EXCLUSIVE: Bravo is taking a step toward launching its first original scripted series with the pickup of its first scripted pilots, both from established female writer-producers and based on existing properties. The cable network has given the green light to Liz Tigelaar’s The Joneses and Krista Vernoff’s Rita. The Joneses, from ABC Studios, is based on the 2009 indie film of the same name that starred Demi Moore and David Duchovny. Rita, from Fox TV Studios, is an adaptation of a Danish format. Bravo plans to debut its first original scripted series in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Bravo brass announced their intent to enter original scripted programming last year. The network’s efforts in the arena shifted into high gear in March when the network hired Andrew Wang as VP Scripted Development & Production. The network put a slew of projects in development, with The Joneses and Rita emerging with the first pilot orders. “We went out looking for shows that spoke to the Bravo brand of great aspirational female-driven upscale worlds” and came from strong creative auspices, Wang said.
The Joneses, which was originally developed at ABC, is a family drama that follows the All-American Joneses, who’ve just moved into an upscale suburb to start a new life. But they have a secret they must keep from their new friends and neighbors — they aren’t a real family at all but guns-for-hire cast to play family members and do stealth product marketing among their neighbors. Tigelaar (Nashville) redid her original draft to give it more of a cable sensibility. “The show has a fun voice but also speaks to consumerism, something that our unscripted series do too,” Wang said. The Joneses reunites Life Unexpected creator/executive producer Tigelaar with that series’ executive producers Gary Fleder and Mary Beth Basile (via their Mojo Films) who also exec produce The Joneses. The film’s production company Echo Lake is also aboard.
Written by Vernoff (Shameless, Grey’s Anatomy), Rita is a family drama that follows an acerbic, outspoken private school teacher who struggles to raise her own three teenage children while dealing with the inane bureaucracy and overprotective parents at her school. “The show has a great central character who is strong and outspoken, very much like some of the characters on our reality series,” Wang said. “But it is in a setting that we can’t explore on the unscripted side.” Vernoff is executive producing with with Henrik Bastin and Mikkel Bondesen for Fuse Entertainment 2.0. Some of the other scripts Bravo has in development remain in contention, but there is no timetable when the network may pick up other pilots. Tigelaar, Mojo and Fuse are with WME, Vernoff with CAA.