I have learned that Universal Cable Productions has teamed with Shout! Factory to develop a TV series based on Bill Carter’s best-selling 2006 book Desperate Networks.

Carter, former longtime New York Times media reporter and current CNN contributor, will write the adaptation, which is in very early stages.

Desperate Networks chronicles the inner workings of the television industry circa 2000’s, networks’ ratings wars, and the true life portraits of larger-than-life moguls who navigate this high-stakes business. CBS’ Leslie Moonves and NBC’s Jeff Zucker are among the main players in the book, which chronicled NBC’s ratings drop from first to last place; ABC’s surprise trifecta with breakout hits Desperate Housewives (whose moniker was used for the title of the book), Lost and Grey’s Anatomy, Fox’s smashing success with American Idol and CBS’ steady rise. (Is it too early to make casting suggestions for the broadcast networks’ biggest movers and shakers of the 2000s)?

Executive producing the project are Richard Foos, Garson Foos and Bob Emmer for Shout! Factory as well as Aaron Meyerson.

Carter’s Desperate Networks was a follow-up to his 1995 bestseller The Late Shift, which chronicled the rocky Tonight Show transition post-Johnny Carson, with NBC choosing Jay Leno over David Letterman, prompting the latter’s move to CBS to launch the Late Show. That book was made into an HBO movie, which Carter co-wrote.

The deal for Desperate Networks comes as another insider book about TV wars by a NYT reporter-turned CNN personality, Brian Stelter’s Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, is being used as source material for a hot new TV series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. 

The Desperate Networks agreement was negotiated by CAA and Aaron Meyerson of Qualia Legacy Advisors on behalf of Shout! Factory and UCP.