Al Thompson and his production company ValDean Entertainment has enjoyed quite the success with their professional couch surfer comedy series Johnny B Homeless even before it officially launched. After screening at ITVFest and then scoring the People’s Choice Award at the 2009 New York Television Festival, came announcement this week of a long-awaited deal with Atom.com, with the nine-episode first season premiering on the network as well as the option for a season two, currently in development.
I had a chance to sit down and chat with Thompson about how good it feels to have “found a home” for Johnny B Homeless as well as sharing details on what ValDean has planned for 2010, including the drama series Lenox Avenue. Thompson explained that ValDean’s mission is to create entertainment that can translate across mediums. While Johnny B Homeless was developed for the internet, it could easily make the transition onto television, which makes it a natural fit for Atom, with its half hour late-night version of the show on Comedy Central.
Thompson discussed how a big part of ValDean’s vision is to harken back to classic 80s and 90s television showed. Some examples he mentioned were The Fall Guy, Greatest American Hero, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the latter being the inspiration for the intro to Johnny B Homeless composed by Thompson and Joachim Horsley. “These were the shows you begged your parents to let you stay up late for,” said Thompson.
Up next for ValDean is spreading the word about their new drama series Lenox Avenue. Thompson describes it as a male Sex in the City that follows three men in different stages of relationships in Harlem, NYC. It was important to Thompson that the show touch an age and type of man not often represented in entertainment: the 20 – 30 range, men who are good dressers (“pants not hanging on the ground,” quipped Thompson) with good credit and maybe a condo. “Guys having a glass of Merlot or scotch just kicking it”. The series stars Thompson, Dorian Missick (Lucky Number Slevin), and Ryan Vigilant and features Jamie Hector (The Wire, Heroes) and Michael K Williams as guest stars. Seith Mann (Entourage, Heroes, Californiacation) is slated to direct episodes of season two.
If all that weren’t enough, Thompson and producing partner Brian Rolling are also in pre-production on an as of yet untitled web project that will be shooting next month in Ocean City, Maryland. It’s clear that Thompson is not one to ever rest on his laurels and is constantly pushing himself farther on each project: “I make sure I step it up each time,” he stated.