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Audio Up, Z2 Partner for ‘Neon Empire’ Graphic Novel and Podcast Based on Fictional Country Star
William Earl Podcast network Audio Up and graphic novel publisher and merchandiser Z2 are partnering to produce the fictional “Neon Empire.” Described as “one part ‘8 Mile’ with a dash of ‘Once Upon a Time in America,’ the story is a dark send-up of Nashville’s music business featuring original music from top country artists. Based on a central character called Kountry Boi, the “hick-hop” star goes from rags to rap riches while coming to terms with his own troubled past. The idea was developed by Audio Up founder Jared Gutstadt, who played an early instrumental role in the development of real-life genre-hopper Jelly Roll. “Country music is changing, and the new outlaws are defining this town,” said Gutstadt, who is in the process of building a Nashville outpost for his company. “Until now, it was unheard of to have country acts with tattoos on their face who refused to conform to the strict guidelines and cookie-cutter approach of Music Row. This new world has yet to be explored in fiction, and Neon Empire is an expose of this creative, hyperkinetic, and often violent world. This is fiction rooted in a reality that I’ve been dying to reveal. Z2 is the perfect conduit and partner to bring this to life.”
How the Writers Strike Is Forcing a Rewrite of Emmy FYC Season
Michael Schneider Variety Editor at Large As TV Academy members toasted the stars of “Ted Lasso” on May 1, things were about to change dramatically in the Emmy campaign space. Apple TV+ was celebrating the opening of a “For Your Consideration” activation at Goya Studios, where it erected a massive tent to showcase its bevy of contenders. It’s a well-appointed and pristine space, with an almost Apple Store-meets-Emmys vibe. Displays celebrating Apple TV+ shows were front and center, along with an open bar, passed bites and a theater room for screenings and panels for celebrated shows like “Ted Lasso,” “Shrinking,” “Bad Sisters,” and more. But now here’s the problem with FYC: The writers strike has upended everything. The clouds were already forming at that “Ted Lasso” event, as the strike was called at the same moment co-creator/star Jason Sudeikis and team were celebrating the show’s Season 3 on stage. Many of the “Lasso” stars double as writers — Sudeikis, Brett Goldstein and Brendan Hunt included — so the power and importance of writers was on everyone’s minds. Sudeikis even remarked on how surreal it was to be there on stage talking about writing “Ted Lasso” just as the issues facing the town’s scribes took center stage. “Shout out to the writers,” he said. “What a day to be doing this.”