Exactly a year after FX landed the spec for Tyrant in a competitive situation, the cable network has given the drama project from Homeland co-creators Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff and Six Feet Under alum Craig Wright a series order for a minimum of 10 episodes to debut next summer. The series pickup for Tyrant comes on the heels of FX’s series order to Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse’s The Strain. Along with American Horror Story a couple of years ago, Tyrant and The Strain were the only projects to land FX pilot orders off a pitch/spec. All three had such big commitments that a series order was all but certain and all three had received orders for backup scripts in anticipation of a series pickup. Tyrant, produced by Fox 21 and FX Prods., was the riskiest of the three with its Middle Eastern setting. It did hit several bumps along the way — original director Ang Lee exited, with David Yates stepping in. There were questions about where the series would be filmed (It will be shot in Tel Aviv after the pilot was done in Morocco.) I hear FX brass had reservations about the first cut of the pilot but loved the final one. “With Tyrant, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff and Craig Wright have produced a beautiful television pilot that will be a groundbreaking television series,” said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. “Tyrant introduces characters and a world that have never been explored in a dramatic television series format. There is a reason a bidding war broke out over this project: it grabs you as all great epics do and simply refuses to let go!” Added 20th TV chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman, “This is one of the most ambitious series we’ve ever set out to make and we couldn’t be more grateful to John and everyone at FX who believed in its potential since the very first pitch.”
FX has given a pilot order to Tyrant, a drama from Homeland executive producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, Six Feet Under alum Craig Wright and 20th Century Fox TV’s Fox 21. Tyrant, casually referred to as “reverse Homeland“, was created by Raff, creator of the Israeli drama Prisoners Of War on which Showtime’s Homeland was based. Tyrant, developed by Gordon and Wright, tells the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. Raff wrote the pilot script, which hails from Teakwood Lane, Gordon’s 20th TV-based production company. “The brilliant and wholly original concept just blew us all away,” FX’s EVP Nick Grad said. “It’s pretty amazing when you read a script and can instantly imagine it becoming one of the best shows on television.”
Gordon, Raff and Wright are executive producing in association with Keshet Broadcasting, the Israeli company behind Prisoners Of War, which also co-produces Homeland. Wright is set to serve as showrunner if Tyrant goes to series. For Wright, the project stems from the overall deal he inked with Fox 21 in August. Production on the pilot is tentatively slated to begin in spring 2013.
Homeland co-creators and executive producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa just landed a pilot production commitment at CBS to go with the two Emmys they won 10 days ago, including best drama series. CBS has handed out the big penalty to Anatomy Of Violence, a drama from 20th Century Fox TV and Gordon’s studio-based Teakwood Lane. It will be co-written by Gordon and Gansa in a followup to them co-penning the pilot for Homeland based on Gideon Raff’s Israeli series, which earned them an Emmy for best drama writing. Inspired by the soon-to-be-published non-fiction title The Anatomy Of Violence: The Biological Roots Of Crime by Adrian Raine, the CBS drama centers on a female FBI agent who starts working with a mysterious psychiatrist with whom she shares a past connection. Gordon and Gansa will executive produce, with Teakwood’s Hugh Fitzpatrick co-executive producing.
Anatomy Of Violence extends Gordon and Gansa’s successful reunion as writing partners. As referenced in Gansa’s Emmy acceptance speech, the two started off as a writing team before splitting up while working on The X Files. Years later, Gordon, as showrunner on 24, hired Gansa, and the two restarted their writing partnership with Homeland.
As he heads into Emmy weekend where he hopes to repeat his 24 success with hot new Showtime drama Homeland, Howard Gordon has sold the fourth project through Teakwood Lane, the 20th Century Fox TV-based production company he launched in July.
Action thriller Vigilant, written by Max Landis (Chronicle), which went to Fox in a script deal with penalty, is a “superhero” origin story told through the unlikely POV of a brilliant 20-year old woman who is also a social outcast. After an honorable veteran detective is brutally coerced into working for the corrupt head of Internal Affairs, the detective’s daughter plans her revenge by meticulously constructing a fictional vigilante persona to take on the criminal elements within the police department and the city. Gordon, Landis and Teakwood’s Hugh Fitzpatrick executive produce.
EXCLUSIVE: Invasion creator Shaun Cassidy has teamed with Homeland executive producer Howard Gordon for a drama series that has received a put pilot commitment at Fox. Described as an adrenalized, dysfunctional family adventure series, the untitled project centers on two former CIA operatives — now married with teenagers — who are forced to face their past when their identities are exposed and they’re nearly killed. Now they’ll need to start over, under new cover, this time with their children in on the secret as they tackle cases, come together as a family, and elude those who would rather see them dead. Cassidy will write the script and executive produce with Gordon through his Teakwood Lane. 20th Century Fox TV, where Teakwood Lane is based, produces.
EXCLUSIVE: With Homeland, based on an Israeli series, enjoying critical and commercial success, series executive producer Howard Gordon is taking on adapting another international format. Gordon and fellow Homeland executive producer Alex Cary have teamed for Ritter, a character-driven legal drama inspired by the 2009 Icelandic series Réttur. The project has landed at NBC with significant penalty.
