CBS has nabbed medical drama Code Black, based on Ryan McGarry’s feature documentary, with a put pilot commitment. It will be written/executive produced by Michael Seitzman and produced by ABC Studios, where he is under an overall deal. Code Black reunites the key auspices of last season’s CBS action drama series Intelligence, also created/executive produced by Seitzman and produced by ABC Studios. Seitzman is executive producing Code Black with McGarry, the documentary’s producer Linda Goldstein Knowlton and executive producer Marti Noxon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer).
The name of the show refers to a code name used in the emergency room of an urban hospital when the influx of patients is so great that the staff is too overwhelmed to treat them all and some might die. The drama series and the documentary it was inspired by tells the story of one young doctor who has just joined the extraordinary staff of Los Angeles’ busiest ER as they struggle in the face of a broken system to protect their ideals and the patients who need them the most. “Code Black is literally a death-defying look at today’s world of medicine told from the boots-on-the-ground at LA County Hospital, the busiest ER in the country,” Seitzman said. “When I saw the documentary I knew immediately I wanted to develop it as a series.” (Here is a trailer for the docu)
Seitzman saw in the credits the name of well known TV writer Noxon and reached out to her. “Fortunately for me she’s too busy with two shows on the air to develop it herself,” Seitzman said. Noxon is the creator/executive producer of two upcoming series, Lifetime’s Un-Real and Bravo’s Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce. After meeting with the rest of the documentary’s team, including Knowlton and McGarry, WME-repped Seitzman showed the film to ABC Studios and then CBS, and “we all got excited to do it together,” he said.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of ER, NBC’s hugely popular drama that was set in the pressure-cooker environment of an urban emergency room. CBS chairman Nina Tassler helped develop the groundbreaking drama, which ended its run in 2009, while at Warner Bros. TV. Launching a successful medical drama has been a priority for CBS for the past couple of years. The network again is putting a premium on medical drama concepts early this selling season, with two put pilot commitments in two days, to Code Black and an untitled project from Sarah Watson and Jason Katims. Like Code Black, that drama too comes from a studio affiliated with a rival network, Universal TV, as the production arms of all broadcast networks continue to transform themselves into full-fledged studios selling to everyone.