On the heels of Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s remarks this morning that Paramount will be returning to TV production, Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey just announced that the company is joining Sony TV as co-producer on CBS‘ Beverly Hills Cop pilot and potential series, based on the hit Paramount movie franchise. Dauman earlier today teased Paramount’s Beverly Hills Cop involvement, noting that the company plans to “get back, with very little investment, into the television production business.” Sony TV put the project, written by Shawn Ryan and exec produced by Ryan and Eddie Murphy, together and sold it to CBS where it has gone to pilot directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. As part of Sony TV’s rights deal with Paramount, the movie studio had the opportunity to join in, something which it is now doing. (Though the co-production deal is not official yet.)
Paramount used to have one of the largest TV studios, Paramount Network Television, which went to CBS in the 2005 split of Viacom, where it was merged with CBS Prods. Grey has plenty of experience to guide Paramount’s return to TV — he comes from a TV producer background as the head of Brad Grey TV, whose slate has included HBO’s The Sopranos and Real Time With Bill Maher and NBC’s Just Shoot Me!. Here is Grey’s memo:
FROM: Brad Grey
TO: All Staff
I would like to share some exciting news about a new Paramount project.
We have entered into an agreement with Sony Pictures Television to co-finance and co-produce a one hour pilot of “Beverly Hills Cop” for the CBS Television Network. If the pilot is picked up, we will continue to work with Sony TV on the series. As you know, “Beverly Hills Cop” is a highly successful Paramount film franchise which stars Eddie Murphy and was launched in 1984.
This is the first television project to come from Paramount since the separation with CBS and will be a great opportunity for us to collaborate with our former colleagues. This pilot is also an example of being nimble and looking at our library with an eye toward capitalizing on an opportunity to make great content and create value by reviving a wonderful Paramount franchise.
Written by Shawn Ryan, the pilot will be directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and will star Brandon T. Jackson, Sheila Vand, David Denman, Kevin Pollak and Christine Lahti. I’m very happy to say we expect Eddie Murphy to appear in a recurring guest star role as Axel Foley. The “Beverly Hills Cop” pilot will be a continuation of the film franchise and center on Foley’s son, who follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes a police officer in Beverly Hills.
Whether it’s this pilot for CBS, our “Burning Love” series on Yahoo!, or “Star Trek Into Darkness” on the big screen, Paramount will continue to be flexible, innovative and smartly opportunistic. The wealth of talent we have at Paramount and the great creative partners we are lucky to work with make projects like this one possible. I want to thank everyone involved and I look forward to what’s ahead.