Now that the CW's Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene has found its lead in Pretty Little Liars alumna Lucy Hale, executive producer Greg Berlanti is opening up on the timeframe for the series as well why the series is so meaningful for co-creators / executive producers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Michael Grassi.
The upcoming pilot from Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. TV establishes that the series takes place years after Josie's days at Riverdale high school – which is why there won't be a crossover with the CW hit series. As for why Katy Keene was selected versus other "Archie-verse" characters, Berlanti explained that it was "a really personal story" for Aguirre-Sacasa and Grassi:
"I think it speaks to Robert and Michael and what they're passionate about as it's a story of young artists and storytellers. Roberto came from a show like Glee and there are elements of his life as a playwright, living in New York and all those young days that he really wants to capture."
While the series won't be light on the drama, Berlanti emphasizes that it will always be about "family" first:
"They'll be soap elements, but I think they (Roberto and Michael) see it as the first family you make when you're a young artist trying to make it in the big city; that's what's really exiting about it."
Described as "very different from Riverdale," Aguirre-Sacasa's Katy Keene follows the lives and loves of four iconic Archie Comics characters — including fashion legend-to-be Katy Keene (Hale) and singer/songwriter Josie McCoy (Riverdale's Ashleigh Murray) — as they chase their twenty-something dreams in New York City. This musical dramedy chronicles the origins and struggles of four aspiring artists trying to make it on Broadway, on the runway and in the recording studio.
Hale's Katy Keene is a bold, big-hearted, and independent twenty-something New Yorker who aspires to be a fashion designer. When she's not working as a personal shopper at a luxury department store, she's navigating friendship and dating in the big city.
Spinning off from her time in the small town of Riverdale, a now 20-something Josie McCoy (Murray) sets off on a new adventure to make it in the big city. More determined than ever to break into the music scene as the next Diana Ross, Josie finds herself forging new friendships, falling into new relationships, and, one day, becoming the star she is destined to be.
Camille Hyde's (American Vandal) Alexandra is a powerful, savvy and chic New York socialite. Senior Vice President at her father's company, she is both respected and feared. Alexandra is competitive with her brother, Alexander – who has a very different vision for the record label.
Lucien Laviscount's (Snatch) Alexander is the CEO of his father's company and dreams of rebooting its dormant record label division, which attracts him to Josie. He's cut from a different cloth than his billionaire family, as he'd rather take the subway and listen to vinyl – and he secretly DJs at a dive club.
Jonny Beauchamp's (Penny Dreadful) Jorge/Ginger Lopez works at his family's bodega by day – but by night, his drag alter ego Ginger bartends and performs at a local club. Jorge always has aspired to be a Broadway performer, but he's now looking to take his drag career to the next level.
Julia Chan's (Saving Hope) Pepper Smith is a New York City "It Girl" who is at the epicenter of all things trendy. As the funny, magnetic life of the party, she dreams of opening her very own version of Andy Warhol's Factory. But behind all the outrageous noise, no one quite knows where she gets all her money — or if she even has any.
Written and executive produced by "Riverdale-verse" mastermind Aguirre-Sacasa and Grassi, the musical dramedy's pilot will be directed by Maggie Kiley (American Horror Story: Cult, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina). Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, and Jon Goldwater will also executive produce; Berlanti Productions (CW's Batwoman) will serve as the studio, in association with Warner Bros. Television.