Born in a shtetl in Siberia in 1888, Irving Berlin emigrated to America, became one of the most successful songwriters of his generation, composed multiple Broadway hits, battled both his fiance's and his own family when he decided to marry outside his religion, and spent his final years as a recluse before his death at age 101.
So there is plenty of material for a planned TV series based on his life. Deadline.com reports that Emmy winner Max Lewkowicz and his New York-based Dog Green Productions have acquired the rights to Berlin’s life and music from the Berlin family and the Irving Berlin Music Company to develop the hour-format series for a network to be announced.
Lewkowicz executive produces with Theodore Chapin, president and executive director of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company, formerly the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. The team is hoping to have a pilot ready in 2018.
Berlin's Broadway musicals include Annie Get Your Gun, Miss Liberty, Louisiana Purchase, The Cocoanuts and multiple editions of the Ziegfeld Follies. He also composed music for numerous movie musicals, including several that have been adapted to the stage, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, and Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical, coming to Studio 54 this fall. He is reputed to have written more than 1,200 songs, including “God Bless America,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade.”
He built Broadway's Music Box Theatre and helped found ASCAP, the song rights organization.
“The time seems especially right to tell the Irving Berlin story,” Chapin told Deadline. “With television dramas being so well done today, and with a story that has been in front of us all along, this series has the potential to strike many a chord in audiences. It will depict a slice of American ambition, talent, humanity, struggle, and yes, luck. Irving Berlin lived at an extraordinary time in our history, and his story reflects the best of the American dream.”