Last April, E! announced its first scripted slate as the reality/entertainment news-driven cable network signaled plans to enter the scripted space under its new NBCUniversal leadership. As E! is gearing up to greenlight its first three scripted pilots by Memorial Day, at its upfront today the network unveiled its new slate of scripted projects that come from well-known writers and producers. Several of the projects were originally developed for broadcast networks earlier this season. Those include dramedies Songbyrd, featuring the songs and experiences of songwriter Diane Warren, from producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan; and Laurel Canyon, from producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. Songbird, written by Krista Vernoff, was originally set up at E! sibling NBC; Laurel Canyon, penned by Karen Croner, was at ABC.
E!’s scripted slate also includes three projects inspired by literary classics. Expectations, inspired by Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, is from Oscar-winning writer Ron Bass (Rain Man) and producer Dan Jinks. Interestingly, there were two modern-day Great Expectations projects in development at the broadcast networks this season — one at the CW produced by Reese Witherspoon, and one at ABC produced by Debra Martin Chase — none of which went to pilot. The Royals, a take on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is written by One Tree Hill creator/exec producer Mark Schwahn who executive produces with fellow OTH executive producers Brian Robbins and Joe Davola. The Stand-In is described as a darkly psychological re-telling of Mark Twain’s The Prince & the Pauper, executive produced by Ryan Seacrest. Fortunate Son is written by Joey Falco and executive produced by Kevin Spacey and Michael De Luca, who also had a joint project on E!’s inaugural scripted slate last year. According to E!’s original plans, the network was looking to launch its first scripted series in 2013. Here are details about E! scripted shows in development, which include dramas produced by Gale Anne Hurd and Becky Hartman Edwards:
In this drama from executive producers Josh Schwartz (The O.C., Gossip Girl, Chuck) and Stephanie Savage (The O.C., Gossip Girl, Carrie Diaries) and executive producer/writer Karen Croner (Admission, One True Thing), a young woman returns to her dysfunctional, extended family in Laurel Canyon with her son after hearing her rock-star legend father has passed away. Based on Croner’s experience of growing up in the Hollywood Hills, the project is from Schwartz and Savage’s Fake Empire in association with Warner Horizon Television. Fake Empire head of television Len Goldstein (The Carrie Diaries) also serves as executive producer.
A darkly psychological re-telling of “The Prince & the Pauper” set behind the scenes of one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses, who, tired of the spotlight, runs away in search of a normal life. Desperate, her family secretly hires a look-a-like to step into the star’s glamorous world and high profile career — only to have the doppelganger slowly lose herself in the process of becoming someone else. From Executive Producers Ryan Seacrest, Nina Wass and Adam Sher, Ryan Seacrest Productions, Universal Cable Productions and writer Craig Chester.
From writer Krista Vernoff (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Shameless), a young, prolific songwriter of some of the best love songs struggles to find love in her personal life after her inspiration is revealed to be a lie. Featuring the songs and experiences of Grammy winner Diane Warren, who serves as consulting producer alongside Executive Producers Craig Zadan & Neil Meron (The 2013 Academy Awards, Chicago, Smash) and Vernoff. From Universal Television and Universal Cable Productions.
From writer Ron Bass (Oscar winning writer of Rain Man, Sleeping with the Enemy), inspired by the classic Dickens work, a soap about a morally corrupt family in the diamond business set in New York City. Executive produced by Oscar winner Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Milk). From CBS Television Studios.
The golden child of a small coastal town in South Carolina returns home to see that a major Hollywood prime time soap, The Shore Line Yacht Club, is the biggest employer in town. An enormous class divide separates the cast and producers from the townspeople, yet their lives are now continuously and irrevocably intertwined – for better or for worse. From writer Carolyn Ingber and executive produced by Becky Hartman Edwards (Switched at Birth, Parenthood). From Fox Television Studios.
From Keith Eisner (The Good Wife, Law & Order), Jason Markarian and John Mirabella, a dark comedy centering on a blue collar guy from south Boston who gets scouted to be a model in Miami. Life gets turned upside down when his two best friends join him and see his new life as a way to expand their criminal activities. Gale Anne Hurd/Valhalla Entertainment will act as Executive Producer. From Universal Cable Productions.
Framed for a drug deal by a friend from his hard-partying days, society golden boy Michael Baron becomes a criminal informant and is at the mercy of the police. He bounces between his privileged west side of Los Angeles existence and the case he is forced to work in the slums. But his dark past gives Michael some leverage over his fate, and he makes a dangerous deal that could clear his name. Or get him killed. From writer and Co-Executive Producer Joey Falco and Executive Producers Kevin Spacey, Michael DeLuca and Dana Brunetti. From Universal Cable Productions.
Part fairy tale, part cautionary tale, this contemporary family ensemble is steeped in all of the regal opulence of the British Monarchy and framed by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s a tale of men and women corrupted by power, wealth and desire while looking at the nature of celebrity from a Royals’ point of view. Executive produced and written by Mark Schwahn (One Tree Hill) and executive produced by Brian Robbins and Joe Davola (One Tree Hill, Smallville). From Lionsgate.