Brother, Black Ice Producers to Fasttrack Basketball-Themed Crime Drama Series The Count This Fall (EXCLUSIVE)

Stoked by raves and strong receptions to their world-premiering Toronto festival films, “Brother” producers Damon D’Oliveira and Clement Virgo, “Black Ice” producer Vinay Virmani, and “Alice, Darling” producer Noah Segal are warming up a new basketball-themed crime series, “The Count,” for this fall’s marketplace, Variety has learned.

A modern spin on French author Alexandre Dumas’ classic 19th-century novel of wrongful imprisonment “The Count of Monte Cristo,” the TV drama will bounce between Toronto’s basketball milieu and Haiti’s cultural mélange as it follows the transformation of a Haitian basketball player facing a life sentence for murder into to justice-seeking saboteur.

D’Oliveira and Virgo under their Conquering Lion Pictures company, The Good Karma Company’s chief content officer Virmani, and Elevation Pictures co-president Segal have signed on as executive producers on the series.

Virgo, who wrote and directed the Lamar Johnson-starring “Brother,” and Hubert Davis, director of the revelatory hockey documentary “Black Ice,” are set to direct “The Count, which starts pre-production in 2023.

Virgo’s “Brother” is his adaptation of David Chariandy’s award-winning novel, which explores manhood, ambition, family love and loss in a Scarborough housing complex. Virgo’s extensive TV credits include the series adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s novel “The Book of Negroes” (CBC, BET) and episodes of “Billions” and “Empire.” He and D’Oliveira are developing an adaptation of Esi Edugyan’s jazz-themed novel “Half-Blood Blues” with CBC through their company.

“I’m thrilled to be working on the adaptation of this literary masterpiece,” said Virgo, who signed with WME earlier this month. “Adapting ‘The Count’ to a contemporary setting opens up the classic story for a whole new generation.”

“Crime thrillers, like basketball, are popular around the world,” commented executive producers D’Oliveira, Segal and Virmani. “This combustive combo will play well for audiences, both young and old.”

Elevation’s Segal added that he and his fellow exec producers firmed up their commitment to “The Count” this week, and that their recent successes in Toronto convinced them to fast track it: “We are looking forward to bringing this series to buyers this fall.”

Elevation Pictures is a leading Canadian distributor and production company. Recent projects include Anna Kendrick-starring “Alice, Darling,” which was shot in Ontario, and Brandon Cronenberg’s “Infinity Pool.”

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