The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken has joined Fox’s newly picked up series Empire as executive producer/showrunner. The soapy family drama, set in the world of a hip-hop empire, was written by The Butler team of Danny Strong and Lee Daniels and directed by Daniels. On the show, from 20th TV and Imagine TV, Chaiken will serve as executive producer alongside Strong, Daniels, Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo. Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson star. Chaiken, repped by WME and 3 Arts, most recently served as executive producer/showrunner of ABC’s The Black Box.
EXCLUSIVE: It is an L Word reunion on ABC‘s Romeo & Juliet-esque drama pilot Venice. The Showtime series’ star Jennifer Beals has signed on for a lead, while creator/executive producer Ilene Chaiken has come on board as executive producer/showrunner. Written by Byron Balasco, Venice, from Warner Bros TV and McG’s Wonderland Sound And Vision, is a soap about the haves and the have-nots of California’s most seductive city, Venice. It focuses on two rival families and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the families battle for control of Venice. Beals, repped by APA and Greenlight Management, will play Lisa Carver, the elegant bohemian matriarch of the Carver family, one of the two feuding clans. McG is directing the pilot, which he, WME-repped Chaiken and Belasco executive produce with Peter Johnson.
UPDATED: CBS picked up 3 more drama pilots tonight, the period Ralph Lamb project, which has James Mangold directing, PI show Applebaum directed by Christopher Columbus, and the Ilene Chaiken/Joel Silver character-driven procedural Quean.
The untitled Ralph Lamb project, from Goodfellas writer Nicholas Pileggi and CBS TV Studios, is set in the 1960s and is based on the true story of Ralph Lamb – rodeo cowboy turned longtime Sheriff of Las Vegas. Pileggi co-wrote the script with TV writer Greg Walker (Without a Trace), with James Mangold (Walk the Line) on board to direct. The three will executive produce with Mangold’s producing partner Cathy Konrad and another film producer, Arthur Sarkissian (Rush Hour). Pileggi originally developed the project as a movie at MGM with Sarkissian who got the rights back when MGM went through bankruptcy. Despite the demise of NBC’s The Playboy Club and ABC’s Pan Am, period dramas are hot again this pilot season. In addition to the Ralph Lamb project, NBC greenlighted Western The Frontier, while ABC picked up Gilded Lillys, set in 1895 New York.
Based on Ayelet Waldman’s Mommy Track Mysteries series of books, Applebaum, also from CBS Studios, centers on a former public defender who becomes a private investigator to keep from being bored to death as …
EXCLUSIVE: Dick Wolf’s Universal TV-based production company is having an active development season under new scripted development executive Danielle Gelber. Last month, NBC bought a firefighter drama from feature writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. Now I’ve learned that Wolf Films has set up two more hourlong projects at NBC — one from The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken and one from former Smallville executive producers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer — that put a twist on two classic franchises, medical and cop dramas. In addition to the writers, each show is executive produced by Wolf, Wolf Films president Peter Jankowski and Gelber. The untitled Chaiken project centers on a lesbian couple who are doctors at an inner-city Philadelphia hospital. The Slavkin/Swimmer project is a high-tech character-driven procedural about investigators who go into the memory banks of murder victims in order to solve the crimes.
EXCLUSIVE: The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken has teamed with director-producer Joel Silver for a character-driven procedural which, in a competitive situation, landed at CBS with a put pilot commitment. Chaiken will write the drama, centered on an edgy punk hacker girl who teams up with an Oakland police detective to solve crimes. Chaiken and Silver will executive produce with Silver for Warner Bros. TV where Silver’s TV company is based. The deal reunites Chaiken, Silver and CBS. Last season, Chaiken served as executive producer/showrunner on the Silver-produced pilot for CBS Hail Mary. The deal keeps WME-repped Chaiken in the CBS family. She spent the past 8 years at Showtime working on her drama The L Word and its reality offshoot. Silver has a long history at CBS where he produced the cult vampire series Moonlight and, most recently, the Minnie Drive-starring Hail Mary.