EXCLUSIVE: A famous teenage sleuth is eyeing a return to TV. The CW has put into development a drama inspired by the classic Nancy Drew mysteries, from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire and CBS TV Studios.
Written by Noga Landau (The Magicians), the untitled project is centered on 18-year-old Nancy Drew in the summer after her high school graduation. Nancy thought she’d be leaving her hometown for college, but when a family tragedy holds her back another year, she finds herself embroiled in a ghostly murder investigation — and along the way, she uncovers secrets that run deeper than she ever imagined.
Landau executive produces with Schwartz and Savage. Fake Empire’s Lis Rowinski is co-executive producer. CBS TV Studios produces in association with Fake Empire, which has a first-look broadcast deal at the studio.
Launching a Nancy Drew TV series has been a priority for CBS TV Studios, which has the rights to the the classic YA mystery books originally published by Stratemeyer Syndicate and later Simon & Schuster.
The studio developed two Nancy Drew series over the past three years, Drew at CBS during the 2015-16 development season, which went to pilot starring Sarah Shahi and got close to a series order, and Nancy Drew at NBC this past season. Both incarnations, from writers Tony Phelan and Joan Rater and producer Dan Jinks, were conceived as sequels to the books, with an adult Nancy Drew at the center.
The CW version stays closer to the source material, with Nancy just out of high school. For it, CBS TV Studios teamed with Schwartz and Savage, who also are producing the studio’s Dynasty reboot for the CW, now heading into its second season. The duo has a long history at the CW, where they also were behind another drama with a teenage girl protagonist, long-running hit Gossip Girl.
Schwartz and Savage also have the well-received Marvel’s Runaways, entering its sophomore season on Hulu, and are developing a limited-series adaptation of John Green’s Looking for Alaska. They are repped by WME and attorney Joel McKuin. Schwartz additionally is repped by Mickel Bondesen.
Landau’s writing credits include Syfy’s The Magicians as well as the Netflix AI feature Tau, released this summer. She is repped by WME, Management 360, and McKuin Frankel Whitehead.
The Nancy Drew mystery novels were written by a collection of writers, primarily Mildred Wirt Benson, but all appeared under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. There have been two Nancy Drew series on TV, along with a 2002 ABC pilot starring Maggie Lawson, which aired as a movie. Feature adaptations include the 2007 film headlined by Emma Roberts.