EXCLUSIVE: Law & Order veteran Rene Balcer has come on board CBS‘ drama pilot The Ordained as executive producer/showrunner. Balcer has a history with the project, having helped the creator, journalist-turned-author Lisa Cullen, with conceptualizing the idea when she first conceived the show in 2011. Back then, Cullen took out Ordained as a pitch but it didn’t sell. Cullen went on to write it as a spec, developing it with her management company, The Shuman Co. The spec was sent out to TV studios last summer, landing at CBS TV Studios where studio-based Frank Marshall came on board as executive producer. After the script was picked up to pilot by CBS, the producers looked for a showrunner. Because of Balcer’s previous involvement, he was a top choice and was available, leading to his deal on the project. He will be executive producer alongside Marshall, Larry Shuman and A.B. Fischer. Directed by RJ Cutler, Ordained centers on Tom Reilly (Charlie Cox), the son of a Kennedy-esque family who leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer at a top New York firm to prevent his politician sister Packy (Hope Davis) from being assassinated. Sam Neill, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jorge Garcia and Audra McDonald co-star.
Rene Balcer, co-developer/executive producer of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which started off on NBC before migrating to the USA Network, is back at USA with a new project, a drama he is writing as well as executive producing with Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment. Described as “The X-Files meets The Matrix“, DarkNet is a mystery series about a couple of cyber-crime investigators who stumble across a far-reaching conspiracy to change the course of human evolution. “On one level, DarkNet‘s a cautionary tale about transhumanism inspired by something Ray Bradbury said,” Balcer said. “He thought the Internet was a massive scam perpetrated by computer companies. I thought, what if he was only half-right, and they had something far more sinister in mind.”
DarkNet, produced by Universal Cable Prods., centers on a woman with an MIT degree whose younger sister disappeared years ago, allegedly a victim of a cyber predator. As part of her quest to find the truth, the woman joins the FBI’s cyber crime unit where she is partnered with a former hacktivist who was recruited by the FBI after serving time in jail. USA has had success with two-lead series, most notably, White Collar and Suits.
Fox International Channels has acquired first run pay-TV rights to René Balcer‘s upcoming crime series Jo in more than 120 territories. The English-language series, formerly titled Le Grand, stars Jean Reno as a veteran detective in Paris’ elite Criminal Brigade who stops at nothing to solve the most challenging murder cases. Also starring are Jill Hennessy, The Borgias‘ Tom Austen and newcomer Heida Reed. The hourlong drama is from Atlantique Productions with Red Arrow International handling sales. FIC has picked up the series in territories that include Latin America, Africa, Italy, Korea, Russia, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Poland and Turkey. Law & Order vet Balcer is showrunner and exec producer. Also writing and producing are co-creators Franck Ollivier and Malina Detcheva. Directors include Charlotte Sieling and Kristoffer Nyholm, both helmers of the original Danish version of The Killing, Stefan Schwartz (Dexter) and Sheree Folkson (Hit And Miss).