ABC joined the pilot pickup action tonight with five hourlong orders: gun-trade drama Runner, biblical drama Of Kings And Prophets, family dramedy Mix, true-crime drama LA Crime and terrorist drama Quantico. Three come from the network’s sibling ABC Studios and one each from 20th TV and Warner Bros TV.
Runner, from 20th Century Television, is to guns what Traffic was to drugs and delves into the traditionally masculine world of arms dealing through the lens of a woman. Written by feature scribe Michael Cooney (Identity) based on the Turkish series Son, it centers on Lauren Marks, whose seemingly perfect life is ripped apart by one simple twist of fate. To uncover the truth, she must follow a trail of lies that takes her into the world of cartels and the illegal gun trade between the U.S. and Mexico. Cooney executive produces with Peter Horton, Ian Sander, Kim Moses and Jon Cowan, who serves as showrunner.
The project originally was set up at Fox last season. In January, Runner was given “an off-cycle commitment for further investment towards series production,” with Fox commissioning backup scripts, the hiring of writers and the writing a bible with an eye toward a straight-to-series pickup. Following the regime change at Fox, when Gary Newman and Dana Walden, who developed The Runner at 20th TV, took over the network, Runner was given a cast-contingent pilot order in September. Offers were made to a number of actresses but none panned out and by December, the project was put in a turnaround, with ABC stepping in, giving it a script order. With its female lead, Runner does appear better suited for ABC as Fox has had trouble launching a drama with a female lead (Mob Doctor, anyone?). However, there is a cautionary tale for ABC too as Runner is somewhat reminiscent of its failed series Red Widow.
It’s shaping up to be a big season for Turkey, which is living up to the promise of being the next hotbed for formats. This is the second pilot order for a drama based on a Turkish format, joining NBC’s Game Of Silence.
ABC is getting on the biblical bandwagon with Of Kings And Prophets, a drama written by Adam Cooper & Bill Collage and executive produced by Jason Reed, Reza Aslan and Mahyad Tousi of BoomGen Studios, whose motto is listed as “social change through storytelling.” The project, from ABC Studios, is an epic biblical saga of faith, ambition and betrayal as told through the eyes of a battle-weary king, a powerful and resentful prophet and a resourceful young shepherd on a collision course with destiny.
Dramedy Mix, from Warner Bros. TV and Rashida Jones and Will McCormack’s studio-based Le Train Train, explores the realities of modern-day families — multi-cultural, multi-generational, built through divorces, affairs and adoptions — set against the backdrop of a revered family restaurant at a crossroads. Mix, which marked Le Train Train’s first hourlong sale to a Big 4 network, was written by Jennifer Cecil, who served as co-showrunner on the final season of ABC drama Private Practice. Cecil is executive producing with Jones and McCormack, while Le Train Train’s Jeff Grosvenor co-executive produces.
Former Smash showrunner Josh Safran wrote the script and is executive producing with the Mark Gordon Co.’s Gordon and Nick Pepper. Gordon is wrapping a lengthy stint as a ABC Studios-based producer. He recently signed a deal to launch a film and TV venture with eOne.