A day after 6-year-old pilot Babylon Fields came back to life with a pilot order at NBC, another old drama project is making a comeback. During the 2011-12 development season, Travis Beacham‘s fantastical action-adventure spec Hieroglyph narrowly missed the cut for a pilot order at Fox. Two years later, it did one better — landing a straight-to-series 13-episode order.
Produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment, Hieroglyph, which is eyed for next season, is set in ancient Egypt, where fantasy and reality intertwined. It follows a notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah, navigating palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and even a few divine sorcerers. Executive producing the project are Beacham, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and Miguel Sapochnik (Fringe), who will direct the premiere episode. Filming is scheduled to begin in early 2014. “We wanted to do a show about deceit, sex, intrigue in the court and fantastical goings-on — no better place to set that than ancient Egypt,” said Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly. “Travis Beacham has an inventive mind, and he has wrapped this all together in this intoxicating new drama.”
Hieroglyph originally landed at Fox in January 2012 as part of that season’s spec market. It was one of four candidates for the network’s final drama pilot slot that season, competing against the internally developed Silvio Horta Latino family dramedy, a medical drama from Josh Berman & Rob Wright, and a Wyatt Earp Western by John Hlavin. The network ultimately went with the Berman/Wright project, which became the short-lived series Mob Doctor. Fox then briefly considered Hieroglyph for an off-cycle pilot order before the project underwent further development last season, leading to the idea for a straight-to-series pickup, which started to gain traction over the summer. The pickup brings Chernin Entertainment’s series on Fox to two, joining comedy New Girl. For the first time since the company’s first development season, it has less than 3 series on Fox this fall, a threshold that reportedly triggers seven-figure penalties, rumored to be as much as $3 million for each of the three Fox series slots it has vacant, per Chernin’s super-lucrative exit deal from News Corp.
Based on his story idea, Beacham, repped by WME and Anonymous Content, co-wrote the Pacific Rim screenplay with director Guillermo del Toro. He also co-wrote Clash Of The Titans and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemo and is currently writing a Pacific Rim sequel for Legendary.