EXCLUSIVE: In one of the first major bidding situations this broadcast buying season, ABC has landed hourlong drama The Ambassador from former Empire showrunner Ilene Chaiken, Eva Longoria and Ben Spector’s UnbelieEVAble Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV. The project has received a big put pilot commitment.
The Ambassador, which was pursued by multiple networks, is based on the Spanish series The Embassy (La embajada). In the adaptation, written by Chaiken, when the thrice married, very rich and politically connected US Ambassador to France is killed in a freak speedboat accident, his much younger and arguably unqualified third wife is appointed to replace him. Ambassador Roxanne Eagleton takes on the challenges of her new position as she also navigates the drama and intrigue of her late husband’s family while beginning to suspect that his death was not an accident. The Ambassador takes us behind the curtain of the US Embassy in France – the glamorous but treacherous “upstairs” of the Ambassador’s life in Paris, and the “downstairs” lives of the career diplomats that are there to serve their Ambassador and their country.
Chaiken executive produces with Longoria and Spector via their UnbeliEVAble Entertainment and 3 Arts’ Oly Obst. 20th Century Fox TV, where Chaiken is under an overall deal and UnbeliEVAble is under a pod deal, is the studio.
The original series The Embassy was created by Ramon Campos and his company Bambu Productions, where Campos is partnered with Teresa Fernandez-Valdez. Bambu is behind a number of series, including Grand Hotel, which UnbeliEVAble optioned two years ago for a U.S. adaptation, which made it to series at ABC for midseason.
The Embassy format was the first idea UnbeliEVAble brought to 20th TV under the company’s deal there, with Longoria and Spector taking their time to get the right writer for it.
“When I first saw The Embassy, I binge watched the entire season in one sitting. I told Ramon and Theresa we MUST do this together,” Longoria said. “Ilene Chaiken is the gold standard for character driven dramas. After getting to know her on Empire there was no one else we could envision adapting this. Ilene took the original and reinvented it with such brilliance and panache. I can’t wait to produce this show alongside her.”
The setting of The Ambassador is somewhat similar to a London-based comedy starring Salma Hayek, which is in development at Amazon from Paul Feig and Imagine.
Grand Hotel, from UnbeliEVAble and ABC Studios, stars Roselyn Sanchez and Demián Bichir. UnbeliEVAble previously produced Lifetime’s Devious Maids, which also starred Sanchez. Longoria is with CAA and Brillstein.
Chaiken, who created and executive produced the Showtime series The L Word, was executive producer/showrunner on the first 3.5 seasons of Empire. She also is an executive producer on the Emmy-winning series The Handmaid’s Tale. Chaiken is repped by WME and 3Arts.
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