Slave Play Writer Jeremy O. Harris' Overall HBO Deal Includes a Fund Built to Support the Theater Community

Jeremy O. Harris attends The Vulture Spot presented by Amazon Fire TV 2020 on January 24, 2020, in Park City, Utah.
Jeremy O. Harris attends The Vulture Spot presented by Amazon Fire TV 2020 on January 24, 2020, in Park City, Utah.
Photo: Phillip Faraone (Getty Images for New York Magazine)

Jeremy O. Harris has signed a two-year overall deal with HBO. As part of the deal, the Slave Play playwright will be developing an untitled pilot along with continuing his co-producer role for Euphoria, the premium cable series starring Zendaya.

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Deadline reports:

The HBO announcement said that Harris’ untitled pilot will be based on his Yale Drama graduate thesis. Though the subject matter was not indicated, previous reports describe Harris’ thesis play Yell: a ‘documentary’ of my time here as a “cri de coeur about his Ivy League alienation.”

Harris will serve as an executive producer on the untitled project along with A24.

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What makes this news so special, other than the major deal, is that Harris will also be able to continue his support of the theater community. This isn’t your typical sell-out story where the theater geek abandons the community for the more lucrative and seemingly glamorous television or film industry.

According to HBO (via Deadline), “the overall deal includes a discretionary fund that Harris can use for new theatrical projects which he will commission, enhance and produce for himself and others.”

Harris shared the news on Twitter, admitting that he initially passed on the offer, but negotiated the fund with the network, who obliged.

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“Jeremy is a singular talent whose groundbreaking work in the theatrical space has already revolutionized Broadway and we couldn’t be more honored to expand the reach of his voice in television,” Francesca Orsi, executive vice president, HBO Programming, said in a statement via Deadline.

“Since first embarking on a theatre career I’ve known that tv/film would most likely be the only space where I could build a livelihood for myself, like many other playwrights before me,” Harris noted in a statement. “Yet, I wanted to make sure that any company I worked with in that space recognized the importance of maintaining the delicate ecology of theatre in these times.

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“To know that HBO also believed in that vision gives me immense hope for the future of both industries,” Harris added. “This unique partnership means that the relationship between the worlds of theatre and television can become more symbiotic in years to come. This also gives me an opportunity to spread the wealth among a community that has shared so much with me.”

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Along with Slave Play and his HBO deal, Harris is also fresh off of the Sundance train as the festival selection Zola (which he co-wrote with Janicza Bravo) will be distributed by A24 in Summer 2020. The film also gained international distribution rights via Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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