EXCLUSIVE: After a bidding war, ABC has nabbed the Darren Star-produced dramedy based on Kim Gatlin’s book Good Christian Bitches. The untitled project, which will be written by Steel Magnolias and The First Wives Club scribe Robert Harling, has received a rich put pilot commitment by ABC after the network and CBS went down to the wire in their pursuit of the dramedy. I hear ABC’s new chief Paul Lee spearheaded the network’s efforts to land the project, which he considers a great fit for the ABC brand. While ABC, NBC and CBS all went after the dramedy when it hit the market at the end of last month, ABC, home to light female-centered fare like Desperate Housewives, was the obvious destination for the project, often described as “Desperate Housewives in Dallas.” It centers on Amanda Vaughn, a recently divorced mother of two who, to get a fresh start, moves back to the affluent Dallas neighborhood where she grew to find herself in the whirling midst of salacious gossip, Botox, and fraud. Harling, Star and Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment are executive producing the project, which, with ABC on board, is being laid off at ABC Studios. The project reunites Star with ABC where he most recently executive produced the 2008 dramedy series Cashmere Mafia.
In addition to the Darren Star project, ABC recently handed out a put pilot commitment to a thriller from Paranormal Activity writer-director Oren Peli and Michael R. Perry, with DreamWorks TV and ABC Studios producing. Books, novels and comic books, are very hot this TV buying season. The deal for the Good Christian Bitches adaptation is the latest in a slew of high-profile sales. ABC just put in development a series adaptation of Pat Conroy’s novel The Prince of Tides with Sony TV and writers Bob Brush and Mel Harris. NBC is developing an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Dark Tower with Imagine and writer Akiva Goldsman, Fox handed a series commitment to an Alex Kurtzman/Roberto Orci/DreamWorks TV-produced adaptation of King’s son Joe Hill’s graphic novel Locke & Key, CBS picked up Treadstone, a spy drama based on Robert Ludlum’s novels from CSI creator Anthony Zuiker and feature writer John Glenn, Warner Bros. is exploring a TV series based on the DC comic The Sandman into a TV series, and Warner Bros TV-based Bruckheimer TV is looking to do a half-hour series based on the comic strip Zits.