EXCLUSIVE: USA Network has given a cast-contingent pilot order to an untitled hourlong project from Numbers creators Nicolas Falacci & Cheryl Heuton, Universal Cable Prods and Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’ studio-based production company Hypnotic. It is based on a short story from Elmore Leonard‘s anthology When the Women Come Out To Dance, the book that also features the short story Fire In The Hole that FX’s series Justified is based on. The project centers on a Miami businessman who, contemplating a run for political office, tries to increase his chances of being elected by marrying a Colombian woman who is on the run from her troubled past. What starts as a marriage of convenience quickly escalates into much more as his new wife proves to be more resourceful at “fixing” any problem the corrupt South Miami political scene throws at her husband.
The drama was originally set up at NBC last season — one of UCP’s first projects to be sold to a broadcast network as part of the company’s strategy to expand its reach. It went far into the process there but ultimately missed the cut for pilot. Meanwhile, USA’s EVP Bill McGoldrick and his team had been keeping an eye on the project and, after NBC passed, they read the script and liked it. The script underwent tweaking to tailor it better to USA’s sensibilities before getting a pickup. With the project, the network wants to mine a different arena, McGoldrick said. “We’ve got great pairings on some of our shows but not many where the romantic relationship is front and center,” he said. “On this show, the sexual chemistry will be important, and we have a really strong female role with a lot of that kick-ass action Elmore Leonard is known for.”
Falacci, Heuton, Liman and Bartis are directing the pilot. Leonard’s granddaughter, Megan Freels, who brought the project to Falacci and Heuton, and her producing partner Melanie Donkers, are consulting producers. The duo previously produced the Joseph Gordon-Levitt-directed Sparks.
The untitled Falacci/Heuton pilot joins USA recently greenlighed comedy pilots Paging Dr. Freed and Sirens. Hypnotic is one of USA’s top suppliers. The company has two series on the network, Covert Affairs and Suits, both produced by UCP. Fallaci and Heuton are with Rothman Brecher Kim, which also reps Freels and Donkers, and Original Artists.