The project, inspired by the UK reality series Big Ballet, will be a co-production between 20th Century Fox Television, where Heldens is under an overall deal, and Fox Entertainment. It marks Fox’s first pilot order this session from former sister studio 20th TV, now part of Disney TV Studios.
Written by Heldens, The Big Leap is descried as a funny and contemporary tale about second chances, chasing your dreams and taking back what’s yours. The show centers on a group of diverse underdogs from all different walks of life who compete to be part of a competition reality series that is putting on a modern, hip remake of “Swan Lake.” What they lack in the traditional dancer body type, they make up for with their edge, wit and desire to reimagine an iconic story to fit their own mold. The Big Leap takes us on a journey of self-acceptance, body-positivity and empowerment at any age.
Heldens executive produces with Naegle and Peter Dale of UK company Rare Day, which produced the reality series.
The British reality series, which had a brief run on Channel 4 in 2014 and was carried by Ovation in the U.S., featured 18 plus-size amateur dancers, many of whom were told they were too fat to dance when they were young, as they are recruited to put together over 20 weekends a production of Swan Lake under the tutelage of a former Royal Ballet principal and an artistic director. Watch a trailer below.
The scripted adaptation will keep the aspiration feel of the reality series in the spirit of such movies as The Full Monty and Billy Elliot.
Deception and Mercy creator Heldens and Naegle originally teamed to develop a U.S. scripted adaptation of Big Ballet in 2015 through Sony Pictures TV’s TriStar Television label — run at the time by Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs — as part of Heldens’ overall deal at Sony TV. In a competitive situation, the dramedy landed at ABC for the 2015-16 development season. Fox pursued the pitch heavily at the time and remained high on the premise and the auspices, leading to today’s pilot order.
Sony TV’s option on the underlining IP since had expired and picked up by 20th TV after Heldens signed an overall deal there, with Sony TV retaining small passive participation. Heldens went on to develop and executive produce The Passage, 20th TV’s vampire drama series for Fox, but The Big Leap remained a passion project for her and Naegle. The project predates Naegle’s 2016 appointment at Annapurna, where she is now Chief Content Officer.
Dale is repped by WME.
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