EXCLUSIVE: Four years after Tony Krantz left his TV producing career to focus on feature directing, he is mounting a big push in television with 8 projects set up at various broadcast networks, including a Scruples adaptation at ABC, which he is executive producing with Natalie Portman; a drama set in the New York restaurant world executive produced by chef/restaurateur Mario Batali; and an action drama about a foreign correspondent executive produced by former CNN president Jonathan Klein. The ramped-up small-screen development does not mean a return to TV full-time for Krantz, who helmed 3 features in the past 4 years, including most recently The Big Bang, and has 3 other potential film directing vehicles in the works.
Krantz, who was head of primetime packaging at CAA and CEO of Imagine Television before he embarked on a feature directing career, started building his Flame Ventures into an independent TV production company last year when it sold 5 broadcast projects. With the hire of Reece Pearson as head of development, the company has stepped up its TV efforts, selling 8 projects in the past few weeks. Flame is using an indie model similar to that employed by DreamWorks TV where projects are sold directly to the networks and then laid off at the nets’ affiliated studios.
At ABC, the company has Scruples 2. It is based on the 1978 novel by Krantz’s mother, Beverly Hills novelist Judith Krantz, who also penned a sequel in 1992. Bob Brush and Mel Harris will write the adaptation and exec produce with Portman, her producing partner Annette Savitch and Krantz. Warner Bros. TV is producing as it has the rights to the property via the 1980 Scruples miniseries starring Lindsay Wagner, which it produced. Also at ABC, Krantz is exec producing The Bakken, a show in the vein of Fargo, which is set in the North Dakota town where a huge oil reserve has been discovered, turning poor farmers into multimillionaires overnight. Josh Pate and Rodes Fishburne are the writers/exec producers. The project will be produced by ABC Studios, but that deal is still being negotiated. Chops, sold to the CW, is described as Felicity in the world of the restaurant business in New York. Feature writer Captain Mauzner (Factory Girl) will write the script and executive produce with Batali and Krantz. At Fox, Krantz has Live Shot Action, an action drama with a journalistic franchise at the center, which centers on an action junkie journalist. James Solomon and Michael Lucas are writing the script and exec producing with Klein. The project is in the process of being laid off at 20th TV. The Fixer at NBC, is based on the life of top New York attorney Edward Hayes. The Universal TV-produced project, which is being redeveloped after being originally set up at NBC last year, is written/exec produced by Wayne Kramer (The Cooler), with Krantz and frequent collaborator, former HBO exec Colin Callender, also exec producing.
On the cable side, Flame has mafia drama Emperor in the works at TNT, developed as a potential starring vehicle for Ray Liotta. Feature scribe Jonathan Hensleigh (Armageddon) is writing. At TV Land, the company has Live Talking Girls, a multi-camera comedy set behind the scenes of a View-type daytime talk show, from Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth. And at Comedy Central, it has single-camera comedy The Bright Side, about an unscrupulous life coach, from writer Chris Bishop, with Dave Koechner producing and potentially starring.