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.
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.”
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.
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:
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.
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.”