EXCLUSIVE: The BBC America series ends Sunday but Copper may get a second life on the big screen. One day after the network announced that the Civil War-era series would be cancelled after two seasons, I’ve learned that co-creator/executive producer Tom Fontana and fellow EPs Barry Levinson and Tom Kelly are considering a movie version. The extensive story arc work Fontana did on a third season has the veteran producer eyeing revamping the material for a movie, sources say, with the potential big-screen version said to look at examining life in America after the death of Abraham Lincoln and the years of Reconstruction. Copper, which Fontana co-created with Will Rokos, was BBC America’s first original scripted series and centers on Irish immigrant cop Kevin Corcoran in 1860s New York City. It premiered in August 2012 with 1.1 million total viewers, the largest audience ever for a BBC America series debut. Copper was renewed last October but lost momentum after its June 23 Season 2 premiere.
Johnny Depp’s Production Co. Teams With Yellow Bird Prods. & Tom Fontana For Series Based On Shakespeare’s Plays
EXCLUSIVE: Johnny Depp‘s Infinitum Nihil has partnered with leading Scandinavian producer Yellow Bird Productions, which is behind the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films, and Emmy-winning writer-producer Tom Fontana for a scripted series based on the plays of William Shakespeare.
Young writer Randall Fontana (no relation to Tom Fontana) will write the project, described as a modern take on the plays of The Bard, building on the existing characters and plots from several of his most notable plays. Infinitum Nihil, which is run by Depp’s sister Christi Dembrowski, Yellow Bird Prods, and Tom Fontana will executive produce.
Overseen by Homicide and Oz‘s Tom Fontana, the first season of Borgia was a $30 million Euro-backed production about the infamous medieval Italian dynasty. Atlantique Productions/Lagardère Entertainment, EOS Entertainment, Beta Film and Canal Plus today announced the start of shooting on 12 new episodes in Prague and Italy. Not to be confused with Showtime’s The Borgias, the Euro rival’s first season was also co-produced by ZDF and ORF and sold in 50 countries. Netflix had it for the US and UK, but has not yet boarded the second series. (UPDATE: Beta Film now says that Netflix will air the second series as part of its original deal). The international cast includes actors from several major European territories along with The Wire’s John Doman. Season 2 will begin in 1494, 8 months after the death of Rodrigo Borgia’s eldest son and will chart the meteoric rise of Prince Cesare Borgia (Mark Ryder) as the family endeavors to keep hold of the papacy. Beta Film will handle international sales.
A&E Network has teamed with Homicide alums Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson for The Box, a half-hour cop drama that takes place largely within the walls of the interrogation room. The cable network has ordered two scripts from the project, which will be written by Fontana. The Box features a small ensemble of detectives as they interrogate the key suspect or witness in a case. The spine of each half-hour episode will be the verbal dance between cop and suspect in “the box,” with the complete story of the crime, the investigation and the legal hurdles woven into and around the interrogation. The project expands on a key element from Homicide, where plots often pivoted on what the series called “The Box,” a sterile, rectangular interrogation room where suspects were brought in for questioning.
Tom Fontana, who won a Humanitas Prize for his work on St. Elsewhere during that show’s run, has been elected president of Humanitas, the nonprofit that supports and rewards TV and film writers whose works “entertain, engage and enrich the viewing public.” The longtime TV and film producer succeeds John Wells, who steps down Friday, the day the organization holds its annual awards ceremony at the Montage Beverly Hills (see those nominees here). “Tom Fontana is a writer and producer who has not only had tremendous commercial and critical success, but whose work exemplifies the ideals of Humanitas,” said executive director Cathleen Young. “We are thrilled to see him step into the presidency and eagerly anticipate supporting him in his new role.” Meanwhile, previous Humanitas trustees Hart Hanson (Bones), Ali LeRoi (Everybody Hates Chris) and David Shore (House) have been added to the board of directors, joining Wells, John Sacret Young, Neal Baer, Marshall Herskovitz, Carol Mendelsohn and Ed Zwick.
