EXCLUSIVE: Clyde Phillips has set up his first post-Dexter project. After a bidding war among several cable networks, HBO has landed a character-driven drama from Phillips and Lionsgate TV based on the Israeli series The Naked Truth. Phillips, who spent 4 years at Showtime running Dexter, will write the adaptation and will executive produce the project, his first under the 2-year overall deal with Lionsgate TV he signed in June. The Naked Truth is set in a major East Coast metropolitan precinct and follows the officers investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl from a prominent family in the pressure cooker atmosphere of an explosive high-profile case that has implications not just for the family of the victim, but for the cops themselves and the political infrastructure of the city. “It’s about the cops encountering people on the worst day of the citizens’ life,” Phillips said. “It’s a bit of an exploration of the middle class and the challenges we all face; it’s a heartbreaking story about a family in a time of crisis and how everyone deals with it.”
The original series, created, written and directed by Uri and Benny Barbash for Israel’s Channel 10, is set entirely in an interrogation room and the adjacent room, separated by a dividing wall. In his U.S. version, Phillips plans to stay close to the basic story in the Israeli series while adding several changes, including opening up the action to other areas of the precinct but keeping it indoors. With its interior settings and focus on character and dialogue, The Naked Truth draws parallels to another HBO series based on Israeli format, In Treatment. (Israeli creators often say they are confined to a set by the limitations of their budgets but make up for that with inventive storytelling.) However, Phillips said that The Naked Truth actually reminded him more of ER, which too had an interior setting inside a hospital and centered on “intense personal dramas.” Phillips had been working on several other series ideas when Lionsgate TV’s Kevin Beggs and Barbara Wall gave him a DVD of The Naked Truth. He loved it right away, and half-way through the first episode, he knew he wanted to do it. “I can’t wait to write those powerful and challenging scenes,” he said. “It’s all just character, character, character.”
Lionsgate acquired the format rights for The Naked Truth from the Gersh-repped Armoza Formats, which distributes the original series. Alon Aranya will executive produce alongside Phillips. After 4 years at the helm, Phillips departed the Los Angeles-based Showtime drama Dexter in December to spend more time with his family in Connecticut. If The Naked Truth goes to series, it will be filmed on the East Coast so he can stay close to home. In addition to his stint on Dexter, CAA-repped Phillips also created the Fox dramedy Get Real, the NBC comedy Suddenly Susan and the Fox half-hour Parker Lewis. This is the third high profile network deal for an Israeli format in the past month as the Middle Eastern country continues to be the hottest destination for format imports. Showtime ordered a pilot for Howard Gordon’s Homeland, while ABC just handed out a put pilot commitment to the Rob Greenberg comedy Tall and Greenbaum. Fox’s comedy series Mixed Signals, also based on an Israeli format, launches in midseason. Here is a trailer for the original Naked Truth series.