida Jones and Will McCormack executive produce through Le Train Train.
“I’m so thrilled that this weird little pilot I wrote in my pajamas is somehow going to be a weird little series,” Armstong saod. “I’m forever grateful to AMC for seeing the potential in this character’s unconventional story, rather than being scared by it.”
Added Jones and McCormack, “We are ecstatic to help bring Valerie’s one-of-a-kind voice and this timely, incisive story to the world along with our partners at AMC.”
AMC Studios Content Distribution will manage worldwide sales of 61st Street and Kevin Can F**k Himself.
Outlier Society’s latest project, the upcoming civil rights drama film Just Mercy, will be released at the end of this year. Moffat’s new limited series for Showtime, Your Honor, starring Bryan Cranston, is currently filming.
“61st Street is an important commentary and observation of those impacted by the complicated history of race and the criminal legal system in America,” said Outlier Society’s Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo. “Our admiration of Peter’s prior work and his personal experience with this subject matter are reasons we’re honored to be a part bringing it to life. We are lucky to have found an equally passionate partner in AMC.”