“Romeo & Juliet”: The pop musical? That’s the plan for Boardwalk Entertainment Group, which is partnering with RCA Records to produce classic stories simultaneously as event TV series and staged musicals.
In addition to “Romeo & Juliet,” which is being developed for Fox, Boardwalk is preparing contemporary musical versions based on Robin Hood, King Arthur and Jack the Ripper. Given the success of such small-screen musicals as Fox’s long-running Glee and NBC’s one-off “The Sound of Music Live!,” the company, founded in 2011 by writer Timothy Bogart; his brother, songwriter Evan “Kidd” Bogart; and producer Gary A. Randall, also is hoping to develop limited series as well as live events, specials and multiple-season series as formats.
“When something works [in Hollywood], there’s always been that rush to figure out how to chase it,” says Timothy Bogart, who has written the first two “Romeo & Juliet” episodes and is prepping a series bible with FX Productions as the studio. “Our model is about embracing all facets of the entertainment experience from the creative inception point.” If and when Romeo & Juliet is ordered to be a series, the same group will begin readying a stage version to launch on the heels of the TV show.
In a bid for additional (and immediate) ancillary revenue as well as differentiation in a crowded market, Boardwalk’s projects, including “Romeo & Juliet,” will feature at least 50 original songs, which will be available for download following the episode’s airing. To ensure the music will have a life outside of the show, Evan Bogart, who wrote Rihanna’s “SOS” and Beyonce’s “Halo,” has assembled a collection of songwriters who have written for artists such as Britney Spears, One Direction and Jason Derulo.
“We’re trying to do songs that, if it weren’t for this show, you’d hear on the radio anyway – songs that could be found on an Imagine Dragons album or that Lorde would be singing,” says Evan Bogart, adding that one of Boardwalk’s missions is to discover and break new acts through this process. On “Romeo & Juliet,” he has set up a room of songwriters to run alongside a traditional writers room, and the two teams have been passing scripts and accompanying song lyrics back and forth.
Boardwalk also is developing a Sony Pictures TV-produced project, which is being billed as a decade-long look at the 1970s told through the music that defined it, for NBC.
“Great content and hits can come from anyplace. You see it every day right now with the number of songs that are from soundtracks,” says Tom Corson, president/COO of RCA Records, which has worked with Boardwalk on a project basis in the past.
On the film side, the Bogarts are developing “Spinning Gold,” a Spike Lee-directed biopic of their late father, Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart, with Justin Timberlake set to star