EXCLUSIVE: Two months into the job, Showtime entertainment president David Nevins is already hard at work building a development slate with some big-name auspices. Among the latest to sign up for projects at the pay cable networks are Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards who are working on a drama project together, and Jeff Daniels and Timothy Busfield, who are collaborating on another project, Happily Ever After, which would star Daniels.
Zodiac co-stars Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards co-created and will executive produce the Showtime project. There is hope that they may also star but that is still unclear as Ruffalo’s feature commitments may get in the way. Weeds writer/executive producer Roberto Benabib is writing the script set in the morally ambiguous world of media crisis management and centered on two partners running such a firm. CBS TV Studios is producing. It was was during the filming of David Fincher’s 2007 movie Zodiac, on which they played partners Inspector David Toschi and Inspector William Armstrong, that Ruffalo and Edwards hit it off and began talking about possibly doing another project together. They remained close and kept bouncing around different ideas for potential TV series until they settled on the one about a crisis management firm and brought in Benabib, who has been developing it with them. The three and Cheryl Dollins will executive produce the project, which expands Benabib’s relationship with Showtime where he has been a key writer-producer on Weeds since the beginning. Ruffalo next co-stars in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Edwards, who has been focused on features since leaving ER in 2002, most recently executive produced HBO’s Emmy-winning film Temple Grandin.
Daniels and Busfield co-created Happily Ever After, which was written by Daniels. It would star Daniels as a Michigan factory worker who quits his job to pursue music. Busfield is set to direct the potential pilot, with him and Daniels executive producing. In addition to his acting career, Michigan-native Daniels is a playwright, songwriter and a touring club musician. Like fellow thirtysomething co-star Peter Horton, Busfield has build a solid second career as a TV director-producer.
At Showtime, Nevins recently greenlighted his first pilot, Homeland, from 24 showrunner Howard Gordon, and has also put in development projects from ER executive producer John Wells and director/producer Richard Shepard. He also recently renewed the network’s comedies Weeds and The Big C.