EXCLUSIVE: NBC’s late-night host Carson Daly is in negotiations to host NBC’s ambitious new singing competition series (and American Idol rival) The Voice, from top reality producers John de Mol (Big Brother) and Mark Burnett (Survivor) and Warner Horizon Television. The show, in which contestants vie for a recording contract, is modeled after the Dutch Voice of Holland, which is the country’s #1 talent competition show. It features four celebrity artists who each forms a team of singers that they will coach and mentor throughout the competition. Contestants will be eliminated until each coach only has one team member left who will compete in the finals to be named The Voice in a live finale. Casting of the four celebrities is still under way, with NBC targeting the series for a spring launch, going head-to-head with Fox’s juggernaut American Idol. Carson Daly has a strong music series background, having come out of MTV’s signature show Total Request Live. He also regularly features music acts on his late-night NBC show Last Call with Carson Daly. This will mark the primetime debut for Daly, who recently returned as host of NBC’s New Year’s Eve special. Daly shares the same radio background with Idol host Ryan Seacrest who both started off as DJs on Los Angeles radio stations and now have LA morning drive shows.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC’s reboot of The Rockford Files is not going forward, at least not for the current development season. The decision was made after writer David Shore couldn’t write a new script because he unexpectedly had to devote his entire attention to his Fox series House. The veteran Fox medical drama had planned an ambitious multi-episode arc featuring Dr. House on the road, which was a brainchild of executive producer Katie Jacobs. But when the arc was scrapped in advanced stages, Shore had to jump in and help re-break stories for a significant portion of the season, which also recently grew larger with an order for one additional episode by Fox. With Shore not being able to focus on Rockford Files, the project has been shelved. It is possible for the idea to be revisited next season if new NBC programming chief Bob Greenblatt is interested. The Rockford Files remake originated last development season at Universal Media Studios and Steve Carell’s studio-based Carousel. (UMS also produces House, which probably made things easier.) The reboot, written and executive produced by Shore, was picked up to pilot but didn’t make the cut for a series order in May. It was subsequently put in re-development, with Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s Film 44 joining in the summer as a co-production entity.
NBC has made its first drama pilot order this development season and it has gone to Playboy, a period drama about Playboy bunnies in the Chicago club in the 1960s. The project, set against the background of the political and moral changes in the 1960s, was written by Chad Hodge. 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV, which first took a stab at the concept last season with a different writer, are producing. Hodge is executive producing Playboy with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and and the company’s new TV chief Francie Calfo. This is the first pilot order this month as the New Year marks the beginning of the traditional pilot pickup season. The green light for Playboy comes before NBC’s new top programmer Bob Greenblatt has officially joined the network, something expected to happen later this month when the Comcast-NBCU gets government approval.
Two players from NBC’s Thursday comedy block, Parks & Recreation co-star Adam Scott and Community co-executive producer Hilary Winston, have teamed to produce My Son Gomez, a new single-camera comedy project for the network. Meanwhile, actor-turned-writer Ryan Raddatz (This Might Hurt) has sold Change of Plans, a multi-camera comedy to ABC with veteran Marsh McCall as showrunner.
Six years after originally developing Rodney Rothman’s Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement as a comedy series, NBC is taking another stab at a comedy series adaptation of the book by the former Late Show with David Letterman head writer, which chronicled his experiences living with retirees in Florida. The network is currently redeveloping the project as a single-camera comedy about a young guy who moves into a retirement community. NBC has already hired a casting director and intends to shoot a pilot but will make a formal decision after it sees Rothman’s new script, which is now being written. UMS and 3 Arts, which also produced the first NBC adaptation, are producing. The first incarnation of the project got to a pilot stage in 2005. The single-camera pilot was directed by Paul Feig and starred Timm Sharp as a writer who was fired from his dream TV writing job and finds himself chilling out at a retirement village where he loves the laid-back lifestyle. TV Land’s similarly themed multi-camera sitcom Retired at 35 premieres on January 19.
