After a 14-year stint at CBS TV Studios, longtime CSI showrunner Carol Mendelsohn is moving to Sony Pictures TV with a three-year overall deal. Mendelsohn has run the mothership CSI series since its 2000 launch and had been under an overall deal at CBS Studios, which produces the hugely successful crime drama franchise, since 2001. With her latest overall pact at the studio coming up, she was pursued by Sony TV brass who had had their eye on the veteran showrunner for a while. “Carol is a part of the fabric of television around the world and to work with someone who has not only created but sustains such an amazing global franchise is an honor,” said Sony TV president of programming and production Zack Van Amburg. Added fellow president Jamie Erlicht, “With her ability to tell stories that engage audiences everywhere, and the array of opportunities for great content, there is no limit to what we can accomplish together.”
This is a topical project given the big healthcare debate at the moment. CBS has out in development The Advocate, a drama from CSI maven Carol Mendelsohn and Scandal co-exec producer Judy Smith, the crisis management consultant the series’ Olivia Pope was based on. Written by Ayelet Waldman, The Advocate centers on a former doctor who has found her calling as a medical advocate, where she works on behalf of patients and their loved ones, solving medical crises and mysteries, and guaranteeing people the care they deserve.
NBC, the long-time home of the Law & Order franchise, has put in development another legal drama with “law” in the title. Law Man, from CBS TV Studios and studio-based Carol Mendelsohn Prods (The Defenders), is inspired by Shon Hopwood’s memoir and chronicles the journey of a small-town basketball star who goes from young bank robber to federal prison inmate, during which time he became the greatest jailhouse lawyer in American history. He went on to join the D.C. District Attorneys Investigative Unit where his life experience gives him insight into identifying the guilty from the innocent, as he struggles to fit back into the world that left him behind. Mark Gibson and Philip Halprin (They Call Me Cuervo) wrote and are executive producing alongside Carol Mendelsohn Prods’ Carol Mendelsohn, showrunner of the venerable CSI series, and Julie Weitz, while Hopwood serves as consultant. This marks the second sale for WME-repped Carol Mendelsohn Prods this season — the company also has an untitled 1960s surf drama with Rebecca Sinclair at the CW. Gibson and Halprin are repped by UTA and Principato-Young; Hopwood is with Hotchkiss & Associates.
EXCLUSIVE: Former 90210 showrunner Rebecca Sinclair is back at The CW with a new hourlong drama project set in Los Angeles. Sinclair has teamed with Carol Mendelsohn Prods (The Defenders) for a period drama set in 1961 Malibu at the onset of the Southern California surf culture as well as the wave of social change that would transform America. CBS TV Studios, where CMP is under a deal, will produce. Written, executive produced and run by Sinclair, the untitled darkly comedic drama explores the lives of a motley crew of Malibu surfers — each an outsider in their own way — who had found a community of kindred spirits. The show will dive beneath the idyllic surface of beach culture, using historic events — from the civil rights and women’s rights movements to the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam — to give the project a specificity. “We wanted to tell a different kind of story about the ’60s, one that explored the real events that led to the birth of California’s surf culture,” Carol Mendelsohn said. Quipped Sinclair, “There’s a Trojan horse element to this show: We’ll lure the audience in with gorgeous beaches, girls in bikinis and hot shirtless guys but then leave them grappling with big ideas.”
CBS has added one more pilot to its drama roster, greenlighting Second Sight, from Michael Cuesta, director/executive producer of the Emmy-winning Homeland and CSI executive producer/showrunner Carol Mendelsohn. Based on the 2000 British series starring Clive Owen, Second Sight is described as a gothic psychological thriller about a detective who is suddenly afflicted with an autoimmune virus that causes hallucinations reflective of his subconscious. He discovers that catching the killer depends as much on insight as eyesight. (watch the trailer for the original series below.) Cuesta wrote the adaptation with his brother Gerald Cuesta. The two previously teamed for another CBS drama project, the cult 2007 zombie pilot Babylon Fields, which Gerald co-wrote and Michael directed. Michael Cuesta is set to direct Second Sight, which he is executive producing with Mendelsohn, her executive Julie Weitz, Paula Milne, who created the original series, and Nick Reed. Weitz secured the rights to the British format for Carol Mendelsohn Prods. through British-born agent-turned-producer Reed, with whom she previously worked together at ICM. Gerald Cuesta and Phil Goldfine are co-executive producing.
Michael Cuesta shared in Homeland‘s best drama series Emmy win. There are four series currently on the air whose pilots he directed: Showtime’s Homeland and Dexter and CBS’ Blue Bloods and Elementary. Cuesta and Mendelsohn are with WME.
EXCLUSIVE: Michael Cuesta, director/executive producer of the Emmy-winning Homeland, has teamed with CSI executive producer/showrunner Carol Mendelsohn for Second Sight, a drama based on the 2000 British series starring Clive Owen. The project has been set up at CBS through CBS TV Studios, where Cuesta is under an overall deal, and studio-based Carol Mendelsohn Prods.
