EXCLUSIVE: Fox chairman Kevin Reilly quickly is putting his money where his mouth is, making his first move since announcing Monday that the network is abandoning the traditional pilot season for a new development approach that focuses on series. That involves making fewer pilots at different times during the year, all geared towards series, or going straight to series on some concepts that had been fully developed with multiple scripts and a bible.
Drama Red Band Society, From Amblin Television and ABC Studios, is getting a firm go on a “series prototype”, a pilot-type production order, plus additional backup scripts. Another drama, Runner (working title), from Sander/Moses Prods., Peter Horton and 20th TV, has received what Fox calls “an off-cycle commitment for further investment towards series production” this summer. That means backup scripts, hiring writers and writing a bible with an eye towards a straight to series pickup. Both projects are adaptation of European formats.
Based on the acclaimed Spanish series Polseres Vermelles by Albert Espinosa, Red Band Society is an unorthodox mix of young soap, comedic one-hour, hospital show, and (surrogate) family drama set at a big-city hospital. The coming-of-age drama, which received a script commitment with penalty in November, explores with dark humor the daily lives of a group of teenagers living in a hospital who become unlikely friends. The depth of the unexpected friendships allows them to survive the challenges of growing up under such intense circumstances. The adaptation was written by Margaret Nagle (Boardwalk Empire) who executive produces with Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and former Endeavor agent-turned-producer Sergio Aguero, who brought the format to WME. Brothers Carlos and Julio Fernandez of the company behind the original series, Filmax, are co-executive producing. Amblin TV first developed an U.S. adaptation of Polseres Vermelles two seasons ago with Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman as writer. Back then, Fox aggressively pursued the project but lost out to ABC in a bidding war. The network remained very high on the property and brought it back this season with Nagle. This marks the sixth project in production for Amblin TV, joining series Falling Skies, The Americans, Under The Dome and the upcoming Extant as well as the TNT drama pilot Public Morals created by and starring Ed Burns.
Runner (aka The End) is to guns what Traffic was to drugs and delves into the traditionally masculine world of arms dealing through the unexpected lens of a woman. Based on the Turkish series Son, it centers on Lauren Marks who, after a simple twist of fate, learns that her husband is not the person she believed him to be. Faced with the harsh reality that her life is forever changed, she goes on a truth-seeking journey that entrenches her in a U.S./Mexican war over weapons and terrorism. Feature writer Michael Cooney (Identity) wrote the script, with Horton directing as well as exec producing alongside Ian Sander and Kim Moses. Horton has another Traffic-esque project in the works, NBC’s pilot Odyssey, while Sander and Moses exec produce upcoming CBS drama series Reckless. This marks the first scripted format set up at a network by American producers to originate from Turkey, tipped as one of the potential new hot format destinations.