EXCLUSIVE: Wall Street continues to be a hot TV drama arena following the success of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, with another high profile project coming together. Sony TV has put in development The Buy Side, an hourlong project based on the best-selling autobiographical book by former Galleon Group trader Turney Duff. Oscar-nominated writer Sheldon Turner will write the adaptation, with Michael Dinner set to direct. The two are executive producing with Michael De Luca, whose involvement in the project predates his December appointment as Columbia Pictures president of production, and Turner’s producing partner at Vendetta Jennifer Klein. The book was brought to them by Kate Di Mento, who works for Dinner. Both Vendetta and Dinner are under deals at Sony TV. The project is in final stages of development and is expected to be taken out to the networks soon, after Dinner finishes work on the ABC pilot Clementine, which he is directing.
Sheldon Turner, Michael Dinner, Michael De Luca & Jennifer Klein Team To Adapt Book ‘The Buy Side’ As Wall Street Drama At Sony
EXCLUSIVE: Famous prohibition agent Eliot Ness wasn’t even 30 years old when hit the pinnacle in his career by taking down Al Capone with his law enforcement team dubbed The Untouchables. The following two decades of his life are the subject of Ness, a drama series in development at WGN America from The Blacklist duo of Sony Pictures TV and Davis Entertainment. The project is based on Douglas Perry’s biography Eliot Ness: The Rise And Fall Of An American Hero, which is being published next week. The adaptation will be written by renowned crime novelist Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island; Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone), with Sony TV-based Michael Dinner (Justified) set to direct. The two are executive producing with Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox.
Ness’ 1929-31 heroics going after crime boss Capone in Chicago were chronicled in the 1959 ABC drama series The Untouchables starring Robert Stack as Ness and Brian De Palma’s Oscar-winning movie of the same name toplined by Kevin Costner. Ness will follow is the real (and untold) story of Ness post-Untouchables when he became the top cop in Cleveland, the most dangerous city in America during the 1930s. He spent the next decade fighting the mob, his own corrupt police department, and a serial killer on the streets. All while battling his alcoholism, serial philandering and the constant need for acclaim. (Ness was broke and an alcoholic when he died from a massive heart attack at 55 in 1957). Coincidentally, Sony TV is developing another project about Ness’ years in Cleveland on the longform side. Nemesis, an eight-hour miniseries for NBC, zeroes in on Ness’ hunt for the so-called Torso Killer, billed as America’s first serial killer. The mini is based on different source material, the book Nemesis: The Final Case Of Eliot Ness by William Bernhardt, with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron executive producing.
Jace Alexander (The Blacklist) is set to direct ABC drama pilot Agatha, while Michael Dinner will helm another ABC drama pilot, Clementine. Both projects hail from ABC Studios and studio-based Mark Gordon Co. Agatha is a character-driven procedural about a former convict-turned-big-city criminologist who is brought in to help local police crack a case involving a perplexing disappearance. The chief detective she’s been hired to help is her father – and they haven’t talked in 15 years. Clementine centers on a troubled 28-year-old psychic who sees her life begin to change in unexpected ways when she decides to stop running from her past. Alexander is repped by ICM Partners and Fineman Entertainment. CAA-repped Dinner serves as director/executive producer on Justified.
Josh Salatin, Will Rothhaar and Alano Miller have been cast in Fox’s drama pilot Wild Blue, written by Taylor Elmore and directed by Michael Dinner. The Sony Pictures TV-produced project is described as an upstairs/downstairs look at pressure-cooker lives in the U.S. Navy. It’s a young ensemble about the working men and women on board an aircraft carrier equipped with a 500-foot landing strip, a nuclear reactor and 6000 souls on board. Salatin, repped by UTA and The Group, will play Vandal, a charming and arrogant aviator. Rothhaar, repped by Innovative and Sanders Armstrong Casterta, will play James, who lives below deck in tough conditions. Miller, repped by Abrams Artists, will play Joaquin, a recently promoted Non Commissioned Officer.
