EXCLUSIVE: British TV writer-producers Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft have come on board to rewrite Versailles, an English-language period drama series for French pay TV network Canal Plus. The duo will executive produce the 12-episode series, set at the Court of French King Louis XIV, alongside Anne Thomopoulos, who executive produces another European historical drama series, Borgia. On Versailles, co-produced by CAPA Drama and Zodiak’s Marathon, Mirren and Wolstencroft replace Mad Men‘s Andre and Maria Jacquemetton, who were signed for the project two years ago. Versailles is being fast-tracked for possible production start in early 2014. Zodiak Rights will handle worldwide distribution in non-English speaking territories.
In their first development season at Sony Pictures TV, showrunners Shawn Ryan and Simon Mirren have teamed for a crime drama. The untitled project has sold to CBS, where Mirren recently served as co-showrunner on Criminal Minds, with a put pilot commitment. The drama, which Mirren will write, does evoke Criminal Minds as well as Showtime’s drama Dexter. It is a procedural about a genetic scientist who uses his newfound discovery that he has the psychopath gene to help the FBI catch killers. The show, which Ryan and Mirren are executive producing, is inspired by the true story of UC Irvine Professor James Fallon, a brilliant but genetically flawed scientist who, while helping to unlock the mysteries of the genome code, discovered that he was a psychopath linked to a long line of serial killers, including axe murderer Lizzie Borden. The deal extends the trend this development season for the big put pilot commitment to go to A-list producers, including Ryan, Jerry Bruckheimer (the Aron Eli Coleite mom-turned-NY State Trouper drama at CBS), Dick Wolf (the Michael Brandt-Derek Haas firefighter drama at NBC) and Greg Berlanti (Marc Guggenheim’s legal drama at Fox).
Cinemax has picked up to series action-crime series The Sector, from Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods. The project was created and written by Aaron Benay and Matthew Benay, with former Criminal Minds executive producer/showrunner Simon Mirren on board as exec producer/showrunner. The Sector had been in development at Cinemax with Anne Thomopoluos for several months. Now it’s going forward, with German production company Tandem Communications set to produce with Scott Free. The Sector is described as an action-crime series in the vein of Blade Runner and District 9 which tracks the commander of a paramilitary unit who pursues a dangerous new race of genetically-enhanced humans. Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Anne Thomopoulos, Rola Bauer, David W. Zucker and Jonas Bauer are exec producing. This is the third straight-to-series pickup at Cinemax in the past couple of months following Strike Back and The Transporter.
UPDATE: Despite speculation that British-born Simon Mirren might be headed back home, it turns out the trip he will be making is from Burbank/Studio City where Criminal Minds producers ABC Studios and CBS TV Studios are based, to Culver City. I hear that, after 6 years on Criminal Minds, Mirren is finalizing an overall deal with Sony Pictures TV. Mirren had been looking to pursue his own development. When ABC Studios indicated it was not interested, he was quickly snapped up by Sony, which shifted its overall deal strategy last summer towards signing top-tier writer/showrunners. Mirren’s overall pact with Sony is expected to begin in June, after Mirren’s current deal for Criminal Minds expires at the end of the season. Additionally, Mirren is executive producing The Sector, a project in the works at Cinemax, which is now looking to do more originals. He is shepherding that project with Scott Free, Anne Thomopoluos and Aaron and Matt Benay.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE: Criminal Minds executive producer/ showrunner Simon Mirren is leaving the veteran crime drama. Mirren, who joined the series right after the pilot as a supervising producer, was promoted to executive producer at the beginning of Season 5.
This past October, WME-repped Mirren, along with fellow Criminal Minds veteran, exec producer Erica Messer, took over showrunner duties alongside longtime exec producer/showrunner Ed Bernero when Chris Mundy left as showrunner of the Criminal …