Black Writer Feels ‘Defeated’ After HBO Allegedly Stole Series from Her and Gave It to Keke Palmer
A Los Angeles-based executive producer and writer is calling out HBO Max for allegedly stealing a comedy series they initially shut down, but ended up giving to Keke Palmer.
On Wednesday, HBO Max announced the new comedy series, Unfriendly Black Hotties, which they’re developing with Keke Palmer, Jermaine Crawford, and Amy Aniobi, ,” Variety reported.
According to the show’s logline, the series will serve as a “comedic satire exploring Gen-Z’s weaponization of political correctness told through the eyes of four high school girls.”
Palmer, Crawford, and Aniobi will serve as co-writers and executive producers on the co-produced series between HBO Max and Entertainment One. Crawford was excited to share the announcement on Instagram and shout out the team behind the new series.
“Y’all are in for one helluva ride 😂 – Cheers team 🥂: @keke @amyaniobi @noraradd @aanch / @eone_tv and @hbomax 💙,” he captiopned his post.
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However, shortly after the show was announced, executive producer and writer Shay Caldwell took to Instagram to accuse the Warner Bros. Discovery-owned company of stealing the series she pitched to them a few years ago.
“Unfortunately, today, I feel defeated hearing the news that a project my writing partner @heycassady and I have shopped around Hollywood for the last 2 years has been picked up by HBO Max with a crew comprised of people from my personal pitch deck,” Caldwell shared in her lengthy caption.
She went on to highlight how HBO execs allegedly turned down the show they claimed had a title that “stood no chance” in today’s climate. Only to announce the show with the same title and an all-new team of producers.
“It strikes me as odd that the very project execs believed stood no chance with its title in the climate we live in would go on to find a life with the exact title and very similar content matter,” Caldwell wrote.
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Caldwell’s post included a series of receipts that appeared to confirm her accusations against HBO. Photos showed Caldwell’s original title and logo for Unfriendly Black Hotties, a screenshot of the original script created by Caldwell and Cassidy Dill, along with a mood board, stills from the pilot, and screenshots of copyright emails.
Caldwell also included her full statement that told the “tale of a young Black talent being swindled for their ideas in the shuffle of the Hollywood hustle in one as old as time.”
Caldwell closed her caption by expressing her desire to “rectify” the issue with HBO and also calling out Palmer, Crawford, and Aniobi, for becoming a part of her “defeat.”
“I’m in hopes an amicable reprieve is possible because it’s disheartening to see people you admire become a part of your feeling of defeat,” she wrote.
Caldwell’s comments section has been flooded with supportive messages from other Black creators who shared the same experiences in an unfortunate practice known to plague the entertainment industry.
“Bless you. It’s happened to me a couple times,” one person wrote.
“We still stealing in 2023!” added someone else.
No word yet from HBO Max or the show’s current team of writers and executive producers.