EXCLUSIVE: It looks like Fox brass are determined to get an aircraft carrier drama on the air. Last season, the network put in development The Bridge, from writer Taylor Elmore (Justified), producer Mark Johnson and Sony Pictures TV. The project, described as a high-octane soap with a touch of Upstairs, Downstairs set on a Navy aircraft carrier, didn’t go to pilot but the network kept it in contention, rolling in to this season. Now Justified executive producers Graham Yost and Michael Dinner have boarded the drama to help with the rewrite, giving it additional clout. Both will executive produce, with Dinner also attached to direct. Elmore is still the writer, with Johnson and his Gran Via still attached, along with Sony TV.
Meanwhile, in August, Fox bought another drama from high-profile auspices with a similar setting, giving a script commitment with penalty to a project from House executive producers Russel Friend & Garrett Lerner and 20th Century Fox TV. Set on a naval aircraft carrier, the untitled show also has an upstairs/downstairs dynamic: the “downstairs” is filled with 18- to 20-year-olds, their coming-of-age stories heightened by the life-and-death nature of their everyday jobs; the “upstairs” is anchored by a female fighter pilot and her season-long quest to solve a murder that occurs onboard.
EXCLUSIVE: Director-producer Michael Dinner has inked a new two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. He has been under overall pacts at Sony TV since 2005, developing and directing pilots for network and cable. Dinner executive produces two series for the studio, FX’s Justified and Fox’s upcoming The Mob Doctor. He has directed two other Sony pilots that have gone to series, Kidnapped at NBC and The Beast at A&E. Dinner, an Emmy winner for The Wonder Years, is repped by CAA.
NBC Buys Mystery Drama Penned By ‘Moonlight’ Co-Creator, Helmed By Michael Dinner & Produced By Sam Raimi
NBC has bought Vanish, a mystery drama from Moonlight co-creator Trevor Munson, Sony TV and Sam Raimi and Josh Donen’s studio-based Star Road banner. Michael Dinner, who is under an overall deal at Sony, will direct the potential pilot. Written by Munson, Vanish centers on a man with a mysterious past who protects deserving people from danger, and helps them disappear. Munson will executive produce with Sam Raimi, Donen and Dinner, while Robert Zotnowski, who runs Star Road’s TV development, also is expected to produce. The project, which was put together at Star Road, reunites Zotnowski and Munson; Zotnowski was a drama development executive at CBS when Munson co-created with Ron Koslow the cult vampire series Moonlight starring Alex O’Loughlin. Munson’s first novel Angel Of Vengeance, an early incarnation of what became the impetus for Moonlight, came out earlier this year. He is repped by Verve and manager Kevin Donahue. CAA-repped Dinner has drama Furlough in development at FX, where he directed and executive produced Powers and Outlaw Country, two pilots in contention for a series pickup.
EXCLUSIVE: FX has bought Furlough, an original drama series pitch from crime novelist/comic book writer Charlie Huston and The Walking Dead producer Circle of Confusion. Michael Dinner is attached to direct the potential pilot, with Sony TV, where Dinner is based, on board to produce. Details of the plot are being kept under wraps, but Furlough is described as a private detective/prison drama. Furlough reunites FX, Sony TV, Circle of Confusion and Dinner. Sony TV and Circle of Confusion recently produced the FX comic book-based pilot Powers, directed by CAA-repped Dinner, which is in consideration for a series pickup. Edgar-nominated novelist Huston, repped by Abrams Artists and Circle of Confusion, most recently adapted his 2009 crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death for HBO. The project, titled All Signs of Death, was picked up to pilot, which was directed and executive produced by Alan Ball, but didn’t make the cut to series. In addition to Powers and Furlough, Circle of Confusion has an adaptation of graphic novel Chew set up at Showtime, with Stephen Hopkins attached to direct.