Wells steps aside after serving as president in 2008. He was instrumental in the creation of Humanitas’ New Voices initiative, which pairs emerging writers with trustees to develop original TV pilots, helping to land script agreements with ABC, CBS, NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox, Fox 21, HBO, Sony and Lionsgate. Five pilots are currently being developed through the program.
EXCLUSIVE: Former Homicide executive producers Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson are back on the beat, this time at the CW. The network has bought Musketeers 3.0, a cop drama project which will be written by Fontana and executive produced by him and Levinson. It centers on three outstanding but out-of-control New York detectives who meet their match when a sexy, young rookie is assigned to their team. Levinson and Fontana’s banner The Levinson/Fontana Co. is producing with Warner Bros. TV. Rookie cops are popular on TV these days — ABC has Rookie Blue and CBS is launching The 2-2 in midseason.
Developing procedurals, which have better repeatability, has been one of the goals of new CW president Mark Pedowitz going into this season. The CW had been looking to crack the classic legal, medical and cop franchises for the past couple of years. This past season, the network greenlighted to pilot the cop drama Cooper & Stone and soapy medical drama Heart of Dixie, the latter of which was picked up to series for fall. Along with procedurlas, half-hour comedies and DC-themed comic book adaptations are among CW’s development priorities this season. The network is already working on both, buying Eric Kripke’s adaptation of the comic Deadman and redeveloping as a half-hour Todd Graff’s summer camp dramedy Acting Out. Levinson and Fontana …
After months of deal-making, BBC America today officially announced that it has given a 10-episode order to Copper, its first original scripted drama series. The show hails from Canadian-based Cineflix Studios, which has been ramping up scripted development under former AMC executive Christina Wayne. Copper, which centers on a young Irish cop operating in the immigrant communities of 19th century New York, was co-created by Tom Fontana and Will Rokos (Monster’s Ball). Fontana, Rokos, Barry Levinson and Wayne are executive producing. Copper will start production in the fall in Toronto for Summer 2012 premiere. ”I really didn’t want our first series to be the London cop who gets transferred to Las Vegas,” BBC America’s general manager Perry Simon quipped in announcing the series at TCA. The Copper news comes on the heels of BBC America’s Monday announcement of its first two unscripted series, Would You Rather With Graham Norton and Hard Drive With Richard Hammond.
EXCLUSIVE: When feature producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald got their newly launched TV company up and running with the October hire of Ted Gold as president of television, it was the tail end of the broadcast selling season. So now they’re jumping right in, selling a project to NBC earlier this month under Parkes/MacDonald Prods.’ first-look deal with UMS. Tentatively titled Republic of Pirates, it became the first drama buy this development cycle for new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt and his team. Co-written by Jim Hart and Amanda Wells and executive produced by Parkes, MacDonald, Gold and Tom Fontana, the potential series is based on the book The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard. Set during the 10-year “Golden Age of Piracy” from 1715 to 1725, it follows some of the world’s most notorious pirates as they forge their own rogue nation, called New Providence, which became the first democracy in the Americas.
Probably spurred by the headline-making Somali pirates, pirate TV projects have been red-hot in the past couple of months, with Graham King and Gale Anne Hurd producing Port Royal for FX Prods. and Fox International Channels, which just tapped Scott Rosenbaum as writer, and Ridley and Tony Scott developing Pyrates, a 10- to 13-episode event-type limited series at Fox created by Barry Schindel and to be directed by Stephen Hopkins, which is eyed for next summer. While the sale of Republic of Pirates comes on the heels of the other pirate projects’ announcements, Parkes/MacDonald had been developing the project internally with Fontana since November, and it was picked up by NBC based on a very detailed pitch. Also, there is a big distinction between Republic of Pirates and the other two projects, Gold said. “The ‘pirates’ of all the other shows we know of — the ones who lived in the time of Ridley’s show and in the time of Port Royal -- were actually ‘privateers,’ private sailors and ships that were authorized by their governments to attack foreign shipping during wartime,” he said. “Our pirates are not ‘privateers’ working on behalf of other governments. They are disenfranchised or unemployed sailors who are completely self-governing and work on behalf or their own pirate nation.”