Spike Lee, Robert De Niro in New York frame of mind

Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:48pm EDT

Director Spike Lee attends a conference for the launching of the campaign ''TCK, TCK, TCK, Time for Climate Justice'' on climate change at the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival June 26, 2009. REUTERS/Alain Issock

Director Spike Lee attends a conference for the launching of the campaign ''TCK, TCK, TCK, Time for Climate Justice'' on climate change at the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival June 26, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Alain Issock

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Quintessential New York filmmakers Spike Lee and Robert De Niro have teamed with Showtime to develop a drama series about Lower Manhattan's Alphabet City.

The ensemble drama, "Alphaville," will chronicle the neighborhood's gritty and tumultuous past before it became the gentrified East Village.

The project will be written by John Ridley, with Lee on board to direct the potential pilot. Ridley, Lee, De Niro and his producing partner Jane Rosenthal will executive produce the project.

Set during the 1980s, the drama will re-create the neighborhood's mix of struggling artists and musicians living alongside Puerto Rican and black families. Along with its growing bohemian and celebrity population, which also included graffiti artists, break-dancers, rappers and DJs, the neighborhood was plagued by illegal drug activity and violent crime.

Local tensions culminated in the Tompkins Square Park riot of 1988, in which police clashed with anarchists and homeless activists.

The 1980s-era Alphabet City was the setting for the musical "Rent." The neighborhood also served as the backdrop for two De Niro pictures: 1976's "Taxi Driver" and 1999's "Flawless."

(Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)

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