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Universal Inks First-Look Deal With Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire

By | Thursday June 5, 2014 @ 11:40am PDT

universal-logo-colorUNIVERSAL CITY, CA, June 5, 2014—Universal Pictures today announced that the studio has signed a two-year first-look production agreement with Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire banner. The announcement was made by Co-Presidents of Production Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum.

Schwartz and Savage are currently writing and will produce the studio’s live-action feature Monster High, based on the hugely successful Mattel franchise of the same name, with producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Most recently for Universal, they produced Endless Love, alongside Scott Stuber and Pamela Abdy. On the television side, Fake Empire is behind such hits as CW’s Gossip Girl (2007-2013), NBC’s Chuck (2007-2012) and Fox’s The O.C. (2003-2007). They are currently in production on The Astronaut Wives Club, which ABC picked up for a 10-episode straight-to-series order earlier this year and CW’s Hart of Dixie, which was recently renewed for a fourth season.

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Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage To Pen & Produce ‘Monster High’ For Universal

By | Wednesday November 13, 2013 @ 3:00pm PST

Monster High movie - UniversalUniversal Pictures has set Fake Empire‘s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to write and produce their live-action Monster High movie, based on the Mattel doll franchise. The brand is centered on the imperfect teen children of the world’s most famous monsters with characters like Frankie Stein (daughter of Frankenstein), Clawdeen Wolf (daughter of the Wolfman), and Deuce Gorgon (son of Medusa). The franchise, created in 2010, has already yielded several Nickelodeon TV specials, YA novels, webisodes, and an animated direct to DVD movie. Schwartz and Savage will produce the big screen adaptation for Fake Empire with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Mattel’s Playground Productions is exec producing the project. Zadan and Meron are the ones who first brought the global $1.4B entertainment, publishing, games, and apparel brand to Universal. VP of production Maradith Frenkel and creative executive Chloe Yellin will oversee for the studio. Schwartz and Savage are repped by WME and attorney Joel McKuin. Zadan, Meron, and Mattel are repped by CAA.

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Fox Buys Diablo Cody/Fake Empire Drama

By | Friday October 4, 2013 @ 3:45pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Oscar-winning Juno writer Diablo Cody is tackling another female teen protagonist, this time on TV. Fox has put in development Prodigy, a teen drama project written by Cody and produced by ABC Studios and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s studio-based Fake Empire. It centers on a 16-year-old genius who through home schooling has been isolated from her peers. Hoping to experience a “normal” teen social life before she enters the adult world of academia, she enrolls in her local high school. But her experiment goes off the rails when she finds herself adopted by a wild crowd, getting caught up in a whirlwind of romance and crime. Cody and partner Mason Novick will executive produce alongside Schwartz, Savage and Fake Empire’s president of television Len Goldstein.

Prodigy reunites Schwartz and Savage with Fox for another teen drama exactly a decade after the network launched Schwartz’s first series, The O.C., on which Savage started as a producer before partnering with Schwartz in Fake Empire. This marks the fifth sale for Fake Empire since moving to ABC Studios earlier this year. The WME-repped company, which has the CW’s Hart Of Dixie and The Carrie Diaries on the air, previously sold four projects to ABC: dramas Sisterland from Rina Mimoun and Social Circle from Josh Safran; and comedies First Timers from Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, … Read More »

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Rina Mimoun & Fake Empire To Adapt Novel ‘Sisterland’ As ABC Paranormal Drama

By | Friday September 27, 2013 @ 2:18pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Fake Empire‘s Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage and Rina Mimoun were among the WB/CW’s top writer-producer talent. Now the trio have teamed at their new home, ABC Studios, where both Fake Empire and Mimoun are under overall deals. Their collaboration is drama project Sisterland, which has landed at ABC. Based on the best-selling novel by Curtis Sittenfeld, Sisterland tells the story of identical twin sisters born with paranormal abilities and how those abilities shape their very different lives. Mimoun is writing the adaptation and is executive producing with Schwartz, Savage and Fake Empire president of television Len Goldstein.

This marks WME-repped Fake Empire’s fourth sale in its first development season at ABC Studios. The company has another drama at ABC penned by Joshua Safran as well as two comedies, one by Ali Adler and one from writers Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger. Mimoun, creator/exec producer of The CW’s Privileged, executive produces ABC’s summer series Mistresses, which was just picked up for season two. She also worked on Everwood, where she rose to showrunner, Gilmore Girls and Pushing Daisies. Repped by UTA and attorneys Bruce Gellman and Patti Felker.

