Today, at the Television Critics Association’s 2023 Winter Press Tour, Michael Wright, head of MGM+ (aka MGM Plus), unveiled a programming lineup and development slate that delivers premium cinematic television and a curated theatrical library. You can watch a preview by scrolling down.
The newly-rebranded premium linear channel and streaming service will launch on January 15 in conjunction with the Season Three premiere of the critically-acclaimed drama series Godfather of Harlem, starring and executive produced by Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker and created by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein (Narcos).
“It’s a new beginning for our service, as we introduce MGM+ and its distinctive brand promise to viewers on January 15. MGM+ will deliver on its iconic and beloved studio legacy, with cinematic, sophisticated, and transportive storytelling that audiences love,” said Michael Wright, head of MGM+.
“We are growing our rich library of content, comprised of original television series and blockbuster films that celebrate the MGM brand.”
Buy A Spy Among Friends book at Amazon!
Wright also announced premiere dates for the six-episode limited series A Spy Among Friends (March 12), the contemporary sci-fi horror series FROM Season Two (April 23), and the true-crime docuseries Murf the Surf (February 5).
A Spy Among Friends, based on the New York Times best-selling book written by Ben Macintyre, stars Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning actor Damian Lewis (Homeland, Billions), Emmy winner Guy Pearce (Jack Irish, Mare of Easttown), and Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland, Line of Duty).
FROM features a stellar ensemble cast led by Harold Perrineau (Lost), and is created and executive produced by John Griffin (Crater), directed and executive produced by Jack Bender (Lost, Game of Thrones, Mr. Mercedes), and executive produced by showrunner Jeff Pinkner (Fringe, Alias, Lost).
Murf the Surf, based on the life of infamous jewel thief Jack Roland Murphy, is written and directed by Emmy winner R.J. Cutler (Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, Belushi) and executive produced by Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
These series will join previously-greenlit series Hotel Cocaine and San Francisco Sounds (working title) in the new MGM Plus lineup. Hotel Cocaine, a crime thriller executive produced by Chris Brancato, will enter production in May in the Dominican Republic, and is scheduled to premiere next winter.
San Francisco Sounds, a two-part documentary series that tracks the history of the San Francisco music scene from 1965 to 1975, comes from the team behind the Emmy-nominated documentary Laurel Canyon and is scheduled to premiere in the fall.
MGM PLUS ORIGINALS, RENEWALS AND ACQUIRED SERIES
Rogue Heroes Season Two – This critically acclaimed hit drama series from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight will return for a second season in 2024. Season One followed David Stirling (Connor Swindells), Jock Lewes (Alfie Allen), and Paddy Mayne (Jack O’Connell) in a dramatized account of how the British Army’s Special Air Service (SAS) unit was formed in the darkest days of World War II, with fellow cast members including Dominic West, Sofia Boutella, Tom Glynn-Carney, and Theo Barklem-Biggs.
The second season will show viewers what comes next for the SAS, following the dramatic turn of events in Season One’s finale episode. Production on this six-part series with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score will begin in 2023.
Billy the Kid Season Two – Featuring an ensemble cast led by Tom Blyth (The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes), the epic romantic adventure inspired by the life of America’s most infamous outlaw continues in Season Two, as Billy and his allies square off against his oldest friend Jesse Evans (Daniel Webber) and the corrupt powers of the Santa Fe Ring.
When shots are fired, the conflict erupts into the bloody Lincoln County War. Amidst the fighting, Billy will struggle to hang onto his soul—and to the love of his life. Creator, writer, and executive producer Michael Hirst (Elizabeth, The Tudors, Vikings) will return for the second season alongside executive producers Donald De Line (De Line Pictures), Darryl Frank, and Justin Falvey (Amblin Television).
The series is produced by MGM Plus Studios and Amazon Studios: Pan-English Scripted TV, in association with Amblin Television and De Line Pictures. Billy the Kid is internationally distributed by MGM.
The Emperor of Ocean Park (scripted) – From John Wells Productions and Warner Bros. Television, The Emperor of Ocean Park is a thrilling, suspenseful take on Stephen L. Carter’s best-selling novel. Set in the worlds of D.C. politics, Ivy League academia, and the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, the series centers on Talcott Garland’s quiet life as an Ivy League law professor whose world is shattered when his father, Judge Oliver Garland, dies of an apparent heart attack.
The nature of the judge’s death is questioned by Tal’s sister, Mariah, a former journalist and constant conspiracy theorist, who believes that the judge, a former failed Black nominee to the Supreme Court, met with foul play. Sherman Payne is the writer, with Damian Marcano attached to direct.
Hoodlum (scripted) – Based on the 1997 MGM film written by Chris Brancato, this drama series set in the 1930s follows the true story of Harlem numbers queen Stephanie St. Clair’s rise to prominence and mentorship of Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson. MGM+ Studios is developing, and Brancato and Monica Macer are co-creating and executive producing.
Earth Abides (scripted) – When a plague of unprecedented virulence sweeps the globe, the human race is all but wiped out. In the aftermath, as the great machine of civilization slowly and inexorably breaks down, only a few shattered survivors remain to struggle against the slide into barbarism … or extinction.
