EXCLUSIVE: J.J. Abrams is headed to the CW. In his first stint at the 5-year-old network, the top writer-producer-director has teamed up with Mark Schwahn, creator/executive producer/showrunner of the CW’s long-running drama One Tree Hill. The power pair has sold a hotel drama to the CW, which will instantly become one of the the network’s highest-profile projects this development season. Schwahn will write the show, tentatively titled Maine, which is set at an inn in Maine and revolves around the staff and the inn’s guests. Abrams and Schwahn will executive produce with Bryan Burk for Warner Bros TV, Abrams’ studio-based Bad Robot and Schwahn’s Mastermind Laboratories. In scope, the character-based drama, which has received a script commitment, harkens to Schwahn’s OTH, which will end its nine-year run early next year, and Abrams’ Felicity. This also marks a homecoming of sorts for Abrams, who started his TV career on the CW predecessor the WB with Felicity. For Schwahn, the project stems from a script deal with WBTV.
The deal reunites Abrams with the CW president Mark Pedowitz and EVP Development Thom Sherman, who worked with Abrams at ABC and ABC Studios. Most recently, Pedowitz was president of ABC Studios where Abrams was under an overall deal before moving to WBTV in 2006, and Sherman ran Abrams’ production company Bad Robot for two years before joining the CW, also in 2006. If the project goes to series, it will make for a seamless transition for WME-repped Schwahn, who is wrapping the ninth and final season of One Tree Hill. He is the second creator of a long-running, hit CW series to be writing a high-profile new project for the network; Supernatural creator Eric Kripke is adapting DC Comic Deadman. Coincidentally, Schwahn and Kripke have projects with Abrams this year. Beside the CW hotel drama, Bad Robot’s other project in contention for next fall is Revolution, an epic adventure thriller at NBC penned by Kripke that has a pilot production commitment.