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ABC Nabs Divorce Comedy From Ali Adler And Fake Empire

By | Wednesday September 18, 2013 @ 6:34pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, ABC has landed a single-camera comedy from The New Normal co-creator/executive producer Ali Adler, which will be produced by ABC Studios and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s studio-based Fake Empire. Written by Adler, the untitled comedy is about the dirty little secret of those days and nights when your ex has the kids. You get to drink too much and binge-watch Breaking Bad without checking homework or giving baths — it’s about the silver lining of divorce. Adler is executive producing with Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein. The untitled Ali Adler project is the second half-hour sale for Fake Empire, which has made an entry into a comedy a priority. Additionally, the company, in its first year of a rich overall deal at ABC Studios, has a drama with writer Joshua Safran at ABC. WME-repped Adler is continuing her relationship with Ryan Murphy after working as a co-executive producer on his Fox dramedy Glee and co-creating and executive producing the NBC comedy The New Normal with him. She is currently serving as a consulting producer on Murphy’s HBO pilot Open.

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Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire Moves To ABC Studios With Big Deal

By | Wednesday January 16, 2013 @ 1:03pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are finalizing a deal to move their Fake Empire TV production company to ABC Studios with a three-year deal. Building a talent roster has been a priority for ABC Studios, which saw A-listers Greg Berlanti and Bill Lawrence go to Warner Bros TV over the past couple of years. I hear the studio went aggressively after Schwartz and Savage. Their Fake Empire was actually born at Warner Bros TV three years ago, when WBTV executive Len Goldstein came on board to run it. Schwartz had been at WBTV his entire professional life as a TV writer-producer — going back to his first series, The O.C. Fake Empire has two midseason series on the air — the CW’s The Carrie Diaries and Cult — as well as a slew of projects awaiting word on pilot pickups. The deal with ABC Studios, first reported by Variety, will begin after the end of the current pilot season when the company’s pact with WBTV expires. Fake Empire entered this season with four series on the air, all at the CW, where ABC Studios does not do business — Carrie Diaries, Cult, the departing Gossip Girl and sophomore Hart Of Dixie. ABC should be a good fit for the duo as most of their projects have been in the soap genre the network is known for on the drama side. In features, Fake Empire … Read More »

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ABC Buys Dramedy Soap From Fake Empire

By | Monday October 15, 2012 @ 3:09pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: ABC has bought a drama from feature writer Karen Croner and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire. The untitled project is based on Croner’s experience of growing up in the Hollywood Hills and is described as a contemporary dramedy soap about a woman returning with her teenage son to live with her rock-n-roll family in Laurel Canyon. Croner, Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein executive produce for Warner Bros TV and studio-based Fake Empire. Croner wrote upcoming Universal feature comedy Admission, directed by Paul Weitz and starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Read More »

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Paramount Re-Ups Fake Empire’s Josh Schwartz And Stephanie Savage

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has re-upped Fake Empire partners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to a first look feature deal that keeps them at the studio through 2014. The duo has been at the studio since 2010.

Deal comes as the shingle’s first Paramount  film, the Schwartz-directed Fun Size, hits theaters October 26, 2012. The film is based on the Black List script by Max Werner about a teen (Victoria Justice) who loses her oddball little brother on Halloween and has one desperate night to track him down. Savage and Schwartz produced with Anonymous Content.

Paramount hoped Fake Empire would add some youth-centric projects and the producers have responded. The studio last month acquired From What I Remember, the Stacy Kramer/Valerie Thomas young adult novel as well as the novel The Diviners by Bray. Paramount has earmarked the latter as the first in a franchise of films. That adds to such projects as Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, The Luxe and the Tana French novel The Likeness, the latter of which Savage will write. Fake Empire is teamed witih Scott Stuber and Pam Abdy to produce an Endless Love remake at Universal.

Fake Empire continues its television deal at Warner Bros Television and will have four series on the air in 2012-13 television season, including new series The Carrie Diaries and Cult, as well as Hart Read More »

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Over-Achievers Of This Year’s Upfront

By | Friday May 25, 2012 @ 6:58pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Greg Berlanti entered the upfronts as the producer with the most pilots this year — four — in his first development season at Warner Bros. TV. Two of them, the CW’s Arrow and CBS’ Golden Boy, went to series, while a third, Fox legal drama Guilty, has a solid shot at a midseason order. Additionally, Berlanti has cable series Political Animals launching on USA this summer. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage‘s Fake Empire also netted two new broadcast series orders. The company went 2-for-2 with its two pilots, the CW’s The Carrie Diaries and Cult, to increase its primetime portfolio to four series next season, including returning CW dramas Gossip Girl and Hart Of Dixie, and tie the Mark Gordon Co. as the pods with the most broadcast shows on the air. In addition to newly picked up comedy Family Tools and returning Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Criminal Minds, the Mark Gordon Co. also has Army Wives on Lifetime. With CSI: Miami ending its run, Bruckheimer TV will have three series on the air next season, same as Chernin Entertainment, which added one new series, Fox comedy Ben & Kate, to its returning New Girl and Touch; J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot (newbie Revolution and returning Person of Interest and Fringe) and Alloy (666 Park Ave, The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl).

