By Matt Grobar
EXCLUSIVE: Mark and Dorothy Canton’s Atmosphere Entertainment has launched development on The 18th, a one-hour series inspired by the true story of Nebraska’s “Queen of the Bootleggers,” which has Odessa A’zion (Grand Army) set to star.
The series set in the early 1900s will follow Louise Vinciquerra, a young Italian immigrant wife and mother who rose out of poverty to become the Bootlegging Queen of the American heartland. Adored by her customers and hunted by the Feds, she conned and charmed her way onto the front pages for earning too much money, shooting too many husbands, seducing too many prohibition agents, and just being Too Much – all before she turned 25 years old.
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Shelley Eriksen (Private Eyes, The Order) created the series with Vinciquerra’s niece Stephanie Kurtzuba (The Irishman, Bad Education) and Lawrence Smith (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Comedian), drew on family lore, newspaper articles and research journals to write the pilot and will serve as showrunner. Ericksen, Kurtzuba and Smith are developing the project as executive producers alongside Mark Canton (300, Power universe) and Dorothy Canton (Arthur the King, Power), with Timothy Christian, Rab Butler and Susan Haddix to serve as co-executive producers.
“I’m thrilled to create and write a series that is rooted in a woman’s view of American history,” said Eriksen, “and especially in watching Louise break out of the violent and domestic world where most women were meant to live and die. She’ll define who she is and defy what’s expected of her at every turn.”
“Growing up, stories of my Aunt Louise epitomized the idea of a powerful woman,” said Kurtzuba. “I feel a sense of legacy in telling the story of how she survived and thrived during one of the most dangerous times and places in America.”
“I was immediately captivated by Vinciquerra’s self-reliant and relentless journey,” said Smith. “This was a woman who backed down for no one.”
Said Mark Canton: “This is a story that easily lends itself to a series that will be energetic and cinematic. There’s been a resurgence in popularity for the ‘western’ and this will be an updated version of the genre – uniquely dark with a sensual flair.”
Added Dorothy Canton: “‘The 18th’ will be a series at times gritty and at other times bright with hope – just like its young heroine. The grit and filth is Louise’s reality, but she can also see the dreamy, sparkling future she desires.”
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A’zion is a rising star who recently appeared in Hannah Marks’ Tribeca indie Mark, Mary & Some Other People and will soon be seen in Stephanie Allynne and Big Notaro’s buzzed-about Sundance pic Am I OK? and David Bruckner’s Hellraiser reboot for Hulu, among other projects. She’s perhaps best known for her turn as Joey Del Marco on Netflix’s Grand Army and has also appeared in such series as Fam and Nashville, along with films like Supercool.
Atmosphere Entertainment executive produced Starz’s Power and is also behind spin-offs Ghost, Raising Kanan, and the soon to be released Force. They also produced the blockbusters 300 and 300: Rise of an Empire, as well as films including Den of Thieves (and its upcoming sequel), Immortals, The Spiderwick Chronicles and the upcoming Mark Wahlberg pic, Arthur the King. They also teamed with Courtney Solomon to exec produce the animated series The Freak Brothers, which recently premiered on Tubi, as the most-watched show in the history of the streaming service.
A’zion is represented by Buchwald, Luber Roklin Entertainment and Royle Dice; Eriksen by Gersh and The Characters Talent Agency; Kurtzuba by Artists & Representatives, Blue Ridge Entertainment and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman; and Smith by Gersh.
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