As news is still sinking in of President Trump’s decision yesterday to end the DACA program that protects undocumented immigrants who had been brought over to the U.S. as children, the CW is developing an hourlong dramedy about the family of a teenager in a similar situation. Titled Illegal, it is one of two projects Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez has sold as a producer in her first development cycle under an overall deal at CBS TV Studios for her I Can & I Will Productions. The other, Have Mercy, is a medical drama at CBS based on the German format Dr. Illegal. Rodriguez executive produces both projects with I Can & I Will development executive Emily Gipson.
I Can & I Will also has other projects in the works at CBS Studios, including a series adaptation of LA Story — the 1991 romantic fantasy comedy-drama feature written by and starring Steve Martin and directed by Mick Jackson — in conjunction with Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta of Gaeta Rosenzweig Films, and a drama based on the novel Flood Girls which they are executive-producing alongside Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films and writer Corinne Brinkerhoff.
Rodriguez, whose CW dramedy Jane the Virgin has addressed the plight of undocumented immigrants, has been a strong supporter of Dreamers, posting a slew of messages on social media following the DACA announcement yesterday.
Illegal is written/co-executive produced by Jane the Virgin scribe Rafael Agustin based on his real-life experience. The Ecuador-born Agustin grew up in America, and it was not until high school when he learned that, like his parents, he was undocumented. Illegal is described as a light one-hour about sixteen year old Rafael. He is a charming but bumbling high school student just trying to survive puberty. But when this all-American teenager discovers that he is not American at all, his perfect Honor Roll world is turned upside down.
Agustin originally developed the project, which he referred to as “undocumented family sitcom” as a half-hour spec script at the Sundance Institute where he was an Episodic Story Lab Fellow.
Optioning the Dr. Illegal format was one of the first moves for I Can & I Will — named after an encouragement frequently used by Rodriguez’s father — made when it inked its CBS Studios deal with the goal of telling stories from underrepresented voices.
Written/executive produced by Queen Of the South co-executive producer Dailyn Rodriguez, Have Mercy centers around a Latina doctor unable to practice when she immigrates to Miami who begins work as a nurse’s assistant, but risks everything when she opens a makeshift clinic in her apartment to serve the community. Also executive producing are Intrigue Entertainment’s Tariq Jalil and Lucas Carter who had initially optioned the format.
The original 2015 series, created by Martin Rohe and Jan Gall, featured an Iranian doctor in Germany. You can watch a trailer in German below.
Immigration is on TV series creators’ minds in the current political environment. CBS just bought comedy Welcome To Maine, from Austen Earl and Greg Garcia, which centers on a ninth-generation Maine family and a recent immigrant and his daughter who all must learn to embrace change when they share the same workplace in a tiny rural town.
Agustin previously co-created/co-wrote the autobiographical play N*gger Wetb*ck Ch*nk, which has won awards for advancement of social justice in the arts. He is repped by APA and attorney Jody Simon.
Dailyn Rodriguez’s series credits also include The Night Shift, George Lopez, Ugly Betty, Cane, 90210, In Plain Sight, Lie to Me, and The Glades. She is repped by the Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston agency and Darren Trattner.
I Can & I Will Productions is repped by APA, David Guillod at Primary Wave Entertainment, and attorney Karl Austen.