EXCLUSIVE: Lightning might strike three times, with a third Greg Berlanti-produced comic book series developed/launched at another network heading to the CW.
I’ve learned that Black Lightning, the high-profile drama based on the DC character, which had a big production commitment at Fox, is on the move and likely to land at the CW. The project comes from Greg Berlanti, king of the CW’s DC universe; The Game and Being Mary Jane creator Mara Brock Akil; and her husband Salim Akil. Discussions still are underway, but I hear the drama likely would get a pilot order.
This is a swift turnaround for the project, which was shopped to other networks by Warner Bros. TV immediately after Fox opted not to go to pilot, with the CW emerging as the likely new home. I hear Fox brass ultimately decided that the superhero show was not a good fit into its already crowded genre drama space that includes the DC/WBTV series Gotham and Lucifer, Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming space dramedy, and two pilots: the X-Men-themed drama written by Matt Nix and The Passage; all are from 20th TV.
Similarly, Archie Comics drama Riverdale, also originally developed at Fox, migrated to the CW, where it went to series and just premiered to strong reviews. And last May, DC superhero drama series Supergirl moved from CBS to the CW, where it already has been renewed for next season. Like Black Lightning, the two series are produced by Berlanti.
The CW is home of Berlanti Prods.’s four DC/WBTV superhero series — Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, which Berlanti also co-created. That makes the network a suitable home for Black Lightning, which would give the CW’s DC universe its first major African-American superhero. Black Lightning would be the only black superhero toplining his own broadcast series and the second currently on TV, joining Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix.
Additionally, while the focus of the series is on Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lightning, he has younger daughters also are main characters, an area that would likely be explored further for the CW.
Written by the husband-and-wife duo of Akil and Brock Akil based on the DC character created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden, Black Lightning centers on Jefferson Pierce. He made his choice: He hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago, but with a daughter hellbent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.
Akil and Brock Akil executive produce with Berlanti Prods.’ Berlanti and Sarah Schechter.
The CW president Mark Pedowitz had said at TCA that the network had no ongoing plans for a new DC superhero series but had always left the door open for unforeseen opportunities, like Supergirl becoming available last May, which the network also swooped in to pick up.
Pierce aka Black Lightning was one of DC Comics’ first major African-American superheroes, making his debut in 1977. In the books, Jefferson has two daughters, both of whom have followed in his superhero footsteps: Anissa Pierce, aka Thunder, who is a member of the Outsiders, and Jennifer Pierce, aka Lightning, recruited by the Justice Society of America.
Brock Akil created comedy series Girlfriends and its spinoff The Game as well as drama Being Mary Jane. Akil was the director on all three and executive produced The Game and Being Mary Jane.