EXCLUSIVE: Eliot Laurence, creator of Claws and Motherland: Fort Salem, has signed an overall deal with Fox 21 Television Studios, part of Disney TV Studios. Under the multi-year pact, Laurence will create, develop and produce series for network, cable and streaming platforms.
Laurence created and executive produces the hit dramedy Claws starring Niecy Nash, which was recently renewed for its fourth and final season on TNT, as well as Motherland: Fort Salem, Freeform’s upcoming fantasy drama about a military academy for witches, on which he serves as showrunner. On the feature side, he penned the indie dramedy Welcome To Me, starring Kristin Wiig.
“There aren't a lot of writers with the range of Eliot around,” said Bert Salke, President, Fox 21 Television Studios. “When I read his draft of Motherland, not only was I blown away by the wildly imaginative world he created, but even more so by the fact that this fantastic tale of witches was created by the same writer who came up with the fuel-injected and female empowered soap of Claws. We are thrilled and excited to have the breath and diversity of Eliot's talent at Fox 21.”
Laurence joins a roster of overalls at Fox 21, which includes Jenni Konner, Sarah Treem, Warren Littlefield and Jon Steinberg.
“I want to thank Bert and Jane Francis and the rest of the team at Fox 21, as well as Craig Hunegs and Dana Walden for this amazing opportunity. I'm thrilled and honored to work with the people behind my all-time favorite shows.”
Fox 21's upcoming series include Ryan Murphy's Ratched starring Sarah Paulson; The Old Man with FX Prods. starring Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow; American Crime Story: Impeachment with FX Prods. starring Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein and Clive Owen; and Genius: Aretha Franklin starring Cynthia Erivo.
Laurence is repped by Kimberly Jaime at Jackoway Tyerman and 3 Arts.
Freeform's new drama series Motherland: Fort Salem is set in an alternate America where witches ended their persecution more than 300 years ago by cutting a deal with the government to fight for their country. At TCA on Friday, creator by Eliot Laurence Claws said most of the show pays homage to witch history and removes some of the stigma around witches.
Motherland: Fort Salem follows three young women from basic training in combat magic into early deployment. Traditional roles of gender and power are flipped, with the more dominant women on the front lines fighting looming terrorist threats that are familiar to our world with supernatural tactics and weapons.
Laurence said one of the biggest themes they talked about in the writers room was what female sexuality looks like away from the patriarchy because it's a matriarchal society in the show.
Series stars Ashley Nicole Williams, Jessica Sutton, Taylor Hickson, Demetria McKinney and Amalia Holm came to the TCA winter press tour with executive producers Laurence and Kevin Messick to talk about the show.
All of the women in the cast looked to Laurence — who originally envisioned the project as a book series - as their guide, and Hickson said they were glad they could go to him with all their questions. Williams added, “He has the world in his head.” Said McKinney, “To understand the power women possess and to have a man Laurence understand that, it’s been a joy, an honor and a pleasure.”
Freeform @ TCA: Deadline’s Complete Coverage
The company in the show has to work together in order to survive and move forward but Laurence said: “We didn’t want their sisterhood to be easy. We wanted it to be tough. It's more fun.” Hickson noted, “It’s less about individual success and more about team strategy.”
The panel was preceded by a live musical performance of an eerie version of “This Land is Your Land.”
Motherland: Fort Salem premieres March 18 on Freeform. Check out the first trailer here.
Midseason/Winter Premiere Dates For New & Returning Series On Broadcast, Cable & Streaming
The Magicians Syfy, 10:00 p.m. — Margo and Josh debate the cuteness of werewolf babies and Eliot has a weird dream.
Motherland: Fort Salem Freeform, 9:00 p.m. — This new sci-fi series imagines what a world filled with militarized witches might look like. The premiere kicks off with three witches joining basic training at a place called Fort Salem as they prepare to defend their country against terrorist threats using their supernatural talents.
Chicago Med NBC, 8:00 p.m. — The show celebrates its 100th episode tonight as relationships are tested when devastating secrets are revealed. Dr. Manning and Dr. Charles treat a young boy who's no stranger to the ER while Dr. Choi helps a police officer with a mysterious gunshot wound.
Survivor CBS, 8:00 p.m. — The immunity challenge becomes more important than ever when two tribes must attend the council.
The Goldbergs ABC, 8:00 p.m. — Erica take over an acapella group while Adam and Murray's fake camping trip gets them in trouble with Beverly.
The Masked Singer Fox, 8:00 p.m. — Comedian Joel McHale joins the judging panel as contestants from Group C perform one last time.
Schooled ABC, 8:30 p.m. — Lainey's competitive side comes out when she realizes Wilma might be a better singer than she is during show choir tryouts.
Chicago Fire NBC, 9:00 p.m. — Kidd tries to give back to her community while Gallo and Casey confront their personal connection to a house fire involving a mother and her young son.
Modern Family ABC, 9:00 p.m. — The staircase strikes again, this time as Claire readies for a job interview. Meanwhile, Cam and Mitch debate the pros and cons of adopting another baby.
SEAL Team CBS, 9:00 p.m. — The Bravo team must protect a group of engineers tasked with building a dam.
American Housewife ABC, 9:30 p.m. — Oliver helps a classmate by pretending to go along with a rumor about his sexuality while Katie plays matchmaker against Greg's wishes.
Chicago P.D. NBC, 10:00 p.m. — As a gang war brews, Voight works with one member to get a key witness to testify in a high profile criminal case.
Awkwafina is Nora From Queens Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m. — Edmund and Nora prepare to launch their app.
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox TV is developing an adaptation of Michael Arceneaux's memoir I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyonce with Jerrod Carmichael, Lee Daniels and Marc Velez.
Deadline understands that the project is set to hit the cable and streaming market as a half-hour series.
The book, which was published by Simon & Schuster in July 2018, is a collection of 17 autobiographical essays from Arceneaux. The deal comes as Arceneaux’s second book, I Don't Want to Die Poor, an essay collection which chronicles his struggles with private student loans and economic anxiety, is published today April 7 by Simon & Schuster.
Simon & Schuster
Arceneaux will adapt and executive produce alongside Carmichael, and Lee Daniels and Marc Velez of Lee Daniels Entertainment. UTA brokered the deal on Arceneaux's behalf.
The book looks at life in today's America with Arceneaux learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite, leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned. He discusses coming out to his mother, growing up in Houston, Texas, being approached for the priesthood, his obstacles in embracing intimacy that occasionally led to unfortunate fights with fire ants, and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.
Arceneaux is represented by UTA, Jermaine Johnson at 3Arts, attorney Loan Dang, and Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourrett. Carmichael is represented by UTA and attorney PJ Shapiro at Ziffren Brittenham. Daniels is represented by WME, Alex Kovacs at Untitled Entertainment, and attorney Matthew Levy at Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman.