EXCLUSIVE: Greg Berlanti‘s Warner Bros TV-based company has sold two more drama projects, both to CBS: The Shrine, written and executive produced by Nicholas Wootton, and Black Oak, written/exec produced by Julia Hart (The Keeping Room). Both projects also are exec produced by Berlanti and Melissa Kellner Berman….
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, Paradise, a prison drama from hot novelist/feature writer Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and producer Greg Berlanti, has landed at NBC with a put pilot commitment. Written by Grahame-Smith, Paradise is set in the late 21st century in the city of Las Vegas which is now the world’s largest maximum-security prison, known as Paradise. Matthew Turner, M.D., is its newest inmate, convicted of a murder he didn’t commit. Desperate to get back to his family and prove his innocence, Matthew will have to find a strength he never knew he had, and stay alive long enough to do the one thing no inmate has ever done: escape. Paradise hails from Warner Bros. TV and studio-based Berlanti Prods., with Berlanti Prods.’ Greg Berlanti and Melissa Kellner Berman and KatzSmith Prods.’ Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg executive producing. Like Berlanti, Grahame-Smith has a feature deal at Warner Bros. (with partner Katzenberg) and he too is straddling film and television. The two were put together by WME, which reps both. At NBC, Paradise would join another drama about U.S. in the future from Warner Bros. TV and one of the studio’s top producers, J.J. Abrams’ Revolution. Prison dramas have a long history on TV, recently with HBO’s Oz, Fox’s Prison Break and Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
UPDATED: The Flash will appear in three episodes of the CW‘s Arrow this coming season before headlining his own spinoff series. The information was shared this afternoon by the three writers – Arrow co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and series scribe Geoff Johns — behind the Flash project. an origin story of Flash’s Barry Allen identity. The episodes, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 20, will be penned by the trio, with David Nutter, who helmed the Arrow pilot, committed to directing Episode 20. Kriesberg also confirmed during the conference call today that the actor who portrays Barry Allen will play him as “an ordinary man” when viewers meet him in Episode 8. “The character will be as grounded and realistic as possible,” he said. “That’s how we’ll get to know him. Then his life will get a bit faster.” He added that the surrounding characters in Arrow will react to Allen “in a very realistic way,” noting that they “won’t be treated as commonplace on the show but as extraordinary events.” Kreisberg added: “It will be fun for the audience to see how we do our take on The Flash’s powers. Some will feel very familiar to those who know the comics, and other stuff will feel different yet fresh and exciting.” Berlanti noted, “That said, he does need powers to become The Flash. And he will be The Flash. He will wear a red costume, and he will go by that name.”
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Television writers and producers aren’t supposed to treasure directors, generally viewing them instead as a necessary evil. But Greg Berlanti evidently failed to receive that memo this morning as he positively gushed during a TCA session about Danny Cannon‘s directorial contributions to his new CW series The Tomorrow People. Berlanti referred to Cannon, who directed both the pilot and second episode of the SFX-rich series, as “the unsung hero” of the effects. Berlanti stressed, “The art of pilot directing is, I think, even more challenging than feature directing in that (the director) has to create an entire world and an entire aesthetic and tell a story in a much short period of time, and with a lot less money. They also have to make a lot of creative decisions themselves.” He emphasized that all TV directors should get “a tremendous amount more credit” that they do. “As someone who has written a number of pilots, you really begin to worship the people who are experts at this art form,” Berlanti continued. “I’ve been blessed to work with people like David Nutter and Danny (Cannon), who really achieve a feature look and style.”
UPDATE, 9 AM: During the CW executive session, the network’s topper Mark Pedowitz gave more details about The Flash project. It will be the origin story of Barry Allen who will be introduced as a recurring character on Arrow this coming season starting in the fall. “We want to expand the DC universe of characters,” he said. As for how the project came together, Pedowitz said he late last year brought up the idea to DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson who turns out had already been discussing it with WBTV’s Peter Roth and producer Greg Berlanti. Pedowitz also confirmed that “Amazon is on pause (as) the script is not exactly what we wanted, and with an iconic character like Wonder Woman, we have to get it right.”
EXCLUSIVE 7 AM: Another DC Comics male superhero is looking to join the CW’s lineup. I’ve learned that the network is fast tracking Flash, a drama project based on the DC character from the Arrow team of co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and director David Nutter. The CW is expected to discuss the project at today’s TCA presentation. I hear there is an idea is to introduce The Flash on Arrow next season before spinning it off into its own series. I hear Flash will be written by Berlanti, Kreisberg and DC Entertainment’s Geoff Johns who also has written for Arrow. Nutter, who helmed the Arrow pilot, will direct the potential pilot, while Berlanti and Kreisberg are expected to run the potential series. Marc Guggenheim, who developed and executive produces Arrow with Berlanti and Kreisberg, is not involved in Flash as he busy with Arrow, now heading into its second season.
Expanding DC’s footprint on the CW has been a priority for the network and DC sibling Warner Bros. TV, especially following the departure of the long-running Smallville and in light of the recent success of Arrow, one of few breakout hits last season. This past development season, the CW developed a Wonder Woman origins project, which didn’t go to pilot. The network in May commissioned a new script with a new writer which has been delivered, but I hear the network has hit the pause button on the project. Flash is certain to get a priority given its A-list auspices.
Save for USA Network‘s decision last month not to extend Political Animals beyond its original run, it has been a great last few weeks for Greg Berlanti‘s political drama. He landed a WGA nomination for writing the pilot, star Sigourney Weaver got a SAG nomination, and today the show received two Golden Globe nominations — for best movie/miniseries and best actress in a movie/mini (Weaver).
Related: Golden Globes TV Analysis
The co-creators/ executive producers of the CW‘s two top-rated series, Arrow and The Vampire Diaries, have teamed for a new project at the network — a series adaptation of the cult British 1970s sci-fi series The Tomorrow People. Arrow‘s Greg Berlanti and The Vampire Diaries‘ Julie Plec will executive produce the project, written by Phil Klemmer (Chuck). In the vein of X-Men and Heroes, Tomorrow People is the story of several young people from around the world who represent the next stage in human evolution, possessing special powers, including the ability to teleport and communicate with each other telepathically. Together they work to defeat the forces of evil.
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.
EXCLUSIVE: Bent star David Walton has been tapped as the male lead opposite JoAnna Garcia in CBS’ untitled Greg Malins/Greg Berlanti multi-camera comedy pilot. He replaces Bryan Greenberg, who was originally cast in the role but exited after yesterday’s …
EXCLUSIVE: Bryan Greenberg is leaving CBS’ untitled Greg Malins/Greg Berlanti multi-camera comedy pilot, in which he was to play the male lead opposite JoAnna Garcia. The decision was made after the project’s table read this morning. I hear it has to do with the heightened tone and dynamic of a …
British actor Theo James has landed the lead in CBS’ drama pilot Golden Boy, from Nick Wootton and Greg Berlanti. The project, produced by Warner Bros TV and Berlanti Prods., centers on Clark (James), a cop, and chronicles his meteoric rise from officer to detective and ultimately police commissioner. Ryan Phillippe was originally tapped for the role but exited shortly thereafter, triggering a lengthy auditioning process that resulted in the casting of James. James, who has a handful of credits in his native Britain, including a lead on the BBC series Bedlam, is virtually unknown in the U.S. aside from a guest spot in the first season of Downton Abbey where he played Kemal Pamuk, the Turk who died in Lady Mary’s bed. He made his Hollywood debut in the recent Underworld: Awakening. James is the latest non-American actor to get the lead in a pilot this pilot season.