ABC Studios has acquired the rights to the Oscar-nominated documentary film How To Survive A Plague for a possible ABC miniseries, which would be executive produced by the docu’s writer-director David France and producers Howard Gertler …
EXCLUSIVE: Reaper creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas have signed an overall deal with ABC Studios. Under the two-year pact, the writing-producing duo is joining the studio’s ABC drama pilot Gothica, co-produced by ABC Studio-based Mark Gordon Co. Butters and Fazekas will serve as executive producers/showrunners, working alongside creator/executive producer Matt Lopez. This marks a reunion for Butters and Fazekas with ABC Studios and the Mark Gordon Co, the companies behind the pair’s cult CW dramedy series Reaper. The gig on Gothica, a gothic soap, also marks Butters and Fazekas’ first full-time genre effort since Reaper. (They did some consulting work on Fox’s Dollhouse and Terra Nova).
ESPN programming executive Juan José Alfonso has been named VP Drama Development for ABC Studios. He will report to SVP Drama Development Michael McDonald. Alfonso comes from sister Disney company ESPN, where he was VP of Program Development, overseeing all international original content, including documentaries, scripted series, …
EXCLUSIVE: Twilight writer Melissa Rosenberg is formalizing her relationship with ABC Studios with an overall deal. The rich pact for Rosenberg and her Tall Girls Prods, which is being finalized, stems from her partnership with the studio on the upcoming midseason ABC series Red Widow. Rosenberg wrote the drama, an adaptation of the Dutch series Penoza, and is executive producing/showrunning for ABC Studios and Endemol. The series stars Rahda Mitchell as a widow of an assassinated criminal who is suddenly forced to adopt her late husband’s role in order to protect her family.
EXCLUSIVE: ABC Studios is making a concerted effort in the low-cost TV arena with the appointment of Tracy Underwood to run development of cable as well as lower-cost network programming for the studio. ABC Studios had been pondering a formal entrance into the low-cost TV space for a long time. According to industry speculation, one idea floated last spring included launching a dedicated unit referred to as Keystone. Instead, ABC Studios is starting off with one studio executive, Underwood, dedicated to developing lower-cost programming.
EXCLUSIVE: In their first development season after partnering last June to launch ABC Studios-based Di Bonaventura Pictures Television, Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Dan McDermott landed a series on the air, ABC’s midseason conspiracy drama Zero Hour. Now the duo have netted one of ABC‘s first drama commitments of the new development cycle with another high-concept project. The network has bought drama pitch Founding Fathers, from Di Bonaventura Pictures TV and ABC Studios. Written by feature scribe Rich D’Ovidio (Exit Woods, Thir13en Ghosts), Founding Fathers is described as “Donnie Brasco set in the world of Texas militias.” It centers on Nick Keating who, after serving a third tour in Afghanistan, returns home to find his small Texas town under the control of a militia group led by his older foster brother. After being seduced by the militia’s surprisingly community-based motives, he accepts a rare invitation to join the group. But unbeknownst to his new “family,” Nick has a secret agenda that will put his life in jeopardy and lead him to question his allegiances. D’Ovidio executive produces with Di Bonaventura and McDermott.
EXCLUSIVE: Castle executive producer Laurie Zaks is putting down roots at ABC Studios, which produces the ABC dramedy. Zaks has signed an overall deal with the studio, her first overall pact, and has launched her own production company, Second Season. Under the one-year deal, which has an option for a second year, Zaks will develop new projects. The name she chose for her company is a reference to “what you want to get for your show, a second season,” Zaks said. But also, “the second season is spring which is time for renewal. This is new for me, and I love that spiritual meaning.” Zaks has been at ABC Studios since 2006 when she left the network executive ranks to become president of Armyan Bernstein’s Beacon Television, which had a deal at the studio (then Touchstone TV). At Beacon, she developed Castle and has spent the past four years as an executive producer on the crime procedural starring Nathan Fillion. While she will keep her executive producer title on the show, Zaks will scale back her day-to-day involvement to focus on development this coming season. “I have to find the next Castle,” she quipped.
EXCLUSIVE: Army Wives star Catherine Bell has signed a new two-year deal with ABC Studios, which produces the veteran Lifetime drama series. The deal is qualified as a talent holding one as Army Wives has not been officially renewed beyond the current supersized sixth season. It would cover Bell’s services on the show for two more seasons, and I hear it includes a big salary bump from the actress’ current paycheck, which is in the high five figures per episode. While yet to pull the trigger on a Season 7, Lifetime has been actively exploring its options, including applying for the California TV tax credit lottery, which will be held Friday. I hear keeping the show in South Carolina for one more season and moving production to Los Angeles for two more seasons are among the discussed scenarios. None of the original cast members of Army Wives have deals beyond Season 6, and locking in Bell is a major step towards a potential renewal.