July 28, 2008 / 5:02 AM / 10 years ago

Showtime partying like it's 1977 with "Studio"

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The 1970s era of disco, drugs and excess is coming back with “Studio,” a new Showtime drama centering on the iconic New York nightclub Studio 54.

“Studio” centers on flamboyant co-founder Steve Rubell and starts off in the months leading to the club’s April 1977 opening. But Rubell will be the only real person featured, with the rest of the characters fictional or composites. (Mike Myers played the late impresario in the similarly themed 1998 feature “54,” which struck out at the box office.)

“The show is less about the history of Studio 54 than it is about New York in the late ‘70s, what people were going through, the political and social issues,” said Chad Hodge, who is writing the project for the cable channel. “Studio 54 is the backdrop for exploring that.”

Hodge, who was born the year the club opened, said he has long been fascinated with Studio 54 — or Studio, as it was commonly known.

“When I was about 15, my uncle told me the story of the night he took my grandparents there, complete with all the unnecessary and inappropriate details,” he said. “I was hooked (and never again could I look at my grandparents the same way).”

Hodge wrote “Studio” on spec and took it to “Hairspray” producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who had gone to Studio 54 with friend Liza Minnelli.

“It really was a time that has never been seen again,” Zadan said. “Socially, politically, everything about it was unique.”

Added Meron: “It was the last hurrah before the era of AIDS.”

“Studio” also will tap Zadan and Meron’s strong musical background. “Music is going to be a very big part of the show,” Meron said.

Because of Studio 54’s history of hedonism — it was notorious for rampant sex and drug use — Hodge, Zadan and Meron took the project to Showtime, where they felt they could best tell the gritty story.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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