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.
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 to series is extremely rare. It will happen this year with Fox’s Locke & Key, a suspense thriller based on the graphic novel by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. A Locke & Key session will be held July 22 at 10:30 AM and will include a screening of the pilot, followed by a panel discussion featuring Hill, Rodriguez, the pilot’s writer/executive producer Josh Friedman and executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Behind the event is the publisher of the Locke & Key comic, IDW Publishing. IDW asked the pilot’s producer, 20th Century Fox TV, for permission, and with the studio’s blessing, it moved to book space for the screening. Because the convention is so packed, there was some juggling involved, so the screening will be in Room 8, and the panel next door in Room 9. “This one-time-only screening of the entire pilot will show you just what a void there will be on your TVs this fall,” IDW’s ad materials say.
Locke & Key, directed by Mark Romanek and starring Miranda Otto and Nick Stahl, was one of the highest-profile pilots this past season. It was given an early pilot order and originally envisioned as a summer …
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.”
WHO IS STILL ALIVE? ‘Exit Strategy’ Taps Ken Olin As Co-Showrunner; ‘Family Album’ Eyes Midseason Order & More
Between the VIP section of newly picked up series and the pilot of rejected pilots is the no man’s land of pilots that are neither dead nor picked up yet. Here is a rundown on what is still alive and which dead pilots are looking for life elsewhere:
EXIT STRATEGY: Fox passing on the Ethan Hawke-starring action drama pilot was one of the biggest surprises on Tuesday when Fox made its series pickups. But the project, from 20th TV and Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s K/O Paper Products, is very much alive at the network for a possible midseason order. Veteran director-producer Ken Olin has come on board to help with the retooling of the project. He worked with Orci and Kurtzman on Alias where he also met K/O president Heather Kadin, then an ABC exec. Olin is expected to serve as co-showrunner if Exit Strategy is picked up to series. The pilot has been praised for the look established by director Antoine Fuqua but I hear that Fox brass felt the action needed to be infused with more character. Olin is already pitching ideas to do that, working alongside creator David Guggenheim who comes from the feature world and has no TV experience. Besides Hawke, a rare bona fide movie star to agree to do a broadcast series, Exit Strategy has something else going for it – the huge popularity surrounding Seal Team Six, the elite group that killed Osama …
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 stayed largely under the radar, is still very much in the mix.
UPDATE 8 PM: With two high-profile drama pilots, the Ethan Hawke starrer Exit Strategy and Locke & Key, conspicuously missing from the list of series pickups or rejects, speculation started swirling as to their fate. I hear both are still in play. Word is Exit Strategy may be held for retooling. I hear Fox brass felt the pilot had a lot of action and not too much character in it, so they had been looking to shift the focus on the show. As for Locke & Key, there is a rumor that Fox wants to make it into a big-event limited series/miniseries, but it is unclear if that would be financially feasible. Comedy Family Album is still TBD but is not getting an order at this time and may get pushed.
UPDATE 7:30 PM: Fox has picked up a second new comedy series, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, on the same night its star, Jaime Pressly, appears on Fox’s Raising Hope. Meanwhile, three other pilots, medical drama Weekends at Bellevue and comedies Council of Dads and Iceland, are dead.
EXCLUSIVE: After an exhaustive search, actor-singer Jesse McCartney just landed the final role on Fox’s drama pilot Locke & Key. He will play Ty, the eldest of the Locke children. It is a key role in the project (pun intended) as it is considered the male lead on the show.
Locke & Key, from 20th TV, Kurtzman/Orci and DreamWorks TV, is based on Joe Hill’s comic. It tells the story of Nina Locke (Miranda Otto) and her three children, Tyler (McCartney), Kinsey (Sarah Bolger), and Bode (Skylar Gaertner) who, after the brutal murder of Nina’s husband Rendell Locke, return to Keyhouse, his old family home in Massachusetts. There, they are pestered by an evil entity that’s determined to hold the family hostage one way or another until it gets what it wants. As Ty, McCartney will be able to show off his music talents. According to the character description, Ty was the closest with his dad and carries a special guilt for his father’s death. He isolates himself a bit by retreating into his music. On TV, McCartney most recently recurred on Greek.
EXCLUSIVE: Nick Stahl has joined the cast of Fox’s drama pilot Locke & Key, which was originally targeted for summer but is now for fall consideration. The project, from producers Kurtzman/Orci, 20th TV and DreamWorks TV, is based on Joe Hill’s comic. It tells the story of Nina Locke (Miranda Otto) and her three children, Tyler, Kinsey (Sarah Bolger), and Bode who, after the brutal murder of Nina’s husband Rendell Locke, return to Keyhouse, his old family home in Massachusetts. There, they are pestered by an evil entity named DODGE that’s determined to hold the family hostage one way or another until it gets what it wants. Stahl will play Rendell’s younger brother Duncan Locke, an art teacher, who lives nearby and frequently visits Nina and the kids and who strangely has few memories of his time growing up in Keyhouse. Stahl, repped by ICM and KLWG, next co-stars opposite Zoe Saldana in the indie Burning Palms, which premieres tonight.
Here is what Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said about the change of plans for Locke & Key at yesterday’s Fox TCA executive session: “Originally, we had it on a summer track… They just simply couldn’t make the dates. We were going to rush it creatively. So we’ve got it …
Broadcast Nets Are Going For Genre And Period Dramas This Development Season, But Can Such Series Work On The Big 4?
