The series adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel’s graphic novel Locke & Key refuses to die. After Fox passed on the pilot written by Josh Friedman and directed by Mark Romanek, the companies behind it, 20th Century Fox, K/O Paper Products and DreamWorks TV, shopped it to other networks, with Syfy expressing interest but ultimately passing. The studio, faced with mounting costs of keeping the production alive, decided to pull the plug on the thriller, letting the actors’ options to expire on June 30 while signing Friedman in an overall deal. (Friedman has already set up a new project at Fox with a put pilot commitment.) Then IDW, the publisher of the Locke & Key comic, organized a screening of the pilot at Comic-Con in July, followed by a panel discussion with executive producers Friedman, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. And last month, a trailer for the show, presumably cut by Fox in the run-up to the upfronts, leaked online and went viral (video below). Also last month, a DVD of the pilot was given to MTV programming chief David Janollari. I hear he liked it but is yet to meet with the Locke & Key producers, so there has been no real conversation between the two sides. A supernatural thriller would be a major departure for MTV whose current scripted slate consists primarily of high school shows. And many caution that the budget to mount a Locke & Key TV adaptation is likely to be prohibitive for a basic cable network as evident by Syfy’s decision not to pursue the project after crunching the numbers.
Another TV staffing season is coming to a close as, one by one, writers rooms of new and returning series are convening to work on the 2011-12 orders. Overall, “it was a healthy staffing season,” one industry insider said, while another was lamenting the system, in which prospective writers meet on 80+ pilots in the run-up to the upfronts, only a quarter of which would make it to series and actually hire scribes.
Of the new series, comedies New Girl on Fox, Two Broke Girls on CBS and Apartment 23 on ABC were sought after by writers this year. Joining New Girl creator Liz Meriwether are Joe Port and Joe Wiseman as co-executive producers as well as J.J. Philbin and Josh Malmuth. Three established comedy writer-producers will work alongside Two Broke Girls co-creator/executive producer Michael Patrick King — Greg Malins, Jhoni Marchinko and Michelle Nader, all as consulting producers. On ABC’s Apt. 23, joining EPs Nahnatchka Khan and Dave Hemingson are Casey Johnson & David Windsor (It Takes a Village) and Sally Bradford as co-executive producers.
Writers seemed split on the drama side this year. “Some gravitated toward the big-idea, big-swing shows like Once Upon a Time, The River and Pan Am, others wanted nothing to do with them, opting to go for more standard procedurals like Person of Interest, Prime Suspect and Unforgettable,” one source said. “A lot of writers are thinking about job security.” Also of note is that Josh Friedman’s Locke & Key script was a favorite among writers looking for staff jobs this season despite Fox passing on the pilot.
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.”
3RD UPDATE: Fox Orders ‘Finder’, ‘Alcatraz’, ‘Daughter’ & ‘New Girl’ To Series, ‘Council’, ‘Locke’, ‘Bellevue’, ‘Outnumbered’ & ‘Iceland’ Dead; ‘Exit’, ‘Album’ & ‘Common’ Still In Play
UPDATE 9 PM: A Locke & Key limited series/miniseries was a stretch, and it seems that it is not happening. The show is now heading to the death pile. And yes, comedy Outnumbered is dead too. Surprisingly, multi-family comedy Little In Common starring Rob Corddry and Kevin Hart, which had …
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
Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are getting comfortable at Fox. The co-creators of the network’s sci-fi drama Fringe, have set up another high-profile drama project at the network, this time with writer David Guggenheim. Exit Strategy has received a put pilot commitment from Fox. Created by Guggenheim, it is described as a high octane procedural set in the world of CIA agents who are sent in to “fix” operations gone bad.