This week we received news that FX had ordered 10 episodes of Donald Glover’s Atlanta sitcom. That means the network liked the pilot enough to go ahead with a full season, which is a victory in and of itself. The comedy, executively produced and written by Glover, is set to air in 2016.
But we still don’t know much about the show itself—we have a plot, a cast, and a director, but Gambino has been deafeningly silent about the script for a little while now. In his defense, Donald’s been busy building up an impressive acting reel in movies like The Martian and Magic Mike XXL. He’ll be a main character in Atlanta, too, after spending the summer shooting the pilot in and around his hometown of Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Here’s everything else we know about Atlanta.
It’s in good hands:
Atlanta is directed by Donald’s longtime collaborator Hiro Murai. Murai’s credits include the videos for Childish Gambino’s “Sober,” “Sweatpants,” and the short film Clapping For the Wrong Reasons.
Though news of the production itself has been scant, Murai did post this photo of a day’s schedule on Instagram:
It’s a semi-biographical look at the music industry:
The official press release came out in July, which revealed a tale of two cousins trying to make it in music. Glover plays Earnest “Earn” Marks, described as an artistic loner who left Atlanta to follow his artistic dreams. He returns home under a cloud of failure, only to discover his cousin (played by Brian Tyree Henry) as Atlanta’s hottest new rap act. You can read the full press release below.
LOS ANGELES, July 2, 2015 – The FX Networks comedy pilot Atlanta has cast its lead actors as production gets underway this month, it was announced today by Nick Grad and Eric Schrier, the Presidents of Original Programming for FX Networks and FX Productions. Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Lee Stanfield and Zazie Beetz will star in the pilot along with Glover, who created and wrote the pilot.
Hiro Murai will direct the pilot, which will be produced by FX Productions and begin shooting in Atlanta at the end of July. Glover serves as Executive Producer of the pilot Atlanta, along with Paul Simms (Girls, Flight of the Conchords, NewsRadio), and Dianne McGunigle of MGMT Entertainment.
Atlanta revolves around two cousins on their way up through the Atlanta rap scene whose opposing views on art versus commerce, success and race will make their quest anything but easy.
Donald Glover will play “EARNEST ‘EARN’ MARKS,” a loner who left Atlanta only to return; now working an unglamorous job and barely getting by. When his cousin Alfred becomes Atlanta’s hot rapper, Earn sees an opportunity to manage Alfred’s career. Glover is an award-winning actor and writer best known for playing “Troy” on the Yahoo! (formerly NBC) sitcom Community. As a writer on NBC’s 30 Rock, Glover received a WGA Award for best Comedy Series in 2008, 2009 and 2010. As the musical artist Childish Gambino, Glover has received two Grammy Award nominations.
Brian Tyree Henry will play “ALFRED MILES,” Atlanta’s hot of the moment rapper who plans to capitalize on the sudden fame as quickly as possible. Henry is currently recurring on HBO’s Vice Principals. He is best known for his appearances in the feature film Puerto Ricans in Paris, and TV’s The Knick, Boardwalk Empire, My America, The Good Wife and Law & Order. Brian’s numerous theatre credits include the origination of the role of General in Broadway’s Book of Mormon.
Lakeith Lee Stanfield will play “DARIUS,” Alfred’s oddly talented right-hand man and musical collaborator. Stanfield has appeared in numerous feature films, including Dope, Selma and Short Term 12, and will next be seen in the features Snowden, Straight Outta Compton and Miles Ahead, among several others. He is also a member of the hip hop group Moors.
Zazie Beetz will play “VAN,” a pragmatist caught up in a complicated relationship with Earn (Donald Glover) due to their daughter. Beetz has appeared in the feature film Applesauce and the short films Beasts and The Crocotta. She will next appear in the feature Finding Her and is currently shooting Wolves for writer/director Bart Freundlich.
The cast is full of rising talent:
Aside from Donald himself (who, as we know, is no slouch), Atlanta has starring roles for Lakeith Lee Stanfield, Zazie Beetz, and Brian Tyree Henry.
Stanfield has been on fire, killing his roles in Selma, Dope, and Straight Outta Compton (he played Snoop Dogg). Beetz is a relative newcomer, but made waves with her role in Applesauce. Glover’s cousin will be played by Brian Tyree Henry, who was sneaky good as one of Chalky White’s henchmen in Boardwalk Empire.
HBO is coming out with what sounds like an identical show:
Around the same time as Atlanta went into production, SNL head honcho Lorne Michaels announced he was moving forward with Brothers In Atlanta, described by Deadline as the story of “an aspiring DJ whose career has stalled due to his lack of focus and his get-rich schemes.”
The show is also set to debut in 2016, and features Gambino’s collaborator/muse Jaden Smith as Curtis, “a ‘New Atlanta’ teenager and rowdy neighbor with unpredictable interests and suspicious income.”
HBO’s 2016 slate of new shows will also feature Vinyl, an original series about the music industry in 1970s New York: