CBS is rounding out the pilot pickup activity tonight with two drama orders, to Sneaky Pete, written and executive produced by Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston and House creator David Shore, and civil rights crime drama For Justice, from Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions, Law & Order veteran Rene Balcer and best-selling author James Patterson. Sneaky Pete had a production commitment; For Justice, a put pilot commitment.
Sneaky Pete hails from Sony Pictures TV, where Cranston has a first-look deal and Shore is under an overall pact. It centers on a thirty-something con man who, upon leaving prison, takes cover from his past by assuming the identity of a cellmate. “Sneaky Pete” then hides out from his debtors while working for his new “family’s” bail bond business. There he uses his considerable charm and criminal prowess to take down bad guys far worse than himself, partnering with a very attractive female “cousin” who has her suspicions about his real motives.
Cranston and Shore executive produce. James Degus of Cranston’s Moon Shot Entertainment will also executive produce, while Erin Gunn of Shore’s Shore Z will co-executive produce. Shore also has midseason CBS drama series Battle Creek, which he is executive producing with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan.
For Justice was based on James Patterson’s debut crime novel, The Thomas Berryman Number. The project hails from CBS Television Studios, James Patterson Entertainment, which has a first-look deal at the studio, and Tribeca.
The Edgar Award-winning book centers on a messianic hit man hired to assassinate the first black mayor of Nashville, triggering a desperate manhunt. Written by Balcer, For Justice will focus on the repercussions from the events in the novel in present day. It centers on an FBI agent who works in the Criminal Section of the Department of Civil Rights Division and finds herself caught between the radical family she was born into and the professional family she has chosen.
The Department of Justice formed the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division in 1957. Starting in the 60’s, the lawyers from the department teamed up with FBI agents. They were referred to as the “Mississippi Burning” teams, and were sent to the Deep South to investigate crimes involving violent interference with the liberties and rights as defined by the Constitution. These teams still exist today in the department but with a nationwide focus — in 2012 alone, 6700 different hate crimes were clocked by the FBI.
The series touches on the racial aspects of crime that have been stirring a national debate in the past few months with several high-profile cases, including the civil unrests in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting Michael Brown, a young black man, by a white cop, and in New York following the accidental death of Eric Garner at the hands of NYPD cops.
Emmy winner Balcer, who also serves as showrunner, executive produces with Tribeca’s De Niro and Rosenthal and James Patterson Entertainment’s James Patterson, Leopoldo Gout and Bill Robinson, while Tribeca’s Berry Welsh serves as co-executive producer.
Patterson also has Zoo, CBS/CBS Studios’ summer 2015 drama series based on his book, while Tribeca produces NBC’s comedy series About A Boy.