NBC, which has 8 comedies on tap for this season – all single-camera – is mulling a return to the multi-camera genre. In one of the last comedy buys this season, the network went for a multi-camera project from sitcom veteran Peter Murrieta. It is one of several multi-camera comedies NBC has put in development this season, including Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, a sitcom based on Chelsea Handler’s books, and a project by veteran Bob Kushell. The Murrieta project, produced by UMS and 3 Arts, involves a hipster, who is a first-generation Mexican American, being pulled into his family’s business and will focus on the dichotomy of his traditional past and his “hip and cool” new life. Murrieta hatched the idea for the project with Eddie Gorodetsky, co-executive producer on the two strongest multi-camera comedies on the air, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Murrieta is writing, with one of multi-camera sitcom’s genre’s best-known directors, Jamie Widdoes, on board to direct the potential pilot. Widdoes also directed the pilot for Murrieta’s semi-autobiographical sitcom for the WB Greetings from Tucson. Murrieta most recently served as executive producer/showrunner on Wizards of Waverly Place for the Disney Channel series’ first 3 seasons. With him at the helm, the show landed the first best series Emmy Award for Disney Channel last year in the children’s program category. (Murrieta, repped by CAA and …
EXCLUSIVE: Veteran feature writer George Gallo is venturing into television with a medical drama at NBC. The project, tentatively titled Dr. Henry, centers on the title character, an eccentric psychiatrist who, with the help of his team at his prestigious institute, digs into his patients’ psyches to help cure them of the most bizarre psychological afflictions. The drama, which draws parallels to Fox’s veteran House, M.D., will be produced by UMS. Gallo is executive producing with Russ Krasnoff, executive producer of NBC’s sophomore comedy series Community. Also exec producing is Gary Foster, Krasnoff’s partner at Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment. Dr. Henry is part of NBC’s efforts this season to develop dramas that add a twist to the traditional medical franchise. Gallo, whose credits include Midnight Run and Bad Boys, is one of several feature scribes entering TV this development season, along with Pirates of the Caribbean writer Terry Rossio, who is penning supernatural drama Magical Law for Fox and director Gore Verbinski, and The Proposal scribe Pete Chiarelli, who is writing an adaptation of Hitch for Fox.
EXCLUSIVE: Seinfeld alum Spike Feresten is returning to NBC with a new half-hour project starring a stand-up comedian. The untitled comedy, toplined by Nick Thune, revolves around a group of twentysomethings new to Los Angeles seen through the eyes of the newest arrival, played by Thune. Feresten created and is writing the project, which is being produced by UMS. He is executive producing with 3 Arts which manages both Feresten and Thune, while Thune serves as a co-executive producer. WME-repped Thune, who has a Web series, Nick’s Big Show, has appeared in such movies as Knocked Up and Unaccompanied Minors. He returns to NBC after starring opposite Matthew Broderick in the network’s comedy pilot Beach Lane in the spring. CAA-repped Feresten worked on Seinfeld during the hit comedy’s last 3 seasons. He recently hosted and executive produced a late-night talk show on Fox and, along with Dana Carvey, wrote, executive produced and starred in a sketch comedy pilot for the network this past development season.
EXCLUSIVE: He just starred on an NBC drama series with comic book mythology. Now Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia is back at the network as the star/executive producer of Rest, a new drama project based on a comic book series he co-created. Ventimiglia will executive produce the project, which has received a script commitment with film/TV/Broadway producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Footloose, Drop Dead Diva). Also executive producing are Ventimiglia’s producing partner at Divide Pictures Russ Cundiff and Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins from Top Cow, the comic book publisher behind Rest. Writer Philip Levens (Smallville), who will also executive produce, is adapting the comic, which was created by Ventimiglia, Cudiff and Mark Powers based on a script by Mike O’Sullivan. It centers on John Barret (Ventimiglia), a normal twentysomething guy in New York City who spends every waking hour working. He enrolls in a testing program for a drug that eliminates the need of sleep and soon becomes addicted to it, which helps him accomplish more but also leads to serious consequences. Since the comic launched in 2008, there has been a lot of chatter among fans that Barret looks a lot like Ventimiglia and that Rest would be turned into TV series or film. Ventimiglia and Levens are with CAA.
