EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, a legal drama procedural based on the novel Blood Defense by author and former O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark has landed at NBC with a put pilot commitment. Clark, whose name is back in the zeitgeist, fueled by the success of FX’s American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, will co-write the adaptation with writer-producers Elizabeth Craft & Sara Fain for ABC Studios and studio-based Mandeville TV.
This is one of two sales for Mandeville TV so far this season, along with The Exchange, a drama from British writer Nicholas Osborne, which has been set up at ABC.
Based on Blood Defense and drawing from the personal experience of Clark, who started her career as a defense attorney, the show centers on Samantha Brinkman, a relentless criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles whose world is turned upside down when she is hired to defend a police detective in a high-profile homicide, thrusting her into the public spotlight and exposing dark secrets from her past.
Clark, Craft and Fain executive produce with Mandeville’s David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Laurie Zaks.
Blood Defense is the first in a series of crime novels featuring Samantha Brinkman. It was published in May 2016 from Thomas & Mercer, with a second book, Moral Defense, slated for release in November.
Mandeville executives got a copy of Blood Defense a couple of months ago from UTA, which reps both the company and Clark. They liked the prospects of the book as a basis for a TV series and met with Clark just as People vs. O.J. Simpson was finishing its run. She partnered with them, and ABC Studios acquired the book series in April in a competitive situation.
Mandeville TV worked with Craft and Fain last season on the company’s ABC/ABC Series series The Family starring Joan Allen, on which they served as consulting producers under their overall deal at ABC Studios. Following the cancellation of The Family last May, Craft and Fain met with Clark and hit it off. The three worked on a pitch, which was taken out to all networks, garnering multiple interest. The project is in the character-driven procedural genre that is much in demand this selling season.
Clark served as a lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial, which was revisited this year by both FX’s People vs. O.J. Simpson, where Clark was played by Sarah Paulson in an Emmy-nominated role, and ESPN’s documentary OJ: Made in America.
She transitioned from a law to a writing career with a series of bestselling legal thriller novels featuring prosecutor Rachel Knight: The Competition, Killer Ambition, Guilt by Degrees, and Guilt by Association. They were developed as a drama series by TNT a couple of years ago. The project went to pilot starring Julia Stiles as Rachel Knight.
In The Exchange, written and executive produced by Osborne, a charming male British cop crosses the pond to work with a no nonsense female New Orleans detective as part of a police exchange program. Yet as they solve crimes together, we come to realize their personalities are masks used to conceal the pain of a traumatic event in each of their childhoods, and that the solution to truly being themselves lies in bringing down a secret criminal society based in New Orleans.
Fain and Craft are repped by WME. Osborne is repped by CAA.