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Writing partners Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman have teamed up to establish 25 Stories, a new label at CBS Studios, where both are under big overall deals. Led by longtime NBC current executive Bruce Evans, who will serve as EVP, the venture is aimed at amplifying diverse voices and creating sustainable career paths for people of color, from staff writer to showrunner.
25 Stories, which is the brainchild of Lumet, will develop content for linear, premium cable and streaming platforms. It is separate from Kurtzman’s prolific CBS Studios-based Secret Hideout, run by Heather Kadin, which also will continue to be a home for diverse storytellers.
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“25 Stories began in my kitchen in 2017 during a marathon screenwriting weekend for about 25 women of color, all extraordinary writers,” said Lumet. “I knew I wanted to bring prestige television by writers of color to the marketplace, and I began to think about how to create a space where marginalized voices are centered. A space where both seasoned and newer voices have room to breathe. I thought a lot about scale: intimate stories, family stories, positive stories. I wanted people to emerge from their experience with 25 Stories with the tools to start their own companies. Ultimately, a space that will launch creators. Those 25 writers in my kitchen led me right here.”
The new company marks the next step in the evolution of Lumet and Kurtzman’s partnership, which started during the 2016-17 broadcast season when a drama pitch she sold with Secret Hideout to CBS via CBS Studios went to pilot.
Lumet went on to become a key creative voice in the Kurtzman-led Star Trek universe with stints as co-executive producer/executive producer on Star Trek: Discovery and consulting producer on Star Trek: Picard. Lumet and Kurtzman also became writing partners, co-writing the episode “Runaway” of the Emmy-nominated series Star Trek: Short Treks and co-creating together three series, the upcoming Discovery spinoff, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (with Akiva Goldman), CBS’ Silence of the Lambs sequel Clarice and Showtime’s upcoming The Man Who Fell To Earth reboot, on which Lumet serves as co-showrunner alongside Kurtzman and John Hlavin.
“I’ve been so lucky to do work I’m proud of in collaboration with brilliant people,” Kurtzman said. “The best way to stand up for everything Jenny and I believe in is to stand behind the mission of 25 Stories. Creating a company solely dedicated to this mission felt like an important next step, to expand on the work we’ve done at Secret Hideout. We’re thrilled Bruce is joining us, and we’re grateful to CBS Studios for believing in this effort enough to make it a reality.”
25 Stories marks the latest CBS Studios initiative supporting the creation of diverse and inclusive content, joining the studio’s multi-year partnership with NAACP.
“It is imperative for us as a studio to support the growth of diverse storytelling, by providing a nurturing environment for creative voices to emerge and thrive. This new imprint is in line with the evolving goals of the studio to be more diverse, thoughtfully inclusive, and strategically equitable in telling more kinds of stories,” said David Stapf, President, CBS Studios. “And no one is better suited to support those voices than Jenny, Alex and Bruce. Their combination of experience and creative acumen makes them the ideal trio to lead this venture. We’re honored to be the home of this new and important company.”
Evans was an NBC veteran of over 25 years until he left the company in February. He held various current executive positions, most recently EVP, Current Programming, NBC Entertainment. During his tenure, he worked on series such as This Is Us, Manifest, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place, New Amsterdam, The Blacklist, Grimm, Blindspot and the entire Dick Wolf-produced Chicago and Law and Order franchises.
An advocate for increasing diversity both in front of and behind the camera, Evans co-founded and serves as VP on the board of Colour Entertainment, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of diverse professionals in all aspects of the entertainment community.
Rachel Getting Married screenwriter Lumet helped establish and led the first Diversity Caucus when she served on the council of the Writers Guild of America East and served on the board of the Writers Guild Initiative. She is an executive director of Bindercon, a conference for women and non-gender-conforming writers, and holds screenwriting seminars for women of color and women over 40.
Kurtzman/Secret Hideout’s Star Trek universe for Paramount+/CBS Studios includes anchor Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek” Prodigy, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, with a project based on “Section 31,” starring Michelle Yeoh and run by Craig Sweeney, in development. Additionally, Kurtzman serves as executive producer on the series Kavalier and Clay, an adaptation of Michael Chabon’s acclaimed novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
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