NBC Buys Time Travel Dramas From Josh Friedman And Deborah Pratt

By | Thursday October 10, 2013 @ 6:59pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Two decades after Quantum Leap ended its run, NBC is looking to launch a new time travel drama series, putting two such projects in development. One hails from The Sarah Connor Chronicles creator Josh Friedman and the other — from former Quantum Leap co-executive producer Deborah Pratt.

Friedman’s Lighthouse, which he is writing and executive producing through his Universal TV overall deal, is an ensemble drama set at a mysterious hotel for wayward time travelers. Pratt’s Timeless, which she also is writing and executive producing for Uni TV, centers on Alexandra King who, time traveling between earth’s future and present day, finds herself caught between two men she desperately loves, the worlds they each inhabit and the secrets that could destroy them all. “Timeless is… about provoking thought and asking the proverbial question, ‘What if?’ which is a feat and I believe that we did that incredibly well on Quantum Leap,” Pratt said. “The availability of visual effects and great human story telling happening in TV opens the medium to a whole new set of dimensions.” Read More »

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‘Avatar’ Sequels Upped To Three; Fox, James Cameron Set Trio Of Writers To Spearhead

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: James Cameron and 20th Century Fox have upped the number of Avatar sequels they’ll make from two to three, and they’ve set three high-level screenwriters (one is a team) to get the movies in shape to be shot simultaneously. That is easily a recipe for the most expensive set of pictures ever made, and an ambitious production plan not seen since New Line and Peter Jackson made three The Lord Of The Rings films back to back. Back then, Jackson was coming off The Frighteners. Fox at least has the confidence of knowing Cameron’s last two films are the biggest-grossing pictures in movie history, with Avatar at the top by a wide margin. It’s still a gutsy play; it is not unimaginable that three Avatar installments could cost close to $1 billion. The original grossed $2.8 billion.

Cameron has set War Of The Worlds scribe Josh Friedman to write one film; Rise Of Planet Of The Apes‘ Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver to write another; with the third to be written by Shane Salerno, who wrote and directed the upcoming documentary Salinger and who previously worked with Cameron on a remake of Fantastic Voyage at Fox. The writers will collaborate with Cameron separately and co-write three separate movies with him.

The three pictures will be filmed simultaneously with production beginning next year. The release of the first sequel will be in December 2016, with the second to follow in December 2017, and the third a year later. Avatar 2, 3, and 4 will be produced by Cameron and Jon Landau through their Lightstorm Entertainment banner. Lightstorm will work once again with Joe Letteri and his team at WETA Digital on the three films.

The choice of writers came after Cameron and Landau spent weeks meeting with A-list screenwriters vying for the job. They’ve been working with Cameron from his Manhattan Beach studio. Read More »

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Josh Friedman Inks Overall Deal With Universal TV, Joins NBC Series ‘Crossbones’

By | Thursday May 16, 2013 @ 11:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The Sarah Connor Chronicles creator Josh Friedman has closed an overall deal at Universal Television. Under the two-year pact, Friedman will serve as co-executive producer on the upcoming NBC pirate drama Crossbones starring John Malkovich. Additionally, he will develop and supervise projects for the studio. “Josh Friedman puts a distinct, unique spin on everything he writes,” said Uni TV EVP Bela Bajaria. “He taps into interesting worlds and is a very talented writer. We’ve followed his career for years and are excited to be in business with him.”

Related: John Malkovich To Star In ‘Crossbones’ As Blackbeard

Crossbones, from Luther creator Neil Cross and producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, is set in 1715 on the Bahamian island of New Providence where the diabolical pirate Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard (Malkovich), reigns over a rogue nation of thieves, outlaws and miscreant sailors. Cross wrote the script and is executive producing with Parkes, MacDonald and Ted Gold for Parkes/MacDonald Prods; Georgeville Television; and Universal Television. Read More »

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High-Concept Family Drama From John August & Josh Friedman Sells To ABC

By | Wednesday September 19, 2012 @ 10:27am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: ABC has handed a script commitment with significant penalty to Chosen, a drama from Big Fish writer John August and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles developer/executive producer Josh Friedman. Described as a unique tale of family struggle, teen romance and California evil, it explores how a family’s life is upended when their 15-year-old daughter is identified as the reincarnated prophet of a mysterious South American religion. But is she their messiah, or a pawn in a darker conspiracy? August is writing and will executive produce with Friedman. 20th Century Fox TV, where Friedman is under a three-year overall deal, produces. Read More »

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Futuristic Thriller Drama From Howard Gordon & Josh Friedman Lands At NBC

By | Thursday August 30, 2012 @ 9:16am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Homeland executive producer Howard Gordon and writer Josh Friedman have teamed for a high-concept drama project, which has landed a rich premium script deal at NBC. The untitled project, … Read More »

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Fox Orders Josh Friedman Spy Drama Pilot

