EXCLUSIVE: ABC has put in development a crime thriller from writer Charles Randolph (Love and Other Drugs), Peter Traugott’s TBD Entertainment and Sweden-based Yellow Bird Entertainment. The project, from Universal TV where TBD is based, is an adaptation of the best-selling novels by Liza Marklund that also were the basis for the hit Swedish drama series Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter, also produced by Yellow Bird (watch the trailer below). Written by Randolph, the drama centers on a dogged, no-nonsense tabloid reporter searching for the truth while also juggling her bosses and her family. Randolph is executive producing with TBD’s Traugott and Rachel Kaplan and Yellow Bird’s Jenny Gilbertsson and Berna Levin. This marks the latest sale for TBD this season for a total of three dramas and six comedies at NBC, Fox and USA. Yellow Bird recently teamed with Chernin Entertainment to develop a series based on another Swedish crime novel, The Swede by Robert Karjel. Yellow Bird, which produced the Millennium Swedish trilogy starring Noomi Rapace, and TBD are repped by UTA; Randolph, who recently did HBO pilot The Missionary, is with CAA and Brillstein Entertainment; Marklund, whose crime novels have sold over 13 million copies worldwide, is with Niclas Salomonsson.
EXCLUSIVE: Israeli formats continue to be a hot commodity. In a competitive situation, NBC has landed the rights to Israeli mystery drama Timrot Ashan, aka Pillars of Smoke, for Peter Traugott’s recently launched UMS-based production company to produce. Search is already underway for a writer to adapt the series created by Noah Stollman and Oded Davidoff, which is often referred to as Israel’s Lost. Described as Twin Peaks meets Northern Exposure meets Lost, the original Pillars of Smoke is an offbeat mystery series set in Israel’s remote, rural Golan Heights. When the members of a remote cult disappear leaving no traces behind, a police investigation slowly uncovers the darkest secrets of the region and its inhabitants, as well as a grander political conspiracy and environmental disaster from which the cult members are attempting to escape. Traugott will executive produce the NBC version with his development executive Rachel Kaplan. Also executive producing is Alon Aranya. Timrot Ashan, produced by Herzlia Studios, premiered in 2009 on Israeli’s Hot TV network, with a second season slated for this year.
In Universal Media Studios’ first major pod deal under new NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt, the studio has signed a three-year overall pact with former Brillstein Entertainment Partners President of Television Peter Traugott. The agreement had been in the works for the past couple of weeks. Traugott will develop and produce scripted comedy and drama series for NBC and other networks through a newly launched production company. Joining him in the new company will be another senor BEP TV executive, EVP Rachel Kaplan. I hear Traugott, who worked with Greenblatt at Fox years ago, was the first producer Greenblatt and his new top lieutenant Jennifer Nicholson Salke approached about joining the studio. “Peter is a widely respected and successful executive and producer with a savvy instinct for exceptional television,” said Greenblatt. “I’m thrilled that he wanted to join our re-emerging studio at NBC.”
Traugott called leaving Brillstein “a very tough decision.” “I’ve been here 15 years and they have become like a second family to me,” he said. “But the chance to work with Bob and his team at NBC, and be a part of what they’re building, was too good an opportunity to pass up.” Brillstein just signed a new two-year deal with ABC Studios and tapped JoAnn Alfano as the company’s new President of Television.
EXCLUSIVE: Brillstein Entertainment Partners has signed a new two-year deal with ABC Studios, which will bring the company’s current tenure at ABC to eight years. Under the new pact, Brillstein Entertainment is reorganizing its TV division. Peter Traugott, who has run the TV unit for the past five years, will leave to form his own production company, which I hear will be based at NBC. Brillstein is coming off one of its strongest development seasons since setting up shop at ABC Studios in 2005. (Brillstein Entertainment’s predecessor, Brillstein-Grey, also had a TV financing deal with ABC in the mid-1990s). The company landed three pilot orders, for comedies My Freakin’ Family and Other People’s Kids at ABC and drama Ringer at CBS, which stars Brillstein client Sarah Michelle Gellar. Ringer went to series at the CW, with ABC Studios pulling out as an active co-producer but retaining passive interest. “We’ve enjoyed a long and close relationship with ABC Studios,” said Brillstein Entertainment Partners CEO Jon Liebman. “We love working with the people there and appreciate the studio’s continued commitment to building our television company.” Brillstein’s most recent series were ABC’s According to Jim, which continues to air in syndication, and Samantha Who?, both of which ended their runs in 2009. While known mainly as a comedy series producer, Brillstein has been looking to branch out, and Ringer marks its second drama series after HBO’s The Sopranos.
As for the ongoing reorganization of Brillstein’s TV division, the decision for TV president Traugott to leave was amicable. “Peter has been part of our company for many years,” Liebman said. “He is a talented producer and our good friend, and we genuinely wish him the best.”