Besides Fake Empire, the only other entity to log a 1.000 batting average this upfront was Lionsgate TV, also with two series out of two pilots, ABC darling Nashville and NBC’ midseason comedy Next Caller. The pickups capped the company’s renewed push into broadcast TV led by Chris Selak in her first season as head of development. Another established company in its first development cycle with a new top development executive, Wolf Films, which hired Danielle Gelber last July, landed its first non-Law & Order-branded new series in six years, NBC’s Chicago Fire. Two newly launched pods, Peter Traugott‘s Traugott Company and Lorenzo DiBonaventura‘s DiBonaventura Pictures Television, also scored series orders in their first year, NBC drama Do No Harm and ABC drama Zero Hour, respectively, as did two indies, Gaumont and Georgeville. Read More »

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Paramount Buys Comic Pitch ‘Status Update’

By | Thursday April 12, 2012 @ 2:53pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures is acquiring Status Update, a pitch by Sascha Rothchild and Randi Barnes. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire will produce. Ashley Brucks will oversee for the studio. Pitch is a high school comedy that utilizes social media, particularly Facebook. That’s where they got the title. It’s the second sale together for the producers with the writing team, with the first coming through Fake Empire’s TV division. Last year Rothchild and Barnes sold their TV pilot My Best Friend Is A Lesbo to NBC and Warners Brothers with Fake Empire producing.

Rothchild most recently sold her pitch Who Invited Her? to Dreamworks with Reese Witherspoon attached, and she adapted her book How To Be Divorced By 30 for Universal. Barnes co-wrote the animated film Dorothy Of Oz. The scribes are managed by Apostle’s George Heller. Rothchild’s at WME and Barnes at Paradigm. Fake Empire is repped by WME.

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Fake Empire Comedy Among Latest Pilot Script Sales

By | Friday September 30, 2011 @ 7:11am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Known primarily for its hourlong series, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire has sold a half-hour comedy pitch to Fox. The single-camera comedy about three childhood friends who are all now fathers with teenage sons will be written by Barry Schwartz, who will co-executive produce. Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein will executive produce for Warner Bros TV. Fake Empire has three series on the air this season: NBC’s dramedy Chuck and the CW dramas Gossip Girl and Hart of Dixie. On the feature side, Barry Schwartz, repped by WME and the Gotham Group, sold Bromance to Montecito and DreamWorks and Parents Weekend to Kopelson Entertainment.

Writer-director Nancy Hower and her writing/producing partner, actor John Lehr, have sold a half-hour comedy pitch to NBC. Titled Retreat, the project is set at a corporate retreat. The sale was made based on a demo Hower and Lehr shot, which Hower directed and Lehr starred in. The demo, made in association with EUE/Sokolow, was probably helpful, as the duo uses a hybrid scripted/improv style where their scripts are incredibly detailed but don’t feature any dialogue. Read More »

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NBC Developing ‘Lesbo’ Comedy About Gay And Straight Female Best Friends

By | Wednesday September 7, 2011 @ 4:30pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

This is a title that will get attention: NBC has bought comedy pitch My Best Friend Is A Lesbo. The project, from Warner Bros TV and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s studio-based Fake Empire, is about two best female friends — one straight, the other gay — who become roommates and help each other navigate life, love, and dating in Los Angeles. The semi-autobiographical comedy is based on the real-life friendship of writers and longtime roommates Sascha Rothchild and Randi Barnes, who will co-pen the script together. This is a rare paring of the two, who are not a writing team. They will co-executive produce My Best Friend Is a Lesbo, with Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein executive producing. If the project goes to series, its provocative title will probably be toned down the way ABC’s Good Christian Bitches became Good Christian Belles and The Bitch At Apt. 23 was shortened to Apartment 23. WME-repped Rothchild recently sold her feature pitch Who Invited Her to DreamWorks with Reese Witherspoon attached to star, and she is writing How To be Divorced By 30 for Universal and producer Marc Platt based on her book. Barnes co-wrote the upcoming animated feature Dorothy of Oz starring Lea Michele. Rothchild and Barnes are managed by Apostle. This is the first sale this season for WME-repped Fake Empire, … Read More »

