Ava DuVernay has ended her rich overall deal with Warner Bros. Television Group, multiple sources confirm to Variety.
While news of this decision comes amid the writers strike, the contract talks were unrelated. DuVernay’s deal was set to expire on May 31 and the two parties came to a “mutual decision not to renew.”
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DuVernay signed the multi-year agreement in 2018, which was reported to be valued at $100 million, following the parties’ successful collaboration on OWN’s “Queen Sugar,” which signed off last year after seven seasons.
“Ava DuVernay is one of the leading lights in our industry, a brilliantly talented writer, producer, director and entrepreneur whose ability to inspire with her art is exceeded only by her ability to entertain,” former Warner Bros. TV chief Peter Roth said in a statement announcing the pact. (Channing Dungey is the current chairman and CEO of WBTVG.)
Under the pact, DuVernay also produced the romantic drama anthology series “Cherish the Day” for OWN and 2021’s “Home Sweet Home,” an unscripted, social-experiment series, which aired on NBC before moving to Peacock. In 2022, she launched two projects based on DC Comics characters — the dystopian miniseries “DMZ” for HBO Max and The CW’s “Naomi.” DuVernay co-created show, about a teenage superhero, with Jill Blankenship.
The Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker is next set to executive produce a half-hour romantic drama for Starz, starring Joshua Jackson and Lauren Ridloff. The series had recently begun production in Wilmington, N.C., but has since been put on pause due to the ongoing writers strike.
The series follows two polar opposites who become intertwined in a love affair that turns their worlds — and those of everyone around them — upside down, chronicling “what it takes to fall and stay in a radical, rebellious love.” The show’s logline explains that “One person is ambitious, while the other is restless. One is ready to commit, while the other debates the merits of relationships. One is Black and one is white. One is deaf and one is not.”
Jackson — who appeared in DuVernay’s Emmy-winning Netflix limited series “When They See Us” and co-starred with Ridloff, who is deaf, in the Tony-nominated Broadway revival of “Children of a Lesser God” — recently told Variety that he “chased Ava down and made her listen to this pitch.”
“The question that the show is asking is, ‘Can you ever truly see another human being?’” Jackson said, explaining why he was so fervent about the idea. “And I love that the deafness is not at the periphery of our story.”
DuVernay is also in post-production on her latest film, which she wrote and directed, inspired by Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.”
The film’s ensemble cast is led by Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis and boasts Vera Farmiga, Niecy Nash-Betts, Nick Offerman, Jon Bernthal, Audra McDonald, Connie Nielsen, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Myles Frost, Finn Wittrock, Victoria Pedretti, Isha Blaaker, Leonardo Nam, Donna Mills, Emily Yancy and Blair Underwood.
DuVernay also produces the project alongside frequent collaborator Paul Garnes of Array Filmworks (“Selma,” “Middle of Nowhere”). The independent film, financed by J4A, shot in Savannah, Ga.; Berlin, Germany; and Delhi, India.
Puck first reported the news of DuVernay and WBTVG ending their pact.
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