By | Tuesday January 17, 2012 @ 7:53pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Fox has given a pilot order to The Asset, Josh Freidman’s female-centered action drama, which had a put pilot commitment at the network. The project, from 20th Century Fox TV, is described as a character-driven drama set in … Read More »

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Fox Nabs Josh Friedman Spy Drama With Put Pilot Commitment

By | Wednesday August 17, 2011 @ 3:44pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Showing that there are no hard feelings after Fox passed on the Josh Freidman-written horror/thriller drama pilot Locke & Key, the network has handed a put pilot commitment to a new hourlong project from Friedman and 20th TV, … Read More »

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Fox Pilot ‘Locke & Key’ To Screen At Comic-Con

By | Wednesday June 22, 2011 @ 5:03am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

With its gigantic promotional platform, Comic-Con has become the place for TV studios and networks to introduce their new genre series to fans through screenings of their pilots and panels with creators and cast. But showcasing pilots that didn’t go … Read More »

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Writer Josh Friedman Signs 3-Year Overall Deal With 20th Century Fox Television

By | Thursday June 16, 2011 @ 12:57pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Josh Friedman, writer/executive producer of Locke & Key, is staying in business with 20th Century Fox TV, which produced the Fox pilot. Friedman has signed a rich three-year overall deal with the studio to develop new projects. Additionally, he will serve as consulting producer on the studio’s new drama series The Finder, a spinoff from veteran Bones.

Friedman, a busy feature writer with such credits as War of the Worlds and The Black Dhalia, has created four TV projects that have gone to pilot, and one of them, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, went to series and ran on Fox for two seasons. 20th TV chairman Dana Walden said she and fellow chairman Gary Newman had been tracking Friedman for a while and finally got to do a project with him with Locke & Key, an adaptation of Joe Hill’s graphic novel. Walden praised Friedman’s convictions to keep the pilot true to his vision and for acting as a very responsible producer on a big-budget production. “Josh is an incredible writer with a knack for creating genre programming, which makes him a perfect fit for our studio which has produced shows like The X Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel,” Walden said. “He did beautiful work on Locke & Key, and while it didn’t ultimately go to series, it was a pilot we were immensely proud of. He also has a fantastic sense of humor, which really comes through in his work and makes it very distinct.” Read More »

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Miranda Otto To Star In Fox’s ‘Locke & Key’

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Miranda Otto is set to headline Fox’s drama pilot Locke & Key, from producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Based on Joe Hill’s comic, Locke & Key tells the story … Read More »

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Fox Gives Pilot Order To ‘Locke & Key’

Nellie Andreeva

Locke & Key already had a series commitment attached to it. Now Fox has officially greenlighted a pilot from the Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci-produced project based on the graphic novel, which is eyed for a potential summer run. The Locke & Key adaptation, written by Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles creator Josh Friedman, is produced by 20th Century Fox TV, Kurtzman and Orci’s 20th TV-based K.O. Paper Products and DreamWorks TV where the project originated on the feature side. Based on Joe Hill’s comic published by IDW Publishing, Locke & Key tells the story of Nina Locke and her three children Read More »

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‘Locke’ Locks In Series Commitment At Fox

Nellie Andreeva

Fox has handed a series commitment to the Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci-produced adaptation of the graphic novel Locke & Key, which is eyed for a potential summer run. The project, which will be written and run by Terminator: The Read More »

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Fox Nears Deal For TV Adaptation Of Comic ‘Locke & Key’ With Spielberg Producing

Nellie Andreeva

Fox is finalizing a deal for one of the first major pieces of development this coming development cycle, a Steven Spielberg-produced adaptation of the graphic novel Locke & Key. The project from writer Josh Friedman and producers Alex Kurtzman and … Read More »

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Josh Friedman’s Real-Life TV Procedural

By | Wednesday July 21, 2010 @ 3:19pm PDT

Screenwriter/Sarah Connor Chronicles exec producer/writer Josh Friedman posted this on his webblog today:

SLEDGEHAMMER AND WHORE

This is the story of a Procedural.

So I’m at a meeting with a producer the other day and he’s pitching me a tv idea. As way of emphasizing why I need him and his idea, he brings forth a piece of paper. On it, my credits. He doesn’t actually hand it over to me but he says this:

PRODUCER: I’ve been looking over your credits, pretty impressive.
ME: Thanks, we try.
PRODUCER: Seems to me you’re just missing one thing from these credits. And I’m gonna tell you what it is.
ME: Please do.

At which point he turns the piece of paper towards me and I see he’s written in bold black marker near the top, pointing to the list: BIG FUCKING HIT TV SHOW.

ME: Well, yes, I am missing that. Very true. I think about that a lot.

PRODUCER: That’s all right. Because I’m here to change all that.

At which point he launches into his pitch for what may or not be “my big fucking hit tv show.”

Now, I leave it to you to debate whether pointing out my shortcomings is a good or bad sales strategy (it rarely works for my dad but often for my wife), and I’ll leave it to me to decide whether or not the idea he pitched me was the answer to my problems.

