Fox News star Megyn Kelly is attached to produce a new scripted series with “Fifty Shades of Grey” producer Michael De Luca following a presidential campaign trail and the embedded journalists who cover it.
Verizon-owned streaming platform Go90 has ordered six half-hour episodes of the political comedy “Embeds.” The series will follow five young reporters who are in way over their heads as they find themselves shaping the future of the country while experiencing raucous adventures in an unexpected world of sex, drugs, and swing states. Big-name politicians are expected to cameo throughout the series.
Though the show takes place on the campaign trail, the real focus on the young people covering the news rather than the politics. An insider said producers hope to appeal to viewers who don’t follow politics religiously, as well as those who do.
Their goal is to have the first episode on air by Election Day, with the show actively casting leading roles.
Scott Conroy, co-author of the bestselling Sarah Palin biography “Sarah From Alaska,” and Peter Hamby, a former CNN correspondent who is now head of Snapchat’s news efforts, co-created the show and penned the pilot. Todd Waldman is holding the showrunner title with Conroy writing the additional five scripts and exec producing the show.
Conroy and Hamby are no strangers to the world of journalism, having originally met during the 2008 presidential campaign while covering Palin.
Conroy is leaving Vice’s upcoming nightly news show for HBO to work on the show. Hamby will continue at Snapchat, where he is the face of the original news show “Good Luck America,” which receives millions of views per episode.
Sources say the two began talking about the project during the 2008 presidential campaign. In 2016, when election coverage was even more magnified, the duo saw a heightened need to explore the world of the embedded campaign-trail journalist and felt a scripted TV show was the best way to do so.
Conroy and Hamby’s reps at CAA helped make the connection with De Luca and Kelly, sources say. De Luca already had a strong interest in politics, and became even more intrigued after meeting with the co-creators.
Kelly, who is also repped by CAA, was quickly brought into the mix, given the attention on her on the campaign trail, and sources say Kelly and De Luca instantly clicked over the subject matter. Kelly’s profile has risen so much in recent months that she has begun trying her hand in other areas, starting with her eight-figure book deal with HarperCollins.
“Embeds” isn’t her first scripted TV project; she is also developing and producing “The Residence” at FX with Dustin Lance Black penning the script.
The project may be the most high-profile production for Go90 to date. Verizon has acquired a handful of low-budget scripted series for Go90, including AwesomenessTV’s high-school-set “Guidance” and social-media thriller “@tagged,” as well as New Form Digital’s forthcoming “Mr. Student Body President.”
Verizon launched Go90 in the fall of 2015, marketing the free, ad-supported service to millennials for whom smartphones are their first screen for entertainment. But it’s not clear how successful Go90 has been in attracting viewers with its mix of original programming, licensed TV shows and web content from the likes of Vice and BuzzFeed.
Its most ambitious original so far has been “The Runner,” a reality competition series from exec producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon that unfolded over the course of 30 days this summer across the U.S. — and was met with a feeble response on social media.
As for De Luca, the longtime Hollywood producer has been busy since leaving his president of production post at Sony to return to the Universal lot as a producer. De Luca recently wrapped production on the final “Fifty Shades” film and has “Fifty Shades Darker” bowing in February 2017.
Lucy Kitada is the executive running point on the project for De Luca Productions. De Luca and Kitada will executive produce in association with Haven Entertainment’s Kevin Mann, Jordana Mollick, and Brendan Bragg.
“Embeds” comes out of Verizon’s joint venture with Hearst for digital media, which the companies have named Complex Networks. The series is part of its Seriously.TV comedy channel slate that will appear on Go90. Justin Killion and Cory Stern will executive produce and oversee for Complex Networks.
Waldman, who will also produce along with Conroy and Bryan Haas, ran the YouTube Red series “Single By 30” starring Harry Shum, Jr. and Kina Grannis from Wong Fu Productions, and also worked on “Awkward” and “Happy Endings.”
Bruce Vinokur and Elizabeth Newman at CAA brokered the deal. Kelly and De Luca are repped by CAA, as are Conroy and Hamby. Conroy is repped by Kaplan/Perrone.
Todd Spangler contributed to this report.