Toni Collette is set to star in and executive produce Unit Zero, an action dramedy from Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and supervising producer Lindsey Shockley, which has landed at ABC. The hourlong project hails from ABC Studios where Barris is under an overall deal.
Unit Zero is based on an idea from Shockley who will write the script and will executive produce with Barris as well as Collette who has been closely involved in the project alongside the two writer-producers. David Gordon Green is attached to direct.
The dramedy follows a brilliant, but unassuming CIA engineer and single mom, Jackie Fink (Collette), as she leads a team of CIA underlings who are thrust into the field as first time spies. Each week, this team of zeroes races against the clock to gather intelligence and solve cases of national security. And they succeed partly because no one in their right mind would ever suspect they were spies.
“I’m so excited to be able to tell this story which is so personal to me,” said Shockley. “At its core, this show is about outsiders, those of us who don’t fit in. It celebrates everything that’s beautiful about being different.”
Added Barris, “This show is really important to me because it fits into the type of television that I love doing. It pulls back the curtain on what it’s like to be a woman in a historically male-dominated field, and it shows underrepresented voices. Most importantly, it starts a conversation while being funny.”
Barris and Shockley, who has been on Black-ish since Season 1, share in the first best comedy series Emmy nomination for ABC’s breakout comedy series, which Barris created, executive produces and showruns. The acclaimed comedy series returns for a third season this fall. Barris is repped by CAA, Principato Young and attorney Gregg Gellman; Shockley is repped by WME and attorney Lev Ginsburg.
Collette, a Golden Globe winner for her starring role on Showtime’s United States of Tara, is currently starring alongside Daniel Radcliffe in Lionsgate’s Imperium. She will next be seen in Paramount’s XXX: Return of Xander Cage, with Vin Diesel, and Unlocked, an international spy thriller directed by Michael Apted. She is repped by CAA, Finley Management, Untitled Management in Australia, and attorneys Kimberly Jaime and Deborah Klein.
Green is an executive producer on HBO comedy series Vice Principals and is directing Stronger, starring Jake Gyllenhaal for Lionsgate. He is repped by CAA and attorney Anne Atkinson.
Unit Zero is a character-based procedural, a genre ABC is actively pursuing for next season.
“In terms of closed-ended stories, I think they are terrific, and when you get them right, they really, really work,” the network’s new entertainment president Channing Dungey said at TCA earlier this month. “In this binging culture, there’s something about serialized dramas that really compels people. I would like to see more closed-ended procedurals on the network, particularly because we have to schedule 35 weeks in a year, and it’s nice because with a procedural you can do 22 episodes and they generally repeat really well.”