EXCLUSIVE: He co-created 24, in which Jack Bauer often saved the lives of fictitious U.S. presidents. For his next project, Bob Cochran is taking on a man who saved a sitting American president in real life: Allan Pinkerton. Cochran is developing Pinkerton, a 8-10-hour limited series for Starz about the famous spy and detective, with Gerard Butler on board to executive produce. Starz has commissioned a pilot script and a bible for the project, a fictionalized retelling of the exploits of Pinkerton, creator of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the first detective agency in the U.S. “He was an amazing guy — he took part in all the great sweeping events of the 19th century,” Cochran said. Scottish-born Pinkerton, who emigrated to the U.S. at age 23, stumbled upon sleuthing in 1840s Chicago almost by accident. He served as head of the Union Intelligence Service, the forerunner of the U.S. Secret Service. As such, he guarded Abraham Lincoln on his way to his inauguration and foiled an assassination attempt on him in Baltimore. The little-known episode will be featured prominently in the series, Cochran said. Pinkerton also became “the spy master of the North” during the Civil War. His detective agency was hired by the railroad companies to go after outlaw gangs that were robbing trains, including the one led by the infamous Jesse James. Pinkerton caught many robbers but, in what is considered his biggest miss, he wasn’t able to track down James. While working for the railroad companies, Pinkerton was also involved with the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used mostly in the 1850s to smuggle slaves to freedom in Canada. “On one hand he was enforcing the law, and on the other hand he was breaking the law,” Cochran said. “He was interested in right and wrong, not so much in the the law.” At his agency, Pinkerton developed several investigative techniques that are widely used today, including “shadowing” aka survailance, “assuming a role” aka going undercover, as well as using mugshots and profiling. At the time of his death in 1884, he was working on a centralized database of all criminal identification records which is now maintained by the FBI. Cochran is executive producing Pinkerton with Angela Mancuso, who, as an executive at USA Network oversaw the network’s mini-series Atilla the Hun, written by APA-repped Cochran. It starred CAA-repped Butler in one of his first lead roles. It was Mancuso who suggested to Cochran that they take the project to Starz and reach out to Butler who, like Pinkerton, is Scottish. The actor quickly came onboard as exec producer. Butler and his manager Alan Siegel will exec produce through their Evil Twins production company. Also executive producing And while Pinkerton is developed as a limited series, Cochran is leaving the door open for a potential second series.
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