Genre series are all the rage in cable with the success of AMC’s The Walking Dead and HBO’s True Blood, which have been breaking series records to rank as their network’s top-rated series and become pop culture staples. A genre series, The Vampire Diaries, also is the highest-rated series on the CW, which has had continuous success in the sci-fi arena with veterans Smallville and Supernatural. But, with the exception of ABC’s Lost, sci-fi, vampire, zombie, fantasy and comic book-based series have struggled to attract sizable audiences on the major broadcast networks. That has not deterred the nets to heavily pursue such projects this development season. The 2 drama pilots ordered so far by Fox are both in the genre category: Locke & Key is based on Joe Hill’s comic, and Alcatraz features missing Alcatraz prisoners who reappear in present day. Genre projects have also attracted some of the biggest writer-producers in town: Lost‘s J.J. Abrams is behind Fox’s series Fringe and Alcatraz, David E. Kelley, who dabbled in sci-fi with Life on Mars, is developing a series adaptation of comic book icon Wonder Woman, Greg Berlanti co-created and is executive producing ABC’s freshman superhero family drama No Ordinary Family, Fringe co-creators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are executive producing Locke & Key, and Battlestar Galactica‘s David Eick is involved in a series adaptation of The Hulk for ABC and …
Nick D’Agosto (Heroes) and Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse) are set as the two leads in the USA pilot Eden, while Sarah Bolger (The Tudors) has joined the Fox pilot Locke & Key. Eden, from Universal Cable Prods. and writers by Ken and Mary Hanes, centers on a young hotel worker (D’Agosto) who, with the help of his escaped con artist cousin (Gjokaj), gets a job as the concierge at an elite NYC hotel. Together they manage to provide the hotel guests with whatever they desire, at whatever the cost. The pilot, whose two-male lead setup is in the mold of such USA series as Psych, Royal Pains and White Collar, will be directed by Jace Alexander.
Fox’s drama pilot Locke & Key, from producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, 20th TV and DreamWorks TV, is based on Joe Hill’s comic. It tells the story of Nina Locke (Miranda Otto) and her three children, Tyler, Kinsey (Bolger), and Bode, who survive an unspeakable horror and attempt to rebuild their lives at Keyhouse, their family home in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. It is a mysterious New England mansion, with fantastic and transformative keys hidden inside its walls that are also being sought by a hate-filled and relentless …
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 of Nina Locke (Otto) and her three children, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode, who survive an unspeakable horror and attempt to rebuild their lives at Keyhouse, their family home in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. It is a mysterious New England mansion, with fantastic and transformative keys hidden inside its walls that are also being sought by a hate-filled and relentless creature with ties to the Locke family’s past who will stop at nothing to accomplish his sinister goals. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles creator Josh Friedman wrote the pilot, with Mark Romanek in negotiations to direct. 20th Century Fox TV, Kurtzman and Orci’s K.O. Paper Products and DreamWorks TV are producing. Otto, repped by Gersh and Management 360, had been heavily pursued to do pilots and fielded several offers, including one for the TNT drama pilot Perception, before opting to do Locke & Key. Her credits include War of Worlds, the Lord of the Rings sequels and the ABC dramedy Cashmere Mafia.
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.
With drama sale season in full force, book and format adaptations have emerged as a red-hot commodity. ABC is working on a U.S. version of hit British series Spooks with writer Michael Seitzman, NBC is developing an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Dark Tower with Imagine and writer Akiva Goldsman, Fox handed a series commitment to an Alex Kurtzman/Roberto Orci/DreamWorks TV-produced adaptation of King’s son Joe Hill’s graphic novel Locke & Key, CBS has picked up Treadstone, a spy drama based on Robert Ludlum’s novels from CSI creator Anthony Zuiker and feature writer John Glenn, and Warner Bros. is looking to turn DC comic The Sandman into series.
Three new projects are about to join them. Sony TV is developing a single-camera half-hour comedy based on the 2009 indie Breaking Upwards with the film’s co-writers/stars Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones and producer Aaron Kaplan. It centers on a young couple exploring alternatives to monogamy as they decide to spend 4 days a week together and the other 3 as single people. Kaplan is executive producing through his Kapital Entertainment. Wein, who also directed the movie, and Lister-Jones are expected to co-exec produce. The duo, repped by Gersh, recently sold comedy pitch Motherf***er to Fox Searchlight.
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 Sarah Connor Chronicles creator Josh Friedman, hails from 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, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode, who survive an unspeakable horror and attempt to rebuild their lives at Keyhouse, their family home in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. It is a mysterious New England mansion, with fantastic and transformative keys hidden inside its walls that are also being sought by a hate-filled and relentless creature with ties to the Locke family’s past who will stop at nothing to accomplish his sinister goals. Friedman, Kurtzman, Orci, K.O’s Heather Kadin, DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank as well as IDW CEO Ted Adams are executive producing.
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 Roberto Orci, hails from 20th Century Fox TV, where Kurtzman and Orci’s company is based, and DreamWorks TV where the project originated on the feature side.
Locke & Key will be written by Friedman who will also serve as showrunner. Based on Joe Hill’s comic published by IDW Publishing, the project centers on Keyhouse, an unlikely New England family estate where brothers Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke uncover fantastic doors that transform all who walk through them and a hate-filled and relentless creature. Friedman, Kurtzman, Orci, Spielberg and DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank are executive producing along with IDW CEO Ted Adams.