Fox, whose upcoming drama Shots Fired deals with police shootings, is taking on another hot-button and timely topic: college rape. The network has given a put pilot commitment to Controversy, an investigative thriller drama from Up in the Air and X-Men: First Class co-writer Sheldon Turner, Scandal co-executive producer Judy Smith and This Is Us directors/exec producers John Requa & Glenn Ficarra. The project hails from Turner and Jennifer Klein’s Vendetta Productions. 20th Century Fox TV, where Vendetta and Requa & Ficarra are under deals, is the studio.
Written by Turner, Controversy centers on a successful crisis-management consultant brought in to advise a university when a co-ed accuses football players of gang-raping her. Facing a crisis of conscience, she partners with a lawyer for the university to seek out the truth.
Smith, who was the inspiration for the lead character in Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal, is a real-life top crisis-management consultant who has worked with a number of high-profile clients, including universities. She executive produces Controversy alongside Turner & Klein via Vendetta and Requa, Ficarra & Charlie Gogolak via Zaftig Films.
In addition to Controversy, Smith has Justice, a legal drama at Fox/20th TV with a script plus penalty commitment. Written by Jeremy Miller and Daniel Cohn and inspired by Smith’s own story, it centers on a high-powered African-American woman who is made the new U.S. Attorney. Smith, who also co-executive produces CBS’ summer series BrainDead, is repped by WME and Ziffren Brittenham.
Vendetta also has a buddy-cop drama at Fox/20th TV that has a script commitment plus significant penalty. Written by Sheldon and to be directed by McG, the untitled drama (aka Good Cop/Bad Cop) centers on a meek detective struggling with psychological trauma who conjures up an imaginary rogue partner who helps him get the job done. Vendetta is repped by CAA.
Requa and Ficarra also executive produce Infamous, a legal drama procedural based on the 2009 Icelandic series Réttur, which has a put pilot commitment at NBC. Eli Attie is writing/exec producing and Scripted World’s Rob Golenberg & Alon Aranya also exec produce for 20th TV. Zaftig is repped by CAA and attorney Jeff Frankel.
On broadcast TV, the subject of school rape was recently examined on the second installment of ABC’s American Crime.