EXCLUSIVE: Spike TV has put in development Basket Case, a drama with a comedic bent based on the best-selling novel by author and journalist Carl Hiaasen, with Rob Reiner on board to direct and executive produce. The project, from FremantleMedia North America in association with Random House Television Prods. and Castle Rock Entertainment, will be written by Alex Taub (Drop Dead Diva). It centers on a great investigative reporter who has trouble dealing with authority, change, women, success, and most of all, corruption. After he savages his paper’s powerful new owner, he is demoted to the obituary desk, which gives him a unique window into suspicious deaths and weird goings on in crime-ridden Miami. Using an unusual team of friends, relatives, an ex-wife, newspaper misfits, and his beautiful new boss, he strives to regain his investigative credibility and a saner life. “Corruption, murder, and laughs. I can’t think of a more satisfying combination,” Reiner said. “Carl Hiaasen strikes the perfect balance. I’m so looking forward to entering his twisted world.” Added Hiaasen, “Among writers of satire, Spinal Tap stands as a work of genius. I’m excited to see what Rob will do with my twisted little novel.”
When it signaled a return to scripted series in April, Spike bet heavily on event series, which made up its entire spring scripted development slate. The deal for Basket Case does not mean a change of course. “Though our primary focus has been on finding marquee Limited Event Series, we have vowed that when an unbelievable opportunity for a series presents itself, we will be ready to pounce,” said Spike TV’s EVP Sharon Levy: “It doesn’t get much better than Hiaasen and Reiner for Spike.”
This marks the first book optioned and the first scripted series sale for book publisher Random House, whose entertainment division led by president Peter Gethers launched a TV division headed by Jeffrey Levine a year ago with a first-look deal at corporate sibling FremantleMedia (both companies are owned by Bertelsmann AG). It also marks one of the first major projects for FMNA’s new scripted team assembled by CEO Thom Beers: EVP Craig Cegielski and SVP Stefanie Berk. Random House’s Gethers and Levine will executive produce Basket Case with FMNA’s Beers, Cegielski and Berk and Castle Rock’s Reiner and Liz Glotzer. “What makes Basket Case particularly gratifying is that, not only is the show based on the work of one of Alfred A. Knopf’s most beloved authors, we get to partner with Rob Reiner and Castle Rock,” Gethers said.
Hiaasen has penned 13 novels for adults, including most recently Star Island in 2010 and Bad Monkey in 2013. Hiaasen also authored four books for young adults most notably Hoot in 2002, which was made into a movie four years later. He has sold nearly 13 million copies of his books in the U.S in hardcover, paperback, audio, and e-book editions, which have been translated into 34 languages worldwide. Basket Case has sold 700,000 copies in the U.S., and has been published in 13 foreign countries. UTA reps Random House TV and Taub.