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CW Eyes ‘Sex & The City’ Prequel Series Shepherded By ‘Gossip Girl’ Producers

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: With their sharp fashion sense and busy social life in Manhattan, the young ladies from the CW’s Gossip Girl often evoke Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw. Now a teen version of Bradshaw herself may be joining the CW’s lineup. I hear that the CW has emerged as the leading candidate for The Carrie Diaries, a TV series project based on Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell’s recent book about Bradshaw’s high school years. There are no deals in place, and talks are in preliminary stages, but I hear that Warner Bros TV would produce and Gossip Girl executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are being courted to shepherd the project through their Warner Bros TV-based Fake Empire banner. Former Sex and the City writer/producer Amy Harris, who is writing for Gossip Girl this season, will likely pen the adaptation.

Because it previously adapted Bushnell’s Sex and the City into a hugely popular series, HBO has the rights to The Carrie Diaries, a young-adult novel that chronicles Carrie’s senior year of high school in a small New England town. But since the book is much younger skewing than HBO’s audience, the pay cable network had been seeking another outlet for the potential series. “Discussions are underway for The Carrie Diaries, Candace Bushnell’s book about Carrie Bradshaw’s high school years, to find a home as a potential television series,” HBO said in a statement. Read More »

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Paramount’s ‘Fun Size’ To Bow Oct. 12, 2012

By | Tuesday July 26, 2011 @ 11:17am PDT

Paramount said today that it will release its teen comedy Fun Size wide on Oct. 12, 2012. The pic, from the Fake Empire team of Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, stars Victoria Justice, Josh Pence, Johnny Knoxville and Chelsea Handler and centers on a troubled but whip-smart girl who loses her oddball little brother on Halloween and has one desperate night to track him down. Schwartz directs a screenplay by Max Werner.

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The Over-Achievers Of This Year’s Upfront

Nellie Andreeva

Here is the second-annual honor roll of the best and brightest at the broadcast upfront. First off, to all who got their pilots picked up to series — congratulations. You’re already winners. This is a list of those who took their upfront success to an extra level:

Whitney Cummings: The undisputed queen of Upfront 2011. She is behind two new comedy series that are among the highest-profile new half-hour entries next fall. She created, stars in and executive produces her eponymous comedy for NBC, which was assigned the network’s best comedy slot, following The Office. She also co-wrote on spec with Michael Patrick King the CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls, which broke records as CBS’ best-testing pilot (comedy or drama) ever. Both were the first comedy pilots to get a series order at their networks. Cummings, who also has a talk show in contention at E!, will serve as an executive producer on 2 Broke Girls but will be full-time on Whitney, which was in first position. I hope that doesn’t impact 2 Broke Girls, which King is expected to run/co-run, because the pilot indeed looks great. Honorable mention in the category of creators with multiple projects for Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. One of their two ABC pilots, Work It, was picked up to series, while the other, Smothered, is very much in contention for midseason.

What a comeback for J.J. Abrams! After his high-profile NBC drama Undercovers went bust last fall, some questioned whether the networks will continue to bet on him. But bet they did this upfront, with both pilots he produced, CBS’ Person of Interest and Fox’s Alcatraz, going to series. Person of Interest instantly became one of the most anticipated new fall series when CBS made it its new Thursday 9 PM anchor. The network also said it was its best-testing drama pilot ever. And over at Fox, Alcatraz prevailed over several high-profile pilots to land one of only two drama series spots. Then, as icing on the cake, Abrams’ modestly rated but well-liked Fox sci-fi series Fringe got a renewal for next season, bringing the producer’s series for next season to three. Read More »

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PILOT SEASON: The Year Of The Pods

Nellie Andreeva

Part of a series that takes an analytical look at the current broadcast pilot season and some of its trends and heroes.

It has been a big year for non-writing producers this pilot season, the biggest since the so-called “invasion of the pod people” in 2003 when the broadcast pilot season and May series pickups for the first time were dominated by shows developed via pods, i.e. companies run by non-writing producers based at major studios.

There are a lot of familiar faces – some of the overachievers of the 2003 season are back in full force: Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, Brillstein Entertainment and Reveille as well as Imagine TV and Marty Adelstein. But Bruckheimer TV, a pilot season staple for the past decade and a top performer in 2003 with 3 pilots, all picked up to series, is without a pilot for the first time in years. (However, the company’s Fox project, a dramedy based on the life of music supervisor Kathy Nelson, has been pushed and remains in contention.)

