EXCLUSIVE: Starz is fast-tracking its ballet drama project, now titled Flesh And Bone. No formal green light yet, but the show, from executive producers Lawrence Bender, Kevin Brown and John Melfi and creator/exec producer Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad), has been actively casting, locking in four accomplished dancers for supporting roles. Additionally, Ethan Stiefel, star of the movies Center Stage and Center Stage: Turn It Up, has joined the project as consultant and choreographer. He is the artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and was a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre from 1997-2012. Nationwide search for the lead role, Claire Robbins, continues, with more than 1,000 dancers already auditioned. Described as a dark and gritty exploration of the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world, Flesh And Bone follows a young ballet dancer, Claire, who has a distinctly troubled past, as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York. Cast in key supporting roles are former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Irina Dvorovenko, current American Ballet Theatre soloist Sascha Radetsky (Center Stage), Ballet Arizona company dancer Raychel Diane Weiner, and Emily Tyra (Boardwalk Empire).
Starz has put in development a drama project from feature producer Lawrence Bender (Inglourious Basterds) and Breaking Bad co-executive producer Moira Walley-Beckett. Written by Walley-Beckett, the untitled project is described as a dark and gritty series that unflinchingly explores the dysfunctional underbelly of the ballet world. It follows a young female ballet dancer, Claire, who has a distinctly troubled past as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York.
Bender is executive producing with Kevin Brown (Roswell) through their Bender-Brown Prods, as well as Walley-Beckett. All three have strong connections to the ballet world. Bender and Walley-Beckett are former ballet dancers, and Brown’s family is made up entirely of former ballet dancers and was the basis for the 1977 feature The Turning Point, which earned 11 Oscar nominations. Walley-Beckett is repped by UTA, Bender-Brown by WME.
EXCLUSIVE: For her first project under the overall deal Nurse Jackie co-creator Lix Brixius signed with Universal Television in April, she has teamed with Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Universal TV-based Hazy Mills and Lawrence Bender and Kevin Brown’s Bender Brown Prods. for a drama project that has landed at NBC.
Brixius will write the hourlong drama, a soap about a Dr. Oz-type that has fallen from grace. Brixius, Hayes, Milliner, Bender (Inglourious Basterds) and Brown executive produce. Uni TV is the studio. Hazy Mills has three series on the air: NBC’s Grimm and the TV Land comedies Hot In Cleveland and spinoff The Soul Man. Additionally, Hayes is set to recur on the NBC/Uni TV dramedy Smash this coming season, reuniting with his Will & Grace co-star Debra Messing. Bender Brown recently signed a pod deal with Uni TV’s corporate sibling Universal Cable Prods. WME-repped Brixius signed with Uni TV shortly after leaving Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, which she co-showran for the first four seasons.
EXCLUSIVE: Producers Lawrence Bender (Inglorious Basterds) and Kevin Brown (Roswell) have signed a development deal with Universal Cable Prods. for their Bender Brown banner. Under the pact, the duo will shepherd projects for cable as well as broadcast for UCP, which has evolved from a production arm of USA Network and SyFy to a studio that supplies all cable and broadcast nets. For the past few years Bender Brown had been independent after a stint at Warner Bros. TV where the company produced CBS drama Dr. Vegas among other projects. It has done pilots for TNT, the CW and Lifetime and enjoyed its independence but “having a single studio partner is very exciting,” Brown said. “We have done everything from fantastical drama to multi-camera comedy, so the idea that there is a one studio like UCP that does all kinds of programming and sells all over town was very appealing”.
Added Bender, “USA Network is now starting to get into comedy, and that’s a real priority for us”. Brown’s long-time relationship with UCP SVP Richard Rothstein played an important role in making the deal, which started with a call by Rothstein to Bender and Brown’s WME agent. Five years ago, as an executive at UCP corporate sibling Universal Media Studios Rothstein developed a project with Bender and Brown. The duo also have a strong relationship with UCP sibling Syfy where they produced the 2004 miniseries Earthsea. Bender and Brown will work with UCP’s development team – SVPs Rothstein, Chris Sanagustin and Maira Suro – who oversee the studio’s development for USA, Syfy and external networks, respectively. “Lawrence and Kevin have the creative DNA – great ideas, a wide variety of genres and strong talent relationships – that goes perfectly with our diverse slate of projects and the type of production company we’re building at UCP”, Rothstein said.