With so much behind-the-scenes Samsung drama, NBC may make a TV series
Sleepy Hollow showrunner Albert Kim will work on an untitled family drama for NBC featuring a cast almost entirely of Asian actors, The Hollywood Reporter reported today. Even though no pilot order has been made yet, the announcement carries significance given recent studies about the lack of Asian-American representation on TV (Masters of None, Dr. Ken, and Fresh Off the Boat represented the first three Asian-American-led shows since 1994, Deadline noted).
The new project, however, caught attention for an additional reason—its subject matter. According to THR, the project loosely draws inspiration from real-world drama familiar to any tech industry watchers.
“The untitled drama revolves around a family-owned Korean electronics corporation that is rocked when its CEO dies on the eve of launching their American subsidiary, with his will revealing the existence of a previously unknown heir,” the site wrote. “Kim based the original concept on Korean chaebols, multinational business conglomerates like Samsung that are run by single ruling families that often go through succession drama.”
Real-life Samsung has long been run by the Lee family, and the Lee family has long been involved in some very public issues. Current Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee has been in the position since 1987, when his father (company founder Lee Byung-chul) passed away. Lee Kun-hee was convicted of bribery in 1996 and of tax evasion and breach of trust in 2009, but in both cases he was never arrested and never served jail time. Later, his criminal record was erased through presidential pardons.
More recently, Lee Kun-hee resigned in 2008 amid a slush-fund scandal, only to return two years later. A 2014 heart attack has sidelined him ever since, but his son Lee Jae-yong then became the acting head of the company. (Lee Kun-hee remains chairman in title today.)
Lee Jae-yong soon found his own way into trouble. This past January, South Korean prosecutors sought to arrest the Samsung vice chairman on formal corruption charges. Lee was accused of paying bribes to a nonprofit connected to the soon-to-be-impeached South Korean president in exchange for approval of a merger of two Samsung Group affiliates—Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T—in 2015. The prosecutor’s office estimated that the total size of the alleged bribes was ₩43 billion ($36 million).
Lee was soon taken into custody and then indicted in February alongside other company executives. In August, after a six-month trial, a South Korean court convicted the 49-year-old Lee on those corruption charges as well as counts of perjury, embezzlement, and of hiding assets outside of South Korea. He was sentenced to five years in prison. The news came two days after Samsung unveiled its new flagship mobile phone, the Note8 (the successor to the also-engulfed-in-drama Note7).
Given all the real-world fodder (including South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, running on a platform of keeping family-controlled corporate conglomerates in check), Kim and NBC will be nothing if not timely should the project come to fruition.
They say, ‘write the show you want to see.’ It’s what I’m trying to do. https://r-login.wordpress.com/remote-login.php?action=auth&host=deadline.com&id=36403310&back=http%3A%2F%2Fdeadline.com%2F2017%2F11%2Fnbc-developing-family-drama-albert-kim-lin-pictures-1202208329%2F&h=
— Albert Kim (@MagicBranch) November 14, 2017
Author Nathan Mattise