Second Sight centers on a homicide detective going blind who turns his affliction into an advantage – using his heightened senses and intuition to solve crimes. (watch the trailer for the original series below.) Cuesta will write the adaptation with his brother Gerald Cuesta. The two previously teamed for another CBS drama project, the cult 2007 zombie pilot Babylon Fields, which Gerald co-wrote and Michael directed. Michael Cuesta is set to direct Second Sight, which he is executive producing with Mendelsohn, her executive Julie Weitz, Paula Milne, who created the original series, and Nick Reed. Weitz secured the rights to the British format for Carol Mendelsohn Prods. through British-born agent-turned-producer Reed, with whom she previously worked together at ICM. Gerald Cuesta and Phil Goldfine are co-executive producing.
CSI maven Carol Mendelsohn, executive producer of the TNT drama pilot Scent Of The Missing, which revolves around search and rescue dogs, is behind another dog-centric project, this time on the unscripted side. CBS has picked up for summer Dogs In The City, a reality series starring New York City dog guru Justin Silver, which will premiere on May 30. In the vein of veteran Dog Whisperer, Silver, a dog trainer, behaviorist and owner of a pet care company, helps owners with any dog behavior-related problems.
CBS has given a pilot order to Widow Detective, a drama written by David Hubbard and produced by CSI maven Carol Mendelsohn. The project, from CBS TV Studios and Mendelsohn’s studio-based production company, centers on a decorated police detective who, after losing three partners in the line of duty, becomes surrogate husband, lover and father to their families. Hubbard and Mendelsohn are executive producing with Mendelsohn’s development executive Julie Weitz. Widow Detective is one of several projects Mendelsohn’s company has in contention at CBS, including a Rifleman reboot.
In the first full development cycle since Carol Mendelsohn brought in Julie Weitz as president of her CBS TV Studios-based production company last year, Carol Mendelsohn Prods has sold a half-dozen projects to CBS, CW and FX, including cop drama Throwdown Gun to FX penned by LA Confidential author James Ellroy. Most of the company’s broadcast projects are based on books. The list includes three shows at CBS: FBI drama The Murder Room, based on the book by Michael Capuzzo and written by feature scribe George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum); female cop drama Widow Detective, penned by David Hubbard (feature Noel); and another cop drama, Two Badges, based on the book by Mona Ruiz and Geoff Boucher and penned by Ted Humphrey (The Good Wife). At the CW, Carol Mendelsohn Prods is behind Unearthly, a supernatural drama based on the book by Cynthia Hand and written by Hellcats creator Kevin Murphy, and The Hollows, based on the book series by Kim Harrison and penned by Jordan Hawley (Smallville). Additionally, the company recently received a pilot order from TNT for Scent Of The Missing, an adaptation of Susannah Charleson’s novel written by Mendelsohn, Treena Hancock and Melissa R. Byer. That project stars Tricia Helfer as an adrenaline-junkie leader of a canine search-and-rescue team who assists law enforcement agencies with her partner, a golden retriever. WME-repped Mendelsohn, who continues to run CBS’ mothership CSI series, executive produces all projects along with Weitz. Here are descriptions of the shows on the company’s development slate:
EXCLUSIVE: Battlestar Galactica alumna Tricia Helfer has been cast as the lead in TNT’s drama pilot Scent Of The Missing. Veteran Gerald McRaney will co-star in the project, co-written/executive produced by CSI maven Carol Mendelsohn, Melissa R. Byer and Treena Hancock based on the book by Susannah Charleson. Scent Of The Missing centers on Susannah (Helfer), a tenacious, strong-willed K-9 Search and Rescue volunteer who works with an equally determined partner — her mischievous golden retriever, Puzzle. McRaney will play her father, Jerry. The dog has not been cast yet. CBS Television Studios is producing the pilot, with Barry Josephson and Julie Weitz also executive producing. Helfer, who co-starred in Ron Moore’s NBC drama pilot 17th Precinct last season, has a major recurring role on NBC’s midseason series The Firm. McRaney, repped by Stone Manners Salners and Course Management, recently starred in another TNT pilot, Bird Dog.
EXCLUSIVE: TNT has given a pilot order to Scent of the Missing, a drama project co-written and executive produced by CSI: Crime Scene Investigation executive producer/showrunner Carol Mendelsohn and executive produced by Barry Josephson. Based on the book by Susannah Charleson, the project, produced by CBS TV Studios, centers on an adrenaline junkie leader of a canine search-and-rescue team assists various law enforcement agencies with her best friend and partner, a golden retriever. Mendelsohn co-wrote the script with CSI writers/co-executive producers Melissa Byer and Treena Hancock. The three are executive producing with Josephson, who had optioned the book and taken it to Mendelsohn, and Mendelsohn’s development executive Julie Weitz. Diane Nabatoff and Shelly Glasser will serve as co-executive producers. The project was originally announced in May as part of TNT’s development slate. Scent of the Missing joins Western Gateway, which was given a cast-contingent pilot order by TNT last month.
