EXCLUSIVE: A&E Network has put in development a high-concept drama from Immortals writers Charley & Vlas Parlapanides and producer Michael London. The project’s title, The 36, stems from the mystical Jewish concept of the Righteous 36, which stipulates that at all times there are 36 people in the world possessing special powers who don’t necessarily know each other but if even one of them was missing, the world would come to an end. A version of the premise was recently used on the Fox supernatural drama Touch where such 36 people were hunted by a shady organization. The 36 is set in the world of the biblical fallen angels. These dark angels, or Nephilim, live among us and are only kept in check by The Righteous 36. Set in New York, The 36 centers on Dane, a complicated hero who soon learns that he’s right in the middle of this battle for the soul of mankind. The Parlapanides are writing the script and will executive produce with London through his Groundswell Prods. for A+E Studios.
The 36 joins another project about angels on Earth, Syfy’s series Dominion, based on the feature Legion. Groundswell recently produced the Amazon comedy series Betas and is also producing ABC’s straight-to-series drama The Astronaut Wives Club. Additionally, the company is developing a series adaptation of Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A … Read More »
20th Century Fox TV’s cable division Fox 21 has made a first-look deal with Michael London‘s Groundswell Prods. Under the pact, London will develop and produce projects targeted for cable alongside Groundswell President of Production Janice Williams and Director of Development Shary Shirazi. This represents a rare pod deal with a non-writing producer for Fox 21, which reached out to London after finding out that the Sideways Oscar nominee was interested in a TV studio deal. “He is a perfect example of what we try to do here,” Fox 21 president Bert Salke said. “As a producer, he has a phenomenal taste and works with the best writers, creators and directors in town while maintaining a status of being cutting edge, eager and hungry.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz, whose recent credits include Thor and X-Men: First Class, have made a deal with the Penguin imprint Razorbill to publish their first novel. Colin Fischer is about a 14-year-old boy with severe Asperger’s syndrome and a unique way of viewing the world. He’s constantly tormented by a bully named Wayne, a troubled kid from the rough side of town. When a gun goes off in the school cafeteria, Wayne’s pinned for the misdeed by police and the school principal. Colin’s hyper-rational mind perceives Wayne is innocent and he sets out to unravel the mystery. He enlists Wayne to be his assistant, and an unlikely detective team is created. The writers plan to turn the novel into a feature. They most recently scripted The Fall Guy for DreamWorks and producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, with Martin Campbell recently signing on. They are also adapting the Lev Grossman fantasy novel Magicians for producers Michael London, Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein. The scribes are repped by WME and Principato-Young.
With their Nashville pilot Outlaw Country heating up for a series pickup at FX, Josh Goldin and Rachel Abramowitz have sold a second drama project to NBC. The legal drama, titled Major Crimes, hails from Sony Pictures TV and producer Michael London (Milk), who is executive producing through his Groundswell Prods. Described as “ER in the LA prosecutor’s office,” Major Crimes is set in the world of young ADAs in a Los Angeles downtown court building. Moving at a bullet pace, the show focuses on an ensemble cast of massively overworked ADAs falling in love, battling their own demons and ambitions, while seeking out justice on the run. Goldin and Abramowitz are co-writing/executive producing the project, which came out of the extensive research the two did in the court offices in downtown LA. Major Crimes joins two other recently announced Groundswell series projects: A Visit From The Goon Squad at HBO and Magicians at Fox through 20th TV. Abramowitz and Goldin, who previously ventured into the legal genre with the Lifetime movie One Angry Juror, are with CAA & Media Talent; London is with CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has preemptively bought Magicians, a drama series adaptation of Lev Grossman’s popular fantasy novel, with a script commitment plus penalty. It will be written by X-Men: First Class and Thor co-writers Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz and produced by Michael London (Milk), Shawn Levy and Michael Adelstein. Based on Grossman’s book, which is described as Harry Potter for grown-ups, the one-hour drama follows a group of 20-somethings in New York who study magic and have access to a magical world. London had optioned the novel, which was published in 2009, while 21 Laps/Adelstein had a deal with Miller and Stentz, who have extensive TV background having worked on such series as Fringe and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. All joined forces on the series project, which will be executive produced by Miller, Stentz, London, Levy, Adelstein and Becky Clements. Following the success of The Magicians, Grossman wrote a sequel, The Magician King, which was published in August.
Contemporary dramas with fairytale elements are hot for a second consecutive broadcast development season. The previous one yielded 2 new series in the genre, ABC’s Once Upon a Time and NBC’s Grimm. This time around, Magicians joins a project from Michael Green, which recently landed a put pilot commitment at ABC. It centers on a female cop who discovers a magical world that exists within New York City. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Days after closing a deal for The Expendables 2, Arnold Schwarzenegger is in talks to star in Captive, an action thriller that is out to directors with the intention of shooting next year. Emmett/Furla Films is financing the picture, and Randall Emmett and George Furla are producing with Groundswell’s Michael London. Benjamin van der Veen and Kario Salem wrote the script from a story by Nicolai Fuglsig. Fuglsig was originally going to direct but stepped out, and he will be exec producer with Eva Maria Daniels. Schwarzenegger is in early talks to play an American real estate magnate living in Brazil who is kidnapped and held for ransom. As he frantically searches for a way out of his armored-truck prison cell hidden in a Sao Paolo landfill, a detective specializing in kidnap and ransom cases works to find him. Emmett/Furla earlier today announced a $250 million film fund with cash coming from Envision Entertainment. Schwarzenegger is starring in the Kim Jee-Woon-directed action film Last Stand, his first major film job after leaving as California governor and weathering a subsequent paternity scandal. Schwarzenegger is repped by CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: It has been some week for Brooklyn-based author Jennifer Egan. Her novel A Visit From The Goon Squad won the Pulitzer Prize, and she cited the HBO series The Sopranos as her inspiration. Now, Egan has closed a deal with HBO to develop her sprawling tale into a TV series. Groundswell’s Michael London will be executive producer and Jocelyn Hayes Simpson will be co-exec producer. Egan will be a consultant. The network hasn’t yet set a writer to draft the series pilot, but it will happen quickly, I’m told.
The book was published last summer by Knopf and slowly built a head of steam. It focuses on a coterie of characters first introduced as they orbit the world of punk rock in 1980s San Francisco. Their lives are explored for the next 30 or so years, with interlocking stories that deal as much with changes in the lives of the characters as it does changes in technology. Egan uses unorthodox methods to tell her tale. One chapter is about how, in 2015, babies use touch screens to download music they like. Another chapter is written as a PowerPoint presentation by a 12-year-old girl, and the subject is famous rock songs that have pauses in the middle. During the chapter, the teen reveals much about her life. The Pulitzer committee described the book as “an inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed.” Read More »