FX is developing a series based on the life of Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki, best known as the founder of the Benihana restaurant chain, Variety has learned exclusively from sources.
The series is currently titled “American Hiro” and is based in part on the book “Making It in America: The Life and Times of Rocky Aoki” by Jack McCallum.
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Representatives for FX and 20th Television declined to comment.
The series will delve into Aoki’s colorful life as a mogul and businessman, from founding Benihana to being an Olympic wrestler, professional speed boat racer, hot air balloonist, and nightclub impresario. It will also examine his complicated relationship with his family and his attempts to reconcile his Japanese heritage with his American dreams.
Jonathan Abrams created the series and will serve as an executive producer. Steve Aoki and Devon Aoki, two of Hiroaki’s children, will executive produce as well. Jon M. Chu and Caitlin Fioto will executive produce on behalf of Electric Somewhere. Five All in the Fifth Entertainment’s Douglas Banker will also executive produce, with Five All having originated the project. YMU Group’s Matt Colon and Dougie Bohay, managers for Steve Aoki, will both executive produce. 20th Television is the studio.
Aoki opened the first Benihana in 1964. Since then, the company now owns nearly 100 restaurants worldwide with over 7400 employees, per the official website. Aoki was also a noted amateur wrestler, qualifying for the 1960 Olympic Games. He won several titles in his native Japan and went on to win three in the U.S. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995.
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