Written by Cary, Ritter, described as “Jerry McGuire in a law firm,” centers on a seasoned lawyer with an unorthodox approach who demonstrates his personal contempt for the law by using it as a blunt instrument. Gordon’s pod, Teakwood Lane, is producing with 20th Century Fox TV, where both Gordon and Cary are under deals. The two will executive produce with Teakwood Lane’s head of TV Hugh Fitzpatrick, as well as Rob Golenberg and Alon Aranya of Scripted World.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TV coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on Showtime‘s Homeland, co-creator and executive producer Howard Gordon was asked about another on-again, off-again project: Whether there is still a chance of a 24 movie. He says yes — possibly. “My understanding of that is, having gone quiet in a way that I didn’t think boded well for that, there’s been some stirrings recently, so I think it’s something everyone’s gunning for,” said Gordon, also an executive producer of 24. “As far as whether my work on [Homeland] will impede that — not at all. There’s a script that’s been written, and I think the issues now are more about the director’s schedule and Kiefer’s [Sutherland] schedule.”
After the panel, which also included executive producer Alex Gansa and series stars Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Morena Baccarin, Gordon also had a comment about the failure of the NBC series Awake, on which he was also an executive producer. “I knew it was a very steep challenge,” he said.
But back to Homeland, whose new season will open with two episodes shot in large part in Israel, standing in for Beirut. Aside from questions about the development of the lead characters, questions arose about whether Danes’ pregnancy would affect production. “We’re about midway (through Season 2), we’re shooting Episode 6; this hasn’t run into any interference,” Danes said. She added that the physicality of her role had her a “little concerned” at first, but “it’s proven to be a non-issue. All is well and Carrie remains fervently nonpregnant.”
Homeland co-creator/executive producer Howard Gordon has launched Teakwood Lane, a production company housed at 20th Century Fox TV where the former 24 showrunner has spent nearly his entire career. The pod deal for Teakwood Lane replaces Gordon’s overall deal at the studio. Gordon continues as an executive producer on the critically-praised Homeland alongside co-creator/showrunner Alex Gansa, and will focus on developing and overseeing new series for all the networks, both broadcast and cable. In addition to continuing to create shows of his own, Gordon has hired Hugh Fitzpatrick as Head of Television for Teakwood Lane, and he will be charged with managing the company’s development slate.
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
If critical acclaim carries weight at Emmy time, then Showtime’s Homeland, developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa — also producers of Fox’s Emmy-winning drama 24 — is sure to make a showing when the 2012 Emmy nominations are announced on July 19th. The conspiracy thriller stars Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a bipolar CIA agent with suspicions bordering on paranoia about the loyalties of a Marine returning home from eight years as an Iraq POW (Damian Lewis as Sgt. Nicholas Brody). Among the reviews that earned it a sterling 91 score (out of 100) on metacritic.com was this New York Times review: “Carrie is hard to like, but Homeland is almost impossible to resist.”
And if the show were to win the Emmy for best dramatic series, it would be the first ever drama or comedy series win for Showtime, confirms David Nevins, entertainment president for the pay cable channel. “We’ve had nominations, but we haven’t had a win,” Nevins says, referring to such series nominees as the multi-year drama nominee Dexter and the comedies Nurse Jackie and Weeds. “It would be a breakthrough for the network. It’s nice to be nominated, but a win marks a new threshold.”
That being said, Nevins insists that he didn’t have Emmy® in mind when Gordon and Gansa – who based the series on Gideon Raff’s Israeli series Hatufim (Prisoner of War) and remain part of the series’ team of executive producers – brought the project to him.
Ray Richmond is a Deadline contributor
This is a very good time to be Howard Gordon. At the same time he published his second novel in as many years — the acclaimed Hard Target, released in January — he’s the toast of television … again. Less than two years after serving as an executive producer on 24, he’s co-creator and exec producer of the first-year Showtime drama Homeland. The series just took home two Golden Globes — for top drama and lead drama series actress Claire Danes — as well as a pair of WGA Awards and the AFI honor for TV Program of the Year. All of that, plus Gordon is helping to ramp up the coming 24 feature and has another series premiering tonight at 10 on NBC: the midseason drama Awake starring Jason Isaacs. Gordon took time out from his insane schedule to speak with Deadline Hollywood about the insta-classic that is Homeland, how writing novels is different from crafting TV, and why he’s often mistaken for being a hardcore political conservative (blame his friend Joel Surnow).
DEADLINE: How is writing books different than writing for TV?
GORDON: When you’re writing a novel, you’re still telling a story. But you’re telling it very differently. It’s a craft like anything else. I’m still probably on the early part of the learning curve. I have a ways to go as a novelist. But what’s great is, well, I frankly enjoyed the solitude. And I enjoyed being able to tell characters what to say and do without negotiating with an actor. In a novel, the only budgetary limitations are that of your imagination. In a novel, the relationship between writer and reader is such a pure one.