Oscar-winning feature writer Stephen Gaghan is making a return to television with a pilot at NBC. In his latest pilot order to a big-name writer, new NBC programming chief Bob Greenblatt has given the green light to Gaghan’s drama S.I.L.A., which will be produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment. Gaghan, who won an Oscar for writing Traffic and earned another Oscar nom for writing Syriana, originally penned S.I.L.A. 18 months ago, with the script recently finding its way to Greenblatt. The project is described as a complex drama in the style of Traffic and Syriana set in the world of crime, law enforcement and politics in sprawling modern-day Los Angeles. In addition to writing, Gaghan, who has helmed two movies, including Syriana, will also direct the pilot. He is executive producing with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope.
S.I.L.A.was laid off at Chernin Entertainment and 20th TV because of Gaghan’s existing relationships there. Through a deal at 20th TV, Gaghan has a drama and animated projects set up at Fox, also through Chernin Entertainment, which he is supervising along with his development executive Suzanne Joskow. On the feature side, Gaghan has Dead Spy Running, a feature at Warner Bros. that he is writing with an eye to direct. Kevin McCormick and McG’s Wonderland are producing.
Gaghan started off in TV, working on such series as NYPD Blue and The Practice, before segueing to movies with the 2000 Rules of Engagement.
So far, Greenblatt has done what most expected him to do – pick up more outside projects than shows developed internally at NBC under the network’s old regime. With the order to S.I.L.A., 4 of the 5 pilot pickups Greenblatt has made since last week’s departure of NBC primetime president Angela Bromstad went to specs/outside projects. The four external projects include S.I.L.A., the Steven Spielberg-produced drama Smash, which Greenblatt once developed at Showtime, David E. Kelley’s drama spec Wonder Woman and Jhoni Marchinko’s comedy spec I Hate That I Love You.
Overall, the ratio is 4:3 in favor of outside projects. The 3 projects developed at NBC include Michael Patrick King’s A Mann’s World, ordered by Greenblatt on Friday, as well as Ron Moore’s 17th Precinct and the Chad Hodge-written Playboy, which had been previously greenlighted by Bromstad but with Greenblatt’s blessing.