EXCLUSIVE: Smash executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are developing another hourlong series for NBC in which music plays a key part. The duo is executive producing a dramedy written/executive produced by Grey’s Anatomy alumna Krista Vernoff. It will feature the music catalog of songwriter Diane Warren, who serves as a consulting producer.
The hour-long dramedy centers on a 30-something songwriter who has written the most epic love songs of our time, despite, or perhaps due to the fact that she is painfully unlucky in love. While the logline understandably draws parallels to Warren, the central character is original and not based or inspired by her though the plot represents a fictionalized version of Warren’s career. Warren’s songs are expected to be organically integrated into the narrative with music used in a very different way than the Broadway-themed drama Smash. Warren’s catalog includes such songs as LeAnn Rimes’ How Do I Live, Celine Dion’s Because You Loved Me, Toni Braxton’s Unbreak My Heart and Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.
Zadan and Meron have been friends with Warren for over a decade and have been looking to collaborate with her again after she wrote a song for their 1999 ABC musical Double Platinum. The duo first took a stab at developing a dramedy about a successful female songwriter with love life problems using Warren’s songbook in 2005, when the project was set up at ABC through Touchstone TV with Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein as writers. I hear the NBC project represents a brand new approach and take on the premise, informed in part by Zadan and Meron’s newly accumulated musical series experience with Smash. For them, the dramedy stems from their first-look deal with Universal TV. It represents their second sale at NBC this season, along with soap White House Confidential written by Sri Rao. Zadan and Meron are also busy producing next year’s Academy Awards and executive producing several high-profile long-form TV projects, Lifetime’s upcoming Steel Magnolias remake as well as the currently-casting Anna Nicole Smith biopic for Lifetime and the Bonnie & Clyde miniseries for Lifetime and History. CAA-repped Vernoff also has drama Rita, an adaptation of a Danish format, in the works at Bravo.