EXCLUSIVE: A hot action drama from House creator David Shore, Charlie’s Angels director McG and John Davis’ Davis Entertainment (The Blacklist), has landed at Fox with a put pilot commitment, I have learned. The project, loosely based on the 1965 adventure series I Spy, hails from Sony Pictures TV, where Davis Entertainment and Shore are based. The studio is finalizing a co-production agreement with 20th Century Fox TV, where McG recently signed an overall deal.
Written by Shore and to be directed by McG, the untitled drama centers on a professional spy teamed with an enterprising civilian to solve high-stakes cases here and abroad.
The project originated at Sony TV as a reboot of I Spy, the comedy-drama which starred Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. McG, who recently helmed the pilot for the remake of another buddy action franchise for Fox, Lethal Weapon, secured the rights to the series, which was remade as a 2002 movie starring Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson by Columbia Pictures, and brought the idea to Sony TV-based Davis Entertainment. The I Spy project, with Shore on board as writer, was taken out, landing at Fox with a put pilot commitment.
However, I hear that during the discussions with the network, the idea evolved as Fox brass were not interested in a straight I Spy remake but instead a new take on the buddy spy genre from Shore and McG that differed significantly from the Sheldon Leonard-produced NBC series about two U.S. spies traveling the world using the cover of a tennis player and his trainer. The result was an untitled spy drama that will be only loosely based on I Spy and — at least for now — will not carry the name of the 1960s series.
There may be some reboot fatigue at Fox, which has several new series for next season that are revivals of movie or TV brands including Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist, 24: Legacy and the Prison Break limited series. (All four are tracking well, and the three that went through the pilot process tested very high). Additionally, remaking a series that is closely identified with Bill Cosby could be tricky for a network given the public sentiment toward the disgraced comedian, accused of sexual assault by some 60 women.
In his return to Fox, Shore, whose House was one of the network’s biggest drama hits of the past decade, is executive producing the project through his Shore Z Prods., alongside McG through his Wonderland Sound and Vision, and Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox. Shore Z’s Erin Gunn and Wonderland’s Mary Viola also executive produce.
Under his overall deal at Sony TV, Shore executive produced the studio’s Battle Creek and Sneaky Pete — which he also co-created — as well as Houdini And Doyle. McG executive produces the Freeform drama series Shadowhunters and the CW’s Supernatural.
Davis Entertainment has four broadcast series on the air next season: Timeless, The Blacklist and spinoff The Blacklist: Redemption on NBC, and Dr. Ken on ABC.
Shore is repped by ICM Partners and the Shuman Co. McG is with WME and Management 360.