It’s official: Charter Communications has given a 13-episode series order to LA’s Finest, the drama pilot starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba from writers Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier, Sony Pictures TV, Jerry Bruckheimer Television and 2.0 Entertainment. It is set to premiere in 2019 exclusively on Charter’s Spectrum as the platform’s first major original series.
Former CSI: NY showrunner Pam Veasey has come on board as executive producer/co-showrunner of the series alongside Margolis and Sonnier.
Sony TV took out the action pilot, a spinoff from the Bad Boys movie franchise, immediately after the project’s original network, NBC, surprisingly passed on it. Charter Communications quickly emerged as a likely potential home, starting talks with Sony TV just days later. With the deal in advanced stages, Sony TV has been selling LA’s Finest internationally.
“Charter has a strong passion for the project, and we could not be more excited,” ” said Jeff Frost, President of Sony Pictures TV. “Immediately we knew this innovative new platform was absolutely the right home for L.A.’s Finest.”
With its title recognition and A-list stars, L.A.’s Finest will be used as a key launching piece in Charter Communications’s recently announced strategy to introduce high-end original content on its Spectrum cable systems. The company signaled its entrance in the original scripted series arena by signing co-production deals with AMC Networks and Viacom and by hiring seasoned TV executive Katherine Pope to lead its original content efforts by securing rights on a cost-effective basis. Charter already produces programming via its regional sports networks and its exclusive Spectrum News services.
“Charter is excited to partner with top producers Sony, Bruckheimer and the rest of the incredible team behind and in front of the camera on our first Spectrum Original Content endeavor,” said Pope. “Our content partnerships offer us a great opportunity to provide Spectrum customers with the dynamic, authentic and unique programming that drives value for their Spectrum subscription.”
Charter, which counts savvy billionaire John Malone as a key stakeholder, is among many cable operators looking to provide content that can stem the tide of cord-cutters ending their pay-TV subscriptions.
With elaborate action sequences, LA’s Finest was one of the highest-profile and most expensive pilots this season, with its budget said to be around $12 million. It is based upon the character Syd Burnett, originally created for Bad Boys II by Marianne and Cormac Wibberley and Ron Shelton and played by Union in the 2003 movie.
The series follows Burnett (Union), who last was seen in Miami taking down a drug cartel. She now has left her complicated past behind to become an LAPD detective. Paired with a new partner, Nancy McKenna (Alba), a working mom with an equally complex past, Burnett is pushed to examine whether her unapologetic lifestyle might be masking a greater personal secret. These two women don’t agree on much, but they find common ground when it comes to taking on the most dangerous criminals in Los Angeles.
The cast also includes Ernie Hudson as Joseph Burnett, Zack Gilford and Duane Martin as Ben Walker and Ben Baines, and Ryan McPartlin as Patrick McKenna.
Union and Alba executive produce alongside Margolis, Sonnier, Veasey — who is reuniting with CSI producer JBTV — 2.0’s Doug Belgrad, JBTV’s Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed, and Primary Wave’s Jeff Gaspin and Jeff Morrone. Anton Cropper directed the pilot and is executive producer.