EXCLUSIVE: Bravo Media is officially a scripted series player. The cable network has greenlighted its first original scripted series, the hourlong Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce starring House alumna Lisa Edelstein. The project, from writer-producer Marti Noxon and Universal Cable Prods, has received a 13-episode order for a 2015 premiere. Based on the best-selling “Girlfriends’ Guide” books by Vicki Iovine, the series follows Abby (Edelstein), a self-help book author who hides the fact that she’s separated from her husband, as she starts to navigate her life as a single woman in her early 40s in Los Angeles. She finds herself seeking advice from her divorced friends instead of her married ones, which leads to some unexpected and life-changing experiences. This is the second series order for Noxon this month, following Lifetime’s 10-episode pickup of Un-Real. I hear Girlfriends’ Guide has the Buffy The Vampire Slayer alumna in first position. She is executive producing the Bravo series with Dawn Olmstead, Iovine and Weinstein Co.’s Meryl Poster and Adam Brooks, who directed the pilot. The series co-stars Janeane Garofalo and Beau Garrett, with Paul Adelstein and Carrie Fisher featured in the pilot.
Girlfriends’ Guide was originally set up at Showtime in 2012 as a half-hour spec by Noxon. Bravo took the project in early last spring and converted it to one-hour. It’s been a smooth sailing ever since, with a pilot order in August, the hire of Brooks to direct and Edelstein to star, leading to the series order. “From the minute we saw this script, we felt this was really on brand for Bravo — it’s got lots of humor, lots of fun, and it’s incredibly stylish,” said Frances Berwick, president Bravo and Oxygen Media. “More than anything, this is a real passion project for Marti who is a big Bravo fan.” There is no plan yet how to launch Girlfriend’s Guide but Berwick suggested that “we have the benefit of having great natural big-reach shows to launch out of” and “with the comedy and drama in (Bravo’s) heavily serialized reality shows, there is a natural connection” that would make for an easy flow from them to the scripted Girlfriend’s Guide.
The pickup of Girlfriends’ Guide comes two years after Bravo signaled its entrance in the scripted arena with the hire of Andrew Wang as VP Scripted Development & Production. Girlfriends’ Guide was the network’s second produced scripted pilot, following Rita, which didn’t go forward. “For our first scripted show, we wanted something that was sophisticated, funny and honest,” Wang said. “We’re thrilled to have the talented Marti Noxon breaking this new ground with Bravo.” Girlfriend’s Guide will soon be be followed by other scripted series. “This is a toe in the water,” Berwick noted.
Noxon lived up to her reputation of a Bravo fan in her reaction to the pickup. “Everybody knows this was all an elaborate scheme to get myself on Watch What Happens Live!,” she said. “Seriously, I can’t thank everyone enough at Bravo and Universal Cable Productions for making Girlfriends’ something special. I am confident that Lisa is going to be TV’s next girl crush; she’s certainly mine.”
When Girlfriends’ Guide moved from Showtime to Bravo, it was laid off at UCP, and through the development process, Jeff Wachtel, President and Chief Content Officer at NBCU Cable Entertainment, worked closely with Olmstead, leading to her recent appointment to run UCP’s development. In all, WME-repped former Grady Twins partners Noxon and Olmstead have landed three series pickups this month, including The Lottery at Lifetime, exec produced by Olmstead.