Former House executive producer Katie Jacobs is taking the indie route with another medical drama project, Dr. Del, which she is producing with Nick Wechsler. John Hawkes is set to star in the pilot, developed and to be filmed without the backing of a studio.
Inspired by Peter Hessler’s New Yorker piece “Dr. Don” (you can read it here), Dr. Del follows Del Canyon (Hawkes) as he reluctantly returns to his small hometown to run his family’s apothecary, the only source for medical attention for hundreds of miles. The series will follow his emergence as the town healer while he grapples between his desire to distance himself from a painful past and his inability to turn his back on a community struggling to find its place in contemporary America.
Jacobs optioned the article, whose subject matter is topical given the ongoing healthcare debate, and partnered with long-time friend, feature producer Wechsler (Magic Mike). Film writer John Sayles (The Spiderwick Chronicles) was brought in to pen the pilot, which Jacobs will direct. The script attracted Hawkes, who came on board to star. Jacobs, Wechsler and Sayles executive produce the pilot, which is being cast by casting directors Laray Mayfield and Julie Schubert and is scheduled to start filming April 13 in Los Angeles. The finished pilot is expected to be taken out to cable and broadcast networks in June.
From the get-go, Wechsler, who has extensive experience in producing independent features, including the blockbuster Magic Mike franchise, suggested that Dr. Del be done independently, using a similar model. The pilot is being independently financed by backers with whom Wechsler has had a long-standing relationship on the film side and who had been interested in getting into the TV business. Hawkes also has an strong indie background and is a two-time Independent Spirit Awards winner for Winter’s Bone and The Sessions.
“In today’s landscape of so many incredible broadcasters we have a unique opportunity to first shoot a pilot and then find the perfect home,” Jacobs and Wechsler said. “Known for being an actor’s actor, John Hawkes has wowed audiences with a wide variety of roles in his career. We are thrilled by the combination of Sayles and Hawkes to tell the story of this contemporary American hero.
I hear Dr. Del is being done as a high-end drama pilot with a budget and talent compensation in line with what networks pay.
Sayles is repped by APA; Hawkes is with Innovative and Thruline.