FX’s pilot Outlaw Country is undergoing a retooling. The original script, written by Josh Goldin and Rachel Abramowitz, has been given a rewrite by Goldin, Abramowitz and Outlaw Country‘s executive producer/co-showrunner David Manson. There will be substantial reshoots, which will be directed by actor-helmer Adam Arkin. Arkin is stepping in for the original pilot’s director Michael Dinner, who would’ve done the reshoots had he not been busy with another FX pilot he is directing, Powers. There won’t be major recastings on the project, a crime thriller/family drama set against the backdrop of Southern organized crime and Nashville royalty that stars Luke Grimes, Haley Bennett, Mary Steenburgen and John Hawkes. I hear a couple of small new roles have been added and another small part, played in the original pilot by Lisa Blount, will be recast following the actress’ death.
Getting Outlaw Country off the ground has been a long and arduous process. FX greenlighted the project to pilot last April and filmed the pilot last fall. The network has showed faith in the drama — FX president John Landgraf recently listed Outlaw Country, along with Powers, as candidates for a series launch in the winter. Also proving FX’s commitment to the Nashville-set Outlaw Country is its major additional investment in the project in the form of a rewrite and extensive reshoots. In addition to getting paid for the new pilot, the cast also have had their options extended …
EXCLUSIVE (UPDATED BELOW): There’s been no announcement yet. But Ann Blanchard is already being accused of breaking Hollywood protocol by not first informing those agents repping her Mosaic Media Group’s TV management clients of her change of employment. Instead, she’s calling those clients today and trying to take them with her to CAA. As a result, agencies who gave her clients to manage are calling me spitting mad. For instance, UTA reps Mosaic’s TV biz and yet Blanchard today was phoning UTA clients to come with her to CAA. Before moving to Jimmy Miller’s Mosaic where she’s been producing several projects, Blanchard had been a TV lit agent and SVP at the old William Morris Agency and is now calling her former clients from there, too. Blanchard, who wasn’t supposed to start at CAA for another 3 weeks, already has 10 high level clients at the tenpercentery including Amy Brenneman, Ed Redlich, Alexa Junge, Doug Petrie, and TV director Michael Dinner. I’ve been hearing that CAA wants to widen its writers / creators / showrunners list after what is well known to be several ”off” years packaging pilots and down this year as well. Remember that movies are the glitz of the agency biz but TV is the cash cow.
UPDATE: Ann Blanchard just told me: “I feel terrible about this reaction and of course want to make clear that I truly value my relationships with all the agencies. I’m in the process of calling all the high-level agents I’ve worked with over the course of this weekend. …
After lengthy development, FX has handed a pilot order to Powers, a drama based on the graphic novel by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. The project, written by Charles H. Eglee and to be directed by Michael Dinner, is a police procedural set in a world where superpowers are relatively common and centers on two detectives, Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim, in a Homicide department that deals with cases involving “powers” (people with superpowers). Powers, from Sony Pictures TV and FX Prods., is slated to begin casting immediately for a spring shoot.
Dinner, who is under an overall deal at Sony, has been the driving force between the project. Eglee came on board to write a new script late last year, after a stint as an executive producer on a very successful cable series adaptation of another graphic novel, AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Journeyman creator Kevin Falls was previously tapped to write the script.) In another Walking Dead connection, the company behind the AMC hit, Circle of Confusion, is attached to executive produce Powers alongside Dinner and Eglee.
Both Dinner and Eglee have history on FX. Dinner directed the pilot for Justified and serves as an executive producer on the FX series, also produced by Sony. Additionally, he co-directed with Allen Coulter the pilot for FX’s flagship series Sons of …
Writer Jason Smilovic has set up a drama project at Fox. The project, titled The Detail, landed a script commitment with penalty after interest from multiple networks. It is executive produced by Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, with Michael Dinner on board to direct. Produced by Sony TV, it is described as Ocean’s Eleven meets Revenge of the Nerds. It centers on a private detective, who, after being released from jail for a crime he didn’t commit, assembles a group of rejects, each with a unique talent, to form a detective agency and bring down his old business partner who framed him.