Prentice Penny’s Onyx Pilot ‘Not Cops’ Not Moving Forward

EXCLUSIVE: Onyx is not proceeding with Not Cops, a pilot from former Insecure showrunner Prentice Penny who is under an overall deal at the Disney collective. There is conflicting information over the reasons for the decision, which came days before filming was slated to begin in Atlanta, but timing seems to be a main issue.

Not unlike other projects on the Onyx slate, the half-hour pilot has a provocative premise — it revolves around residents of the Los Angeles neighborhood of Leimert Park who take charge of the safety in their community after defunding the police.

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Quietly picked up to pilot about two months ago, Not Cops has not been officially announced, which is not atypical for pilots which are sometimes confirmed when fully cast and starting production.

No one would comment but according to sources, Not Cops was in the middle of casting when the plug was pulled this week, with Bethlehem Million, Suzy Nakamura and Chi McBride among those already on board. Yet to be filled were the top two roles in the project which had been the subject of multiple testing sessions, I hear.

The pilot already had been in pre-production in Atlanta, with filming scheduled to begin in mid-July when things were called off. (The bulk of shooting was supposed to be in Atlanta, with possibly some location work in Los Angeles.)

At the time of the shutdown, the project did not have a deal with the local teamsters in Atlanta, which I hear had been communicated to talent as a motive to not proceed. That is not what union sources tell Deadline.

In Los Angeles, the Hollywood Basic Crafts below-the-line unions, which include Teamsters Local 399, have been negotiating with the studios a new three-year deal as their current contract is coming to an end July 31.

In Atlanta, the teamsters tend to work with production companies on a project-by-project basis, and Local 728 up to the very end tried to “do everything possible” for the Not Cops shoot to happen, a well-positioned union source tells Deadline. “The studio said it wasn’t going to work out,” the source added.

Regardless of the exact circumstances, there had been concern among producers that with the current timeline and multiple elements up in the air, the pilot would not be finished quickly enough for the potential series to meet its target delivery.

Prentice is one of the top names on Onyx’s talent roster. He recently directed the collective’s Hulu documentary Black Twitter: A People’s History and has other projects in development.

Dominic Patten contributed to this report.

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