The prolific creator and producer is developing a prequel series focused on his iconic character’s origins at Showtime. ViacomCBS’ premium cable outlet has ordered multiple scripts for the project, titled Mabel.
The drama comes from creators Perry and Tim Palen, with JaNeika and JaSheika James (Empire, HBO Max’s Gossip Girl reboot) attached to write. All four will serve as executive producers.
Mabel is set in Atlanta in 1972. It will tell the story of Mabel Simmons: Long before she was the force of nature known as Madea, she was a smart, fierce, irresistible, dangerous, crazy 20-something Black woman who set the city — and the world — on fire.
Perry has a massive content partnership with ViacomCBS that includes an ownership stake in streaming service BET+, for which he has produced series Ruthless and Bruh, along with The Oval and Sistas for BET’s cable network.
BET+ also streamed a performance of Madea’s Farewell Play in August 2020, which marked Perry’s final time playing the character — a role that spanned more than 20 plays and 11 feature films.
“I don’t want to be her age playing her, so it was time to shut it down and move on,” Perry told The Hollywood Reporter at the 2019 premiere of A Madea Family Funeral. “I’ve got some other things I want to do, and in this next 50, I’m going to do something different.”