BET+ LANDS MACRO TELEVISION STUDIOS AND HILLMAN GRAD PRODUCTIONS “BIRTH OF COOL” SERIES FROM JUEL TAYLOR AND TONY RETTENMAIER
THE TEN-EPISODE ORIGINAL SERIES MARKS BET’S FIRST BET+PRODUCTION PARTNERSHIP WITH MACRO TELEVISIONS STUDIOS AND CONTINUED COLLABORATION WITH POWERHOUSE PRODUCER LENA WAITHE
New York, NY February, 22, 2021 - Today, BET+, the premiere streaming service for the Black audience, announced the production of the new original series, “BIRTH OF COOL,” in partnership with MACRO Television Studios (RAISING DION, GENTEFIED) and Hillman Grad Productions (QUEEN AND SLIM, THE CHI, TWENTIES). The ten-episode series marks MACRO Television Studios’ first series with BET+ and Lena Waithe’s third original production with the brand. “BIRTH OF COOL” was created by writer-director Juel Taylor (CREED II, THEY CLONED TYRONE) and writer Tony Rettenmaier (THEY CLONED TYRONE). Taylor will also direct the pilot.
The series orbits around Crispus Attucks High, a predominantly black high school in Compton. The half-hour dramedy follows the adventures and misadventures of both students and teachers, on campus and off, as they try to make it through the weird, hilarious, stressful, often sobering, sometimes surreal school year, while (hopefully) growing a bit in the process.
“BET+ continues to be the home for best-in-class creatives to tell their original stories about the Black experience,” said Devin Griffin, Executive Vice President and General Manager, BET+. “We appreciate Lena’s creative vision and continued trust and are thrilled to partner with a skilled group of creators from MACRO Television Studios and Hillman Grad to bring this series to life.”
“We are excited to continue MACRO’s commitment to excellence in content creation and to be partnered with Juel and Tony and help bring their unique vision to the screen,” said Marta Fernandez, President, MACRO Television Studios. “Along with our partners at BET+, Hillman Grad and Endeavor Content, we passionately support their voices and dedication to telling authentically Black stories.”
“Our goal at Hillman Grad is to find the next generation of visionary filmmakers who challenge the ways in which we typically represent characters of color on screen. Juel and Tony are exactly that. We’re so excited to have been on this journey with them and can’t wait to introduce the world to the brilliance, humor, and depth of BIRTH OF COOL,” said Rishi Rajani, President of Film/TV, Hillman Grad.
Fernandez and Mark R. Wright will oversee for MACRO Television Studios. MACRO Television Studios’ partners on the TV series are Endeavor Content (WU-TANG CLAN: OF MICS AND MEN, KILLING EVE) and Hillman Grad Productions (QUEEN AND SLIM, THE CHI, TWENTIES), with Charles D. King, Fernandez, Lena Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Taylor, Rettenmaier, Aaliyah Williams and David Morris serving as Executive Producers.
Taylor and Rettenmaier are repped by WME, The Gotham Group and Redefine Entertainment.
BET+ is the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience, with exclusive originals and thousands of TV episodes and movies from the best Black creators. A joint venture between BET Networks and Tyler Perry Studios, BET+ allows users to stream Black culture, including hit movies, TV shows, stand-up comedy, award shows, and specials, all in one place, commercial-free. The new service from BET Networks, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc., is the official home of Tyler Perry’s film, TV and stage works. The ad-free subscription video-on-demand service also provides users with access to original content, including hit series First Wives Club from Tracey Oliver, Tyler Perry’s Ruthless and Bruh, Will Packer’s Bigger, hit unscripted anthology series American Gangster Trap Queens and exclusive originals from Carl Weber like The Family Business, Sacrifice and Influence to name a few. Visit BET.Plus to learn more and follow @BETPlus on social to join the conversation and get the latest.
Launched in 2015 by Founder & CEO Charles D. King, MACRO is a multi-platform media company representing the voice and perspectives of Black people and people of color. The company’s multiple business verticals include a film (MACRO) and television studio (MACRO Television Studios) that finances, develops and produces theatrical features and premium television, talent (M88) and influencer (UNCMMN) management divisions, a branding and creative agency (Brand MACRO) and an affiliated venture firm (Mac Venture Capital). The company’s film projects have received nine Oscar nominations and one win. MACRO co-financed the critically-acclaimed Mudbound, Fences, Roman J. Israel, Esq., Sorry to Bother You and Just Mercy. It also produced Netflix’s Tigertail and co-financed and produced Judas and the Black Messiah for Warner Bros. Pictures. MACRO is also partnered with Warner Bros. Pictures, giving the studio a first look on all projects MACRO intends to develop or package as feature films. The studio also has the option to co-finance these projects alongside MACRO and will handle their global distribution. On the television side, the drama series’ Raising Dion and Gentefied are both executive produced by MACRO Television Studios and already greenlit for second seasons on Netflix. Go to https://www.staymacro.com/about for more information.
ABOUT HILLMAN GRAD PRODUCTIONS
Hillman Grad Productions is a development and production company committed to creating art that goes against the status quo and gives opportunity to marginalized peoples by providing a platform for diverse voices across all mediums. Founded by Emmy-Award winning writer Lena Waithe and Rishi Rajani, the company currently has projects at Netflix, Disney, BET, Showtime, HBO, Universal, MGM and Amazon. Their comprehensive slate includes the Sundance Film Festival 2020 award-winner The 40-Year-Old Version, Radha Blank’s groundbreaking film, which blends real life and fiction to follow its protagonist, a down-on-her luck New York playwright, who decides to reinvent herself and salvage her artistic voice by becoming a rapper at age 40. Netflix released the film globally on October 9th to rave reviews and it won Best Screenplay and was nominated for the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award at the 2021 IFP Gotham Awards, received the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best First Film, won Best First Feature from the Toronto Film Critics Circle, received Directors to Watch” at PSIFF, won the “Next Generation Award” at LAFCA Awards, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature along with a Best Comedy Nomination from Critics Choice, and received 3 NAACP Nominations for Outstanding Directing, Outstanding Writing and Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture). Their first film released under this banner was Queen & Slim, which Waithe wrote and was directed by Melina Matsoukas; Universal Pictures released the film in November of 2019. Current projects includeBET’s hit comedy series Twenties, which was picked up for a second season and recently nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series by GLAAD. Currently in development is a Sammy Davis Jr biopic based on his daughter Tracey Davis’ book Sammy Davis Jr.: My Father. The screenplay willbe written by David Matthews with Waithe & Rajani producing alongside Sight Unseen Pictures. Additionally, it was recently announced Waithe penned the script for Universal’s forthcoming Talent Show. Cynthia Erivo is set to star in the drama with Waithe serving as an executive producer alongside State Street Pictures and Rajani will oversee for Hillman Grad Productions. Focus Features just announced it has teamed with Sight Unseen, Makeready and Hillman Grad Productions on the feature directorial debut of A.V. Rockwell, A Thousand and One. Other projects currently in various stages of production and/or development include: Them for Amazon; Untitled Kid Fury Project for HBO and Reawakening, Neil Paik’s Six by Eight Press short story for Amazon Studios.
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Staci R. Collins Jackson
For Hillman Grad Productions: