There is no deal yet, but A&E is in final negotiations with 20th Century Fox TV to pick up the Fox pilot Breakout Kings to series with a 13-episode order. The show, about a team of U.S. marshals and a group of convicts who race against the clock to apprehend escaped prisoners, will now be produced by 20th TV’s cable division Fox21, along with Chernin Entertainment, which co-produced the pilot for Fox with 20th TV. Of the pilot’s original cast, Laz Alonso, Domenick Lombardozzi, Malcolm Goodwin, Jimmi Simpson, Brooke Nevin and Nicole Steinwedell, all will continue on the series with the exception of Steinwedell, whose role will be recast. Production on Breakout Kings is slated to start in the fall in Toronto for a 2011 premiere on A&E. At the cable network, the project was championed by president Bob DeBitetto who came to Los Angeles last week to work on the deal with executives from 20th TV and Chernin Entertainment.
The pilot for Breakout Kings, written by Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora and directed by Gavin Hood, beat the odds by finding life after being passed on by a broadcast network, a feat many busted pilots aspire to but rare few actually accomplish. However, Breakout Kings wasn’t your average pilot. It was a sentimental favorite of many industry insiders this development season and became a hot commodity after a great early studio testing. It was one of Fox’s top three hourlong pilots but ultimately missed the cut when the network opted to go with only two new drama series, Lonestar and Ride-Along, and keep both of its bubble dramas, Lie To Me and Human Target. 20th immediately sent out the pilot to a number of broadcast and cable networks. At A&E, Breakout Kings would fit into the character-driven procedural direction the channel is taking with the upcoming cop drama The Glades. Additionally, the deal with A&E was helped by the fact that the pilot was produced on a reasonable budget with no expensive big-name stars, making Breakout Kings‘ transition to cable easier. Breakout Kings is executive produced by Pater Chernin, Katherine Pope, Olmstead, Santora and Hood and marks the second series order to Chernin Entertainment, following the straight-to-series pickup of Terra Nova at Fox.