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James Van Der Beek to Play DJ Diplo in Viceland Comedy

Variety logo Variety 1/4/2017 Elizabeth Wagmeister
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James Van Der Beek is returning to television.

The “Dawson’s Creek” alum is set to star in a scripted series in which he’ll play a fictional version of the DJ Diplo. The show, titled “What Would Diplo Do?,” has been greenlit with an initial six-episode order, Variety has confirmed.

The projects marks Viceland’s first-ever scripted series and first comedy for the Vice Media and A+E Networks cable network.

Along with starring, Van Der Beek wrote the series and will serve as showrunner. He and Diplo will both executive produce, alongside the DJ’s manager Kevin Kusatsu and music video director Brandon Dermer, who will direct the series. Viceland co-president Spike Jonze is shepherding the project.

“What Would Diplo Do?” is based on “A Day in the Life,” an online concert promo for Diplo’s Mad Decent Block Party, which featured Van Der Beek playing Diplo. The same team behind the Viceland series produced that digital short. (Watch the promo below.) Instead of actually playing Diplo, in the TV series, Van Der Beek will play a version of the DJ in a “collection of parables about life as told through the eyes of a guy who can bring 60,000 people to their feet, but kind of sucks one-on-one,” according to Deadline, which first broke news of the project.

Diplo, born Thomas Wesley Pentz, is one of the most successful DJs today. In addition to his solo work, the Grammy-winner is part of the electronic duos Major Lazer and Jack Ü. He has worked with Madonna, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, Usher, Ellie Goulding, and more.

Van Der Beek has had a slew of starring TV roles in recent years, including “CSI: Cyber” on CBS, “Friends With Better Lives” on CBS, and “Don’t Trust The B— in Apartment 23” on ABC. The Diplo project marks his first major writing role and his first executive producer and showrunner credit. He is repped by Paradigm.

Diplo and Kusatsu are also repped by Paradigm, and are additionally handled by TMWRK. Dermer is repped by 3 Arts and UTA.

“What Would Diplo Do?” is set to premiere later this year.

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