Oprah Winfrey has recruited The Game and Being Mary Jane creator Mara Brock Akil and her husband, writer-director Salim Akil, for a new series on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Created and executive produced by the Akils, the hourlong dramedy, titled Love Is ___, is set to debut in 2018. Drawing inspiration from their real-life relationship, the project tells the love story between a modern-day power couple. In the world of Black Hollywood, they navigate a complex set of social codes, and this series will explore it all, from the good to the bad… to the ‘90s, because that’s the love story began.
The Akils executive produce the series through their Akil Productions banner, with Mara Brock Akil serving as showrunner. The series hails from Warner Horizon Scripted Television and stems from the Akils’ big overall deal at Warner Bros. TV.
Love Is ___ originated as Documenting Love, a multi-camera comedy project the Akils developed last season. It landed at ABC with a pilot production commitment. The script, which did not go to production at the broadcast network, is now being reworked as a one-hour single-camera dramedy.
“I’ve dreamed of working with the Akils,” said Oprah Winfrey. “I’ve been a huge fan of their work since first viewing ‘Girlfriends.’ They know just how to hit the cultural nerve to make you think and laugh at the same time.”
Love Is ___ joins OWN’s lineup of scripted dramas that includes Queen Sugar, Greenleaf, The Haves and the Have Nots and If Loving You is Wrong, which year-to-date comprise four of the top six original scripted series on ad-supported cable for women 25-54.
It is the latest OWN scripted series from top African American creative talent, along with shows from Tyler Perry (The Haves and the Have Nots, If Loving You is Wrong) and Ava DuVernay (Queen Sugar). OWN had said the network would to ramp up its original series portfolio in light of Perry’s pending departure for a deal at Viacom.
“To have a partner that brings the attention to detail and sheer excellence that Oprah has built an empire on is an absolute dream come true for Salim and me,” said Mara Brock Akil. “That, and it’s Oprah! Love Is ___ is not only a passion project, but is a personal one for us as well. We’re grateful to have her wholehearted support and magic touch behind this story.”
Between them, the Akils have written, produced and/or directed more than 350 episodes of primetime television series. Up next for them is the Warner Bros. Television/DC drama series Black Lightning for the CW, which they are executive producing, with Salim Akil serving as showrunner.
In addition to drama Being Mary Jane and comedy The Game, Mara also created/executive produced The Game’s predecessor Girlfriends. Salim was director on all and executive produced The Game and Being Mary Jane. Mara Brock Akil is repped by CAA, Salim Akil is wth ICM Partners.