Based on the novel by George R. Stewart, which is published by Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, MGM+ Studios is developing with Michael Phillips, Juliana Maio, and Kearie Peak attached as executive producers.
American Classic (scripted) – American Classic is a half-hour comedy about a man desperately trying to save himself, his family, and his hometown in the only way he knows how—by putting on a show. Broadway star and notorious narcissist Richard Bean (Kevin Kline) suffers a spectacular public meltdown, and decides to return home to the family-run theater where he first became aware of his own brilliance.
When he arrives, he’s shocked to find that his brother (Jon Tenney), and his brother’s wife (who also happens to be his former lover), have turned his temple of art into a dinner theater—with the emphasis on dinner. To make matters worse, his hometown of Millersberg is teetering on the edge of economic disaster.
Inspired, Richard vows to put on a show so great that it will save the theatre, the town, and, most importantly, his career. But with the family and town in chaos, the constant threat of financial ruin, and Richard’s enormous ego, will they even make it to opening night?
Michael Hoffman, Bob Martin, Leslie Urdang, Kline, Anthony Bregman, and Miriam Mintz are attached as executive producers. American Classic is being developed as a co-production between MGM+ Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios.
Ark (scripted) – It’s 2030, the oceans have risen rapidly, and soon, the entire planet will be submerged. But the discovery of another life-sustaining planet light-years away gives hope to those who remain alive. Only a few will be able to make the generations-long journey, and those who don’t make the cut face a watery death.
Based on the books by Stephen Baxter, the series is in development as a co-production between MGM+ Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios.
Hollywood Black — Based on the book by historian Donald Bogle, this four-part docuseries tells the epic story of the actors, writers, directors, and producers who fought for their place on the page, behind the camera, on the screen, and in the credits. It is a definitive chronicle of a century of the Black experience in Hollywood and a powerful reexamination of a quintessentially American story—in brilliant color.
Culture Machine’s Justin Simien (Dear White People, Bad Hair) and Kyle Laursen, Significant Productions’ Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi (Godfather of Harlem), and RadicalMedia’s Dave Sirulnick, Stacey Reiss, and Jon Kamen (Summer of Soul) will all serve as executive producers. Simien and Jeffrey Schwartz (Tab Hunter Confidential, I Am Divine) are set to direct.
Hot Stuff (docuseries) – Mention the word “disco” to most people and it brings back memories of a plastic music fad, the movie Saturday Night Fever, and the infamous NYC club Studio 54. Yet there is so much more to the story. Hot Stuff is a four-part docuseries that dives into what was nothing less than a liberation movement.
From its birth in underground gay clubs, where DJs broke new music on their twin turntables, disco, with its infectious 4/4 beat and powerful basslines, exploded on the scene. From rampant hedonism to rule-breaking fashion, to a bevy of divas with luscious vocals, disco marked a transformation in the look and sound of a society ready for change.
Was disco the forgettable fast-food of pop music, or was it a cultural revolution that still resonates today? Oscar-nominated documentary studio XTR (They Call Me Magic) will be producing the series, while David Friendly and Lesley Chilcott are attached as executive producers.
The Devil Within (docuseries) – This four-part, true-crime docuseries is based on the hit Cavalry Audio podcast The Devil Within, which follows the mysterious murder of Betty Ann Sullivan during the height of the Satanic Panic. Filled with twists, turns, and iconic legends, the series fuses true crime with horror.
Simply put, what started as a dark, small-town murder investigation quickly spiraled into a paranormal mystery. Executive produced by Eli Roth with executive producers Dirk Hoogstra and Nicole Sorrenti for Half Yard Productions, a North Road Company.
Wonderland Murders & the Secret History of Hollywood (docuseries) – When best-selling crime novelist Michael Connelly discovered that Scott Thorson, best known as Liberace’s lover and author of the tell-all Behind the Candelabra, held the keys to the infamous Wonderland Murders, he only had one problem: Thorson’s stories sounded too unbelievable to be true.
As the stories got weirder and wilder, and Thorson’s own “nine lives” stretched beyond the Wonderland Murders themselves, Connelly struggled with how far to follow this unreliable narrator.
Connelly (Lincoln Lawyer, Bosch, Bosch: Legacy) executive produces the four-episode documentary series alongside Jen Casey and Nick Gilhool for Miziker Content; Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman for The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC), a part of Sony Pictures Television; and Rick Jackson. Alison Ellwood (The Go-Go’s, How to Change Your Mind, Laurel Canyon) will direct as well as executive produce.
The MGM+ service will also provide an expansive library of film titles from MGM and other major Hollywood Studios. The library of titles includes blockbusters like Top Gun: Maverick; MGM hits No Time to Die and House of Gucci; and beloved franchises like James Bond and Rocky.
The service also offers fan favorites like The Silence of the Lambs, Platoon, RoboCop, The Magnificent Seven, The Wolf of Wall Street, Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Lost City, Barbershop, The Pink Panther, In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, A Quiet Place, and Father of the Bride.
Mirko Parlevliet has been reporting on the entertainment industry since 1998 and founded Vital Thrills in 2018 to cover the latest streaming, movie, TV, and video game news. Mirko previously created the websites ComingSoon, Spider-Man Hype!, SuperHeroHype and ShockTillYouDrop.