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: The CW is taking on a controversial subject with ZE, a drama project centering on a transgender teenager. Written by Brooklyn-based writer-playwright Kyle Jarrow and executive produced by Michael London (Milk), ZE is described as a raw, quirky family drama about a FTM (female-to-male) teen and his family. A personal choice takes on controversial public significance when a Texas teenager announces she is transgender and will be living life as a boy. As his dysfunctional family spirals into identity crises of their own, he discovers that he might be the most well-adjusted of them all. CBS TV Studios is producing ZE, whose title represents a non-gender-specific reference (like he or she). While there have been a handful of transgender characters on broadcast series, most notably one played by Rebecca Romijn on ABC’s Ugly Betty, this is the first time a transgender person would be the lead of a primetime show. Jarrow is used to tackling sensitive topics; he won an Obie Award at age 24 for his Off-Broadway hit A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant.
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.
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 …
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.”