I will say this about the idea, however: IT WAS ENORMOUS. The concept, the scope, the budget, it was resolutely and irresponsibly EPIC and for that I was totally grateful. Because if I’d been pitched one more aspirational character-driven procedural you were going to have to peel me off the Barham asphalt.

Not that I don’t understand the impulse for procedurals. They’re the golden retrievers of television. They’re cheap. They’re endearing. Not too hard to understand. And they won’t cost $3.5 million per ep, pull in a 1.4 rating, and pee on your favorite tauntaun sleeping bag.

On the other hand, there’s been a lot of recent attempts at “event” television and almost all have been utter failures. Even some of the ones still on the air stagger around like a drunk who woke up with a Season 2 and have no idea who drove them there or how to get home (I’m looking at you, V.).

With the death of Lost and 24, we find ourselves looking for the next bit of pop culture big-fucking-dealness that we can get ourselves all worked up for. And when I say “we” I’m referring to Fans of TV with a capital F and not simply those for whom TV is the thing that occupies the space between dinner and the sleep apnea machine. We Fans of TV want that Big Sexy Going Down the Rabbit Hole Feeling and no matter how much my mother loves Simon Baker, The Mentalist just isn’t going to do it for us.

The Mentalist, is, however, going to make a shitload of money for all involved. It’s easy on the eyes and is habit-forming much in the same way two glasses of red wine a night is: you’ll get a nice, warm buzz but you’re not gonna get really wasted and wake up with Cobb’s malevolent freight train blasting through your cortex. The Mentalist isn’t the best sex you’ve ever had, but it’s also not likely to leave you to finish yourself off while your partner falls asleep to reruns of Cheaters.

The Character-driven Procedural works for a number of reasons, but the biggest and the best of them is this: they almost never get picked up to series without a Serious Asswhipping Actor in the lead. Simon Baker. Hugh Laurie. Tony Shaloub. Kyra Sedgwick. Angie Harmon. These are legitimate cleanup hitters in any TV lineup. They might not be the favorites of the genre crowd. You might not stand in line for their autograph. And you are not going to see them down at Comic-Con doing funny panels with Jeff “Doc” Jensen. Why? Because they are too busy making the other twenty million people who watch tv every night love them.

“Event” television, on the other hand (and here we can probably insert the word “genre” or “science fiction”), usually demands a big canvas, a big cast of characters, and a large concept that often dominates. It’s ideas first, characters second, and that, dear friends, is often a recipe for tv disaster. FlashForward tried to balance a lot of character work on the big bouncing back of their elephantine idea but the show never found a proper stride and a lot of people were knocked off into the pachyderm shit. Warehouse 13 works for SyFy because it’s what X-Files would be if Mulder and Scully took Ecstasy and dry-humped their way through a Freak of the Week. Which is to say, a quirky procedural.

Aaah, but what about Lost, you say? Explain Lost, or at the very least, explain Lost‘s success? Big ideas, lots of characters, no big alpha stars, lots of story, lots of…lots?

I’m not the first to say this, but Lost is a freak show that will never be repeated. It’s the Michael Jackson of television. No one should try to deconstruct the Lost phenomenon ever again. There is nothing to be gained from studying Lost‘s success. It’s a “Black Swan”, or an “Outlier”, or one of many other books on my Kindle I’ll never read now because, let’s be honest, it’s on my Kindle.

You can’t construct a phenomenon from the outside-in. You can’t will a show into the public’s consciousness. Both of this year’s breakout hits, Glee and Modern Family, had big buzz coming into the season. But that’s because people who’d seen them knew they were good. They didn’t just decide they needed them to be good and then set out to market them so, they actually KNEW they were. Both shows also have very strong creators who know television, know their own minds, and know what show they’re making. These are not shows that could’ve been created by anybody–and that’s not something you can say about most television. They are also decidedly NOT procedurals.

The stories I love often involve world-building. But most people working in the tv business are terrified of building worlds. They want shows that are relatable and recognizable. They want real worlds with real people that will under no condition make viewers uncomfortable or remind them of anything remotely strange and unknown. No Ordinary Family is a perfect example of this: the family is Absolutely Ordinary until they’re NOT. And when they’re NOT, they respond to that very NOT-ness just as any other Ordinary Family would.

But much of our most successful and daring television is, if looked at broadly, Fantastic with a capital F. Ryan Murphy is a world-builder, Matt Weiner is a world-builder, Vince Gilligan is an 800 lb world builder. Breaking Bad exists in a strange Albuquerque Dream State that is at once the most surreal and also the most achingly real drama I’ve ever watched. These are “genre” shows, maybe not exactly science fiction, but certainly not traditional “dramas”, either. They are as weird and off-putting and daring and out there as any “space ship show” that the networks refuse to put on every year. And that was even before mother and daughter sang “Poker Face” to each other across a grand piano.

But I digress.

This is a story of a Procedural. Specifically, mine.

Last Sunday night the wife and I were sound asleep at 11:45pm Read More »

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