WME-repped Mendelsohn, who continues to steer veteran CBS crime drama CSI as it enters its 12th year, is having a busy development season at her CBS Studios-based company, which brought in Weitz as president a year ago. She is executive producing two drama projects set up at CBS, with a couple of pitches still in play. The CBS projects are Two Badges, a female-centered procedural written by Ted Humphrey based on Mona Ruiz’s memoir …
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
More laughs than screams? At today’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation panel at TCA, producers and actors from the long-running procedural drama said viewers should expect a lighter tone than in recent seasons with the introduction of Ted Danson’s new character, D.B. Russell.
Executive producer Carol Mendelsohn said the 12th season of CSI will still tend to open with “one or more dead or maimed bodies,” but that more humor will be injected into the procedure. “I think you can infer it — last year we were chasing a serial killer; that arc has come to an end … we will have more humor than last season.” After the session she reiterated that blood will still spill: “It will be our usual gore that we’ve all been desensitized to. … I don’t think we are going to lose our template.”
Said Mendelsohn of the decision to hire Danson: “We wanted a Sherlock Holmes — we did not want a science nerd. And we started the premiere of Season 1 with, ‘Here comes the nerd squad.’ We said, how do we get someone of great intelligence who is not a nerd?” That led, she said, to making Danson’s character the son of intellectual, Left Coast hippie parents.
Brothers & Sisters writer-producers Sherri Cooper and Jennifer Levin left the long-running ABC drama to focus on development. And this summer, they inked a two-script deal with CBS TV Studios. In a development season in which the medical genre has been hot, Cooper and Levin are now 2-for-2. They’ve sold two medical dramas: one to CBS with director-producer Richard Shepard attached, and another to the CW with Carol Mendelsohn on board as executive producer.
WME literary agent Julie Weitz is joining Carol Mendelsohn’s CBS TV Studios-based production company as president.
For the past 6 years, she was an agent at Endeavor and then WME. She joined Endeavor in 2004 when the agency launched a movies-for-television division and tapped Weitz to run it. Prior to that, Weitz served as EVP of original programming for TNT, where she was responsible for the supervision of development and production of original movies, mini-series, series and reality series. Weitz started her agency career in 1992 at ICM, where she headed the longform television packaging department. Before joining ICM, Weitz served as both the president of von Zerneck-Sertner Films and director of development for Hearst Entertainment.
There is a familiar face in the CSI writers room this summer, series creator Anthony Zuiker, who has returned to the mothership series. A decade ago, Zuiker was an young writer with no TV credits when he created CSI and was paired with showrunners Carol Mendelsohn and Ann Donahue. He had hands-on involvement on the CBS show for the first 4 years, first alongside Mendelsohn and Donahue and then alongside Mendelsohn who became the series’ sole showrunner in 2002 when Donahue took over the reins of spinoff CSI: Miami. Two years later, Zuiker moved over to spinoff CSI: NY, which he ran the first season. For the past several years, he had taken a back seat in the day-to-day operations on the 3 CSI series while developing new projects under his deal with CBS TV Studios and pursuing other projects, such as his digi-novel Level 26: Dark Origins. That changed earlier this summer when he called Mendelsohn and told her he wanted to return to the mothership series. The last script for the CSI franchise that had Zuiker’s name on it was CSI:NY‘s Run Silent, Run Deep in 2006 but he has done uncredited work on other episodes since then. The last CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode he was credited on as a co-writer was the 2-episode arc in 2005 based on an idea and directed by Quentin Tarantino. (Zuiker co-wrote the episodes with Mendelsohn and former CSI executive producer Naren Shankar). Back then, …
CSI mavens Carol Mendelsohn and Ann Donahue are staying at the helm of CBS’ veteran crime drama franchise. Each has inked a new four-year eight-figure overall deal with CSI producer CBS TV Studios. Medelsohn will continue to executive produce and showrun the mothership CSI series, which anchors the CBS Thursday schedule at 9PM. She also is executive producing the new CBS/CBS Studios drama The Defenders. Donahue will continue to executive produce and run CSI: Miami, which moves to Sundays 10PM this fall. The new pacts succeed Mendelsohn and Donahue’s previous four-year eight-figure deals with CBS Studios, which expired in mid-June. Both have been under overall pacts at the studio since 2001. “Every studio dreams of having producers with this kind of passion and leadership on the set and in the writer’s room,” CBS TV Studios president David Stapf said. “It was very important to us that Carol and Ann remain not only part of CSI, but the CBS family too.”