But the big news this pilot season are the upstarts, companies formed in the past year-and-a-half, which have done very well. Leading the pack is the 20th TV-based Chernin Entertainment, which has had a dominating performance with 5 pilots this season: the Kiefer Suthaland starrer Touch, which is expected to get an episodic order at Fox, Stephen Gaghan’s cop drama S.I.L.A at NBC, Fox’s untitled Liz Meriwether comedy starring Zooey Deschanel, Fox comedy Outnumbered and NBC comedy Lovelives. The company already has 3 upcoming series, Fox’s Terra Nova - which it is co-producing with 2 of the other top performers this pilot season, DreamWorks TV and Kapital Entertainment – Fox’ animated comedy Allen Gregory and A&E’s Breakout Kings, which also started on broadcast.

Other recently formed TV companies that landed pilots this season include Aaron Kaplan’s indie Kapital Entertainment (ABC’s comedy Bad Mother, ABC dramedy Good Christian Bitches, NBC Western The Crossing), Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s 20th TV-based K/O Paper Products (Fox’s Ethan Hawke starrer Exit Strategy directed by Antoine Fuqua and another Fox drama, graphic novel adaptation Locke & Key), Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Warner Bros.-based Fake Empire (ABC soap Georgetown starring Jimmy Wolk, the CW drama Hart of Dixie starring Rachel Bilson), Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein’s 20th TV-based 21 Laps/Adelstein (ABC’s untitled Jack Burditt comedy starring Tim Allen), Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen’s ABC Studios-based Temple Hill (ABC’s drama Revenge directed by Phillip Noyce) and Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan’s UMS-based American Work (NBC’s untitled Lennon Parham/Jessica St. Clair comedy)

In another twist this year, three independent production companies that operate outside of the studio system are having a great year. DreamWorks TV, a strong performer in 2003 with 5 pilots, 2 of which, Las Vegas and Line of Fire, went to series, has 3 pilots this year, second only to Chernin Entertainment, and tied with two another indies, Reveille and Kapital, as well as the ABC Studios-based Brillstein Entertainment and CBS TV Studios-based Tannenbaum Co. DreamWorks has NBC’s Broadway-themed Smash starring Debra Messing, ABC’s horror thriller The River directed by Jaume Collet-Sera and Fox’s Locke & Key. Reveille, which in 2003 had its Coupling remake picked up to series, has NBC comedy pilot My Life As an Experiment, Fox comedy Tagged and CW drama Awakening. Read More »

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Paramount Crafts ‘Forgotten’ For Its ‘True Grit’ Discovery Hailee Steinfeld

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: When you come out of nowhere and turn in an Oscar nominated breakout performance like Hailee Steinfeld did as Mattie Ross in the Joel and Ethan Coen-directed True Grit, it’s natural for the studio involved to do its best to keep you in the fold. Paramount Pictures has just closed a deal for screen rights to Forgotten, a novel by Cat Patrick that will be published by Little Brown in June. The book will be crafted as a star vehicle for the 14-year old Steinfeld, with Fake Empire’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage producing. It’s the first studio deal for Steinfeld since she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Steinfeld will play London Lane, a 16-year old whose memory is erased at 4:33 every night. The following morning, all she can remember are events from her future. After meeting a new boy at school, London becomes frustrated that she can’t seem to find him in her memory of things to come. The project was packaged by ICM, which reps Steinfeld along with Coast-to-Coast. The book deal was brokered by ICM with Writers House.

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Michelle Trachtenberg To Develop & Star In CW Drama Produced by Josh Schwartz

Nellie Andreeva

CW has handed out a script order to an untitled drama project starring Gossip Girl‘s Michelle Trachtenberg, which marks the actress’ producing debut. It hails from the creators of CW’s Gossip Girl, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, whose Fake Empire banner co-produces the project with Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios. Based on an idea by Trachtenberg, the drama would star the actress as a young criminology student with a gift for profiling and a dark past. Stuart Zicherman (Six Degrees) will write the script and executive produce alongside Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein. Trachtenberg will serve as producer. This is Fake Empire’s second hourlong project this season toplined by a young actress from one of Schawrtz’s other shows. Schwartz is writing Ghost Angeles, a supernatural romantic comedy starring The O.C. alumna Rachel Bilson, which received a pilot production commitment from NBC. Trachtenberg has been recurring on Gossip Girl for the past 2 years. She will next be seen in Kids in America.

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