Entrepreneur Chris Blackwell has partnered with “Narcos” showrunner/executive producer Eric Newman and award-winning producer Ben Silverman, chairman and co-CEO of Propagate Content, to produce a series that will explore the resounding local and global impact of iconic Jamaican music. The show will offer a multilayered, multi-perspective look at the political discord that followed in the wake of Jamaican independence from Britain in 1962 and the birth of a local music industry that reached, and changed, the world.
The union came about after Newman and Silverman pitched a proposed show about the origin of reggae music to sister companies Universal Music Group and Studiocanal. The two Vivendi-owned companies were looking for projects on which to collaborate and this fit perfectly. UMG acquired the Island record label and its vast library of Jamaican music when it purchased parent company Polygram Records to whom Blackwell had sold in 1989. Studiocanal is financing development of the show with Chairman and CEO Didier Lupfer serving as executive producer. Newman has a first look feature producing deal with the French based company.
The series will be shopped to premiere cable and streaming services.
Sascha Penn (“Power”) will write the pilot and executive produce the series working closely alongside fellow EP Marlon James, the Jamaican-born author of the Booker Prize-winning novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings.”
The legendary Blackwell, founder of Island Records, home to recording artists Bob Marley and U2, was raised on Jamaica in one of its oldest families. His passion for the island, its people, and the music he fell in love with as a young man endures to this day. At the center of almost everything Chris has accomplished, from Island Records to a unique collection of hotel properties he now operates on Jamaica, has been a fierce commitment to benefit the place that he calls home.
Newman, who hatched the idea for “Narcos” before bringing it to Netflix and continues to serve as showrunner into its fourth season, said, “I am thrilled by the team we have assembled and we are honored to be entrusted by Chris Blackwell to tell an amazing story about a little island that made, and continues to make, a lot of noise.”
Silverman, who recently launched Apple’s first series, added, “This is a groundbreaking premium series focused on an extraordinary man who brought underrepresented music and ideas to the forefront of popular culture. Sascha Penn and Marlon James are perfect collaborators for the extraordinary Chris Blackwell, Eric and me.”
Newman and Silverman credit Northside Services’ Jeff Berg for introducing Chris Blackwell to the project and negotiating the deal for the trio. The project will be supervised on the Studiocanal front by Ron Halpern, Francoise Guyonnet, and Shana Eddy-Grouf.
— Press release from A+E Networks, June 21, 2017