The long-gestating Zorro TV series reboot with a female protagonist has moved a step closer to reality with an order for six additional scripts from the CW, bringing the script total to 7. As Deadline reported exclusively last month, the CW’s gender-swapped reimagining of the classic masked vigilante character hails from from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, writer-director Rebecca Rodriguez, Sean Tretta (Mayans M.C.), Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens’ Propagate and CBS Studios.
The pickup of backup scripts for Zorro joins three traditional pilot orders the CW made today, to Berlanti Prods.’ latest DC project, Gotham Knights, the Supernatural prequel The Winchesters as well as the Walker prequel Walker: Independence. This represents the bulk of the CW’s orders this pilot season, I hear there is a chance for one additional one that could be straight-to-series. Capping a trend at the CW that started a couple of years ago, all of today’s four pickups are to IP-based projects with strong title recognition.
The CW does not specify what the next step would be for Zorro if the network brass are happy with the new scripts but a straight-to-series order is likely. This is a variation of the straight-to-series model which the network has employed with a different degree of success over the past two years. While Walker and Superman & Lois have done very well, The 4400 has been a more modest performer.
Also for the first time in a while, the CW does not have backdoor pilots this season. It has been a very popular development technique at the network that has led to a number of series, most recently All American: Homecoming and Tom Swift. (The latter was not a traditional backdoor pilot as it only introduced the character on Nancy Drew, making for a hybrid backdoor pilot/straight-to-series model.)
The broadcast networks have been experimenting with development routes during the pandemic, introducing alternatives to the traditional pilot model, most notably Fox, which now employs writers rooms for some of their dramas as well as presentations for all of their comedies.
The CW’s Zorro is a new incarnation of the project, which was in development at NBC during the 2020-21 cycle, with Tretta as a new addition to the brother-and-sister writing team of Robert and Rebecca Rodriguez.
Co-penned by the trio and to be directed by Rebecca Rodriguez, in Zorro, a young Latinx woman seeking vengeance for her father’s murder joins a secret society and adopts the outlaw persona of Zorro. The story by Robert and Rebecca Rodriguez was already in place when Tretta, who has an overall deal at CBS Studios, came on board earlier this cycle to write the script.
Tretta, who also will serve as showrunner, and Robert and Rebecca Rodriguez executive produce with Silverman, Owens and Rodney Ferrell for Propagate, along with Geoff Clark and Eric Bromberg. John Gertz, President and CEO of Zorro Productions, Inc., also executive produces with Jay Weisleder.
Propagate originally set out to develop a Zorro TV series with a female lead in 2019 as one of the company’s first projects under its first-look deal with CBS Studios. The idea’s first incarnation, written by Alfredo Barrios Jr., was set up at NBC, as was the 2020-21 version with Robert and Rebecca Rodriguez, which also had Sofia Vergara attached as an executive producer. She is no longer involved in the project.
Robert Rodriguez was attached to direct The Mask of Zorro and cast Antonio Banderas as the title role before leaving the feature project. In TV, he currently serves as an executive producer-director on Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett. He previously developed and executive produced the series adaptation of his movie From Dusk Till Dawn for his TV network El Rey and also executive produced the Spy Kids animated series offshoot for Netflix. He recently directed an episode of Disney+’s The Mandalorian.
Rebecca Rodriguez’s recent directing credits include episodes of HBO Max’s Doom Patrol, NBC’s Debris, TNT’s Snowpiercer and Showtime’s The Chi.
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