Netflix has landed hip-hop legend Grandmaster Flash for its upcoming Baz Luhrmann drama series The Get Down — and incorporated him into the on-screen story.
The streaming service announced Wednesday that the father of hip-hop will serve as an associate producer and adviser on the drama series, with young actor Mamoudou Athie portraying Flash on-screen.
The Get Down will focus on 1970s New York – broken down and beaten up, violent, cash strapped — dying. Consigned to rubble, a rag-tag crew of South Bronx teenagers are nothings and nobodies with no one to shelter them — except each other, armed only with verbal games, improvised dance steps, some magic markers and spray cans. From Bronx tenements, to the SoHo art scene; from CBGBs to Studio 54 and even the glass towers of the just-built World Trade Center, The Get Down is a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco — told through the lives and music of the South Bronx kids who changed the city, and the world … forever.
“I can’t tell you just how much joy and great spirit we are getting from working with some of the founding fathers of the form,” Luhrmann said. “Not only in music, dance and graffiti but the culture of the time in general. The whole team is absolutely thrilled to have Grandmaster Flash on board.”
Athie, whose credits include an episode of CBS’ Madam Secretary, will play Grandmaster Flash on-screen. The coming-of-age series, featuring a cast of rising stars, centers on a crop of fictitious characters who along the way will encounter historical figures along the way, including Flash. For his part, Athie, 27, is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and made his stage debut opposite Diane Lane and Tony Shalhoub in The Mystery of Love and Sex.
Making his television series debut, the Moulin Rouge! writer-director-producer will helm the first two episodes as well as the series finale and executive produce alongside Emmy nominee Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Terriers). Academy Award winner Catherine Martin (Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!) will serve as costume and production designer. She joins fellow executive producers Paul Watters (Australia), Thomas Kelly (Copper), playwright Stephen Adley Guirgis (Motherf***er With the Hat) and Marney Hochman (Terriers). It is Luhrmann’s first musical endeavor since Moulin Rouge!; it will premiere in all territories in 2016.