NBC has added supernatural soap Vines to its roster of drama projects in development for next season, with The Ring director Hideo Nakata possibly executive producing and possibly direct. The project, from writer Mark Kruger (The 4400) and film producers Michael Aguilar (The Departed) and Taka Ichise (The Ring and The Grudge movies), was originally developed as a feature, which serves as inspiration for the potential series. It centers on a troubled family desperate for a fresh start that takes over a Napa Valley winery whose ancient vines possess dangerous mystical powers. UMS is producing with Aguilar’s Dos Tontos banner and Ichise’s OZLA Pictires; Aguilar, Kruger and Ichise executive producing the project. Nakata directed the original Japanese movies Ring and Ring 2 as well as the Hollywood sequel The Ring Two and another Japanese movie that got a Hollywood remake, Dark Water. Kruger is with WME and Madhouse.
After a decade in features, Spin City writer-producer Jeff Lowell is returning to television with a single-camera comedy at NBC produced by ABC Studios and Brillstein Entertainment. The untitled project, which has received a script order, is a romantic comedy about a couple from the point of view of the man and the woman whose unspoken thoughts we can hear via voiceover. “It’s a little bit like the balcony scene from Annie Hall,” Lowell said, adding that he got the idea for the project from reflecting on his relationship with his wife – together since they were 15-years-old. “The secret to happiness and a strong marriage is unexpressed thoughts,” he said. Lowell and his family left Hollywood after his short stint on NBC’s Inside Schwartz in 2001 and moved to Charlottesville, VA. He started writing movies and has had 3 produced: John Tucker Must Die, Over Her Dead Body and Hotel for Dogs. ”I never thought I’d go back but I started missing television,” UTA-repped Lowell said.
EXCLUSIVE: It’s like Parenthood for guys. NBC is developing The Crew, a testosterone-heavy underdog family drama set in the world of NASCAR from Heroes writer-producer Joe Pokaski and NBC Universal-based producer Scott Stuber. The ensemble revolves around the family of distinctly different “brothers” on a NASCAR racing team who have their own lives and dreams, opportunities and problems — but as a team share a singular goal to be the best.
Sony Pictures TV has set up 3 half-hour projects – one at ABC and 2 at NBC – with script commitments that all have penalties attached to all. The ABC project reunited the studio’s non-writing producer Jamie Tarses with Betsy Thomas, creator of the recently canceled TBS sitcom series My Boys, which the two executives produced for Sony TV. Thomas is writing and exec producing the untitled ABC workplace relationships comedy.
EXCLUSIVE: Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s Film 44 is becoming a key player in NBC’s development plans for next season with 3 high-profile projects. Last week, the company took over NBC’ drama pilot Prime Suspect. Now I hear Berg and Aubrey are also coming on board NBC’ other big reboot, The Rockford Files, which is expected to film a new pilot. Additionally, Film 44 is developing a drama about political campaigners written by Dirty Sexy Money creator Craig Wright.
On Rockford Files, Film 44 will co-produce with Steve Carell’s Carousel, which was behind last season’s pilot written by House creator David Shore. Shore continues as writer/executive producer on Rockford, while Prime Suspect will now be written by Alexandra Cunningham, taking over from Hank Steinberg, who penned the adaptation of the iconic British drama this past season. I hear the writer change was made by the network, which is looking to strengthen the lead character, played in the original by Helen Mirren and make it more “out there” to be able to attract top talent. This past development season, the pilot was pushed after the lead couldn’t be cast.
All 3 Film 44 projects are set at Universal Media Studios where the company just reupped its overall deal. Berg may also direct one of the pilots if his schedule allows. He is busy on the feature side prepping Battleship. NBC is looking to film Prime Suspect in the fall for a possible midseason consideration.
WME-repped Film 44, along with Imagine TV and UMS, is behind the …