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DEADLINE – EXCLUSIVE: Facebook has given a ten-episode straight-to-series order to a half-hour female-driven dramedy, starring and executive produced by Elizabeth Olsen. The untitled series (fka Widow), which will run on streaming platform Facebook Watch, was created and written by Kit Steinkellner (Z: The Beginning of Everything), with Switched at Birth creator Lizzy Weiss on board as showrunner and James Ponsoldt (Master of None) set to executive produce and direct multiple episodes, including the pilot. The show hails from Big Beach TV and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
The Kit Steinkellner/Elizabeth Olsen dramedy, which had been in the works for awhile, is among the first high-end series ordered by Facebook as the social media juggernaut is making a push in premium original content. The project, written on spec by playwright Steinkellner, had been originally set up at Showtime. Its premise is not being revealed but Olsen is believed to be playing a young widow dealing with grief while reconnecting with relationships from her past. YouTube Red has a similarly themed half-hour pilot, Widow.
In addition to Olsen, Weiss and Ponsoldt, the series will also be executive produced by Robin Schwartz, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf for Big Beach TV, and Cynthia Pett, Brad Petrigala, and Jon Liebman for Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Big Beach TV, a subsidiary of independent film powerhouse Big Beach, will serve as the studio. Emmy-winning casting director Avy Kaufman (The Night Of, Damages, The Alienist, Life of Pi) is casting the series.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the group we have brought together for this show,” Olsen said. “Kit’s story has been near and dear to me for years and I can’t wait to share our dark, funny, and complicated show with the world. “
Olsen is coming off co-starring turns in Wind River, Ingrid Goes West and Marvel’s Avengers franchise.
Steinkellner’s debut graphic novel Quince was published this fall. She is also adapting the memoir Mad About Men for television with Sundial Pictures.
Weiss was the creator and executive producer of the Peabody-award winning drama Switched at Birth, which ran for five seasons and over 100 episodes on Freeform and received a Peabody award.
Ponsoldt directed and executive produced the pilot for the praised Netflix series Master of None, as well as features like The Spectacular Now and The End of the Tour.
Big Beach TV is currently in production on the Starz series Vida from showrunner Tanya Saracho, whose next project Brujas they are also developing. They have several other shows in development including Gorilla and the Bird with Channing Tatum’s Free Association. On the feature side, Big Beach recently had two world premieres at Sundance 2018: Puzzle, whose worldwide rights sold to to Sony Pictures Classics, and White Fang. TriStar Pictures recently acquired worldwide rights to Big Beach’s You Are My Friend, based on the life of Fred Rogers, to be directed by Marielle Heller and star Tom Hanks as Rogers.
Olsen is repped by Gersh, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, and Sloane Offer. Ponsoldt is repped by UTA, BEP and Frankfurt Kurnit. Steinkellner is repped by ICM Partners, Circle of Confusion and Felker Toczek. Weiss is repped by UTA.