Miyoshi Umeki and James Shigeta from the 1961 film “Flower Drum Song”
Courtesy of the Everett Collection
Concord is diving deeper into its IP vault of music and theatrical performance rights to develop movies, TV shows and podcasts through the newly established Concord Originals division.
Sophia Dilley has been promoted to senior vice president to lead the push at Concord Originals from Los Angeles. Dilley told Variety the company plans to be nimble in its dealmaking and aims to work with a range of production and distribution partners, depending on the needs of each project.
Among the properties that Concord is actively developing is a new take on “Flower Drum Song” with Daniel Dae Kim’s 3AD production banner and Janet Yang Prods. The 1958 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical was adapted as a 1961 movie starring Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta and Miyoshi Umeki. Concord represents the voluminous Rodgers & Hammerstein for theatrical licensing.
“The Bluesman” is conceived as an “elevated genre film” revolving around the life and music of legendary 1930s Mississippi Delta musician Robert Johnson, to be penned by playwright Aleshea Harris. Concord’s music publishing arm represents Johnson’s catalog of seminal blues tunes, including “Cross Road Blues,” “Ramblin’ on My Mind” and “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom.”
Concord also hopes to produce “Peregrina,” a scripted podcast inspired by the classic Mexican ballad about the ill-fated 1930s romance between Mexican governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto and a magazine columnist from California, Alma Reed. Concord Originals has optioned Reed’s memoir. The company’s music library also includes several classic recordings of the song on the Musart label.
Concord Originals aims to be flexible with its development processes and will steer projects to the format that best seems to fit material. Dilley said a great deal of effort will be focused on TV, as there is so much demand for episodic content.
“We’re always looking for partners who share the same vision that we have,” Dilley told Variety. “We are developing some projects in-house and doing them on our own before we find the right producing partners.”
Dilley’s team at Concord Originals includes Wesley Adams and Charles Hopkins, who have been promoted to directors of development and production, and development coordinator Quile Gomez.
Concord Originals has a deep bench of properties to consider. After years of buying up libraries and catalogs, Concord’s vast archive includes access to works by such artists as Common, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cyndi Lauper, Imagine Dragons, James Taylor, Kehlani, Phil Collins, Robert Johnson, Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco and St. Vincent.
The Concord Theatricals unit has a catalog of more than 12,000 plays and musicals, including the works of Adrienne Kennedy, August Wilson, Irving Berlin, Kander & Ebb, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Tennessee Williams and Thornton Wilder.
Concord already has a few high-profile projects in the works, including a TV series reimagining of “Oklahoma!,” which Concord Originals is producing alongside Skydance TV. A remake of “The King and I” is in the works with Temple Hill for Paramount Pictures.
The company has also teamed with Jennifer Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions and Skydance to develop a slate of original projects.
“We are format-agnostic,” Dilley said of the approach to development. “The nature of the business now is that TV is so prominent. For feature films we have a few interesting concert documentaries that we’ve been exploring. We’re open to thinking about new ways to bring these catalogs into the film and TV world.”
Here are descriptions of Concord’s new projects:
Flower Drum Song
Concord Originals has partnered with Daniel Dae Kim’s 3AD and Janet Yang Productions to re-imagine Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Tony Award-winning musical Flower Drum Song for screen. The 1961 feature adaptation of the 1958 Broadway production of the same name received five Academy Award nominations and was the first major Hollywood feature film that featured a majority Asian/Asian American cast. The show returned to Broadway in 2002, with a revised book by David Henry Hwang. Dilley is producing the project for Concord Originals, alongside Kim and John Cheng for 3AD and Janet Yang.
Concord Originals has tapped Concord Theatricals award-winning playwright Aleshea Harris (Obie Award-winning “Is God Is”) to pen an elevated genre film inspired by the music and mythology of the legendary Blues artist Robert Johnson. Johnson reached notoriety posthumously as a godfather of the blues and a source of influence for mega artists the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Dylan. His Grammy Award-winning, genre-defining catalog is represented under Concord Music Publishing. Hopkins is overseeing the project on behalf of Concord Originals.
Concord Originals and Prodigal Entertainment, led by Arvind Ethan David (Grammy Award-winning and 15-time Tony-nominated “Jagged Little Pill,” which Concord Theatricals co-produced), have partnered to develop a premium scripted podcast that tells the love story inspired by the classic Mexican ballad “Peregrina.” Concord Originals optioned the memoir of the New York Times journalist Alma Reed to serve as underlying IP for the project. The ballad follows the ill-fated romance of the audacious Reed, and the trailblazing Mexican political figure, Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Concord owns several seminal recordings of the ballad under Musart, a label owned by Concord via Craft Latino. Adams is running the project for Concord Originals alongside Justin Lillehei for Prodigal.
Variety's Cynthia Littleton contributed to this post.