Carlton Cuse has teamed with author/pastor Rob Bell for Stronger, a drama project with spiritual overtones, which has been sold to ABC via ABC Studios in a hefty script deal. Stronger, which the former Lost co-showrunner and the founder of Michigan’s Mars Hill Bible Church are co-writing and executive producing, revolves around Tom Stronger, a musician and teacher, and his spiritual journey as he becomes a benefactor and guide to others. Music is expected to be a big part of the show, which features autobiographical elements as Bell is a former musician and played with rock/gospel bands in the 1990s.
Cuse and Bell met at the 2011 Time 100 gala — Bell was a 2011 honoree and Cuse had been on the magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2010. The two immediately hit it off and soon concocted the idea for Stronger. While spiritual, Stronger won’t be supernatural. It will touch on the spiritual side of people’s lives much like the final season of Lost did and like Bell has done in his career as a pastor speaking to congregations of more than 10,000. Bell last week announced that he will be leaving the Mars Hill Bible Church in December to move with his family to Los Angeles. The series with Cuse is one of many things Bell plans to pursue, including touring and writing more books. (His most recent tome, Love Wins, is currently on the New York Times bestseller list.) Bell’s expertise is expected to add authenticity to the project, which won’t be straight and square like previous spiritual network offerings, including Touched By An Angel and 7th Heaven, and is also expected to feature a healthy dose of humor. Because the genre is missing from TV at moment, the networks have pursued projects with spiritual elements. Marc Cherry’s Hallelujah was picked up to pilot at ABC last season and is currently being redeveloped. In addition to Stronger, Cuse has another project, Civil War drama Point of Honor, in development at ABC. Co-written by Cuse and Randall Wallace, Point of Honor was sold late last year and remains in consideration. On the feature side, WME-repped Cuse is writing an African action adventure movie for 20th Century Fox with Shawn Levy attached to direct and Hugh Jackman to star.