Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Producer David Zabel appeared on two TCA panels today for two new ABC series: Betrayal and Lucky 7 (based on Kay Mellor’s British series The Syndicate), about a group of working class friends who win the lottery. (The show is set in multi-ethnic Queens, NY for the American version.) Without revealing any spoilers, critics at the panels noted that in both series the pilot opens with flash-forwards to some nasty consequences for some characters. Why?
Zabel described the technique as an effective way to hook viewers for episodes to come. “These are not procedurals, they are character dramas. The device teases audiences with how crazy, dramatic or elevated that things are going to become,” said Zabel, an EP on both dramas.
Seeking audience investment in characters has led to other changes from the British version: that program did only 5 episodes for its first two seasons (it’s been renewed for a third season of 6). Each of the 5 episodes has focused on just one of 5 lottery winners. Lucky 7 has a 22-episode order for Season 1 and has expanded its group to 7 people. Read More »
UPDATED: ABC has given green light to Lucky 7, a drama pilot based on Kay Mellor’s BBC series The Syndicate, which premiered last year and has been renewed for a second season. This is ABC’s 12th and last drama pilot pickup this season.
David Zabel and Jason Richman wrote the U.S. version, which is produced by ABC Studios and Amblin TV. Lucky 7 is about seven employees of a service station in Queens whose lives are changed in many unexpected ways when they win a lottery jackpot. The original series revolves around five supermarket workers who enter into a syndicate and win the lottery. (Watch a trailer below) Each episode of the series centers around a different character, and each season will follow a different group in similar circumstance. Zabel, Richman and Amblin TV’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey executive produce Lucky 7 alongside Mellor through her company Rollem. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: With Red Widow landing on ABC’s schedule for next season, the network has put in development another drama project based on a Dutch format. Former ER showrunner David Zabel is set to write and executive produceBetrayal, a serialized drama based on the 2011 Dutch series Overspel, produced by and runs on Netherlands’ public broadcaster Vara. It centers on an unhappily married woman who begins a torrid affair with the lawyer for a powerful family. When he turns out to be the legal counsel for a murder suspect who is being prosecuted by her husband, the affair and the case begin a spiraling series of betrayals with cataclysmic results for everyone involved.
Zabel is executive producing Betrayal with Rob Golenberg and Alon Aranya who are also behind Red Widow. Like Betrayal, Red Widow, which is based on the Dutch series Penoza, attracted a big-name writer, Twilight‘s Melissa Rosenberg. Both Betrayal and Red Widow are produced by ABC Studios (Red Widow is co-produced by Endemol Studios). In addition to Betrayal, ABC Studios-based Zabel has sold another project to ABC this season, a Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn drama set in New Orleans which he is co-writing with Jason Richman for ABC Studios and Temple Hill. Here is a trailer for Overspel. It is in Dutch but follows the main plotline and does give a feel for the series’ narrative.
EXCLUSIVE: Top literary managers David Lonner and Larry Shuman are in serious talks to merge their companies, Oasis Media Group and The Shuman Co, respectively. In the scenario being discussed, Shuman and Lonner and his Oasis partner John Mass would join forces under the Oasis umbrella, tied to an effort to secure financing to expand the business. If it closes, the merger would bring under the same roof such feature and TV heavyweights as JJ Abrams, Brad Silberling, Jon Turteltaub, Shawn Ryan and David Shore. While 2-year-old Oasis has some TV clients — crossover A-lister Abrams and ER and Detroit 1-8-7 showrunner David Zabel — the company skews heavily towards features with a client list that includes Abrams, Silberling, Turteltaub, Peter Sollett, Michael Tolkin, Audrey Wells and Rob Minkoff. Meanwhile, Shuman, who has run his boutique company for 20 years, has a TV-heavy roster that includes House creator Shore, The Shield creator Ryan, Hunt Baldwin & John Coveny (co-creators of A&E’s upcoming series Longmire) and The Inside and Drive co-creator Tim Minear. Among Shuman’s handful of crossover clients is TV writer Carl Ellsworth, who segued into features with Red Eye and Disturbia. But overall, there is little overlap between Oasis and the Shuman Co’s areas of coverage, making a merger one where the pieces fit and would give the combined company heft in both film and television. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After working together last season on the ABC/ABC Studios cop drama Detroit 1-8-7, series creator/executive producer Jason Richman and executive producer/showrunner David Zabel have teamed for a new ABC Studios drama project, which has sold to ABC. Richman and Zabel will co-write the project, titled Two Roads, which is in the vein of Sliding Doors. It centers on a young woman who struggles with doubt on her wedding day whether to go through with it or not. The show asks the question, “What if I had made different choices?” and then answers it by following her down both paths. Zabel joined the Michael Imperioli starrer Detroit 1-8-7 at the pilot stage after he liked Richman’s script. Despite solid reviews, the series didn’t get traction in the ratings and was canceled after its 18-episode freshman season. Both Zabel and Richman have deals at ABC Studios — WME-repped Zabel is under an overall; Richman, repped by WME and the Collective, has a pact for two blind scripts. This is the second sale this season for Zabel, who also has Western Gunslinger set up at ABC.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage:
As a Detroit native, I can confirm that Detroit is an economically troubled, crime-ridden, racially polarized city that for decades hasn’t seemed able to catch a break. And at today’s TCA, it became clear that the fact ABC has set and is shooting its new crime series Detroit 1-8-7 in the Motor City, while a boon to the local economy, is already causing controversy there. Discussed today were the clashes Read More »